If you didn’t know, I am a lover of summer, sun and all that comes with it, but Fall is a very close second. Give me a cool, autumn evening with friends around the fire and I’m a happy camper. As we enter into this season of football, campfires, candy corn, and all things pumpkin, we kick it all off by celebrating our cooperative! That’s right, October is National Cooperative Month. This is a time to celebrate who we are, what we stand for, and most importantly, the members that we serve.
I love the cooperative model because the driving force is doing the right thing for the members and the communities we serve. As a co-op, we are well-suited to meet the needs of the community because we are locally governed. Decatur County REMC’s leadership team and employees live right here in the community. Our board of directors, who helps set long-term priorities for the co-op, are also your neighbors, whom you elected to serve as your voice for the membership. Doing the right thing for our members and communities takes planning and preparation, which is why our team is so focused on our strategic plan. We continue to focus on those initiatives.
My leadership team recently spent an afternoon offsite, to kick-off the 2020 budget planning, in which we are focused on accomplishing a number of projects related to the strategic plan. Taking this meeting offsite provided an environment to spark creativity, team building and uninterrupted, open communication. Not only am I dedicated to open, transparent communication to you, the members, but also I expect the same for my team, and providing a fresh perspective can open the door for fantastic new ideas.
One of the initiatives addressed through the strategic plan is member engagement. We have several current and upcoming projects planned to increase member engagement including the prepaid billing program we are rolling out this month. This program puts the power in your hands, literally. You can pay your bill on your terms, when you want and how much you want. It also eliminates deposit amounts and late fees. Call our office to learn more about the program and determine if it’s right for you.
Our close connection to the community ensures we get a first-hand perspective on local priorities, thereby enabling us to make more informed decisions on long-term investments, such as equipment and technology upgrades, electric vehicle programs, right of way management, and potential broadband initiatives.
Another feature that sets our co-op apart from a traditional utility is one of our core principles, “Concern for Community.” We partner with local organizations like Decatur County United Fund for the Day of Caring and our area schools to educate students about renewable energy and electrical safety. We participate in the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour, where we take our community’s brightest young people to Washington, D.C. for a week-long immersion to experience democracy in action.
Ultimately, the larger community benefits from these programs because of you and your neighbors. You empower the co-op through your membership and through your participation in and support of these programs including Operation Roundup. By rounding up your bill each month, you extend your impact to community organizations needing support like our volunteer fire departments, senior centers, school programs, and more. Did you realize that your membership with the cooperative benefits the community in these ways?
We know our members (that’s you!) have a valuable perspective. That’s why we are continually seeking your input. Whether through community events, our social media channels, surveys, or the annual meeting, we want to hear from you. Our recent member survey provided lots of great feedback. One member suggested that they would like to receive notifications about outages in their area. Well, good news is, you can! Our SmartHub app provides a host of member services, including the ability to check your daily electric use as well as report outages and receive text/email notifications when your power is out, and when it is restored. We continue to improve this process to better serve you. You can register for SmartHub on our website dcremc.com or call our office and we can assist you.
I hope you will think of DCREMC as more than your energy provider, but instead as a local business that supports this community and powers economic development and prosperity for the people. We are proud to be your source of power and information and love serving our members and communities. I continue to have an open door policy and I want to hear from you. Please call the office to schedule a time to meet with me, share your ideas, or just learn more about your cooperative.
We will continue to learn from you, our members, about your priorities so that we can better serve you — because your electric co-op was built by the community, for the community.