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    City electric director to retire


    June 3, 2022 - Pat Kimbrough, The High Point Enterprise, N.C.

     

      Jun. 3—HIGH POINT — As the man in charge of High Point's power grid, Garey Edwards always has to keep an eye on the weather for potential storms and the electric outages they could bring.

      The city's electric utilities director since 2005, he's seen Mother Nature bring her share of challenges — none greater than the March 2014 ice storm that knocked out power to about 35,000 of the city's roughly 40,000 customers and took several days to fully restore.

      Edwards will soon be able to take a break from forecast watching, as he plans to retire from the city at the end of July.

      With he and his wife now at retirement age, he said the timing makes sense.

      "The city has been good to work for. They've supported us in what we've done," he said. "Next year I think will be 50 years since I graduated from East Davidson High School, so that's a pretty long career."

      Edwards has spent much of it in the public power business. Before coming to High Point, he was utilities director for the city of Albemarle, which also operates its own electric service.

      Both municipalities are among the members of ElectriCities, a public power cooperative.

      Edwards oversees a city department with 68 positions and a $136 million budget, about 80% of which is devoted to the city's annual wholesale power purchase from ElectriCities.

      It's the single largest expenditure in the citywide budget.

      Edwards said he thinks the city has done well in making the necessary capital investments to maintain the grid and accommodate growth over the years.

      During his tenure, the city has rebuilt most of its 14 substations, constructed two new ones and is installing a loop of 100-kilovolt transmission lines that will make the system more reliable, he said.

      "I'm pleased with it, and financially, we're in good shape," he said.

      In addition to weather-related challenges, contending with shortages of key personnel like power line technicians has been a recurring theme. He praised the City Council and management for addressing this.

      "The Electric Department is doing fine. I probably will be the first vacancy in a while," Edwards said. "We got salaries up so that we're competitive with others. We haven't seen the hits other departments have."

      ___

      (c)2022 The High Point Enterprise (High Point, N.C.)

      Visit The High Point Enterprise (High Point, N.C.) at www.hpenews.com

      Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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