By Julia Colborn
Although practically sharing a parking lot with the old location, the new Wake Electric building is a far cry from what it once was. A restored warehouse that still smells of fresh paint and drywall, this epicenter is intelligently designed to be both user-friendly and prepared for the future.
The front entrance is flanked by two out of the three solar trees featured on the grounds. Although their combined 6 kilowatts of energy isn’t enough to power the 400 kilowatt building, the pseudo-art-deco solar trees serve as a reminder not only of cleaner energy sources, but of the efficient nature of the community-focused electric company. This entrance leads to the second floor, the main level where you can personally pay your bill or handle any inquiries.
On the other side there is a viewing room where residents can see a live depiction of the weather, areas currently being covered and any lines that might be down, and various other tracking devices.
The bottom floor contains a large conference room where any nonprofit – with approved notification, of course – can host meetings. Additionally there is an impressive kitchen featuring two rooms, multiple ovens, burners, fridges, freezers and a plethora of cooking, serving and storing utensils. This is in the event of a major storm that requires all hands on deck, potentially for days on end so that everyone can be properly taken care of.
Currently, the top floor is unfinished aside from the drywall and a set of restrooms. It could be used for cots in the event of the aforementioned storm, but its true purpose is to be available for growth.
Back in 1940, Wake Forest and Rolesville were little more than farm towns with schools, and Raleigh was claiming the area didn’t have enough residents worth running lines for, so a small group of 40 was able to get signatures and membership fees from 317 residents and form the Wake Electric Membership Corporation. Since then it has grown to serve around 39,000 residents today, representing at least parts of seven counties. With the exponential growth these areas have experienced over the past few years, it’s only natural to assume Wake Electric will grow right along with it.
Behind the building is the main parking lot, but it does more than keep cars. The third solar tree lives back there, absorbing sunlight when the trees out front cannot. The most impressive feature, aside from the beautiful view of Wake Forest Park, are the two charging stations for electric cars. Although not too common currently, as green energy becomes more common, surely this free amenity will become another welcome forethought.