Our gift to you
Grocery bills are up — but do you think the grocer will look into your pantry and suggest ways to spend less on food? Gas prices are taking a big bite out of consumers’ budgets. But could you call on the gas station owner to help you use less of their product?
These scenarios aren’t likely. Yet for as long as they have existed, electric cooperatives have done their best to show their members how to use electricity efficiently. Never before has this offer of help been stressed more than in today’s tough economic times.
Those who keep track of power use tell us these efforts have paid off. Missouri electric cooperative members are using less electricity. When this hapens, all members benefit because it is more expensive to generate electricity today than it was in the past and the kilowatt-hours saved can be used to meet growth in demand for electricity in rural Missouri.
And while the price per kilowatt-hour has increased at some locations because of the increased cost to generate electricity, members are reducing the impact by using electricity more efficiently in their homes and businesses.
These days it is far easier to practice energy efficiency than it was during the first energy crisis. There are alternatives and resources available to you besides putting on a sweater and doing without Christmas lights, like President Carter once asked us to do.
Last spring, electric cooperatives served by Associated Electric Cooperative launched a campaign called “Take Control & Save.” Through this effort, more than a million energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs were given away or sold at low cost.
Some co-ops offered rebates on energy efficient appliances, an especially enticing gift to those in need of an upgrade anyway since most new appliances are Energy-Star rated and use less energy.
They brought energy guru Doug Rye to Missouri so that members could benefit from his energy-saving ideas. And his radio show is being broadcast across Missouri thanks to co-op sponsorships.
Elsewhere, when a member complains of a high bill, electric cooperative employees work with them on ways to reduce their use and the monthly impact to the member. Sometimes this is as simple as caulking around windows, insulating electrical outlets or wrapping your water heater with an insulating blanket or replacing it with a more efficient model. Other times, lifestyle changes, such as getting teenagers to turn off lights, TVs or computers, are all it takes.
Electric cooperatives willingly do these things, even though they hurt the bottom line, because you are the cooperative. When you and your family suffer, the cooperative suffers too.
As this year ends, we reflect on what has been done to help members in need, and what else can be done to provide more assistance. We look forward to continuing the “Our Energy, Our Future” campaign, which focuses on ensuring electricity remains affordable and reliable.
If you haven’t sent your e-mail asking the three questions, contact your local co-op and tell them you want to get involved. If you are computer savvy, go to www.ourenergy.coop and send your e-mail. Make sure your whole family does it, too, and also ask your friends and neighbors.
The 450,000 questions that have been asked so far from Missouri co-op members are having an impact in Washington, D.C. But we need more members to have their voices heard!
We look forward to working closely with Gov.-elect Jay Nixon in solving the state’s energy challenges. And we’ll do our best to help you make ends meet.
Think of that as a gift to you from the employees of your co-op who work hard every day to serve you.
Hart is executive vice president of the Association
of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.