Voluntary and open membership

How the first cooperative principle applies to you

Posted on Dec 20 2016 in Southern Indiana Power


As we begin a new year, I thought it would be a good time to revisit some of the basic principles that guide the day-to-day operations of your electric cooperative.

Cooperatives around the world operate according to a core set of principles. These principles, along with the cooperative purpose of improving quality of life for members, make electric cooperatives different from other electric utilities.

The first cooperative principle — voluntary and open membership — sets the core foundation for the cooperative. Because a cooperative is a voluntary organization, membership is open to anyone who chooses to use its services. That may sound counterintuitive for an electric utility consumer member who may wonder if he or she even has a choice. It’s a fair question.

The answer lies in the history of your Southern Indiana Power. When we were formed in 1939, every potential member had the option of refusing service. While it may seem hard to believe today, some people didn’t want electricity and told the fledgling electric co-op, “No thanks. We are doing fine with kerosene.”

Because of the incredible cost of offering electric service, the electricity industry has evolved into a natural monopoly. While we may be seeing changes on the horizon due to options for rooftop solar or other generation sources, the best option for most people today for safe, reliable and affordable power is from your electric co-op.

Today, electric co-ops focus on the second part of the principle —open membership. All residents and businesses in the service territory of Southern Indiana Power are member-owners of your Southern Indiana Power. That’s what makes us different. We are owned by the members we serve.

That means we continually strive to ensure that your membership provides value to you — not just through the service of electricity, but by being an active part of our community.

As a locally owned and managed utility, your co-op is in a better position to understand the needs of our members and act quickly to ensure the membership receives the best service possible. Being locally owned keeps us focused on core mission of providing safe, reliable, affordable power while improving the quality of life for our members.

STEVE SEIBERT is president/CEO of Southern Indiana Power.