The man taking the helm at 4-County Electric Power Association returns "home" to the place he got his start in the field with 15 years' experience leading cooperatives in two other states.
4-County officials introduced Joe Cade Tuesday as the new CEO and general manager for the cooperative, which serves some 44,000 members in Chickasaw, Choctaw, Clay, Lowndes, Monroe, Oktibbeha, Noxubee and Webster counties.
The announcement took place at the association's headquarters just off Airport Road in Lowndes County. He will take over for Allegra Brigham, who is serving as the interim president of Mississippi University for Women in Columbus.
Cade, a Noxapater native, got his start in the electric cooperative industry at 4-County in 1983, rising to the position of assistant general manager. In November 1990, he took over as the general manager of Coosa Valley Electric Cooperative in Talladega, Ala. During his time there, CVEC officials were involved in economic development efforts in the area.
In April 1997, Cade became the president and CEO of the 72,000-household Flint Electric Membership Corp. (now known as Flint Energies) in Reynolds, Ga. During his tenure at Flint, the cooperative became the first in the nation to take over the power distribution system for a military installation – Ft. Benning, Ga. – through privatization, according to his biography.
He says he gained a lot of good experience at Coosa and Flint.
Cade retired from Flint in 2005, then moved to Columbus about four years ago, he said.
"Since I had connections and past here at 4-County I applied for the job and I didn't have any idea that I would be selected, but the board was kind enough to select me and I'm just tickled to death to be back at 4-County," Cade said. "I feel like I'm home, I really do."
In a statement, 4-County Board President Jay Gilliland says Cade "has the required experience and leadership skills that we are looking for and he brings a wealth of knowledge, energy and proven qualities that will guide 4-County ... into the future."
When asked what challenges lie ahead for 4-County, Cade addressed the new rates Tennessee Valley Authority officials are putting in, saying "We're going to have to adapt those rates to our system here and do the best that we can to save our membership as much money as we possibly can."
He said that may mean 4-County officials conduct some type of load management or similar program in the future.
Regarding economic development, Cade said " ... That will be one of my key areas that I hope to be more involved in."
Cade attended Meridian Junior College and Mississippi State University as a business major. He is a Tennessee Valley Public Power Association Certified Power executive. He and his wife Phyllis have three sons and five grandchildren.