By Cheryl Petersen Contributing Writer
The Daily Star
---- — “The recognition was a complete surprise,” said Wayne Marshfield, assistant general manager at Delaware County Electric Cooperative, headquartered in Delhi, and recipient of the “Governor George D. Aiken Award.”
Occasionally, the Northeast Association of Electric Cooperatives (NEAEC) grants the award to individuals affiliated with 11 cooperatives from the New England states and New York.
“All of the cooperatives agreed that Wayne Marshfield is deserving of this award for two reasons,” said Mark Schneider, CEO of Delaware County Electric Cooperative. “He is living and serving the cooperative principles, and he puts service to the members first.”
Unbeknown to Marshfield, the Delaware County Electric Cooperative (DCEC) nominated him for the George Aiken Award. The award was presented at the NEAEC Annual Conference last week in Vermont.
“I went to the annual conference as an invited speaker,” said Wayne Marshfield, who gave a presentation on the Smart Grid, the latest technology that can provide not only operational benefits for cooperatives, but also provide members with online access to detailed usage information. The data helps members better understand consumption patterns and enable them to become more energy-efficient.
“Wayne’s presentation was informative to the other cooperatives and well-received,” said Paul Menke, a member of the DCEC Board of Directors.
Menke, the CEO, and other representatives from Delaware County also attended the conference. The large association draws in more than 100 representatives with the intent to deliver better electrical service. The cooperatives vary in size. For example, the Fox Island Co-op has 1,000 members while the New Hampshire Coop has 60,000 members. Delaware County Electric Cooperative (DCEC) serves 5,300 members. It has more than 800 miles of distribution line and serves members in Delaware and Schoharie Counties along with portions of Otsego and Chenango counties.
Although in 1930 nearly 90 percent of urban dwellers had electricity, much of the rural population did not. Under President Franklin Roosevelt’s administration, the governor of Vermont, George D. Aiken, was instrumental in bringing electricity to farms and residents of the countryside. After his governorship, Aiken then served as a United States senator from 1941 to 1975, continuing to champion rural electrification.
In 1942, the Delaware County Electric Cooperative was established in Delhi as a means for permitting farmers to serve electricity to themselves. Wayne Marshfield began working with the DCEC in 1967.
“Everything was done manually,” recalled Marshfield. “Paperwork and pole hole digging were done by hand.”
While machinery and computers worked their way into the industry, Marshfield worked his way through the ranks, learning how a cooperative functions. Marshfield has been a bookkeeper, stock clerk and meter technician. In 1992, he was appointed to his present position of assistant general manager.
Over the years, Marshfield has attended classes relating to the utility industry and electric distribution. He developed an elaborately detailed map to track all meter locations, poles, lines, reclosers, fuses and substations. The map has served as a model for other cooperatives and has since been advanced into an electronic format.
When asked about the future, Marshfield doesn’t shy away from further innovation.
“There will be less wire and fewer poles,” said Marshfield. “I don’t know exactly yet how, maybe fuel cells run on hydrogen, but technology will allow for more remote service. Wireless technology and underground materials are common for cities and suburbia. However, the lower-populated areas of the nation require a much higher investment per mile to supply the electrical demand.”