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TELL CITY - Mike Hammack, chief executive officer of Southern Indiana Rural Electric Cooperative, recently announced the co-op will change its name June 20. The organization's new name will be Southern Indiana Power.
"Our name does not portray how we have evolved into more than an electric provider. We often receive phone calls from people thinking we're Southern Indiana Recreation," Hammack said.
One reason for the name change is the cooperative now offers more than just electricity. It offers long-distance telephone service, surge protection, off-peak heating systems, water heaters and high-efficiency lighting, including low-energy light bulbs.
"We also provide high-speed Internet service in a joint venture with other co-operatives," Hammack said. "We intend to offer additional products and services in the future. We want a new name to express the broad range of products and services we provide, and to project a more up-to-date image."
"A second reason for the change," Hammack added, "is we have advanced so much from our beginning. This is a great way to point out we are a full-service, high-tech electric utility operating in the 21st century. We now use laptops in our trucks, automated meter reading and system control and data acquisition systems to provide the best service possible. We utilize a Web site offering members an opportunity to view and pay their electric bill online; they even have the capability to look at their usage and payment history. Today's technology is a long way from how we dug post holes by hand 60 years ago."
Economic development is another important reason for the change, Hammack noted. "Our cooperative is continuously working to help create high-paying, more and better jobs for this region by trying to attract new industry. When dealing with major corporations, especially companies from outside the U.S., many may consider us as a small electric company incapable of providing the high-tech infrastructure needed for their industry. With our new name we will be able to project a more capable image and have a better chance of getting industry to locate in our service territory."
"Years ago when we were formed, our customers were entirely residential," Hammack explained. "By the mid-1990s, we were 75 percent residential. With the coming of industries such as ATTC, Waupaca and A.K. Steel, our revenue-customer mix has changed. We are now 75 percent industrial-commercial and 25 percent residential. So, how we appear to industry is very important to us and to all our members."
Another important reason for the name change is the possibility of deregulation, he said. The new name would help Southern be more competitive if consumers get to shop for their electricity.
"Only our name will change," Hammack said. "We will still be owned by our members, still offer reliable electricity and the same hands-on service our customers have come to expect. We will be the same employees you are used to seeing every day. We are still your friends and neighbors taking care of our members for all their electricity needs, and more."
"Besides," added Hammack, "at least now we won't receive any more calls for Southern Indiana Recreation."
Southern Indiana Rural Electric Cooperative was formed in 1939.
The company office is located at 1776 10th St. in Tell City.