The Cooperative Advantage – October 2021 CCL CEO Article
By Jim Herron, MVEA CEO
I would like to start off by inviting you to attend a Mountain View Electric Association Member Appreciation Days lunch this month. We will be hosting one in Limon on October 13 and another one in Falcon on October 14. Visit our Events page to learn more.
Every October co-ops throughout the U.S. celebrate National Co-op Month. While it is always a great reason to celebrate our co-op members and our cooperative business model, this year is extra special as MVEA celebrates 80 years of powering possibilities through decades of change.
From agricultural co-ops to credit unions, cooperatives provide goods and services across all industry and business sectors. Ace Hardware, State Farm, REI, Land O’Lakes, and MVEA all share something in common: We’re all cooperatives. Born from a need for a service, and created solely to maximize benefits to its members, rather than benefits to shareholders, cooperatives play an important role in communities across the nation.
How important are cooperatives? As an MVEA member, you are part of a network of nearly 900 electric cooperatives that serve 42 million people across 56 percent of the nation’s landmass. You are part of a movement that electrified rural America in one of the greatest modern examples of what collaboration and determination can achieve. Mile by mile, home to home, electric co-op members built an electric grid that spans a nation. Electric cooperatives now own and maintain 2.7 million miles (42 percent) of U.S. electric distribution lines. All of this was achieved in less than 100 years.
And now, electric co-ops (and their members) throughout the country are using the same cooperative principles to help close the digital divide through the expansion of fiber broadband throughout cooperative service territories. Bringing fiber broadband to rural communities today is just as important as bringing light to night 80 years ago. It is a movement that MVEA is proud to be part of as we partner with Conexon Connect to bring access to high-speed fiber broadband internet to MVEA’s membership. The network we are building over the next five to six years will span nearly 5,800 miles of fiber and eventually provide access to 100% of our members. It will be nothing less than life-changing for members in the eight counties we serve.
Our members are part of this project, and we take that seriously. As a member-owned organization, we are grateful for your trust in us and we are ready to get started. That’s how we’ve always gotten it done at MVEA, and bringing broadband to our membership will be no different. To that end, your participation in the co-op is a vital component of MVEA’s success in expanding our services while continuing to provide safe and reliable electricity to the growing communities throughout our service territory.
We really do have a lot to celebrate this month! In 1941, MVEA’s first members made the decision to form an electric co-op. Fast-forward to today, and we now serve more than 51,000 members and 60,000 meters. We are positive proof that small groups of people can make a significant impact on their community for generations to follow. It is a legacy we are proud of, and one that we look forward to continuing.
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