cooperative for cooperatives
Back in 1937 a group
of rural electric leaders in Missouri did something powerful. They
pooled their meager resources and founded a new cooperative for cooperatives,
the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.
This month we will
gather for the 68th annual meeting of this association. As we prepare
for the annual meeting our thoughts turn to the reasons AMEC was
AMEC is a statewide organization based in Jefferson City. We don’t
generate electricity. Instead, we provide needed services to the electric
cooperatives in the state. Since our founding our mission has been to
provide a means for electric cooperatives to accomplish things collectively
they could not do as effectively on their own.
In accomplishing this mission we only do what our 47 member systems ask
us to do. Every year representatives from each electric cooperative
meet to put together our annual work program.
These standing committees,
as we call them, annually review each and every program carried out
by the statewide office. Only after their thumbs up do they go into
the next year’s work program.
These committee members represent six geographic districts that include
five to eight cooperatives. At the district meeting the representatives
canvas others about issues and concerns of statewide importance. Through
this grassroots effort new programs are suggested, voted on and if
deemed worthy added to the annual work program.
This annual review process ensures that statewide programs receive
input from the membership on a regular basis. Those who volunteer to
serve on the standing committees are the same directors you elect and
the managers hired by your cooperative representative.
There is one final step in the process. Once a year I get together
with the department heads at AMEC and assign these duties to the appropriate
staff members. We meet from time to time to ensure the job is getting
done and we are meeting your needs.
So what are these programs AMEC has been tasked to complete? One of
the most important is representing your cooperative at the state and
U.S. Capitols. Because of our grassroots support, electric cooperatives
carry a lot of clout in the two capitols.
Behind our office is a vast lineman training ground, considered one
of the best in the nation. Here linemen learn skills like pole climbing,
working from bucket trucks, pole top rescue and the safe construction
of new power lines.
Besides learning their job, linemen work safer thanks to our technical
testing trucks. The men who staff them travel the state five days a
week testing the trucks and rubber goods that protect linemen.
The communications efforts of your local system are met through the
production of Rural Missouri. Besides producing the inside pages, we
also coordinate the local pages that keep you informed of happenings
at the local level.
On our grounds is a full-service print shop. They produce everything
from rate cards to letterhead to annual reports for the member systems
at break-even prices.
Our Missouri Electric Cooperatives Insurance Plan, or MECIP, was formed
to answer the problem of rising costs for workers compensation insurance.
The annual savings from this plan is now measured in the millions of
The Youth Tour to Washington, D.C. and our Cooperative Youth Conference
and Leadership Experience are two examples of programs we do to boost
the rural youth of our state.
AMEC exists to do
only those things your system does not have the time, the power or
the money to do on its own. By working together, we have been able
to keep the program strong and influential in Missouri.
In that sense, those things we do don’t cost you money, they save
Hart is executive
vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.