The Chipley Kiwanis Club met for its weekly luncheon at Pattillo’s Restaurant at the Washington – Holmes Technical Center on March 12. Lunch was prepared and served by the students of the culinary program.
President Jan Page opened the meeting and recognized Program Chair Paul Goulding. Goulding introduced Darrin Wall, Manager of Gulf Power in Chipley, who presented the program.
Mr. Wall discussed some of the challenges and opportunities facing Gulf Power. Chief among the challenges are the new federal emissions standards promulgated by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency pertaining to coal fired electric generation plants. Georgia Power, another division of the Southern Company, plans to shut down 15 coal-fired plants at a cost of 480 jobs due to these regulations. Since coal and natural gas are the two cheapest energy sources next to nuclear, these regulations could drive the cost of electricity up.
Gulf Power started to develop energy conservation programs in the 1970’s. Demand has been reduced so much that it has not been necessary to build additional power plants. Mr. Wall noted that Gulf Power always makes decisions with an eye on how the decisions will impact the consumer. As a result, Gulf Power has raised rates only twice in the last twenty years. The latest increase was last year. Energy prices are based on two components: energy cost and fuel cost. They are not allowed to make a profit on the fuel component, so efficient production is a “must”.
Recently a new President, Mr. Stan Connally took over the reins of Gulf Power. Mr. Connally came from Georgia Power and is emphasizing Gulf Power’s role in community development. Only by having strong, growing communities can a utility like Gulf Power grow.
Mr. Wall also noted that the Southern Company, the parent company of Gulf Power, is building two new nuclear reactors on an existing nuclear site in Georgia. These reactors are almost completed and will the first new reactors in about twenty-five years. He also noted that the physical equipment of Southern Company and Gulf Power are in great shape. These companies have always had great maintenance programs. Southern Company has some “smart grid” technologies to monitor and control transmission and distribution systems.
Gulf Power has installed “smart meters” throughout its service area. The goal of these meters is to make customers happy with their electric service. While the equipment is somewhat different than that used by area electric co-ops, the goals are the same: to reduce cost and improve service. .
Gulf Power is working to strengthen local communities by supporting local economic development efforts. Recently Jennife Conoley was hired away from the Bay County Economic Development Alliance to provide more local support. Gulf Power also supports the United Way and the American Cancer Society Relay For Life.
Mr. Wall noted that the Chipley Water Tower would be demolished soon. The icehouse next to the tower was originally the Chipley Light and Power Office. In 1926 it was the first purchase of what became Gulf Power. The tower is structurally unsound. It will cost about $200,000 to repair, while it will cost only about $20,000 to demolish. The water tower was taken out of service some time in the 1970’s and no longer holds water. It was noted that it might be a historical landmark.
Jan Page, President of Community South Credit Union, announced that its Relay For Life Team would be grilling racks of ribs on Thursday, March 21 at the Credit Union. The ribs will be $20 per rack.
The mission of the Kiwanis Club is “To change the world, one child and one community at a time.” In order to do this, the Chipley Kiwanis Club conducts fundraising activities throughout the year to help support different activities throughout Washington County. The Kiwanis club meets Tuesdays at Patillo’s restaurant in the middle of the WHTC campus at noon. For an invitation, contact any Kiwanian or Laura Joine, Membership Chairperson at 638-0250. For more information about the Kiwanis Club of Chipley, visit www.ChipleyKiwanis.com.