From Your Board Chairman, Rick Love
Posted on March 1st, 2019
I am honored to serve with eight outstanding directors at First Electric Cooperative. I want to give you an opportunity to meet them through this column. We all have vastly different backgrounds, business experience and represent different generations which make us a strong board. However, the one thing that we all have in common is our commitment to First Electric’s membership.
I want to introduce you to Karissa Rushing. Rushing has served on the board since 2014 and represents our members in the Benton district. She is a Saline County native who returned to the area in 2002. She owned and operated a small business for almost a decade. The former Miss Arkansas has a background in advertising and public relations and has worked with nonprofit organizations in planning and development. She is currently an administrator at the Benton campus of Fellowship Bible Church where she manages business operations, organizational planning and special events. Rushing is a member of Fellowship and active in women’s ministries, small groups and local missions.
Q&A with board member, Karissa Rushing:
The utility industry requires a vast knowledge and understanding of the electric business. What training is required to be part of the board of directors?
Training for directors covers many areas and is ongoing especially since the utility industry is changing so rapidly. We must have a working knowledge of the electric business, understand government policies that affect how we operate and stay abreast of current events and new technology that will impact the co-op. There are national benchmarks and certifications required for directors to provide the continuity and depth of knowledge our co-op needs to be governed effectively.
As a board member you have to commit your personal time to the cooperative. How do you juggle a full-time job and the board position?
As a director, I represent over 94,000 members and I do not take this responsibility lightly! I use my vacation time from my full-time job to attend meetings and to fulfill my board responsibilities. I also spend a considerable amount of time each week reading about industry-related topics.
What is the most challenging part of serving on the board of directors?
I think the most challenging part of serving as a director is knowing how to plan and invest for the future of the co-op. We have the responsibility to make decisions today that will prepare us for tomorrow, and how we’re going to continue to improve the quality of life for our members. Sifting through constant change can be a challenge.
What do you enjoy most about serving on the board of directors?
I’ve chosen to live in the community where I grew up and where most of my family still lives. I’m invested and committed to serving our members not just in the Benton district, but in all the First Electric districts. The co-op is truly service-oriented and I’m privileged to have a role in such a great organization. We live it out – from the boardroom to out in the field. It’s about our members – how we can better serve and make our communities stronger and better.
What are some of the biggest changes you see coming in the next five to 10 years in the industry?
The electric grid is evolving and it will affect how we consume energy in the near future. More natural gas and renewables - like solar and wind - are already being used in our generation mix. We’re keeping a close eye on utility-scale battery storage. It could potentially be a game-changer and help us conserve our natural resources. When the technology matures, we’ll have the capacity to offset energy consumption during periods of greatest demand. Improved vehicle battery technology will make electric vehicles more common. There’s a lot of positive and exciting changes coming to our industry and I’m proud to be a part of it.
Rick Love, Chairman