Cooperative Principles in Action - Carolina Country

Cooperative Principles in Action

By Wayne Wilkins

By Wayne Wilkins

Wayne Wilkins

I’ve spent my career working for electric cooperatives, and I’ll admit that on occasion, I take for granted just how remarkable the cooperative business model is. But it doesn’t take long in a day of work at the co-op to be reminded of that fact.

The “cooperative difference,” as we call it, shines through in many ways — some subtle, some not so subtle. It could be through a decision made by our board of directors, elected from the members, by the members, that betters the co-op in the long-term. It could be through a line crew working into the night to help a neighboring co-op restore power after a storm. Or it could be through the look on a new member’s face when they realize their electric utility truly puts their needs above all else.

Since our creation, electric co-ops have always focused on providing safe, reliable and affordable energy to our members — the core of our mission. However, we also strive to exceed our members’ expectations and provide them products and services that truly empower their lives. As your needs and available technology change, so does what we offer as your trusted energy advisor.

The key to this business model is a set of seven principles that every co-op adheres to. These principles, along with the cooperative purpose of improving quality of life for our members, make electric cooperatives different from other electric utilities. You’ll find those principles listed on the page. One that resonates with me at this time of year is Democratic Member Control.

Since last spring, electric co-ops across the state have been holding annual meetings, an important time to hear from your electric cooperative and participate in director elections. Your boards of directors play a critical role in setting the long-term vision for your co-op based on member needs, and your participation in the election is what makes it all work. So thank you to those who participated or will participate this year, and congratulations to the newly elected board members. That’s Democratic Member Control in action.

Similar to how member participation is the foundation to a healthy co-op, participation in the state and federal election process helps ensure the well-being of our nation. You can play a role by simply getting out to vote this November.

It’s important that, as electric co-op members, we take part in state and federal elections to ensure rural North Carolina, and the issues important to us and our communities, are represented. During the 2012 Presidential election cycle, there was an 18 percent drop in voter turnout in rural areas — more than twice the drop in urban and suburban parts of the country. Let’s turn that around this November and make our voices heard at the polls.

Voter registration is open in North Carolina through October 14, and Election Day is Tuesday, November 8. Together, we can show our elected officials what the “cooperative difference” means, and move the needle on issues that are important to our communities.

About the Author

Wayne Wilkins is CEO at EnergyUnited in Statesville and chairman of the Rural Electric Action Program, the state political action committee for North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives.

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