By Jeremy Montgomery
When several Hendricks Power Cooperative members contacted Energy Advisor Steve Hite for recommendations about contractors outside of that cooperative’s service territory, he didn’t know the answers. But he knew where to go to find them.
He asked the energy advisors at nearby electric cooperatives for recommendations in their areas and then shared those suggestions with members. This is one example of “Cooperation Among Cooperatives,” which is one of the Seven Cooperative Principles that guide how electric cooperatives operate. It’s the cooperative difference: together, we can collaborate and work to better serve our members so that everyone benefits.
“I’m obviously very fortunate to have some energy advisors to talk with when I have a question or concern,” Hite said. “I appreciate the whole co-op mentality. It’s just a really good setting.”
We receive a variety of questions from residential members, ranging from high bill complaints to new service or even questions about particular programs or calculating appliances’ energy use. When we don’t immediately know the answer to a question, we frequently reach out to our counterparts who may be more knowledgeable on specific topics or situations.
“It’s like that across the board with all of the co-ops,” said Jake Taylor, energy advisor at LaGrange County REMC. “It seems like pretty much everybody supports each other. Our energy advisors are pretty great, and they all have individual talents.”
We also work with Indiana Electric Cooperatives, the organization that serves the 38 electric cooperatives in the state. IEC organizes ongoing training and events for electric co-op employees, including energy advisors. That provides us with an opportunity to meet and discuss recent events, and learn about new technology and tools that can help us support our members.
We even have opportunities to meet and interact with energy advisors and employees across the U.S. through message boards and email lists organized by National Rural Electrc Cooperative Association, our national organization that serves electric cooperatives.
All of this support means that your local electric cooperative is also part of a much larger national network of support – one committed to providing the strongest support possible to the members we serve.
“I think it makes us a lot stronger when we cooperate,” Hite said. “It’s a different way of working.”
JEREMY MONTGOMERY is energy advisor at Parke County REMC in Rockville, Indiana.