Rural Missouri Magazine

Nice meeting you

by Barry Hart

by Barry Hart

This summer I had the opportunity to attend several local electric cooperative annual meetings. I was invited to speak about the state of the cooperative movement in Missouri.

It was a great experience because it let me come face to face and speak with many of you, the member/owners of these cooperative businesses. I learned a lot at the annual meetings and want to visit with you this month about some of my findings.

First of all, I learned that the surveys of members conducted by electric cooperatives are accurate. Time and again those surveys have told us you believe your electric cooperative offers reliable service at affordable rates, and those findings were echoed to me personally by the annual meeting crowds.

Many of you that I met at the annual meetings this summer told me you feel connected to your cooperative and that’s why you come to the annual meeting. You were not there for the lunch or the door prizes. Rather, you take seriously your role as owners of a cooperative business.

Also, I had the benefit of seeing cooperative democracy in action at those meetings. I saw members running for election to the board and actually campaigning to represent their fellow consumers on important decisions affecting the co-op.

When I talked to the incumbant directors I sensed the pride they feel for the opportunity to represent their neighbors on the board. I also witnessed the standing ovations given to employees of the cooperatives by a membership that is grateful for their hard work in keeping rates low and service ever reliable.

As I spoke at these meetings I shared some of the lessons I have learned from the rural electric cooperative pioneers I have had the opportunity to work with in my 25 years with the program. They taught me there is a real difference between the cooperative way of doing business and the business plan of those utilities, like Enron, that made the news because of their unscrupulous tactics and corporate greed.

Those utilities were not accountable to the consumers who used their service. To me that’s the cooperative difference. When members of the cooperative who use the cooperative’s service own and control the business, they are by nature going to look out for the person at the end of the line.

I really believe the reason we have an affordable and reliable power system in Missouri is because of the way we are governed. I am thankful to live in a state where electric consumers have the opportunity to control their local electric cooperative.

Whether it’s the manager of the local electric cooperative, the receptionist at the front desk, a lineman restoring power, an elected director or an operator at one of our power plants, all of us know to whom we answer. I was fortunate enough to spend some quality time with some of you people, our member/owners.Thanks to all of you who took the time to visit with me and share your feelings about your electric cooperative this summer. It was a pleasure meeting you.

Hart is executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.

E-mail Barry Hart


Rural Missouri | June 2020 Issue

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Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives

Rural Missouri
2722 E. McCarty Street
P.O. Box 1645 • Jefferson City, Mo. 65102

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