by Chris Jones, MTEMC President/CEO
I am honored to serve as the CEO of Middle Tennessee Electric, and I always appreciate when I’m asked to explain how our business model differentiates our cooperative from other types of electric utilities.
The long answer is that we are a not-for-profit electric distribution cooperative that solely serves the members who are the owners of the business. The utility is locally governed by a board of directors who are democratically elected by the members.
The words I’ve italicized are important to remember.
Not-for-profit means we’re cost-based. What we earn through electricity sales goes back to benefit the members primarily by plowing the funds back into the business to keep rates stable. A cooperative business is owned by those it serves, not stockholders seeking return on investment. This means everything we do is for the purpose of providing reliable, affordable and safe electricity for the member-owners on our system, not profits for investors.
Finally, MTEMC is governed by a board composed of member-owners who are elected by a vote of the membership — not through appointment or selection on the basis of the amount of stock they own.
Member ownership, local governance and democratic control are hallmarks of electric cooperatives and the things that make MTEMC unique. This is the reason that once a year for more than eight decades, we’ve come together to celebrate the cooperative difference and exercise our rights as members at the annual meeting.
The 2019 event is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 10, starting at 7:30 a.m., at the Embassy Suites Murfreesboro Hotel and Conference Center. More about the meeting, including information on the director elections, business session, Member Expo and giveaways (this year, a Chevy Equinox retired from the MTEMC fleet will be awarded) can be found on the cover wrap on this magazine and pages 22–24.
The annual meeting has deep roots, but it has changed with the times, too. The current iteration is as much an opportunity for our members to have face-to-face conversations with Team MTEMC employees and management — and for us to listen, learn and answer questions — as a part of the cooperative’s business model. In fact, member interface at the annual meeting has produced surprising results. Our member-owners are helping MTEMC achieve higher service satisfaction levels through innovative ideas and new programs — even a partnership to provide broadband internet connectivity in unserved and underserved areas.
I can’t tell you how valuable it has been to meet people who take their cooperative membership seriously and are willing to share their thoughts, opinions and suggestions. This is what member ownership is all about.
Please join us at the 2019 annual meeting so we can continue important discussions about MTEMC and the future.