by | Apr 17, 2023

I have never been considered the classiest dresser on the block. In fact, when my wife and I were dating, I firmly believe Lindsey thought I was colorblind. Maybe she saw a diamond in the rough, maybe it was pity — I’ve never asked and she’ll never tell. 

Most of my fashion-forward clothing style came from growing up on a farm. A good pair of boots kept your feet dry when you stepped in that mudhole. A pair of leather gloves saved your fingers pulling barbed wire. A cowboy hat kept the sun from burning your face, ears and neck, all at the same time. And those old bib overalls had more pockets than I could count to hold spare parts, tools and everything else.

Surviving on the farm meant having the right gear to do the job, along with a place to put it. 

Nobody said much about my clothes when I was attending the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources at Mizzou. After all, most of my buddies grew up in rural Missouri and dressed just like me.

It was a different story when I graduated and moved out to Washington, D.C. It took me a little time and a lot of help, but I traded in my boots and bibs for dress shoes and suits. Part of getting the job done meant having the right attire, but I sure missed all of those pockets.

Fashions come and go, but some things never go out of style. I learned that just like a good pair of Big Smith bibs, a well-tailored suit in charcoal or black worked for just about any occasion.

These days it’s fashionable for electric utilities to have a row of solar panels spotted in what was once a farm field. I’ve got to wonder if those panels will go the way of bell-bottoms and leisure jackets when someone at Missouri S&T invents a technology that will be more reliable.

If reliability is that timeless charcoal suit, then anything we can’t count on 24/7 is a lot like those skinny jeans I see being sported at Mizzou games. I’d say the most important thing your electric cooperative does is make electricity available for you to use day or night, in sunshine and in rain. 

If you turn on the TV at any given time, there’s a good chance you’ll see a story about some blackout going on. The one place you don’t hear about blackouts is in rural Missouri. That’s because, while it may not look fancy, your Missouri electric cooperatives are “dressed” for reliability. Most of the electricity our cooperatives supply comes from coal plants, gas plants and hydroelectric dams.

While many electric utilities are shutting down these plants, we have realized that’s not possible without putting your electric reliability at risk. That is not only dangerous, it is unacceptable. 

The next time you hear about a blackout, remember this — while they may look good, skinny jeans won’t hold a good pair of fencing pliers.

 Caleb is the executive vice president and CEO of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives and a member of Boone Electric Cooperative.

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