When you consider the vast array of roles that all of us
fill every day — parent or child or both, spouse, employer or employee,
religious lay leader,
Little League coach, community activist, part-time
musician, full-time volunteer, retiree, student, and on and on — there’s
likely one role you don’t attach to yourself, though you should: electric
Because, in truth, you’re both a customer AND an owner of
this business enterprise that is not merely your electric utility but is
truly YOUR electric utility. And to your electric cooperative, your voice
matters. Your opinion counts.
There’s another identity most of us don’t think about very
much, either, except perhaps at election time. And that’s our role as a
constituent of local, state and federal elected officials.
Despite the heightened pitch of these partisan times — and
perhaps especially during such times, when we may be tempted to shy away
from what seems to be an intractable mess — it’s more important than ever
that we stay engaged, and involved.
Because, in truth, you’re both a citizen AND an owner of
this civic enterprise that is not merely your country but is in fact YOUR
And it’s this intersection — where your roles as
cooperative-owner and citizen-voter merge — that marks the precise location
of much of the success that electric cooperatives have enjoyed over a
lifespan now exceeding three-quarters of a century.
Electric cooperatives today are sound, successful
utilities because of grassroots involvement by you, and by the generations
of cooperative customer-owners before you. Without active participation by
cooperatives would never have been formed in the 1930s to
bring electric power to America’s countryside; would never have survived
myriad political, financial and growth challenges over the decades since
then; and would not still be around today, relevant and reliable,
customer-owned and owner-driven.
Electric cooperatives have always worked hard to empower
our customer-owners. In the late 1980s, Virginia’s electric cooperatives
joined together to publish a comprehensive guide to Virginia’s General
Assembly. For almost a quarter-century now, this annual guide has provided a
clear communications path for you as a constituent to contact your
legislators, with photos, maps, phone numbers, and street and email
addresses for all 140 state delegates and senators.
Almost 500,000 copies of the 2012 Virginia State
Legislative Guide were bound into this month’s issue. About 30,000
additional copies of the guide were printed and provided to citizens and
clubs and libraries and schools across the vast expanses of this
Commonwealth, from the Cumberland Gap to Chincoteague, and from Clarke
County to Clarksville.
In the center of this month’s issue, you’ll find your copy
of this 16-page guide to your state legislature. Please view it as a
resource, and use it like an old-fashioned phone book, or a newly minted GPS
And please be sure to stay in touch with your state
delegate and senator. They care about your views. They value your opinion.
And of course they’re hoping for your support come Election Day.
The power of your voice — and the importance of your views
— were perhaps never on more prominent display than in last year’s General
Assembly. Thanks to an outpouring of emails, letters, phone calls and visits
from concerned electric cooperative customer-owners, the General Assembly
turned down efforts by the large cable companies to pass a bill that would
have resulted in unfair, additional costs to electric cooperatives.
Last year your voice resonated loudly and your views
resonated clearly with our state legislators. We thank all those who spoke
out. Please stay in touch with your cooperative, both through these pages
and through other communications from your utility. The adverse cable
company bill in last year’s session was merely the latest in a long line of
political challenges that electric cooperatives have faced over the decades.
Many other challenges, of course, lie ahead. But electric
cooperatives will be ready. After all, most companies must deal with such
political challenges by having the owners ask the customers for their
support with state legislators or members of Congress.
However, it’s easier to ask for such support —and to
receive a powerful response — when the owners and the customers are one and