Celebrating National Cooperative Month
When Benjamin Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence, he reportedly said, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
That recognition of the need to work together may be why Franklin, in 1752, founded the first successful cooperative in the United States: the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire, which still operates today.
The principles behind the Declaration of Independence that form the basis of American democracy also form the basis of cooperatives. A cooperative is owned and democratically controlled by the people who use its services. Each member has one vote, regardless of his or her stake; that is, members cannot buy more control than anyone else. This stands in stark contrast to investor-owned utilities where only shareholders have a vote in how the business is run and, even among shareholders, some have more votes than others depending on their shares of stock.
The distinction of the cooperative business model is important to all of us because Wells Rural Electric Co. (WREC) is owned by the people we serve. All of WREC’s efforts are aimed at providing safe, reliable, affordable, carbon-free electricity that enables members to enjoy the convenience of today’s technology and supports local businesses in providing products, services, and jobs that strengthen our communities.
In October, WREC is joining 30,000 other cooperatives nationwide to celebrate National Cooperative Month, which recognizes the many ways cooperatives help build stronger communities and a stronger economy. Nationwide, cooperatives create 2.1 million jobs, serve more than 130 million consumers and generate more than $650 billion in revenue.
WREC is not the only cooperative serving our communities. Our local hardware stores rely on supplier cooperatives, such as Ace Hardware and Hardware Wholesalers Inc. Some of our grocery stores belong to Associated Foods, which is a wholesale grocery cooperative. Shelves are stocked with products from grower cooperatives, such as Land O’Lakes, Welch’s, Tillamook, Sunkist, Ocean Spray, Blue Diamond, and many more. Credit unions also play an important role in local finance.
Being part of a cooperative is something special, unique, and strong. Cooperatives bring a variety of resources and services to their members, connecting rural families to resources that otherwise might not be available. These strategic partnerships keep communities thriving, even during difficult times like those we are experiencing now.
Your electric cooperative works hard to provide solutions that work for our members including:
- Nest thermostats and other energy-efficient products, services, and rebates.
- Budget billing to help you manage your payments.
- Member advocates who connect you with other agencies and programs to help meet the needs of low-income families, seniors, and members enduring financial hardships.
- SmartHub for secure and convenient account management.
For information about other products and services, and ways WREC is involved in our schools and communities, visit our website or contact your local office.
Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer