Cooperation Among Cooperatives
By Sean J. Vanslyke
When you think about SEMO Electric Cooperative, you probably associate us with the local community. And you would be right. Our leadership team, board of directors and employees live and work right here in the community we serve. But you may not realize that SEMO Electric is actually part of a much larger cooperative network that brings additional value, tools and knowledge that benefit you, the members of the co-op.
Did you know there is a total of 897 National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) co-ops that serve an estimated 42 million people in 48 states? Electric co-ops serve more than 19 million businesses, homes, schools, churches, farms, irrigation systems and other establishments in 2,500 of 3,141 counties in the U.S.
A defining characteristic of a cooperative is “cooperation among cooperatives.” This is a way that co-ops work together to meet bigger challenges such as power restoration after a severe weather event. When a severe weather event is predicted for our region, we may call on our sister co-ops in areas unaffected by the approaching storm. Through this system of mutual aid, we coordinate with other co-ops to bring additional trucks, equipment and manpower to our area. We work together and share resources in order to restore power to our community. And SEMO Electric reciprocates by assisting other electric co-ops when they request help.
November is a time of year for reflection and giving thanks. I am grateful for our sister co-ops who enable us to better serve you and our broader community. When electric co-ops collaborate, we strengthen each other and the communities we serve – and that is something for which to be truly thankful.
Effective with bills due in February 2020, the Grid Availability Charge (GAC) will increase 10 cents per day for all rate classifications. The co-op’s charge per unit of energy – kWh – will remain the same. The increase in revenue will help pay long term debt (specifically, debt from the 2009 ice storm) and enhance SEMO Electric’s tree trimming for more than 2,600 miles of lines. Our focus is to keep the lights on.
No one wants to pay more for goods or services. All organizations – even not-for-profits like SEMO Electric – need adequate revenues to cover necessary expenses. Efficiency improvements, adjustments to the GAC and cost-containment measures have allowed us to keep the residential kWh the same since January 2013. The cost per kWh remains at $0.8798.
The GAC gives the cooperative a way of recovering fixed costs such as transformers, line maintenance, taxes on property, tree trimming – costs associated with keeping power available even if no electricity is used.
The Board of Directors and Team SEMO take changing rates seriously. The new rates allow us to continue to operate in a prudent manner as we provide member-owners with safe, reliable and low-cost electricity and fiber services. And since SEMO Electric is a not-for-profit organization, any margins we make are returned to member-owners.
Book of the Month
“We live in a culture full of hares, people who can’t keep their eye on the ball, who can’t be focused or intense for very long at all; they can’t even keep their eye of the goal long enough to win the race. Slow and steady wins the race. Slow and steady wins the race.” Dave Ramsey – EntreLeadership
Be smart. Act safe.
Vanslyke is general manager and chief executive officer of SEMO Electric Cooperative. The photo is Sean with his grandson Otto. Give thanks for the special people in your life this holiday season.