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Commentary Cooperative strength in numbers T


Chris Meyers General Manager, Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives


he electric power generation, trans- mission, and dis- tribution system is


a highly sophisticated and complex network of assets all integrated to provide a reliable source of power. In addition to the technical complexity, there are count-


less regulatory and environmental compliance re- quirements. So how do co-ops like yours affordably manage all of this? We work together. Electric cooperatives individually are small in comparison to investor-owned utilities. Being small and local is good. Your management and employ- ees live and raise their families alongside yours. The trustees of your local board are required to be mem- bers of your cooperative. Small businesses tend to have higher customer satisfaction and are more fl exible and quicker to respond to customer needs. On the fl ip side, most small businesses generally don’t get the advantages associated with scale such as buying power, staffi ng, and access to capital. However, electric cooperatives have fi gured out how to provide the best of both. This is achieved by combining our efforts to reduce cost and take on challenges otherwise too big for us individually.


Electric cooperatives are primarily joined togeth- er through our National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). NRECA developed the


O


ne of the biggest rewards from be- ing a part of the rural electric co-


Joe Harris President, Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives


operative program is the motivation of the men and women associated with it. In the world we live in today, each of us face tremendous demands on our time. We


must each choose what to do with the time allot- ted to us in an ever-challenging world. I am very proud of the example set by many of our dedicated directors and engaged employees at local cooperatives. It is their example that sets our program apart from the corporate sector and makes electric cooperatives the remarkable success that they are.


I recently attended a meeting where Leslie Hinds, a director from Kiwash Electric Cooperative, an- nounced that he was retiring after serving on the Western Farmers Electric Cooperative Board for 37 years, and serving on Kiwash’s Board for 45 years. That’s a lifetime! I am sure Leslie could have spent the countless hours he spent on cooperative


4 WWW.OK-LIVING.COOP


Touchstone Energy brand and a wide range of mar- keting and educational materials available to coop- eratives. NRECA provides an option for cooperatives to join in employee benefi ts programs. They also provide an in-house consulting service for cooperatives looking for business process im- provements. Our national Action Committee for Rural Electrifi cation (ACRE) is recognized as one of the largest and most infl uential lobbying groups in Washington, D.C. We have formed other national not-for-profi t co- operative organizations as well. For instance, your cooperative could be a member of the National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) that provides billing software, and a wide range of other information system services for engineering and smart grid applications.


Electric cooperatives have formed their own National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (NRUCFC) for electric cooperatives as an option to other sources of capital—such as the Rural Utilities Service and CoBank.


Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives


Chris Meyers, General Manager Joe Harris, President


Jimmy Taylor, Vice-President Kendall Beck, Secretary Gary McCune, Treasurer


Staff


Sid Sperry, Director of PR & Communications sksperry@oaec.coop


Anna Politano, Managing Editor editor@ok-living.coop


Larry Skoch, Advertising Manager lskoch@ok-living.coop


Christy Johnson, Offi ce Manager cjohnson@oaec.coop


Kirbi Mills, Accountant/Offi ce Manager Asst. kmills@oaec.coop


Hayley Leatherwood, Multimedia Specialist hleatherwood@ok-living.coop


Federated


Rural Electric Insurance Exchange offers property and casualty insurance to cooperatives. The list goes on. When some say that cooperatives are too small to survive, they just don’t understand the strength of our national network. It’s the shared resources of more than 900 electric cooperatives serving 42 mil- lion people across 75 percent of the U.S. land mass by 72,000 dedicated employees—that’s the scale behind your local co-op.


Co-op leaders with a servant’s heart


business doing things that might have benefi ted him personally.


On Page 12 of this month’s Oklahoma Living, we are recognizing Bob Thomasson for his 50 years of service to Caddo Electric Cooperative. One might question why folks like Bob and Leslie would spend so much time with their respective cooperatives. Both gentlemen are just two great examples I’ve witnessed within the cooperative industry who dis- play an attitude symbolic of a servant’s heart. I know throughout the years their attitude has been: “What can I do for my fellow man?” I am certain that many electric cooperative em- ployees across this state could make more money in the private sector, but they choose to stay in their jobs because of the satisfaction they get from help- ing their neighbors and the assurance that their cooperative is making a difference in their community.


I want to express my gratitude to both of these men for their selfl ess gift of time and effort in dedi- cation to our cooperative program. It is one of the great things that appealed to me when I was given the opportunity to work in the electric cooperative world.


Kaylan Watkins, Intern intern@oaec.coop


Editorial, Advertising and General Offi ces


P.O. Box 54309, Oklahoma City, OK 73154-1309 Phone (405) 478-1455


Oklahoma Living online: www.ok-living.coop Subscriptions


$3.12 per year for rural electric cooperative members.


$6.00 per year for non-members. Cooperative Members: Report change of


address to your local rural electric cooperative. Non-Cooperative Members: Send address


changes to Oklahoma Living, P.O. Box 54309, Oklahoma City, OK 73154-1309.


Oklahoma Living (ISSN 1064-8968),


USPS 407-040, is published monthly for consumer-members of Oklahoma’s rural electric cooperatives by the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives, 2325 E. I-44 Service Road,


P.O. Box 54309, Oklahoma City, OK 73154-1309. Circulation this issue: 317,732


Periodical postage paid at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Association of Electric


Cooperatives is a statewide service organization for the following electric cooperatives: Alfalfa,


Arkansas Valley, Caddo, Canadian Valley, Central Rural, Choctaw, Cimarron, Cookson Hills, Cotton, East Central Oklahoma, Harmon, Indian, KAMO Power, Kay, Kiamichi, Kiwash, Lake Region,


Northeast Oklahoma, Northfork, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Ozarks, People’s, Red River Valley,


Rural, Southeastern, Southwest Rural, Tri-County, Verdigris Valley, and Western Farmers Electric Cooperative.


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