Wake Electric growing to meet member needs

For six of the past seven years, Wake Electric has been the fastest growing electric cooperative in North Carolina. To keep up with that growth, the local electric cooperative is expanding its Youngsville office.

Groundbreaking on the new facility has begun and will soon provide Wake Electric additional flexibility in serving members. The project is expected to be completed this time next year and will not have an impact on electric rates.

“Actually, we decreased rates in 2019 and 2020 and we are planning to keep rates the same in 2021 and hopefully beyond,” said Suzy Morgan, Wake Electric’s board president.

Wake Electric’s current Youngsville facility was built nearly 40 years ago when 8-track tapes were still a thing and Wake Electric served about 15,000 members. The co-op now serves three times that many and continues to grow rapidly.

“It’s kind of like when you and your spouse buy a nice little townhome which fits you perfectly and then a couple of kids later it’s busting at the seams,” said Don Bowman, vice president of engineering and operations. “That’s where we are at with our facility now.”

As Wake Electric adds thousands of new members each year that means more demand for equipment like wires, pole and transformers and more trucks to continue to provide the excellent service to local members for which Wake Electric is known. The renovations will include more warehouse space, additional room for vehicles and new lineworker support facilities.

“Our vehicle fleet has grown a lot in the last four decades and our current facility just wasn’t meant to handle the size and number of trucks we currently use,” Bowman said. “We lose a lot of time moving vehicles in and out so we can load them, maintain them, test them and operate them safely.”

When the new facility opens, Wake Electric will have five times more warehouse space which will enable the co-op to better serve its members.

“We can’t even fit a forklift in our current warehouse. Anything we store in there has to be carried in and out by hand,” Morgan said. “We’re one of the fastest growing utilities in the state, we should give our members and our employees the facilities to support that.”