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Crisis brings the best in co-ops

Chris Meyers
General Manager
Oklahoma Association of
Electric Cooperatives

 

Summer is here, and the virus that has plagued Oklahoma, our nation and the world remains active. In one way or another, COVID-19 has left few unaffected. This month, the cover feature of Oklahoma Living magazine tells the story of health care workers who are diligently responding to this health crisis in rural Oklahoma. Their heroic efforts are to be commended. Through their commitment, hard work and compassion for others, healthcare workers and first responders are a beacon of light in the communities they serve. 

As we contemplate on their COVID-19 journey and contributions, your rural electric cooperative is proud to be a part of this story. Regarded as an essential service, reliable electricity is crucial for the continuity of health care, first responder services, business operations and the comfort you enjoy at home. 

This challenging time has proven once again that electric co-ops are well-versed in operating and adapting to trying circumstances. Like other businesses, electric cooperatives have developed business continuity and pandemic plans to protect the people working for them and to ensure energy operations and infrastructure are supported properly throughout an emergency. Planning for a health emergency, such as the one presented by COVID-19, is unique from other business continuity planning because it requires businesses to prepare and operate with a significantly smaller workforce, a threatened supply chain, and limited support services for an extended period of time at an unknown date in the future. However, our emergency response plans and tabletop simulations have equipped co-ops to be more prepared than many other organizations. Co-ops are part of a network—locally, regionally and nationally—that rises up in the face of adversity.  

Working from a preemptive approach, co-ops take proactive measures to establish situational awareness within their service territories, make ahead-of-time preparations to address disruptions of power, and/or potential workforce shortages, and develop appropriate responses benefitting each consumer-member.  

As part of this intense preparation, co-ops also make plans for sequestering additional operating facilities to safeguard generation, transmission and delivery of power and critical equipment and supplies needed to restore power and to keep power flowing. Electric co-ops must also determine established contacts with mutual aid assistance networks to assess the availability of additional resources if there are not enough workers to perform critical work.

As we have seen time and time again, nothing brings out the best in our co-ops and employees more than a crisis. The pandemic continues to challenge us all, but it also underscores the strength derived from our collaborative efforts. OKL Article End

 

Welcome to the family

Brent Bacon
President
Oklahoma Association of
Electric Cooperatives

 

I’m fortunate to be in the third generation living on my family cattle farm. I was born and raised in Purcell, Oklahoma, and graduated from Purcell schools. With over four decades of experience in business entrepreneurship and self-employment, I’m a strong supporter of raising the quality of life in rural Oklahoma. That is why I stand behind the electric cooperative movement, and I’m committed to serve in this important industry for the benefit of our local communities, including my own. 

I have been a proud member of Rural Electric Cooperative in Lindsay, Oklahoma, since the 1970s. I was elected to serve on the board of my co-op in 2005. From Day 1, joining the co-op network felt like being embraced by a big family. There is much strength in the unity of electric cooperatives, employees and consumer-members throughout the state and nation. The time-tested electric cooperative business model is strong because it seeks the best interests of those they serve: that includes you and me—and our neighbors. 

At the core, electric cooperatives are committed to providing safe, reliable and affordable electricity to each consumer-member. But unlike other electric utility providers, co-ops go beyond. They are invested in the communities they serve and genuinely care about the quality of life of their consumer-members. From Operation Round-Up programs that benefit community organizations and local businesses, to youth scholarships and educational programs, to participation and contribution in various community efforts, co-ops go the extra mile for their members. That is what we call the cooperative difference. 

As I enter this year of serving as president of the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives, I look forward to serving with fellow talented, committed and dedicated board members from across the state. I’m confident that together we will successfully meet any challenges ahead and collaborate to innovate and find fitting solutions for the benefit of our co-op membership statewide. I’m honored to serve in this capacity and to be a part of the co-op program. I encourage all co-op members throughout the state to become involved with their electric cooperative; together we can ensure the electric cooperative program continues to power lives and empower communities for generations to come. OKL Article End