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Today is December 6, 2022

Editorial

Cooperation works for electric cooperative members

By Michael Callahan

Michael Callahan
Michael Callahan,
Executive Vice President/CEO
EPAs of Mississippi

From childhood we are taught the value of working together to get things done. Young athletes aren’t the only ones to learn that through teamwork and cooperation, we can accomplish goals impossible to reach on our own.
    October is National Cooperative Month, a good time to reflect on how cooperatives, including your electric power association, unite members to obtain goods and services they could not (or could not afford to) obtain on their own.
    Cooperatives of all kinds serve more than 1 billion member-owners throughout the world. In the U.S., about 30,000 cooperatives operate for the benefit of 350 million members (many are a member of more than one cooperative).
    These cooperatives provide a huge array of products and services in the worlds of finance, insurance, agriculture, housing, manufacturing, energy and others. You know many of them: Ace Hardware, Land O’Lakes, the Associated Press, your own electric power association and maybe a local credit union.
    Some 1.8 million Mississippians are served by 25 local electric power associations. Collectively, these electric power associations distribute electricity to an estimated 85 percent of the state’s land mass.
    Each electric power association is a cooperative created, owned and controlled by its members—the people who use its services—through the election of directors at the annual membership meeting.
    Cooperatives excel at service, the fundamental reason for their existence. They are driven by the needs of their members, rather than the profit motives of investors. They offer goods and services at the lowest cost possible, without added profit margins.
    Most of Mississippi’s electric power associations were formed by local farmers in the mid-1930s, when the federal government made low-interest loans and expertise available to them for the construction of rural electric distribution systems. These farmers wanted affordable electric service to improve their quality of life; their productivity lagged without electric lights, pumps and motors to boost efficiency, and they were fed up with living in the “dark ages.”
    Mississippi was an early leader in the creation of electric power associations as the movement spread nationwide. Electric cooperatives grew rapidly because of strong demand for their service. Almost 1,000 electric cooperatives now serve 42 million people, both rural and urban, in 47 states.
    Your electric power association provides a valuable service you may not even know about: consumer advocacy. Mississippi’s electric power associations serve as your legislative watchdog, always alert for proposals that could impact our ability to bring you safe, affordable and reliable electricity. We continuously monitor legislation on the state and federal levels and work to inform lawmakers of our members’ interests.
    Through the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and their own local electric power association, our members have a voice in national energy policy proposals. In short, we all work together to improve both the environment and the quality of life for future generations.

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