With 31 years of industry experience, Jennifer Brogdon’s transition to general manager of Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation in 2021 was an opportunity to ensure her system was prepared for the future with new technology.

“In March 2023, we launched our Outage Management System (OMS), giving our members and staff real-time information, visibility, and quicker response time during outages. We also just completed our 150-mile fiber ring to connect UCEMC’s corporate and district offices and substations, and we are eager for this all to come together with smarter downstream devices. Recently, we deployed past-due member texting and automated IVR calls. Our collections are down 50% so far! This technology promises to save our members unnecessary collection fees and prevents staff from multiple trips and conversations, saving money for both UCEMC and our members.”

Jennifer knows her LPC is responsible for the present and future of her community’s needs, so she strategically plans UCEMC’s technological roadmap with a long-term vision.

“We are monitoring how battery storage may help manage our peak and help our members’ reliability. We’re also looking into advanced distribution automation to provide intelligence to our OMS and SCADA systems to shorten outage restoration time. Our rugged terrain presents some challenges in deployment, but we think there will be opportunities. We are extremely excited to have a 4.75 MW solar project that will begin construction in 2024 as well.”

Jennifer knows that Seven States is a helpful resource as her community’s needs continue to evolve and diversify.

“Seven States helped us explore potential revenue streams for leasing dark fiber on our 150-mile fiber ring. This is not an area we have experience with, so we’re thankful we have Seven States to lean on. We also turned to Seven States to learn from their expertise in solar energy options, and we have two EV chargers in our territory that Seven States supports.”

With so much technological advancement in the Valley, Jennifer encourages fellow leaders to start with their own LPC teams to inspire actual community change.

“My advice to any manager wanting to bring innovation to their community would be to start ‘at home’ first. Before you can bring innovation to the community, ensure you’ve appropriately considered igniting and inspiring innovation within your cooperative or municipality. Do you have metrics in place that inspire innovation or discourage it? Take the time to get staff ideas, buy-in, and feedback, and you’ll have the best ambassadors in the community to promote and share innovation.”