Nikita Stewart's Dec. 3 Metro article, "Utilities in a Time Warp," implied that Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative is not competent or able to deal with the growth on its electric distribution system. That is not supported by the facts.

NOVEC has connected more than 30,000 new customers since 2000, including two America Online data centers in Prince William County. NOVEC delivered a substation and infrastructure for the first center comfortably ahead of AOL's construction schedule and under budget. Several years later AOL chose an area of Prince William for its second data center in order to be served by NOVEC.

The cooperative business model is not-for-profit, rather than nonprofit, as reported by Ms. Stewart. Any revenue collected in excess of operating expenses is allocated to customers. In 2005 NOVEC has returned more than $30 million in "cash back" credits on customers' electric bills. Rates have remained stable for 14 years.

Our not-for-profit status cannot be jeopardized by the lack of a quorum at our annual meeting, as Ms. Stewart said. Our bylaws require that 2.5 percent of members vote on officers and other business items, either in person or by proxy. Because of the 10,000-plus customers who vote by proxy, an in-person annual meeting is not required. We hold the meeting as a way for our 1,000-plus customers who routinely attend to get to know us. We offer door prizes as an expression of appreciation to our customers for being involved, not as a means to "lure" them to the meeting.

Ms. Stewart's characterization of NOVEC's service reliability being "about on a par with the region's largest utilities Dominion Virginia Power and Pepco" was inaccurate, as was her assertion that "reporting requirements are different for the co-ops."

NOVEC's service reliability as measured by SAIDI, the standard among all electric utilities, has been the best in the region for seven years. A Nov. 27 Metro article noted that Pepco "returns power to customers more quickly than all but one of 11 utilities surveyed by the Washington Post." The top-performing utility not mentioned was NOVEC.

In a J.D. Power nationwide customer satisfaction survey earlier this year, our score of 108 was eight points better than Pepco's and 10 points better than Dominion Virginia Power's.


President and Chief Executive

Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative