For more than 80 years, electric cooperatives — and our business model — have proven to be resilient. In fact, most electric cooperatives are as vibrant and healthy today as at any point in our history. Much of this success can be attributed to the founding principles that electric cooperatives have adhered to through generations of members and cooperative leaders.
The relatively straightforward mission of electric cooperatives — at first simply to make electric service available, and now to also make it reliable and affordable — certainly has helped provide direction. Because we were founded by and for our local communities, we’ve been able to stay connected to the enduring values of the people we serve. Finally, the adoption of formal guiding principles has allowed us to adapt to changing circumstances and new challenges.
Probably the most powerful of these principles is the trust that democratic control by consumer-members will get it right. Even when a cooperative may occasionally stray off course, the democratic process has proven to be a self-correcting one. The fact that our service has become so essential to daily life means people will notice when the members’ needs are not being met.
Electric cooperatives still serve largely rural communities, and that breeds a commonsense approach to most of the issues that we face, including a recognition that we can’t afford to squander the scarce resources we have available. It also means that we must remain politically engaged in issues that directly affect our members.
The term “resilience” seems often misused these days. It’s the ability to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions and, to me, “resilient” is what your electric cooperative was born to be. That resilience is how it continues to provide value through changing times and challenging circumstances.