PEC op center 65 percent complete

Contributed/PEC

An aerial view of the new $17 million PEC Northwest Operations Center in Marble Falls shows work completed since the groundbreaking in March 2016.

By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

The Highlander

Construction on the Pedernales Electric Cooperative's new Northwest Operations Center in Marble Falls is about 65 percent complete, and barring any major delays, should be ready to move in by late January, PEC officials said Thursday.

The new building is being built on a 10-acre property at 2700 US 281, across from Resource Parkway, which is the entrance to the Marble Falls Business and Technology Park, and adjacent to the popular photo attraction, the “Bluebonnet House,” currently owned by Gladys Atkinson.

“The current plan, which is contingent on receiving all remaining materials, includes starting to move employees and equipment to the Northwest Operations Center in late January 2018,” said PEC media relations specialist J. Caroline Tinsley Porter. “We hope to open the facility to our members in February, barring any delays that are incurred related to weather or shipping.”

Ground was broken on the $17 million project in March 2016. It includes a two-story building with 27,000 square feet of office, meeting, and training room space as well as an 18,000-square-ft warehouse with ample room for material inventory, covered storage and adjacent material yards. New safety training grounds will help ensure PEC’s lineworkers are up-to-date on safety training so that they can restore power safely during outages.

The new Marble Falls center will feature enhanced features, including a drive-through and self-service payment kiosks for members’ convenience, as well as an electric vehicle charging station available to the public and solar photovoltaic panels for improved energy efficiency.

“Careful thought has gone into the design, and space requirements for current and future growth,” Tinsley Porter said. “Once open in 2018, we will have employees from our Member Services, Operations, Engineering, and Support teams to ensure reliability and excellent service to our membership. More than 75 employees will report to this facility when it opens.”

The building was designed by Tim S. Gescheidle, AIA, of TSG Architects in Gonzales, Texas, and is being built by Austin-based American Constructors under the watch of Danny Miller, P.E., with LJA Engineering Inc.

PEC board members received a report on the new building at their August regular board meeting from Julie Beggs, vice president of corporate services.

“We have had about 28 weather-related days (delaying the project),” Beggs said. “We have a fantastic team working on this project which wants nothing more than to open those doors.”

In 2015, PEC conducted an extensive facilities study that noted aging facilities, outdated technology and mechanical, electrical and plumbing infrastructure in need of ongoing maintenance. Member and employee safety concerns about the current Marble Falls office at 3105 US 281 North, as well as limited space for member education, helped spur the decision to build a new combined operations center in Marble Falls.

PEC management expects to reduce administrative and general costs of nearly $1 million annually as a result of this investment, which is designed to serve a rapidly growing membership. Currently, PEC is the nation’s largest distribution electric cooperative, serving more than 275,000 meters, and current growth trends reflect that number could reach beyond 400,000 members by 2030.

Also at the August meeting, the board authorized the sale of the current Marble Falls property and anticipates placing the property on the market before the end of the year, Tinsley Porter said.

A grand opening for the Northwest Operations Center has not yet been scheduled, but is expected to occur possibly in February or March. The new site likely would not be able to host the annual membership meeting, but could be used as an alternate site for PEC Board of Directors meetings and candidate forums.

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