When I think of February I think of family. It’s not just the Valentine’s Day holiday that brings this to mind, though I
better make a note to take care of my wife, Lindsey, and the kids. Rather I remember cold winter days from my childhood
when I was torn between obligations to the junior high basketball team and the bottle calf I was raising for a 4-H
When those confl icts arose, I knew someone in my family had my back. While I practiced layups and free throws, the calf
always got fed thanks to my dad, brother or one of my sisters. We had to rely on each other for these kinds of things,
and I can’t remember them ever letting me down.
Your electric cooperative is a lot like this. We like to call them our “Cooperative Family.” This extended family — 900
strong across the nation — helps each other by practicing the sixth of seven cooperative principles: cooperation among
Missouri’s electric cooperatives demonstrated this principle in a big way this past fall when they sent lineworkers to
help electric cooperatives in Florida and the Carolinas that were battered by hurricanes.
This mutual assistance has gone on in a formal way since 1948, when the manager of Boone Electric Cooperative suggested
it would be wise to set up a procedure that would speed help to a system in trouble with just one phone call to the
statewide association in Jefferson City.
Over the years, this process has been tested by tornadoes, ice storms, fl oods and freak storms that have caused major
damage to power lines. The goal is always to get the power fl owing again as quickly as possible. Many of those times,
the lineworker you see working to restore your power is from a neighboring cooperative that is helping to make sure
everyone, not just their cooperative, has electricity.
It’s rare that every system in the state suffers damage even in the worst scenario. But when that does happen, there’s a
network of electric cooperatives outside Missouri’s borders that are ready and willing to help. They remember the many
times Missouri’s electric cooperatives have answered the call, and they are happy to return the favor
Employees and directors of your electric cooperative sleep a lot better at night knowing this system is in place, and
that if help is needed, it is just a phone call away.
There’s more to being a part of the cooperative family. It’s knowing that expertise your cooperative may not have exists
at another system and will gladly be shared. This may take place in one of many networking sessions during training
seminars, or in a more formal way through sharing agreements that are saving money on a variety of services.
In northeast Missouri, for example, Lewis County and Macon electric cooperatives are sharing services such as safety,
mapping and contract bidding for right-of-way clearing, spraying and pole inspection. They also have a common manager
who oversees both operations.
Elsewhere, three Missouri cooperatives pioneered fi ber-to-the-home internet service. As others looked into providing
this service to members, they have benefi ted from the experiences shared by Co-Mo, Ralls County and United electric
cooperatives, freely shared.
Being part of the Cooperative Family extends to you too. Like a caring brother or sister, your electric cooperative is
concerned for your welfare. They work tirelessly to make sure the communities where they serve are good places to live.
That’s how family works … and it’s also the cooperative way.
Jones is the executive vice president and CEO of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.