One of the fundamental strengths of electric cooperatives is their ability to juggle the emerging changes and challenges of the electric industry while still maintaining their focus on their members. Since cooperatives are member-owned, members obviously are the number one priority.
From the beginning, we referred to the potential consolidation between Kankakee Valley REMC and Jasper County REMC (Rensselaer) as being “member-focused.” We want you to be a part of this conversation because your voice as a member is important to the process. Your participation elected the cooperative’s board of directors. Each board member is accountable to the membership. Your voices have helped our board and leadership team set the cooperative’s priorities. Those priorities include reliable service and keeping power costs as low as possible.
Directors from both cooperatives are continuing to explore how a consolidation would enhance service to the members. One recent discussion focused on ensuring that your representation within the cooperative will not be affected by the possible consolidation. Having fair representation throughout the service territory means your voices and interests will be heard equally. We are beginning to map out what the new consolidated service territory might look like. A new district map that would allow fair representation among the consolidated cooperative footprint is a priority for both boards.
We have assigned a governance committee to review corporate policies and procedures, and to make other decisions pertaining to the directors’ roles in the new combined entity. All of these items constitute our legally required Plan of Consolidation, which must be completed prior to a membership vote.
The cooperatives’ leadership teams are also forming employee committees to review best practices and evaluate each cooperative’s programs. We want to continue delivering valuable programs to our members and the communities we serve. The employees will be involved in developing a framework for the new entity.
As you can see, we are working diligently on the many elements of the consolidation process. There should be — and will be — a clear plan before we ask our memberships to vote on this important decision. Your board of directors, leadership teams and employees are committed to ensuring that every decision is made in the members’ best interests. We are dedicated to remaining member focused.
Rest assured, even though your cooperative has a lot going on right now, we will always be here keeping the lights on for you, our members.
DENNIS WEISS is CEO of Kankakee Valley REMC.