by Jim Bausell
America’s Electric Cooperatives
October is National Cooperative Month. Every year, we take this time to celebrate how co-ops contribute to the vitality and quality of life within the communities they serve. It’s not just about keeping the lights turned on. It’s also a good opportunity to recognize the power—not only with energy for life, but with people power—that electric cooperatives are putting back into the hands of their members and the communities they serve. We couldn’t be more honored to be the selected partner of the many cooperatives we serve and this unique backbone of our nation’s energy system that keeps the power on for countless American homes, farms, ranches, hospitals, schools, and businesses.
America’s electric cooperatives are not only energy providers but are also engines of economic development. Electric cooperatives have always played a unique and vital role in transforming and sustaining their communities.
Just look at the numbers:
- Electric cooperatives power 56% of the nation’s landmass and represent the highest growth sector within the nation’s electricity industry;
- They collectively own and maintain 42% (2.6 million miles) of U.S. electric distribution lines that serve 42 million people in over 2,500 counties;
- Each day, they reliably deliver power to more than 20 million homes and businesses across the United States.
Electric co-ops are local energy and innovative technology providers. Their local, member-owned and controlled, community-centric roots provide them with flexibility, agility, and motivation that is unmatched in the power industry. They are shaped by the specific needs of the communities they serve.
In most states, co-ops lead important community and economic development efforts. This local, member-driven structure is one reason why electric cooperatives are so responsive to their community needs, enjoying the highest consumer-satisfaction scores within the electric industry, according to J.D. Power and Associates and the American Consumer Satisfaction Index.
There are strong parallels between our core values at Silicon Ranch and the international cooperative principles which, since 1844, have served as a cornerstone for the cooperative business model. Even more amazing is the similarity of the four core values of Touchstone Energy Cooperatives—integrity, accountability, innovation, and commitment to community—with the core values of Silicon Ranch:
1. Since the 1930s, electric cooperatives stand up for the communities they serve and mitigate the volatilities of the wholesale power supply market. At Silicon Ranch, we also believe communities deserve reliable, sustained, cost-effective CHOICES for their source of power.
2. Co-ops are solely concerned with Main Street, not Wall-Street. We believe solar energy projects—when developed responsibly—create enduring, long-term value and deliver a meaningful legacy to their communities.
3. Co-op employees are the backbone of the communities they serve as front-line, first-response providers. Just like co-ops, we believe our employees can make a difference in the communities we serve.
4. Co-ops have always aggregated their needs and supplies through partnerships, with each other, and leveraged private/public partnerships. We believe in the power of such collaborative partnerships.
5. Co-ops achieve “success” when they’re able to reliably keep the lights on, maintain costs competitive prices, and ensure their members are satisfied. Likewise, we believe we are only successful when our partners are successful which includes those same metrics.
6. Co-ops provide high standards of service according to their four core values: integrity, accountability, innovation and commitment to community. We require honesty and integrity in everything we do.
7. Partially due to their original, populist rural roots, and reliance on neighbors and community for support, co-ops have always shared and learned from each other. At Silicon Ranch, we take great pride in our ability to listen, learn, and respond.
8. When you’re tasked with keeping the lights on, 24/7, 365 days a year, through storms and the heat of the sun, co-ops realize their neighbors, friends, and family are relying on them to get the job done, no excuses. We do what we say we will do.
9. Co-ops believe in getting the job right, whether it be safety through safe work environments, or ensuring the power lines are true and straight. We believe in doing things the right way, with square corners.
10. Co-ops invest in infrastructure for the long term, realizing that an investment made right is an investment that lasts a lifetime. Like our electric co-op partners, we’re also long-term operators: We choose the right path over the easier path to get the job done.
Jim Bausell is the Executive Vice President of Business Development at Silicon Ranch Corporation where he leads the company’s growth strategy as it expands its solar portfolio across the United States. Jim has more than 40 years of experience in business development including 20 years holding leadership positions at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.