The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association will soon release a report following a year-long committee discussion on the role of electric cooperatives today.
Take a look at your electric cooperative’s mission statement.
Bruce Carlson bets you see something similar to what electric cooperatives see across the nation.
“Most co-ops have drifted to a mission statement that reads something like this: ‘Our mission at Verendrye Electric Cooperative is to deliver safe, reliable and affordable electric power to our members at the end of the line,’” he says. Carlson is the general manger of Verendrye Electric Cooperative, a Basin Electric Class C cooperative headquartered in Velva, ND.
So what’s wrong with that? Nothing, Carlson says, “but it does suggest that co-ops are commodity suppliers of electricity and that there’s no differentiation between us and the electric utility.”
Delivering electricity at a lower price than Xcel Energy, the investor-owned utility nearest to Verendrye Electric, is nearly impossible in some areas. “Xcel serves 40-50 meters per mile of line. Verendrye serves the fringe areas of Minot, ND, but we also have McClusky and Goodrich with one meter per mile of line and going backwards.”
Without electric cooperatives, electricity would not have reached rural America when it did. Today, the nation has electricity that is safe, reliable and affordable. So if the price war is a losing battle, what is the purpose of today’s electric cooperative? Keep reading…