Current News and Press Releases
GCU-gas and water members:
The Annual Membership Meeting of Graham County Utilities Inc has been POSTPONED because of COVID-19. The new meeting date has not been determined but will likely be in the fall of 2020. A new notice will be sent to all members when a date has been scheduled.
The election for the Board of Directors will continue as normal and the results of the mail-in election will be reported at a later date.
Mail-in ballots were distributed to members the week of May 18th and are due in the GCU office at 9 W. Center (or by mailing), by noon on Thursday, June 4, 2020. DO NOT SEND PAYMENTS WITH YOUR BALLOT.
NOTICE TO ASHCREEK WATER COMPANY CUSTOMERS
On May 7, 2020, Graham County Utilities, Inc. took over interim management duties for Ashcreek Water Company in place of its current interim manager, Gonzalez Utility Services. From that date forward until further notice, Graham County Utilities, Inc. will read your water meters, issue and collect customer bills, turn water service on and off, and operate and maintain the Ashcreek Water system under an Interim Management Agreement.
Graham County Utilities, Inc. is not affiliated with Ashcreek Water Company and cannot resolve past issues that you may have had with that company or its owners. As interim manager, we will strive to provide you with quality water service.
If you have any questions about your water service, please call or visit our office located at 9 West Center Street, Pima Arizona, (928) 485-2451, Monday through Thursday from 7am to 5:30pm. For emergency service matters outside normal business hours, please call (928) 485-2451. All payments, fees and charges (including all bills and charges sent to you previously by Ashcreek Water Company or the previous interim manager, Gonzalez Utility Services) and all correspondence should be sent to: Graham County Utilities, Inc., PO Drawer B, Pima, AZ 85543. We look forward to meeting your water needs and providing you with quality customer service.
Graham County Utilities, Inc.
Interim Manager, Ashcreek Water Company
RESOURCES AVAILABLE: $16 Million in Low-Income Home Energy Assistance is Now Available to AZ Customers During COVID-19 Hot Summer Months, $1 Million for Tribes
REMOTELY FROM TUCSON - In anticipation of the coming summer months, Arizona Corporation Commissioner Lea Márquez Peterson urges struggling electric and gas customers to contact their local Community Action Program (CAP) and utility companies as soon as possible to receive additional help on their electric and gas bills before the summer heat comes. An additional $16 million of emergency federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds have been made available to households throughout Arizona in need of energy assistance in the coming summer months and approximately $1 million has been made available to tribes and tribal members for the energy assistance as well.
The following amounts were released to each jurisdiction on May 8, 2020:
Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families: https://liheapch.acf.hhs.gov/news/may20/900.htm.
For the entire press release click here.
GRAHAM COUNTY ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE AND GRAHAM COUNTY UTILITIES TAKEN TO LEVEL TWO PROTOCOL IMPLEMENTATIONS (posted 4-30-2020)
There has been a substantial increase in confirmed cases or presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 virus in Graham County.
Graham County Electric/Graham County Utilities (GCEC/GCU) implemented a COVID-19 Contingency Plan on Monday, March 16th, 2020. The original plan has been communicated to all GCEC/GCU personnel, directors, affiliated organizations, regulatory and local government officials. GCEC/GCU implemented Level One Protocols on March 16th and increased to Level Two Protocols which included the following on April 30, 2020.
Actions Taken to Date for Level Two Protocol Implementation
- All business-related travel will be suspended.
- All member services functions will be handled via telephone or web portal.
- All Board of Directors meetings will be suspended or conducted via telephone conference.
- All member meetings, such as annual meetings, will be suspended indefinitely.
- All staff personnel exhibiting symptoms will not be allowed to return to work, unless testing indicates negative for COVID-19.
- Vendors wishing to meet at Cooperative facilities will have to be approved by the CEO or the Assistant General Manager.
- Vendors wishing to visit shall be apprised of GCEC/GCU contingency plan status and ADHS’s Public Health Recommendations.
SUPPORTING OUR COMMUNITY IN THESE DIFFICULT TIMES (4-2-2020)
Planning for a health emergency, such as a pandemic, is difficult in any environment but particularly troublesome for smaller communities. Our community depends on the flow of goods and services from businesses to consumers. Any interruption to our daily routines affects schools, employees, employers, and the overall economy. It requires businesses to prepare and operate with a modified workforce, a threatened supply chain, and limited support services for an extended period of time.
Cooperatives have a large support system designed to maintain the health and safety of the people working for them and to ensure that business critical operations continue without interruption. These measures help ensure that we continue to provide reliable services during an unprecedented time in our community, state and nation.
Local businesses often do not have a support system to help in these troubling times. Several federal and state programs are being created or modified to assist small businesses and employees through these challenging times. Some examples are listed in the attached document here.
GRAHAM COUNTY ELECTRIC COOP & GRAHAM COUNTY UTILITIES TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF MEMBERS SERVICE DISCONNECTS DURING COVID-19 (posted 4-2-2020)
Our community faces challenging and uncertain times during this COVID-19 crisis. Previous communications explained the temporary suspension of disconnecting member services including electric, water and gas services for non-payment. Also, late payment penalties and/or interest for non-payment will be waived during this pandemic. It is important to remember co-ops are built by, and belong to, the communities we serve. Not-for-profit co-ops desire to keep utility costs as low as possible, this means high rates of nonpayment are not sustainable.
- A few points to remember:
- The temporary suspension of disconnects is not forgiveness of a utility bill. Members will still be required to pay their utility bills at a later date when we return to normal business operations.
- Paying a portion of your bill will help avoid a large multi-month balance when the pandemic is over.
- We welcome the opportunity to help members with deferred payment plans and offer other assistance where a financial hardship exists. Please contact Ann at 928.485.2451 option #4 to discuss deferred payment options.
We have taken these steps to reduce stress and provide local families and businesses with certainty during an uncertain and difficult time in our community.
OFFICE LOBBY CLOSURE: (posted 3-19-2020)
Graham County Electric Coop and Graham County Utilities places safety of our members and our employees as a priority. During these unprecedented times and due to a confirmed case(s) or presumptive positive case(s) of COVID-19 virus in Graham County, we will be implementing the following effective immediately:
• Suspension of electric, water and gas service disconnects for non-payment.
• Suspension of late payment penalties and/or interest for non-payment.
• Close lobby to in-person customer payments and member services.
• Payments can be made through the drive-in window, placed in the night drop box, calling 1-877-807-6608 or on-line payments (click here).
• Outside crews and meter department personnel will avoid direct contact with the public.
• Crews required to meet with the public will maintain a minimum of six feet of separation (social distancing).
• Any employee(s) or directors(s) exhibiting symptoms will be immediately sent home.
• Anyone sent home will be required to report to their primary care physician for screening and possible testing.
• All common areas within the Pima Headquarters will be disinfected daily.
• All common areas within the Plant facilities will be disinfected daily.
• Business travel will be approved only by the CEO or the Assistant General Manager.
There are avenues for our services. For a full list of payment options - click here, to check your balance - log in here, and to connect services - click here. For any further questions, please contact our office during normal business hours, Monday-Thursday, 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at 928.485.2451.
3 DIRECTOR POSITIONS AVAILABLE:
Directors up for re-election to the GCU board are: Dennis Jacob, Tommy Clonts, and Gene Larson. GCU director election petitions are available beginning April 7th and due back to Co-op office no later than April 30th at 5:30 p.m. If you are interested in running for a Board of Director position, click here for more information.
HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS APPLY BEFORE MARCH 1ST FOR THE GCEC/GCU FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIP. ASK YOUR SCHOOL COUNCILOR HOW TO APPLY.
SAVE BIG ON LED LIGHTING:
GCEC and ACE Hardware in Safford, AZ have partnered for a savings on LED lights. Members need to ask about the savings during checkout.
With almost 36 years of combined experience, Bill Bolinger started his career in 1984 with General Utilities. In 1989, General Utilities was bought, and Graham County Utilities was formed under the direction of Graham County Electric Cooperative board, where Bill continued his service until his retirement in January 2020. Bill wore many hats during his tenure in the gas and water department: laborer, serviceman, welder and foreman. Much change has come about for pipeline safety through the years, and Bill was committed to providing safe, reliable gas and water to the members. He was dependable and worked tirelessly maintaining lines. During his final year, Bill worked closely with the geographic information system department to transfer his knowledge of the location of water valves and lines to the mapping technology software. Bill was instrumental in teaching employees proper construction and line maintenance. His wealth of knowledge will be sorely missed.
Stacey Perkins also retired in January 2020. She started as a part-time cashier in 2004. In 2008, she transferred to full time. Stacey has seen many changes during her tenure at the co-op. One of the biggest is when the office staff needed to reach an outside worker, they used to use a two-way dispatch radio. All of the outside crews had radio numbers. She had to learn their
number to reach them. Now, the office staff use cellphones. Stacey says what she misses most are the people who came into the office to make their payments. She got to know the
members and misses that interaction with them. Since retiring, Stacey has spent time with some of her 27 grandchildren. She wants to travel and visit her three kids who live out of state. She also wants to do something big. “I don’t know what it is yet, but it will be epic!” she says. Her future also includes serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints with her husband. Below, the office staff wish Stacey farewell.
VANDALISM IS A CRIME:
We need your help! Sometime between January 2nd and January 9th, Graham County Utilities experienced vandalism on their water tanks that provide drinking water for Pima and Eden. Someone shot multiple times, with a high caliber weapon, causing substantial damage and leakage. The shots came from the south side of tank hill (Rogers reservoir area). Not only is this possibly placing residences in danger, it is a federal crime to tamper with a domestic water supply. A reward of $1,500 is offered for the arrest and conviction of these person or persons. If you have any knowledge of this illegal activity, please contact Pima Police Chief Diane Cauthen at 928.485.9454.
DIRECTOR RECEIVES EDUCATION CERTIFICATE:
Recently Steven Hooper received the Credentialed Cooperative Director Certificate (CCD) for completing 5 core courses. Graham County Electric Co-op offers Directors the opportunity to invest in ongoing education courses. Director education courses are available through conferences and other meetings. Programs are offered through National Rural Electric Association (NRECA) by instructors that are experts in their fields with more than 20 years of co-op experience. The energy industry is changing and the directors need to keep up with these changes in order to serve members and the community effectively. The Directors are given training in core skills, knowledge and abilities to effectively fulfill their fiduciary duties. Thank you to these directors for taking time out of their busy schedules to be educated on key issues and trends facing electric cooperatives now and in the future. Pictured is GCEC Present Dennis Jacob presenting certificate to Mr. Hooper.
Governor Doug Ducey calls for increasing broadband investment to rural areas. (see full press release here)
In an effort to continue to improve system reliability, GCEC has contracted with Sundance Power Pole Inspection, Inc. to test and inspect power poles and overhead electrical facilities located in the area beginning at Highway 70 and Klondyke Rd, going NW approximately 25 miles to the North side of Bylas. This will affect Cork, Ft. Thomas, Geronimo and Bylas. Sundance PPI will need access to your property to allow crews to work safe and efficiently. Please contact Rusty Sherman at 928.485.2451 if you have any concerns with the project.
CHRISTMAS AND THE HOLIDAYS ARE FOR GIVING AROUND THE COMMUNITY:
Graham County Electric entered a float in the Safford Downtown Light Parade held in early December. Much work was done under the direction of GCEC Compliance Officer and Special Projects Manager Jenny Howard, to make and assemble the Snoopy airplane flying above the dog house. The parade theme was "Believe". Everyone remembers this 1966 Christmas Dog fight between Snoopy and the Red Baron. "....Was the night before Christmas, 40 below. When Snoopy went up in search of his foe. He spied the Red Baron, fiercely they fought. With ice on his wings, Snoopy knew he was caught......" Graham County Electric & Utilities Co-op is committed to providing safe, reliable and efficient resources to enhance the lives, the members and communities they serve. Graham County Electric Cooperative won first place in the "large business" category by the float judges. Funds in the amount of $300 where donated to Mt. Graham Safe House.
Christmas House lighting contest was won by Manny Talavera from Pima.
Here are a few children who visited with Santa on December 23rd in our office in Pima. There were many smiles and Christmas excitement. Visit our Facebook page to see more pictures.
PLEASE JOIN US IN OUR TOY DRIVE: Now accepting new unwrapped toys & cash donations at the Co-op Office until December 16th. We hope to bring smiles to some kids and families this year.
DECORATE YOUR HOUSES WITH CHRISTMAS LIGHTS: Once again, Graham County Electric Coop will be holding its annual Christmas light decorating for our members. Please send a picture of your house decorated with lights, your name, address and contact information via our website (www.gce.coop) via "contact us" tab. Deadline for submission is December 20th, 2019. Our judges will go out the week of December 22nd to judge the homes. If you have questions, please contact Diane Junion at 928.485.2451 X8654. Thanks for your participation.
THANKSGIVING DONATIONS COLLECTED AND DONATED TO ST. VINCENT de PAUL: The directors and employees donated just under 200 pounds of groceries consisting of turkey's with all the fixings. St. Vincent de Paul was able to provide Thanksgiving dinner to families in our community. Together we can all make a difference.
WASHINGTON YOUTH TOUR-
The trip of a lifetime from our local students who attended Washington Youth Tour!
EPA Issues Final Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule. The ACE rule replaces proposed Obama-era Clean Power Plan with one that provides flexibility as utilities continue to lower carbon emissions, (see press release here)
GCU (gas & water) ANNUAL MEETING SCHEDULED (see details here)
First Responders and Neighboring Utilities annual safety training: Graham County Utilities invited local departments and staff of neighboring utilities who are involved with natural gas or electric emergencies to a community training meeting in July 2019. They discussed department preparations, capabilities and safety precautions needed before, during and after utility emergencies. Gas and Water Superintendent Wes Reidhead provided utility service area information and available equipment, while Safety & Loss Control Coordinator provided emergency contact information and discussion. Those individuals attending were briefed on coordination efforts and were able to discuss possible scenarios. This is the 2nd annual liaison training provided by GCEC/GCU.
DAVID LOCK NAMED CEO OF GCSECA (see press release here)
EMPLOYEE COMPLETES COOPERATIVE FINANCIAL PROGRAM:
On April 1st, Graham County Electric Coop President Dennis Jacob presented CFO/Administrative Services Manager Than Ashby with his Cooperative Financial Professional Certificate (CFPC). Mr. Ashby attended this two-week program where he learned concepts and practices to think beyond the data and successfully position GCEC for the future. In addition to the classroom sessions, Mr. Ashby produced a "capstone" project, in which he presented to the board of directors earlier this year. The program is co-sponsored by National Rural Electric Cooperative Administration (NRECA) and Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC). Mr. Ashby joined other co-op individuals nationwide to enhance the effectiveness of managing the financial aspects of their co-ops and gain skills in identifying and taking advantage of strategic opportunities. Congratulations on completing the program and receiving your Cooperative Financial Professional Certificate!
GCEC RECEIVES AEPCO CAPITAL CREDITS:
During the April board meeting, AEPCO CEO Patrick Ledger presented a check to GCEC Board President Dennis Jacob. The funds are retired capital credits from AEPCO which generates the power GCEC uses to distribute to their members.
The officer staff wish Jeniffer Chesley happy retirement with a large bouquet of flowers, as she retired as Special Billing Specialist in mid-January. She had been employed with GCEC/GCU for over 14 years. You probably either saw Jeniffer in the lobby while making your payment or you might have spoken with her on the phone. She began her career coop coop as a part-time cashier in July 2005. She quickly became a full-time cashier by November of 2005. Over the years, Jeniffer helped in the Member Service Department with new connections and disconnections. Since January 2018, Jeniffer was the Special Billing Specialist. Thank you for your service to the coop members! We will miss you Jeniffer!
In January, Robert (Bob) Merino and Cliff White retired from Graham County Electric Cooperative.
Bob started at GCEC in 1973, having many different job duties, including meter reading, meter man, and line locator. During his tenure on the line crew, he worked on installation and calibration of electric, gas and water meters. He also did solar inspections for the cooperative. He said, "it was a great opportunity to dissect problems and use my curiosity of why the problem exists and then figure out a solution." Upon retirement, Bob plans on staying busy with his hobbies.
Cliff began work with GCEC in 2007. He worked as the maintenance mechanic on all of the coop's vehicles. He had to keep records and logs of the entire GCEC and GCU fleet. He recalls the fleet increasing over the years, Cliff plans on building custom cars, traveling, and spending time with family and friends..........just enjoying life!
A plaque and an electric meter replica lamp were presented to the retirees, during a luncheon, in December.
DIRECTORS RECEIVE ACCREDITATIONS:
Graham County Electric offers Directors the opportunity to invest in ongoing education courses. Director education courses are available through conferences and other meetings. Programs are offered through National Rural Electric Association (NRECA) by instructors that are experts in their fields with more than 20 years of co-op experience. The energy industry is changing and the directors need to keep up with these changes in order to serve members and the community effectively. The Directors are given training in core skills, knowledge and abilities to effectively fulfill their fiduciary duties. Recently Mark Claridge received the Credentialed Cooperative Director Certificate (CCD) for completing 5 core courses. Both Gene Robert Larson and Dennis Jacob received the Board Leadership Certificate (BLC) for completing 15 credit courses having 8 specialty areas. Thank you to these directors for taking time out of their busy schedules to be educated on key issues and trends facing electric cooperatives now and in the future. Pictured is CEO/General Manager presenting certificate and pin to each of the directors; Mark Claridge, Gene Robert Larson, and Dennis Jacob.
Town Hall Meetings held in your area:
Several Town Halls were held in Graham County Electric's service territory. The primary discussion was concerning opposing of Prop 127. Thank you to everyone who attend town hall meetings in Ft. Thomas, Pima, Solomon, Safford and Bylas. The voters in Graham County defeated
Thank you to those who attended on October 15th at the Thunderbird Hills Clubhouse near Swift Trail
Thank you to those who attended on October 22nd in Bylas at Stanley Hall
Thank you to those who attended Pima Town Hall on October 8th:
Thank you to those who attended Solomon American Legion on Thursday, October 4th:
Attendees at Ft. Thomas Town Hall:
Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative Association Launches Opposition Campaign to Proposition 127
Congressman Tom O'Halleran meets with GCEC/GCU board and management
On August 4th, GCEC/GCU board members and management were able to discuss issues facing utility cooperatives with Congressman Tom O'Halleran. Topics of concern were the Farm Bill, the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program (REDLG), Rural Energy Savings Program (RESP), and the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act. Congressman O'Halleran is a member of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, which has close ties with the U.S. Department of Ag and has many programs which benefit electric cooperatives and its members nationwide. He also hosted the GCEC students for "Meet your Congressman" in June, during the Graham County Electric Coop Washington Youth Tour in D.C.
GCU President Jeff Larson meets Arizona's 1st Congressional District Candidate Tiffany Shedd
Tiffany Shedd attended the Graham County Utilities Annual Meeting on Saturday, June 2nd. She is running for Arizona's 1st Congressional District seat.
GCEC FOUNDATION RECEIVES UNCLAIMED CAPITAL CREDIT FUNDS
CEO/General Manager Kirk Gray and GCEC Board President present check for unclaimed capital credits for 1972 and a portion of 2014 to GCEC Foundation Board President Kim Larkey and Vice President Reuben McBride.
Graham County Electric Coop Operations Manager Prepares for the Future-Rusty Sherman graduates from the Management Internship Program
Madison, WI, April 2018: Graham County Electric Cooperative’s Operations Manager Rusty Sherman has completed an intensive program in electric utility management with the University of Wisconsin, - Madison.
The Robert I. Kabat Management Internship Program (MIP) is a series of workshops offered by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin. The program guides participants through all facets of the electric utility industry, including the many changes occurring around the nation.
Rusty Sherman is one of only a few electric utility management staff that will graduate from the Management Internship Program this year. MIP participants go through three 10-day sessions designed to challenge and educate participants in new, innovative management techniques. Participants leave with a better understanding of what consumers want and how to ensure they get it.
By also covering the unique principles that govern the operations of electric cooperatives, the program helps the co-op analyze other business ventures it may want to enter as well as enhancing the core organization.
Only rural electric cooperative CEOs and top level management participate in the program. This allows greater emphasis of study, on management challenges and the aspects of consumer-ownership that cooperatives enjoy. Participants learn focus on member value as part of day-to-day decision making.
Rusty Sherman has completed one of the most exclusive educational programs in the nation for electric cooperative management.
Graham County Electric is committed to provide members with affordable cost effective energy solutions. Visit the Energy Programs tab for more information.
THANK YOU DENNIS JACOB FOR YOUR SERVICE ON THE STATEWIDE BOARD
Graham County Electric Board President Dennis Jacob receives service award from Graham Canyon State Electric Association (GCSECA). He served on the GCSECA Board of Directors from 2014 to 2017. Pictured are GCEC CEO/General Manager Kirk Gray and Dennis Jacob.
ACES DONATES TO GRAHAM COUNTY ELECTRIC FOUNDATION TOWARDS CHRISTMAS DRIVE
On December 21, 2017 ACES donated $250 plus numerous toys and gifts to help Graham County Electric Foundation provide a memorable Christmas to 4 GCEC/GCU families.and assist 57 other coop members with utility assistance. ACES is a nationwide energy management company that assists Graham County Electric Cooperative with electric strategies and marketing. We want to publicly thank Houston Reynolds who represented ACES in helping us deliver gifts. Pictured below is CEO/General Manager Kirk Gray and ACES Field Representative Houston Reynolds.
NEW TRANSMISSION LINE
Graham County Electric is in the process of changing out Transmission Poles that are over 50 years old. This Project will give our members a more reliable electric service.
Our Cooperative's Powerlines are sometimes in the most remote and rugged places. This Transmission line is between the Pima and Cork Substations.
This picture is of our Line Crew setting a sixty foot Transmission Pole. Team Work, that's the Cooperative way.