Vanessa Williams Retires After 43 Years

Vanessa Williams was looking for a job that offered a future when she first started working at Ripley Power and Light Company in November 1980.

As she readies for her retirement April 5, she looks back on a job that became her career.

“I’ve been here 43 years,” she said. “I’ve become friends with many of our customers. I consider my co-workers my family.”

As a recent Halls High School graduate, Williams started as a customer service representative in Ripley Power and Light’s Halls office. Five years later, she moved to the Ripley office. She’s retiring as billing coordinator.

Being involved with billing has been part of her job since day one.

It’s one of many functions at the utility that has changed through the years.

When she started, meter readers walked from house to house to read meters and write the new readings in a logbook. At the utility, Williams then subtracted the previous month’s reading from the present read to know how many kilowatts of electricity a customer used that month and how much to bill.

A big change in billing came when meter readers used handheld devices to key in the customer’s meter read. Williams would download the information in the office into a program that posted the read into customer accounts. These days, with automated meter reading, the system reads all the customer meters at midnight on the first day of the month to determine how much to bill.

“I’ve seen the billing process progress into what it is now,” Williams said. “Being involved in the changes in billing has been challenging, but it was also one of the favorite parts of my job.”

“On behalf of the entire Ripley Power and Light Company family, I want to express our heartfelt appreciation for Vanessa’s outstanding dedication and contributions to our organization over the past 43 years,” said Mike Allmand, President and CEO. “Vanessa was one of the first people I had the privilege of hiring when I assumed the role of president in 1980. From the very beginning, it was evident that she possessed a unique combination of expertise, dedication and resilience that set her apart. Over the years, Vanessa has shouldered one of the most important, complex and challenging roles at Power and Light with unparalleled skill and precision.”

“To say that Vanessa is an expert in her field would be an understatement,” Allmand said. “Her role in accurately billing thousands of customers over the span of 43 years demands an incredible attention to detail, and Vanessa has consistently exceeded our expectations in this regard.”

There’s much more to Williams’ job, though, than billing. She handles heat pump financing and leasing security lights on customer bills. She sets up customers in the prepay program. When customers have questions about their energy use or bills, they often talk to her. She also processes daily work orders for the service crews when they need to run a new service, install a security light, repair a streetlight and do other jobs. She’s in charge of updating rates on the website.

Williams’ daughter, Paige, and her daughter’s husband, Paul, have two children, Liam, 5, and Spencer, 6 months. Besides seeing her grandchildren more, Williams plans to sleep late and have more time to vacation at the beach.

She’ll be 63 years old April 4. Being able to retire then “is a blessing,” she said. “But I will miss my customers and my co-workers.”

“It is with mixed emotions that we bid farewell to one of our co-workers and friends, who has been an integral part of the Ripley Power and Light Company family since 1980,” Allmand said.

“Beyond her professional achievements, Vanessa has been a true friend. It is always difficult to see valued members of our RPL family leave, but it brings us immense joy to see dedicated friends like Vanessa embark on a well-deserved journey of rest and enjoyment in life.

“It has been an absolute privilege to work alongside Vanessa for the past 43 years, and her impact on our organization will be felt for years to come. We extend our warmest wishes for a retirement filled with joy, relaxation and new adventures.”