May 29, 2023
On May 1st of this year, I had the great honor of becoming the eighth General Manager and CEO of the Alcorn County Electric Power Association, known to many of you as ACE Power, or just simply “ACE.”
My path to this point has been somewhat unique, and one in which I was helped by so many along the way. I began my career at ACE as a summer worker in 1997, tasked with being the “grunt” on a climbing and underground crew. Spending the summer with grizzled electric linemen made me appreciate the work that is done at an electric utility. Prior to working here, I would often see ACE trucks working in the area and wonder why only one guy was working and the rest were standing around watching. It didn’t take too long to figure out that everyone on the crew has a specific job and responsibility. It was that summer when I would decide that this industry was where I wanted to be, and ACE was the place where I wanted to spend my career.
My role now shifts into one with different responsibilities. Setting and executing an executive strategy, building and cultivating a new executive team, and creating and establishing a culture that aids in the recruitment and retention of top talent and a very skilled workforce.
The electric industry is currently going through unprecedented changes. Electrification of transportation and renewable energy generation are two of the hot-button topics right now. I’ve always prided myself on being a problem solver and a technologist, and I’ve been granted the freedom from my previous bosses to step outside of the box and solve problems in creative ways. We will soon be faced with decisions concerning these issues that will have a lasting impact on our community. It is because of the gravity of this position and those decisions that need to be made that have given me an added sense of vigor.
Looking back over the past 24 years, the two most impactful projects that I’ve had the privilege of working on were our prepaid electric billing system, PayWise, and the addition of our fiber broadband subsidiary, ACE Fiber. Both projects addressed critical needs in our community and, in many cases, changed people’s lives. As we look toward new and challenging times, my focus will remain on making the lives of our community members better. We will operate under the same foundational principles that have always guided us: integrity, respect, compassion, dedication, and hard work.
For nearly 90 years, ACE has been on a mission to provide affordable and reliable electricity to Alcorn County. We heard the pleas of our members in 2019 to bring affordable and reliable fiber broadband service to our community. We answered the call, providing fiber-to-the-premise solutions enabling world-class broadband to our entire service territory in only 18 months.
Today, there is another community that needs our assistance. New Albany Light Gas and Water (NALGW), in New Albany, Mississippi, cannot serve its community with broadband service, as they are not enabled with the same state statutes as ACE. We have agreed to a long-term partnership with NALGW to lease their fiber infrastructure and provide broadband services to every customer that they serve. We are currently in the design and bidding stage of this project, and we hope to be able to begin providing services by the end of this year. This is a project that will benefit both communities, bringing in additional revenue streams to both utilities, which allows us to offset future electric rate increases and reinvest in our respective communities.
I believe that we live in the finest community in the world and I am beyond excited about the future of Alcorn County and northeast Mississippi. I am extremely humbled to lead this organization into an exciting future and I am committed to continuing the legacy of those who came before us.
Sean M. McGrath