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Rappahannock Electric Cooperative CEO announces retirement

Kent Farmer has announced his retirement as president and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC), effective August 1.   Farmer has served as president and CEO since 2004, and has been with REC for 41 years.

“It has been my honor and privilege to lead REC and to serve its membership for the past 16 years,” said Farmer. “It has been a satisfying career, which was made easier by the support of an extremely talented and dedicated workforce and a forward-looking board. Local consumer-owned electric cooperatives are, dedicated to a single goal – serving their members. I am proud to have led REC to become one of the largest and most successful cooperatives in the country. Having served two decades in executive leadership, now it is time for me to allow the next generation of leaders to take the helm. ”

Christopher Shipe, chairman of the REC Board of Directors said, “It is with sincere gratitude from the Board and membership that we thank Mr. Farmer for over 41 years of dedicated service to REC and its members.  In addition to always ensuring safe, reliable, and affordable electricity, Mr. Farmer always showed genuine care and concern for the people he led, the members he helped serve and the communities where we live and work.”

REC’s Board of Directors has announced  the selection of John Hewa, REC’s current vice president of corporate services and Chief Operating Officer (COO), to succeed Farmer as president and CEO.


“On behalf of our Board of Directors, we are pleased to announce John as our next president and CEO,” said Shipe. “Mr. Hewa is a highly respected and proven industry leader who delivers strong results. We have all seen evidence of that since he joined REC in 2017.  We are confident that Mr. Hewa will lead our employees and our member-owned cooperative to achieve great success in the years to come.”

According to Shipe, the announcement is the successful culmination of a multiyear succession plan to select the best leader for the Cooperative. Hewa has worked closely with the Board over the past several years. He has more than 20 years of leadership experience in the electric utility industry with an emphasis in technology and management of public and cooperative power utilities. His experience spans technical and executive roles managing electric, water, wastewater, and wireless and fiber optic telecommunications systems.

Hewa holds a deep appreciation for the cooperative business model. He has served as the CEO of electric cooperatives in Texas and Florida, and as vice president of research, engineering, and technical services at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) in Arlington, Virginia. At NRECA, Hewa and his teams worked to advance the adoption of beneficial smart grid technologies among the nation’s electric cooperatives focusing on reliable, resilient and clean and distributed energy tech adoption. At NRECA, he worked with federal agencies including the RUS and DOE to address co-op technical regulatory issues. Prior to his cooperative career, Hewa managed the utilities department for the City of Manassas, Va. and served as director of engineering for BTES, an electricity distributor in the Tennessee Valley region.

Hewa said, “I am honored to be named the next president and CEO of REC, and want to thank both Mr. Farmer and the Board for the confidence they have placed in me to lead this strong organization.”

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