Now, more than ever, we need electric cooperatives to ensure there remains a durable foundation for our rural communities. Owned and democratically controlled by the people they serve, electric co-ops take their commitment to their communities seriously, as the Seventh Cooperative Principle — Concern for Community — suggests.
Beyond the Seven Cooperative Principles lie characteristics that truly set cooperatives apart from other business models. As we near the end of 2022, I want to take this time to reflect on what I consider the 12 characteristics that drive the true mission of electric cooperatives.
What other business consistently communicates how its consumer-members can spend less money on their “product?” Electric co-ops have led the way in explaining the reason for fuel cost increases this winter and continue to communicate ways for members to save on their electric bills while offering a variety of payment options.
Electric co-ops are engaged in their communities and invested in the people they serve by offering scholarships, youth education programs, organizing community events, and participating in economic development initiatives.
Electric co-ops lead the electric utility industry in renewable energy and smart meter installation, allowing more efficient use of electricity, and have led the way in community solar programs.
Electric co-ops demonstrate unmatched resilience during crises. Season-in and season-out, Mother Nature storms her way through co-op territory and co-ops respond by rewiring, rebuilding and redesigning to improve resiliency.
5 Service focused
Co-ops are value-driven rather than profit-driven organizations with a desire to serve and give to their communities. The purpose of a co-op’s existence is to satisfy consumer-members’ needs, ensuring consumer-members remain central to their mission. There are no profits to gain but rather excess margins are merely used to fulfill their mission.
It all began to bring light to the darkness of rural communities and has continued through the current day issue of supporting high-speed broadband access for rural communities.
You can depend on your electric co-op to keep the lights on and the power flowing. Electric co-ops continue to outperform other utilities in satisfaction surveys year after year. They dominated the 2021 J.D. Power rankings, with 14 co-ops in the top 20 of the annual survey of residential electric customers.
Co-ops routinely measure their performance to provide superior service and routinely conduct consumer-member surveys to seek feedback from those they serve.
Electric co-ops share the good and not-so-good news with their consumer-members to ensure they can make informed decisions when voting for board representation, bylaws changes and rate adjustments.
Electric co-ops employ talented and responsible decision-makers who understand the complexities of the ever-changing utility industry.
Whether offering mutual aid to other electric co-ops in need or serving on a statewide cybersecurity task force, electric co-ops believe in joining forces for the greater good.
Electric co-op employees and board members live in the communities they serve — they are your neighbors, friends and family. It doesn’t get more real than that.