The story of electric cooperatives is one of the great American success stories: Neighbors across the country banding together to extend electric service to homes and farms too far from population centers to be profitable for traditional electric companies. Today, the nearly 900 electric cooperatives operating across the United States, including the 24 headquartered here in Ohio, continue to be a model of public-private partnership and an essential part of the communities we serve.
The story, however, also includes barriers and even opposition to the mission of providing safe, reliable, and affordable electric service to cooperative members. Investor-owned electric utilities strongly opposed electric cooperative formation; many created roadblocks to hinder the development of a robust electric system owned by co-op members. We face some of the same challenges today, including well-intentioned but misguided government regulations, unfair competitive practices, and policies by other organizations that undermine the cooperative business model.
Our ability to overcome current-day obstacles is based on our support from you, our membership. We need to be able to tell our story — why it is still important to the communities we serve to have access to safe, reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible electricity. We need to be able to bring common-sense solutions to the problems of today.
Our history in Ohio includes strong partnerships with the Farm Bureau and Nationwide Insurance, who helped electric cooperatives grow and thrive. American Electric Power (AEP) became a partner to Buckeye Power and Ohio’s electric cooperatives in the joint development of the Cardinal Power Plant, which still stands as a testament to successful partnership — overcoming differences and finding uncommon solutions to common problems. This collaborative approach, which served us so well in the past, will be crucial to resolving the issues of today.
One way you can help assure a successful future is to participate. Voices for Cooperative Power provides an easy way for you to keep up with current issues and to lend your voice to the discussion when needed — to help us tell our story, because it’s your story, too. Learn more about Voices for Cooperative Power in this article from the February 2022 issue of Ohio Cooperative Living.