Cordova electric receives member feedback prior to annual meeting

Cordovans are bullish on hydro and open to renewable energy

Ahead of their annual meeting, higher ups at the Cordova Electric Cooperative (CEC) received positive responses on both their services and alternative energy sources, like hydropower, from their recent customer feedback survey.

When it comes to power generation, survey respondents reported the highest positivity for hydropower (7.8 out of 10), then wind (6.8 out of 10), and then solar power (6.6 out of 10). They were least positive about diesel (5.1 out of 10).

CEC members are supportive of additional hydropower. Almost seven out of 10 respondents said they would be supportive of more hydro development, even if it was more costly in the short term. Forty-eight percent of respondents said they strongly agreed that CEC developing additional energy resources is important, and 46% said they strongly agreed that CEC should look to reduce diesel generation with stored hydro.

“I was surprised at the magnitude of the positive feedback. We’ve had positive surveys in the past but that was five years ago,” said Clay Koplin, the CEO of CEC.

He noted a lot has happened since then and there’s a lot of uncertainty in the world. Koplin was additionally surprised at the level of support for hydro, in part because he thinks CEC could have done a better job advertising it, and wind and solar power tend to get more public attention.

“Feedback from hydro was not universally positive on the front end,” Koplin said.


CEC’s initial hydro projects were plagued with myriad of calamities, including a fatality on one of the construction crews. The project garnered criticism from members of the community, some concerned about the Power Creek operation being built on a salmon river. A common bumper sticker seen around town during the time read something along the lines of “cheaper power at any cost.”

But now Cordovans are bullish on additional hydro, said Leif Stavig, executive assistant and HR coordinator with CEC. That people are supportive of hydro shows CEC is getting the word out about the renewable energy source, he said. Since expanding further into hydro, CEC has worked to educate the community on the process and has invited multiple local school groups out to view the operations.

Another of Koplin’s big takeaways from the survey results was the “critical importance of communicating with members.” He said more information on daily operations and communicating to members on managing their electric use are areas CEC can improve in.

On average, CEC members rate their satisfaction with the cooperative an 8.6 out of 10, with 10 being the most satisfied, and a majority of respondents rated their satisfaction to be an eight or higher. Professionalism and customer service are two categories that respondents highlighted as reasons they were so satisfied.

In Alaska in general, lighting is a significant winter electric load.

It’s estimated that 30% of electric load in Cordova in the winter is lighting. Around 13 years ago, Cordova’s street lighting was retrofitted to LED lighting. That retrofit is saving the city $35,000 a year in street lighting bills, and saving thousands of gallons of diesel, Koplin said. CEC is looking into replacing these now dated lights with a pilot of next generation LED street lighting, he said.

Over half of respondents said that quality street lighting and overall visibility and area coverage of Cordova’s street lights is important to them. On average, respondents rated Cordova upgrading street lighting to gain as much as 40% additional efficiency as a 6.9 out of 10.

The research was conducted by Pioneer Utility Resources and Pulse Research using multiple modalities including website, email, social media, newspaper, and radio. The online survey was open from late December 2022 to Jan. 22 of this year. The completion rate was 64%, and 15% of membership responded in full.

Of the respondents, 86% were affiliated with residential accounts. Twenty-eight percent of respondents were aged 65 or older, 19.6% were 35 to 44 years old, and 18.4% were 45 to 54.

CEC’s annual member meeting will be on Monday at the Cordova Center. Doors open at 5 p.m. for mingling and catering from Reluctant Fisherman, and the meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. CEC staff and local students will present, and there will be a prize raffle for members.

“Growing realization that we’ve come so far and so fast, that has gotten frankly a lot of international attention and from the U.S. state department,” Koplin said. “Easy to get excited about the technology and what we are doing, but what often gets left out of the conversation is the cost saving technologies. At the end of the day it’s making our system more affordable and more reliable.”