Member-owners are the lifeblood of any cooperative, and as a member-owner, there are many steps you can take to help change your electric cooperative for the better.
Member-owners of Powell Valley Electric Cooperative in Tennessee have joined together to form PVEC Member Voices, a group working to “create a more transparent cooperative so member-owners can effectively participate in the decision-making” process
The first step you could take would be to contact your co-op and express your concerns or suggestions for improvement. If they aren’t available online, you could ask to see a copy of the co-op’s bylaws and/or financial documents.
An easy but effective way to contact your co-op would be to email the General Manager using a Sample Letter to the GM, customized to suit your co-op and its strengths and weaknesses. If email addresses for board members are available online, they can be copied on this email as well, especially if you have tried to contact management and found them unresponsive.
If your local newspaper runs a story about the report card, writing a letter to the editor can be a great way to increase public attention on the issue and catalyze your co-op into realizing positive change. To get started, see these Letter to the Editor Tips from the Minnesota Local Energy Project. If your local paper didn’t publish a scorecard article that you could respond to, you could also look into submitting an op-ed about their co-op’s results. For assistance on writing and proposing an op-ed, The Op-Ed project is an excellent resource.
For more helpful resources on how to start organizing at a rural electric cooperative, check out this toolkit by New Economy Coalition.
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