The strengths of Oklahoma's electric co-ops

Chris Meyers
General Manager
Oklahoma Association of
Electric Cooperatives

 

You may have heard the saying before: “alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” It was based on this premise that electric co-ops were born, bringing light to America’s countryside for the first time. Fast forward to 2019, and your electric cooperative is part of a strong network of 900-plus co-ops nationwide. In Oklahoma, 27 distribution electric cooperatives and 3 generation and transmission (G&T) electric cooperatives are the backbone of local communities. Owned by Oklahomans and serving Oklahomans, our state’s electric cooperatives have a strong positive impact in our economy and in the quality of life of rural and suburban communities. 

Numbers do tell a story. The collective co-op investment back into local communities and in electric infrastructure communicate a compelling story. Owning and maintaining more than 122,600 miles of energized line, electric co-ops have a larger number of miles of line than any other utility in our state. In fact, Oklahoma’s electric co-ops own and maintain more miles of line than all of the other utilities in the state combined. 

Do you know why? Co-ops own the most miles of line because co-ops are the only utility that invested in serving every member, farm or ranch in sparsely populated areas when other utilities did not find it profitable to do so. Electric cooperatives put people before profits. 

Co-ops serve more than 643,300 active meters throughout the state and employ nearly 3,000 people. Additionally, every year co-ops collect gross receipts taxes that are distributed to local schools. In 2017, nearly $40,000,000 was distributed. Through the years, hundreds of thousands of local youth have been positively impacted with scholarships, participation in the Rural Electric Youth Tour in Washington, D.C., and in the YouthPower Energy Camp in Oklahoma, to name a few outreach efforts. While some aspects of the electric cooperative program are measurable, others are immensurable, just as the long-lasting impact cooperatives continue to make in many lives. We understand the power our unity brings. We know that together we can accomplish much to serve our valued members. As we press on with our mission, Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives are united with a common purpose: to power the needs of new generations of Oklahomans with our service, talents and resources. The saying is true: alone we can do little, but together we can do so much more.  OKL Article End

 

Learning to better serve co-op members

Larry Hicks
President
Oklahoma Association of
Electric Cooperatives

Last month, Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives wrapped up productive meetings. The annual co-op Directors’ Association fundraising event supported the Oklahoma Energy Trails Foundation in their mission of sending co-op linemen to developing nations to bring the gift of light to those who have never had it before. We had the opportunity to listen to volunteer linemen and hear how this mission has impacted the families in Guatemala and how they came back with a new outlook on life by helping others. It was a very touching presentation. Co-op directors from all over the state met for a day of training in Oklahoma City to hear about industry trends and how they can be more effective in their service.We heard from talented speakers, including our new statewide Director of Government and Legislative Affairs, Jim Reese, who previously served as Oklahoma secretary of agriculture. Jim replaces longtime legislative director Kenny Sparks. We are grateful for Kenny’s service and wish him all the best in this new chapter of life. 

Our statewide association, the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC), also hosted the annual “Out of the Gate” legislative reception to welcome legislators to the first session of the 57th Oklahoma Legislature. We were honored to welcome 25 senators, 71 members of the House of Representatives as well as numerous Capitol staffers and guests. It is important for our co-ops to nurture relationships with policymakers as we work to represent every co-op consumer-member at the end of the line.

 I’m grateful to be a part of the Oklahoma electric co-op family. It’s encouraging to see a new generation of leaders rising up to maintain the integrity and mission of the electric cooperative program. May God bless our co-op leadership and co-op membership. OKL Article End