When you think of October, pumpkins, Halloween and fall foliage usually come to mind. But October is notable for another reason — it’s National Co-op Month.
This is the time of year when cooperatives across the country, including Tennessee’s electric co-ops, recognize who we are and, more importantly, the members we serve. Cooperatives are different than other types of businesses. When the market declines to offer a product or service or does so at a very high price, co-ops intervene to fill the need.
Similar to how our rural electric co-ops were built by members who came together to bring electricity to our community, cooperatives are conveners of the common good. Your electric co-op exists to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy to you, the members. Equally important is our mission to enrich the lives of the members we serve.
As co-ops, we are well-suited to meet the needs of our communities because we are locally governed. Our leadership team and employees live right here in the communities. Our directors, who help set long-term priorities for their co-ops, live locally on co-op lines. These board members have been elected to the position by neighbors like you.
We know our members (that’s you) have a valuable perspective. That’s why we are continually seeking your input. Whether through community events, social media channels or the annual meeting, we want to hear from you.
Our close connection to the community ensures we get a firsthand perspective on local priorities, thereby enabling us to make more informed decisions on long-term investments such as high-speed internet, community solar programs and equipment or technology upgrades.
Another feature that sets our co-op apart from a traditional utility is one of our core principles: “Concern for Community.” Several times a year we participate in events that provide opportunities for us to give back to the communities we serve. We also participate in the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour, taking our brightest young people to Washington, D.C., for a weeklong immersion to experience democracy in action.
Ultimately, the larger community benefits from these programs because of you and your neighbors. You empower your co-ops through your membership and through your participation in and support of these programs.
We hope you will think of your local electric cooperative as not only your energy provider but also as a local business that supports your community and powers economic development and prosperity for the people.
We will continue to learn from our members about their priorities so that we can better serve you — because your electric co-op was built by the community, for the community.