Cooperatives across the globe adhere to the same seven cooperative principles that guide our decisions––from how we run the co-op to how we engage with our local communities. With Valentine's Day approaching, we can't think of a better time to explain how the seven cooperative principles allow us to serve you, our member, with "L-O-V-E".
L stands for Leadership.
Our electric co-op is unique because we belong to the communities we serve. The co-op is led by its members, which gives us an exceptional understanding of the local needs of our communities. Many of our leaders and employees live here and are co-op members–just like you!
Voluntary and Open Membership is the first cooperative principle, which means co-op membership is available to everyone who can use its services within our service territory, regardless of race, religion, age, disability, gender identity, language, political perspective, or socioeconomic status.
Democratic Member Control, the second cooperative principle, allows members to make decisions about the co-op. Democratic control is what makes our cooperative, our community, and our country strong. Our board of directors, who help set long-term priorities for the co-op, also live on co-op lines. These board members have been elected by neighbors just like you. We know our members have a valuable perspective, and that's why we are continually seeking your input and encourage you to weigh in on important co-op issues and participate in co-op elections.
The third cooperative principle is Members' Economic Participation. Members contribute money to the cooperative to ensure it runs smoothly now and in the future. As a co-op, we are also motivated by service to the community rather than profits. Members contribute equitably to and democratically control the capital of our cooperative. At least part of that capital remains the common property of the cooperative. Members allocate surpluses for co-op programs, initiatives, capital investments, and supporting other activities approved by the membership...and what's left is returned to our members.
O stands for Ourselves.
The best thing about Autonomy and Independence, the fourth cooperative principle, is that members create the cooperative to provide a necessary service and ensure that it can operate successfully on its own to benefit the members. This means the co-op is not being influenced by leaders or shareholders several states away. Instead, it is led by the local members it serves.
However, while we take pride that we can do it ourselves, Education, Training, and Information (the fifth cooperative principle) focuses on the importance of continued learning and training opportunities to ensure that employees and members have the information they need to make the co-op successful. By investing in continuous learning for our employees and board members, our co-op is committing to individual professional and personal growth, the future of the co-op, and the high quality of service our members expect and deserve.
V stands for Versatility.
Cooperation Among Cooperatives. Even though we're locally owned and operated, the sixth cooperative principle is evident when we cooperate with other electric cooperatives regionally and nationally to develop new technologies, invest in equipment and infrastructure that benefits multiple co-ops in a region, and assist with major outages. This type of collaboration allows us the versatility to address complex challenges while remaining true to our local roots. This breadth of resource-sharing provides cooperatives like us with various options to find solutions that better serve our members.
E stands for Empower.
The seventh cooperative principle – Concern for Community, goes beyond the fact that it takes more than poles and power lines to power a community. While our top priority is to provide safe, reliable, and affordable energy to you, it is equally vital that we empower consumer-members and their communities.
Over time, our co-op has evolved to meet our community's changing needs, thereby enriching everyone's quality of life. And that can mean many different things. It can mean offering scholarships and educational programs for our youth, donating to area food pantries and other charitable organizations, delivering electric safety training and resources for local schools and first responders, providing access to low-interest loans for community and economic development projects, and contributing to other worthy programs.
The seven Cooperative Principles are the heart of everything we do, and we "L-O-V-E" serving you with all our hearts. The cooperative way is a values-based business model that we take very seriously. So, during this month dedicated to showing our love, know that we serve with LOVE all year through! Happy Valentine's Day to our members!