Educating Ourselves and Our Stakeholders
Testifying before the state legislature’s House Energy Policy Committee recently was a great opportunity to shine a light on our cooperative form of business. Even though Michigan’s electric co-ops serve nearly 300,000 homes and businesses, we are small and relatively unknown compared to Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison!
Craig Borr, our statewide association’s executive vice-president, gave the legislators an overview of co-ops and explained that we were formed to serve those who live in rural areas. Then I had the chance to tell them how we work together to provide reliable electric power to our member-owners.
With our line maintenance programs, aggressive right-of-way clearing, and well-trained linemen, we work every day to make sure the lights stay on for rural families.
Legislators were surprised to learn that our mutual aid agreements also cover the small municipal utilities around the state, such as the cities of Portland and Eaton Rapids. We helped the City of Portland restore service after the tornado in 2015, for instance, and they recently sent a crew to help ours after this past March's wind storm.
I also pointed out that co-ops took the lead in using new technology like automated metering systems. These meters are simply tools that help us provide energy use information to our members, as well being useful during outage restoration.
All of these subjects are ones we have brought before you, our member-owners, through this magazine, our Facebook page, website and at district and annual member meetings.
We also provide scholarships to area students, Classroom Technology Grants to schools in our service area, and the National Rural Electric Youth Tour, helping to support our future leaders.
Cooperative Principle 5 is Education, Training & Information. We believe an informed membership is a valuable asset to a cooperative, which is why we invest in these various means of communication.
Michigan Country Lines magazine