Out With The Old, In With The New

By Justin Caudell

Leslie Tejeda, left, and Ashley Mashek remotely assist a member. New technology in 2010 was among the 1st major changes for Fannin Electric Cooperative.

Fannin County Electric Cooperative is now just Fannin Electric Cooperative.

But that’s not all.

The shortening of the utility’s name is part of an overall rebrand to highlight the co-op’s evolution since forming in 1937. Fannin began rolling out its new logo and tagline — Powering our community, together — in August.

The co-op’s members are invited to celebrate Fannin Electric’s rebrand, as well as receive updates from leadership, at the co-op’s annual meeting. It will be held at 10 a.m., Saturday, September 30 at Fannin County Multipurpose Complex, 700 FM 87, Bonham, TX 75418.

“It’s an exciting time for our cooperative,” Fannin’s General Manager and CEO John Ed Shinpaugh says.

“Though a small change, our new name better represents all the communities we now serve, and the new logo identifies who we are. The design pays homage to the great state of Texas, the electricity we distribute to the area and a star to symbolize our location in North Texas.”

After little change for much of the co-op’s history, growth caught up with Fannin Electric in 2015. The installation of new technology, including meters that could be read remotely and outage-management software, was first. Then came the need to rebuild and upgrade electrical equipment to accommodate heavier loads as more members joined the cooperative.

“We have also been working with the North Texas Municipal Water District, which is in the process of completing a 16,000-acre reservoir in the rural northern end of Fannin County,” Shinpaugh says. “This, along with Upper Trinity Water District’s Lake Ralph Hall project in southern Fannin County, is allowing us to bring electricity to new homes and businesses.”

As a percentage of load growth, Fannin Electric is the 19th fastest-growing cooperative in the United States out of 802, and the 10th fastest-growing out of the 64 cooperatives in Texas.

“Farmers and ranchers helped form our co-op more than 85 years ago to secure electricity to better their lives,” Shinpaugh says. “Today, we bring that same spirit of purpose and cooperation to the changing needs of a new generation of cooperative members.”

Partnerships between the cooperative and those Fannin serves are the heart of the new motto.

“Cooperatives operate by 7 core principles, the 7th being ‘Concern for Community,’” Shinpaugh says. “We take this seriously and are constantly working to improve the lives of our members. This year, we began a scholarship program and gave 30 high school seniors $1,500 to further their education.”

Fannin Electric Cooperative’s Manager of Member Services Colton Whisenhunt, right, receives an update on the progress of the co-op’s new headquarters.

Growth Drives New Co-Op Headquarters

With membership growing and the service area evolving, Fannin Electric Cooperative must expand, too. The employee base has been rising to meet demand, and a new headquarters is being built.

The co-op has outgrown its current space at 1530 Silo Road in Bonham and is in the process of building a new Bonham facility at 2201 FM 87. It’s set to open in summer 2024.

“We’ve been here more than 27 years and taken advantage of as much of the property as we can. There is no more available space,” says Fannin Manager of Member Services Colton Whisenhunt. “We, unfortunately, had to take away our training room and then the break area just to add more cubicles. We have no more room to expand.”

The co-op’s new headquarters at 2201 FM 87 in Bonham will benefit members. It will have a drive-thru for ease and convenience.

The new building will better accommodate current staff, the storage of equipment and line trucks and allow for future growth. It will also be more energy efficient and include technology, storm-hardening features for severeweather events and other upgrades necessary for today’s electric cooperative.

“Our new headquarters will also benefit our members. It will have a drive-thru for ease and convenience while doing business with us,” Whisenhunt says.

Shinpaugh says the decision to construct a new headquarters and budget for it has long been under consideration by the co-op’s board of directors and planning began well before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a not-for-profit electric cooperative, we operate differently from other utilities,” Shinpaugh says. “At the end of each year, when it’s determined how much revenue exceeds total expenses, the difference is assigned to members as capital credits based on the amount each member was billed for electricity.”