Electric cooperatives form a vast network across America. We provide retail electric service to more than 42 million consumers in 47 states. Co-ops own and maintain 2.5 million miles, or 42 percent, of the nation’s electric distribution lines, covering three-quarters of the nation’s landmass.
What’s unique about cooperatives from any other utility is we are autonomous and independent, one of the seven cooperative principles that all cooperatives live by.
Distribution cooperatives such as Orange County REMC not only power our communities, we work to improve the quality of life in our communities.
We work together because our neighbors, our friends and our business associates are also our members. This key role goes beyond just providing electricity to our members. Our purpose, quite simply, is to improve the quality of our members’ lives.
If we enter into agreements with other organizations or raise capital, we do so on terms that ensure democratic control by our members and maintain cooperative autonomy.
While providing safe, reliable and affordable electricity is most important, your co-op does many other things, too. We continue to offer home energy audits; energy efficiency consultation; rebate programs that include water heaters, lighting, HVAC equipment and residential and commercial security systems; as well as providing grants to individuals and businesses in our community through Operation Round Up.
In 2018, we hope to begin providing our members high speed internet by deploying our own fiber optic network. Although at the time of the writing of this article, there remains work to be completed to be able to make a final decision on this endeavor, I am encouraged by the feedback we have received from you so far. The availability of high speed broadband internet in rural America is as important today as the availability of safe, reliable and affordable electricity was in the 1930s and 1940s.
The cooperative culture is different.
Orange County REMC is not some large power company headquartered in a far-off state with stockholders from around the world. We are right here in Orleans, ready to answer your questions and serve you as needed. We were formed by neighbors and friends who came together with the goal to improve the quality of our lives through electricity. That goal remains today.
It’s an important distinction that sets us apart from other business and is a distinction we’re very proud of.
Matthew C. Deaton