You're In Good Company with Co-ops

November 15, 2016

Life is a balancing act. Everyone needs to act in their own self-interest sometimes to keep their homes and lives secure. A stable home and family can help keep the surrounding community healthy and growing. Co-ops share that strategy: By doing well for ourselves, we do good for the entire community we serve.

When the market refuses to offer a good or service, or does so at too high a price, co-ops step in to fill the void. Cooperatives identify members of the community who have the same self-interests and bring them together to make a cooperative decision. 
Nearly 80 years ago when South Plains Electric Cooperative was born, the folks in our community shared at least one area of self-interest: They needed electricity, which is why electric cooperatives were formed. Individuals acted in their own self-interest, but that led to the community and economic development of the rural areas where they lived. 

As South Plains Electric celebrates its 80th birthday in 2017, it is still a key player in community and economic development, especially in the Lubbock area. Lubbock is growing and the Cooperative is upgrading and adding facilities and infrastructure to meet the demand. Members and developers share the cost of upgrades with the Cooperative, but if, for example, a utility line needs moved for a road expansion, the Cooperative is often responsible for 100 percent of the cost.

It’s just part of our growing pains, but your locally-elected board of directors keeps a close eye on the financials to ensure the Cooperative stays financially sound. They have been managing this growth for about 10 years now and have only had to slightly adjust rates twice. We are proud of this fact! On top of affordable electric service, we are proud of our employees who have a heart for service. Quality member service is job one.

Today, electric co-ops serve more than 42 million people in 47 states. It is good to know that your friends and neighbors are also co-owners of your electric co-op. People coming together to meet a particular need is the phenomenon at the heart of every kind of co-op. Local credit unions offer financial services to people who banks do not want to serve. In urban areas and college communities, housing co-ops offer people safe, reliable and affordable places to live. 

Many agricultural co-ops started as a way to get their products to market, whether it was oranges (Sunkist), dairy (Land O’Lakes), grapes (Welch’s), organic milk (Organic Valley) or any of the hundreds of other food products that co-ops deliver to our tables every day. Many people who owned small businesses realized they, too, had a common self-interest: stay in business. So they formed purchasing co-ops including Ace Hardware and True Value, so they could compete with big-box stores.
 
Today, it is estimated that more than 40 percent of all residents in the U. S. are members of at least one co-op. Worldwide, well over a billion people are counted as co-op members. 

So every time you turn on (or off) the lights, it can serve as a reminder that as a co-op member, you are in good company with your neighbors—and with people all around the world.