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Cooperative Difference

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December 30, 2017 - 3:29pm
December 30, 2017 - 2:19pm

What Makes Co-ops Different

There’s a strong reason why employees of Southern Iowa Electric Cooperative are genuinely proud to be part of an electric cooperative; Cooperatives are built on a foundation of principles and strong values. At Southern Iowa Electric Cooperative (SIEC) and across the nation, employees at electric cooperatives strive to provide more than just reliable electricity. We strive to support our local communities, educate and train, promote economic participation among our members and give full control to our membership through democratic member control.

Our Seven Cooperative Principles are always in our mind as we climb a pole, help a member fill out a rebate form, answer billing questions, post social media messages and many other day-to-day activities. Those Seven Principles are: Voluntary and Open Membership, Democratic Member Control, Member’s Economic Participation, Autonomy and Independence, Education and Training, Cooperation among Cooperatives, and Concern for Community. This is important because we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you, our member.

SIEC was founded and is still run by the people who live and work in the communities we serve. Instead of operating on a for-profit idea, we operate on a not-for-profit, membership owned business principle with a shared set of values: honesty, openness, caring for others, and social responsibility. We strive to listen to the opinions of our members through our Advisory Committee Touchstone (ACT) group. This group, made up of 50 SIEC members, attend 2 meetings a year for a four year term. Every two years the 4 year members are rotated off the committee, and new members come on to replace them. Our goal is to educate our members about aspects of the electric industry they may not be aware of; as well as, listening to their feedback on cooperative programs and activities.

Our Board of Directors, voted on by our members, elects to give three scholarships to high school seniors and sends one high school student to Washington D.C. every summer on the Youth Tour trip. We conduct electrical safety demonstrations at area schools and for local emergency responders. Keeping everyone safe around electricity is of utmost importance to us.

We strive to support our local communities. Through our Co-op Connections Card program, we encourage local businesses to provide discounts at many local stores and restaurants in the area. This little card also gives members discounts on their prescriptions at participating pharmacies. To promote economic growth, SIEC can provide revolving loan funds to area businesses, available through a partnership with the USDA Rural Development Program.

Together, the electric cooperatives on the state and national level meet with legislators on your behalf, working to keep electricity at affordable rates.  Cooperatives continue to work together in times of crisis when storms and severe weather take down power lines. When co-ops need extra hands, linemen from neighboring towns and states are ready and willing to help. This gets your power restored much faster than we could with just our crews.

Lastly, your cooperative is a unique type of business as our members receive the entitlement of capital credits. Capital credits are somewhat similar to the dividends paid to shareholders of investor-owned utilities. The difference is that a co-op’s “shareholders” are also the members that it serves and the “dividends” (capital credits) are distributed to the co-op’s member owners. SIEC has retired a total of $8,388,085 in capital credits to its members. Throughout the year, we encourage you, our member to engage with us and help strive to be a part of the Cooperative Difference.

 



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