MONROE, Ga. – Imagine 20,000 semi-truck tankers filled with fresh water. That’s how much Walton Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) is saving every day due to its innovative solar power efforts.
Those efforts were recently recognized when the Georgia Water Coalition (GWC) presented the Clean 13 Water Heroes Award to the cooperative against a backdrop of solar panels at one of Walton EMC’s Cooperative Solar installations. The award is typically given at the organization’s annual gala. Instead, the COVID-19 crisis necessitated a small, outdoor, local event.
GWC annually names the Clean 13 list not only to recognize positive efforts on behalf of Georgia’s water, but also as a call to action for our state’s leaders and citizens to review these success stories, borrow from, and emulate them.
In Georgia, more water is used to produce electricity than for any other purpose. Expanding the Walton EMC solar portfolio not only provides more clean energy, it also prevents the withdrawal of hundreds of millions of gallons of water.
Among the activities that GWC cited as leading to the award is the cooperative’s Cooperative Solar program, where Walton EMC customer-owners buy blocks of solar power to offset the electricity they use that is generated by traditional means.
The other achievement mentioned is Walton EMC’s execution of 232 megawatts of additional solar energy contracts in 2019 to supply Facebook’s Newton Data Center with 100 percent renewable energy. Southeast Community Development Manager Katie Comer represented Facebook in celebrating the award.
“We are here today to salute Walton EMC’s responsiveness to their customer-owners’ desire to lessen their impact on our world,” said Mike Worley, Georgia Wildlife Federation president/CEO and member of the GWC leadership team. “Their customer-owners wanted the opportunity to use clean, renewable power and Walton EMC has responded to that desire with one of the most aggressive solar development programs in their industry. Congratulations to Walton EMC and its customer-owners on this tremendous initiative and accomplishments to date, and to the future of their conservation investments.”
Also attending the ceremony was Bryan Jacob, solar program director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE). “SACE nominated Walton EMC for the Clean 13 when they leapt to the top of our annual SunRiser list in last year’s Solar in the Southeast report,” said Jacob. “This year, they remained the top SunRiser as they announced an additional 232 megawatts of solar projects for Facebook’s Newton Data Center. SACE congratulates Walton EMC on this well-deserved honor.”
“As a cooperative, our primary focus is serving the needs of our customer-owners,” said Greg Brooks, Walton EMC community and public relations director. “That need used to be simply having electric service. We have evolved so now as well as supplying affordable, reliable electric power, we can also give them the choice of how some of that power is generated.”
The Georgia Water Coalition is a consortium of more than 260 conservation and environmental organizations, hunting and fishing groups, businesses and faith-based organizations that have been working to protect Georgia’s water since 2002. Collectively, these organizations represent thousands of Georgians.
Walton EMC is an innovative, customer-owned and -focused electric utility serving accounts in 10 Northeast Georgia counties between Atlanta and Athens. In its long history of meeting customer-owners’ needs, the cooperative established successful natural gas and security subsidiaries as well as nationally recognized residential consumer and commercial customer choice solar initiatives. For more information, visit waltonemc.com.