What would life be like without electric co-ops?

Posted on Nov 29 2016 in Orange County REMC


In the holiday movie classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the lead character, George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart), wishes he had never been born due to financial troubles he is experiencing. Through the help of an angel, he sees how many lives would have been negatively affected if he didn’t exist. George comes to realize that, even with his problems, he has a wonderful life with great friends and family.

So what do you think life would be like if community leaders had not founded Orange County REMC some 79 years ago?

Living in the U.S. in 2016, it is nearly impossible to imagine life without electricity. So many of our modern conveniences that improve the quality of our lives are dependent on electricity as the “fuel” to make them work — from the alarm clock that wakes us up to the refrigerator that keeps our morning milk cold and fresh, from the HVAC unit that keeps us cool in the summer and warm in the winter to the vacuum that lets us clean more efficiently. That doesn’t include all those kitchen appliances that save us time and physical energy.

Of course, so much of our entertainment, whether it comes from the TV, radio or computer, depends on the kilowatt-hours that your electric co-op provides. Just think: There would be no smartphones or cellphones if there was no electricity.

Businesses of all kinds rely on electricity to produce and sell the products we need. So, it is no wonder that many electric co-ops feel that, while our primary product is electricity, we are really in the business of quality of life.

Orange County REMC is proud to offer Operation Round Up®, participate in numerous charity events and sponsor many local school functions. We plan to continue to be an integral part of the community in the future.

As we celebrate the season that reminds us to be thankful for all that we have, it is important to remember that 1.3 billion people in the world still live without reliable electric service. That is equal to about four times the U.S. population!

Many of the things we take for granted here in the U.S. are much harder and more time consuming to achieve or acquire for people in developing countries around the world. We are proud members of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) that is working through its affiliate, NRECA International, and the NRECA International Foundation to help bring power to people in developing countries like Haiti and Liberia. (Read more about these efforts at www.nreca.coop/it-starts-with-power.)

Orange County REMC is also a part of Indiana Electric Cooperatives (IEC), our statewide service association, which has brought electricity to developing countries as well. Back in 2011, IEC announced a large international endeavor that included sending 28 linemen to Guatemala to bring electricity to a village over a four-week period. Two Orange County REMC linemen, Carl Sneed and Chris Wesner, participated.

In 2015, the vision grew into Project Indiana, which focuses on sustainable change moving beyond electrifying a village to adopting an entire region in Guatemala and helping it form a cooperative which it can assist in improving education, nutrition, water and healthcare.

In 2017, Project Indiana is sending more linemen back to Guatemala to further electrify the region. Fifteen linemen have been selected to participate including another Orange County REMC lineman, Robert White. I believe it says a lot about a person willing to volunteer for such an event. It should be noted that also volunteering for this trip, but not selected, was Scott Strange, apprentice lineman. I am certainly proud to say that we have employees — employees born and raised here in Orange County — who volunteer for such work.

We are thankful that our community ancestors right here had the vision and foresight to do for ourselves what needed to be done, gathering our friends and neighbors to form our electric co-op. As the electric business of the 21st century continues to evolve, you can count on Orange County REMC to meet all of your electric energy needs.  More importantly, we are here to help improve the quality of this wonderful life.

MATTHEW C. DEATON is general manager/CEO of Orange County REMC.