Photo: Kevin Doddridge of Northcentral Electric Cooperative and Northcentral Connect at Wednesday’s Olive Branch Chamber luncheon. (Bob Bakken/DeSoto County News)
Northcentral Electric Cooperative CEO/General Manager Kevin Doddridge presented part of the program for the Olive Branch Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon on Wednesday. Doddridge gave a recap of the past year with the cooperative and what it is expecting in the next year ahead.
Northcentral Connect is the high-speed internet affiliate the cooperative is undertaking, making high-speed internet available in its service area, especially to areas where reliable internet is not presently available. Northcentral Connect is in the process of providing the service and also asking members to express interest in the service to their home. It is not a commitment to be hooked up but does allow Northcentral Connect to determine what areas have the greatest need.
Some of the progress on getting members hooked up has been slowed due to other issues, Doddridge said.
“We’re putting a quality product out there but due to supply chain constraints and labor issues it is not going quickly as we had hoped,” Doddridge said. “But we are doing it deliberately and responsibly. It’s a good product.”
Doddridge added Northcentral Connect is doubling up on labor to get more homes hooked up to the service.
“People enjoy the product,” Doddridge explained. “We’re going to continue to go as fast as we can, but responsibly. We’re going to keep plugging away.”
The supply chain issues include getting connecting devices that are backlogged and Doddridge added being responsible means working within the cooperative.
The products being offered and the fees are listed on the Northcentral Connect website.
Another area address during Doddridge’s comments Wednesday concerned rising electric bills, as much as 40 percent higher for customers, including his, Doddridge said.
“It was a perfect storm,” Doddridge said. “The usage and consumption of energy in July was at an all-time high. I don’t see any relief at all until maybe September. You’ve got the extreme heat, day after day, no relief, no clouds, no rain, coupled with high usage and high rates because of the fuel increases. It was a terrible time for it to happen but it did.”
Doddridge expects to work with all of the cooperative’s consumers who need pay arrangements and any other way to help them pay for their electricity.
“I’m hoping some of this will level out in the fall,” Doddridge said.