EnergyUnited Logo
Close Menu
Feb '24
In this issue:

A Letter from Our CEO

Thomas Golden

Every year for Valentine’s Day, an estimated 145 million greeting cards are exchanged in the U.S. alone, according to Hallmark, making it the second largest holiday for greeting cards after Christmas (from And while this holiday typically takes on a more personal tone, for the sake of this letter I’d like to put a “friendly” spin on it. This season offers us the opportunity to share how much we appreciate and care for the people around us, and that includes you, our members.

The single biggest thing that sets us apart is you, our members. As a not-for-profit, we are committed to providing you with the most reliable energy at the lowest possible cost, not because it benefits stakeholders, but because it’s what’s right for our members.

Our initiatives are carried by that same drive: to keep our members happy with 99.9% safe, reliable energy. As a cooperative, we maintain more than 11,000 miles of energized power lines. To put this number in perspective: If this infrastructure was stretched out over a straight line, it would cover about the same distance as from Charlotte to Perth, Australia.

That makes maintaining this reliability stat no easy feat. And yet, our commitment to you does not waiver. This year, we will continue our third year of copper replacement which helps prevent outages and reduce line losses over time, among many other infrastructural improvements.

Though this year is just getting off the ground, I am excited for all that 2024 holds. We value you and always work with your best interest at heart. After all, our cooperative is a powerful thing, and the community and love that energizes it, equally so.

Thomas Golden, CEO

Member Spotlight Atom Power, INC.

Established in 2014, Atom Power, Inc., has grown from inventing the world’s first UL-listed commercial solid-state digital circuit breaker, The Atom Switch™, to using this technology to establish larger electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure across North America and abroad.

Headquartered in Huntersville, NC, we recently sat down with Atom Power founder Ryan Kennedy to learn more about his business and the future of electricity in our state and nation.

Ryan, would you mind giving us a quick overview of Atom Power?

The first four years of Atom Power were spent developing the first commercial UL-listed digital solid-state circuit breaker, the Atom Switch. This technology uses a semiconductor to interrupt current flow instead of a mechanical device, which means there are no moving parts involved when opening and closing a circuit. Other integral components include voltage and current sensors, power supply, control board and communication supply. This all translates well to large-scale situations because we can create a universal system with digital, software-defined energy patterns. This made the transition to EV charging a natural shift.

Where and how many Atom Power chargers are currently installed or in service?

Locally, we recently partnered with Frito-Lay to help establish the company’s first 100% electric fleet at their Charlotte distribution site. We also installed chargers at Mecklenburg Paint Company to help them transition their fleet to EVs. Beyond local partners, we’ve seen significant growth nationally. Last year, we completed a deployment at LA LIVE – a major events center where they host the Oscars.

What has been Atom Power’s experience with EnergyUnited?

We’re a cooperative member of EnergyUnited and have a manufacturing facility that requires a lot of energy, so having access to reliable and sustainable energy is critical.

What is your vision for the future of the region’s EV charging infrastructure?

Atom Power is committed to supporting North Carolina and helping deploy reliable EV infrastructure across our state and the nation. I’m a Charlotte native and graduate of UNC-C so I feel honored to call on the great talent pool and location to help lay the groundwork for this future. We want to help businesses thrive with cost-effective EV fleets, help companies provide reliable EV charging within workplace campuses to promote higher in-person attendance, and of course, ultimately help create a greener future for all.

Celebrating Black History Month

February is Black History Month; a federally recognized celebration of the contributions African Americans have made to this country. Black History Month allows us the opportunity to pay tribute to the generations of African Americans who have struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship and the continued plight for racial justice within American society. It grants us the chance to pause and recognize the triumphs, contributions and lived experiences of African Americans today, and every day. Here we highlight some of our own EnergyUnited employees on what Black History Month means to them.

LaQuisha Parks
(LEFT) VP of Energy Services & Corporate Communications

“Black History is American history. The month of February is a moment in time to celebrate the notable accomplishments, significant contributions, indelible marks, meaningful impacts and some of the forgotten successes that black people have made and those we continue to make in this country, and in the world. It is a moment in time to honor our greatness and strengthen the fabric of our existence by celebrating not only our inventions but our traditions, culture and the very essence of our humanity. My very existence stems from successful entrepreneurs, business owners, engineers, janitors and farmers. For me, it’s a moment in time to bask in the beauty of my make-up, to reflect on the relevance of my framework and to proudly and unapologetically commemorate the events that serve as catalysts for Black History in my own family and beyond. It’s a moment in time to pay homage to those who created pathways from pain, opportunities from opposition, and the right to vote. It’s a moment in time to remember that freedom is not free. It’s a time that I celebrate the legacy and the love of my people, united with all people, as one people.”

Justin Crews
(MIDDLE) Distribution Designer

“February is National Black History Month, an opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of Black Americans and their myriad contributions to all aspects of American culture and progress. While representation matters every day, Black History Month is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate our many achievements throughout our nation’s history, as well as share our collective stories and experiences! It is an opportunity to understand Black stories, uplift Black voices and recognize those who have had influence in our culture and history. As a Black man, I am accustomed to hearing and experiencing the negative stereotypes pertaining to the Black race. Black History Month serves to me as a breath of fresh air, if you will. For this brief amount of time, Black culture is recognized for its positive contribution to this world, reminding us that there is a lot of greatness that has come out of the Black race and a lot of greatness that is still to come!”

Maria Prato
(RIGHT) HR Coordinator

“Black History Month is a significant celebration for me as it honors the invaluable contributions of African Americans throughout history. It’s a time to reflect on resilience, achievements and cultural richness. We are encouraged to evaluate our present, reflect on our past and plan for our future. It serves as a good reminder of our indelible imprint on world history. I see it as a time to shed light on how the Black community continues to advance culture, industry and society amid social injustices.”

Getting to know The new VP of IT Ryan Gardner

Ryan was fortunate to know at an early age that he wanted to work in IT, and joined the Army as an Active Army Reserve Soldier at 18, working Signal Corps in an IT-related MOS. He then earned his associate degree from Forsyth Tech in 1999 once he left active-duty training. While at Forsyth Tech, Ryan interned at an IT company in Greensboro, which gave him even more hands-on training and experience, and by the time he earned his degree, he was offered a position with that company.

His ambition steered him toward earning his bachelor’s degree. He attended night classes at High Point University and later graduated with a major in CIS at Gardner-Webb University, all while he was in a systems/network administrator role in Charlotte. His career led him back to Winston-Salem where he accepted a position as an adjunct professor teaching IT at Forsyth Tech all while working a full time job as well. His leadership, communication, and presentation skills grew as he mentored students who had a passion for starting a career in IT. After three years, Ryan was encouraged and sponsored by leadership at NorthState to further his education.

Ryan continued his education at Wake Forest University where he would finally round out his education with an MBA. Ryan has always been driven to better himself and be the best that he can be, a quality that he looks forward to bringing to the IT department at EnergyUnited. Ryan is the proud father of two sons, Jaxson and Blake and together they love watching and playing sports. Welcome aboard, Ryan! We are thrilled to have you!

Love your Heart

Help promote American Heart Month throughout February and National Wear Red Day (February 3) to bring greater attention to heart disease as a leading cause of death for Americans. Better yet, take note of these healthy heart tips to keep your ticker happy.

1. Choose not to smoke, or quit smoking. Smoking damages blood vessels and can cause heart disease.

2. Schedule regular check-ups. Annual physical exams will allow your doctor to monitor your risk factors for heart disease and help you make necessary lifestyle changes.

3. Get active. You should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, a guideline that only 1 in 5 adults meet.

If the Power Grid has a Backbone, This is It.

In January, our Every Day Empowered story examined the 11,000-plus miles of power lines that are owned, operated and maintained by EnergyUnited. However, if the power grid has a backbone, you could make a well-reasoned argument that it would be made up of its utility poles. If you are an EnergyUnited member or live in one of the many communities served by the cooperative, you will see them each day while driving or spending time with family and friends. We know this because EnergyUnited owns more than 180,000 poles with 80,000 attachments. That amounts to more than 17 poles per mile of line.

Economic Impact of Utility Poles

While some communities express varying sentiments surrounding the use of utility poles that are either focused on service quality or aesthetics, our previous story in January offered a glimpse of the economic impact of this infrastructure. As we noted last month, overhead line construction costs today range between $160,000 and $200,000 per mile of line, while underground line construction can cost as much as $1 million per mile of line.

If the cooperative installed underground lines exclusively and its line construction costs were five times more expensive across the board, that difference would certainly be felt by EnergyUnited members in the form of higher rates. However, the impact of such a change would also be felt by cable and broadband customers who benefit from the cost-effective solution of attaching cable and fiber infrastructure to existing utility poles that are owned by EnergyUnited. In fact, the impact for these customers would be even more significant.

Pole Replacements

In 2023, EnergyUnited replaced more than 1,000 poles, some of which had been in place for as long as five decades. If a pole does not pass an inspection that evaluates its structural integrity, the cooperative moves forward with a cost-effective, reliability-focused measure to replace the pole. On average, it takes a four-man crew about four hours to replace a pole, depending on the the pole’s condition.

During a major outage, severe weather and poor ground conditions can have an extreme impact on grid infrastructure, resulting in dozens of broken poles across our 19-county service area. One broken pole can leave thousands of members without power. However, thanks to our investment in technologies such as distribution automation, as well as our supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and advanced distribution management system (ADMS), we are often able to backfeed power in these situations to restore service to as many members as possible while the poles are being replaced.

Our continued investment in the cooperative’s operational “backbone” illustrates our deliberate focus on core service pillars such as safety, reliability, affordability and sustainability. This member-focused approach is a key principle that distinguishes The EnergyUnited Way of doing business and also demonstrates what it takes to keep our members Every Day Empowered.

Saving money with
My EnergyHub

The My EnergyHub app offers you the ability to pay energy bills, access all of your energy use data and manage account notification preferences. My EnergyHub empowers you to better manage and save energy conveniently, from the palm of your hand. Sign up for My EnergyHub at

one scholarship at a time

We are now accepting scholarship applications!

College is one of the best times of a young person’s life. What’s not so great, though, is figuring out how to handle tuition and book costs. Every year, EnergyUnited grants $5,000 to two high school seniors with plans to continue their educational pursuits. This program not only demonstrates EnergyUnited’s continued commitment to the community but also rewards individual students who are emblematic of our core cooperative beliefs. If you or someone you know seems to be a good fit for this program, we strongly encourage you to apply.

The application is available now through March 31 on our website.

Visit to learn more and apply!

Score big
this summer!

EnergyUnited is giving two students an opportunity to hit the hardwood alongside their favorite college coaches this summer, thanks to its Touchstone Energy Sports Camp Scholarship program. Learn more about the all-expenses-paid scholarships for 5th and 6th graders by clicking here.

Deadline is March 31

Sustainability corner Disposal 101

Did you know that some materials require special handling? This is very important to remember as improper disposal can lead to negative environmental impacts. Flammable or reactive household chemicals can release toxic fumes or even explode if mixed in the trash, causing fires or injuring workers. Dumping solvents into septic systems or landfills may contaminate ground and surface waters, ruining drinking water and killing fish and wildlife. Here is a list of a few materials that require special handling.

  • Batteries
  • Medicines (including prescriptions, needles)
  • Household chemicals
  • Paint

Please check with your local municipality to make sure you’re disposing of these materials according to local guidelines.


back to top button