Please tell us about yourself and your career.
I have a degree in Electrical Engineering Technology from Texas Tech University. I have been in distribution for about 25 years, starting with Westinghouse (Wesco).
While I was working for Wesco, the co-operatives in Texas decided to open up their own supply business and I was approached to see if I was interested in assisting with their start-up. The process began in 2000 and I started in 2002. It has grown to almost $80 million in sales in those five years.
TEC has a manufacturing plant in east Texas for poles, and our service (repair) business has been operating since the 1950s. The supply and distribution service is run from Georgetown.
I report to the associate president, who is very involved with all our divisions and especially in our government relations group. For example, the magazine is produced in Austin.
And tell us a bit about TEC.
TEC itself started in the 1940s after the co-ops were formed. TEC is an association of the co-ops – we individually aggregate all the costs and spread the expenses around. There are 64 distribution co-ops, and nine involved in generation and transmission. There are also 72 municipalities (CPS Energy and Austin Energy are two of them) and many will outsource contracts.
We service pretty much the whole of Texas, and there are also a couple of members who have systems in Texas, and a couple in New Mexico and Oklahoma.
We produce a magazine which features a specific co-op in each edition, and we offer safety and training, as well as warehouse management services, procurement outsourcing and other value-added services.
TEC is non profit – we do, however, generate a margin (profit) but this is returned to members in the form of capital credits.
How has deregulation impacted TEC?
Deregulation has not had much of an impact on TEC – as we are not under the PUC (Public Utilities Commission) we are no longer regulated by them. It did have some auxiliary effects, with one of our members chosing to opt in to competition.
What are some of the key challenges TEC faces?
As far as the supply business is concerned, there is the support side, and trying to get manufacturers to support this is a challenge, because they already have their own marketing channels. However, GE has been responsive and is working with us to get around these challenges.
Please give us a short overview of the metering operations.
Most of the meters are single phase electromechanical and three-phase electronic. However, there has recently been a huge shift to electronic metering, especially single phase electronic meters. GE has actually announced they will no longer manufacture electromechanical meters.
TEC has only been involved in metering this last year. Many of our members are installing AMR projects over the next few years. The main vendors are GE and Sensus.
Where do you see metering and billing operations going in the future?
TEC wishes to continue electronic and information sharing, and the meter – the ‘cash register’ part of the business – will change and become more interactive.