October 28, 2021, marked the 80th anniversary of Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative (GCEC)
As the country moved into a new millennium, Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative kept up with the times by expanding its systems and services and buying additional land for future operations.
- At the annual meeting, Manager Roy Barnes announced the cooperative would soon provide water to the community of Southport, expanding the system into the Resota Beach community. Barnes also reported the cooperative was reviewing the feasibility of a wastewater system for these areas and planned to provide that service later.
- The cooperative purchased an additional 295 acres of land along Edwards Road across from the Southport office.
- The cooperative’s water system progressed to serving more than 700 meters in Southport, and contract crews were constructing the system for the Resota Beach area.
- The cooperative reached an agreement with Bay County to provide wastewater service in the Southport/Resota Beach area within 10 years. Plans began for the first phase.
- The board approved building additions in Southport and Wewahitchka.
- GCEC board member James “Jim” Lancin died. The board approved seating Gus Wise for Lancin’s unexpired term.
- The GCEC water system served more than 1,500 meters.
- James Cooley moved outside the GCEC service area; therefore, he resigned from the board of trustees. Rupert Brown was elected to fill the vacancy.
- The cooperative tabulated costs for poles and other materials for the Highway 77 four-lane project.
- The cooperative participated in the National Child Identification Program.
- GCEC began its Kenick surge protection program.
- The Southport water system had more than 1,600 meters.
- GCEC sent crews to assist co-ops affected by Hurricanes Charley and Frances.
- Hurricane Ivan made landfall on September 15, leaving 69% of GCEC members without power. All power was restored by September 17.
- GCEC filed a claim with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to recover some of the cost associated with storm damage from Hurricanes Frances and Ivan.
- Coy Brahier resigned from the board of trustees. He had served on the board for 26 years. When he became a board member in 1978, the co-op had less than 5,000 members. At the time of his retirement, the co-op had grown to 19,200 members. Coy witnessed many changes through the years, including purchasing power from Alabama Electric Cooperative instead of Gulf Power, development of the water system, and construction of the Southport office.
- The board approved the appointment of Robert Byrd to fill the vacancy left by Coy’s resignation.
- A vacancy opened on the board of trustees in District II, Group 1, when Lowrey Wilhite decided not to run for reelection. Lowrey served on the board for 19 years. The board approved the appointment of Waylon Graham to fill his vacancy.
- Hurricane Dennis inflicted $70,000 in damage to the GCEC distribution system.
- GCEC sent crews to assist three cooperatives—Baldwin EMC and Singing River Electric Power Association in Alabama and Washington-St. Tammany Electric Cooperative in Louisiana—when they were affected by Hurricane Katrina.
- GCEC’s water system in the Southport/ Resota Beach area had 1,750 meters.
- The cooperative began to consider selling the water and wastewater system to Bay County.
- The cooperative began offering its members the capability to view and pay bills online.
- The wastewater plant was completed.
- Alabama Electric Cooperative changed its name to PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.
- Trustee Ronald McGill resigned from the board. After applicants were interviewed to fill the vacancy, the board voted by secret ballot to elect Jimmy Black.
- GCEC sold the water and wastewater system to Bay County.
- In September, candidates were interviewed to fill the board vacancy resulting from the passing of L.L. Lanier. The board voted by secret ballot after interviews were completed. Douglas Birmingham was elected to the position.
- In 2009, beloved GCEC employee Alfredia Owens died.
- Roy Barnes retired from his position as general manager of GCEC.
- A board seat was vacated by the resignation of E.P. Fuqua. Interviews were conducted to fill the vacancy. Gary Cox was elected as the new board member.
- The United States Air Force signed an agreement with Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative in 2010 as part of the privatization process for Tyndall Air Force Base. GCEC was awarded a 50-year contract to own and maintain the base’s electric and water distribution systems. The contract commenced on June 1, 2011. As a result of this contract, the cooperative purchased a building located at 6243 Highway 98 in Parker and opened its third office location.
- Donna Brock retired after 25 years of service.
- Beloved employee Tony “T-Bone” Turner died in a boating accident.
- The Two-Way Automatic Communications System was fully functional. This upgrade in technology allowed GCEC to go from using physical meter reading in the field to computer-generated communications with each meter on a 24/7 basis.
- The Ebro Substation was completed.
- At the 65th annual members’ meeting, Betty Moore became the first female director in Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative history.
- Two employee award systems began: the Alfredia Owens Member Service Award and the Tony “T-Bone” Turner Hustle Award—named in honor and in memory of their namesakes, who died while employed by the cooperative.
- Employees began to receive training on automated external defibrillators. AEDs were placed in cooperative offices and vehicles.
- The Sandy Creek Substation was completed.
- The cooperative introduced the capability for members to pay their bills over the phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, using an IVR system.