Kansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. has been in a celebratory mood since the first of the year, commemorating KEC’s charter 80 years ago on Aug. 18, 1941.
KEC’s role throughout the decades has transformed — as it should — to meet the ever-changing needs of its member co-ops, which ultimately serve you, the Kansas electric co-op consumer-member.
First established to meet a growing list of needs that could be accomplished more effectively and efficiently as a group, like equitable rates for power and co-op territorial protection, KEC continues in that role, expanding — and sometimes discontinuing — services when and where needed based on the times. For example, KEC’s past offerings include satellite TV programming, long distance telephone service and an apparatus testing department to provide repair and maintenance services for utility equipment.
In today’s fast-moving business environment, KEC must track trends in the utility sector, technology, and the economy to ensure our focus remains on what is most needed by our co-ops. Most recently that means concentrating on bringing broadband to our rural communities, bolstering our education and training efforts for co-op trustees and staff, coordinating communications for evolving social media channels and other digital products, and raising the bar for electrical safety training and messaging in publications and out in our communities.
Today’s KEC is not the KEC of 1941, and we will celebrate our evolution and commemorate this milestone at our Summer Meeting on Aug. 2, where Gov. Laura Kelly is scheduled to present an 80th anniversary greeting to the membership.
So how does this affect you as an electric co-op consumer-member? More importantly, why should you care?
Your co-op’s trustees will be taking time away from their day-to-day business (and their weekend) to attend KEC’s Summer Meeting and learn through workshops addressing current industry issues and future trends, specifically:
- strategic planning for the electric co-op
- board decision-making
- the rate-making process
- policy decisions
And those are just the weekend workshops. The meeting portion takes place on Monday, with additional sessions to bring your elected board of trustees up to date on:
- what’s next for renewables, hydrocarbons, and nuclear energy under the current administration;
- how to prepare for the energy consumer of the future, as more and different technology permeates our lives; and
- national, state and local updates from elected officials on topics directly affecting electric cooperatives.
Your trustees represent the overall interests of your co-op’s membership in developing your co-op’s policies and procedures. Complex engineering, power supply and regulatory and demographic transformations have changed the utility business in the last 80 years. Your co-op leadership must be capable of establishing the strategic direction of your co-op based on the changing utility environment. It’s in these milestone celebrations that your co-op leadership exercises their due diligence to enable them to make informed decisions in the best interest of you — the co-op owner.
Sources: Twenty Years With REA, Kenneth E. Merrill, University of Kansas; KEC Records
Lee Tafanelli is Chief Executive Officer of Kansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. in Topeka.