Perspective: What Makes a Cooperative Different
Back when my kids started a new year in elementary school, one of the things I enjoyed seeing were the “All About Me” stories. If you have young children, you may know what I’m talking about.
On the first day of school, a teacher asks students to,write about their family, favorite movies or TV shows,and hobbies. There may be drawings and scribbles on the paper, which is proudly displayed on the classroom wall for everyone to get to know each other. On parent night, mom and dad read their child’s story and take a look at every other student’s display. I always enjoyed seeing these insights to young minds – their thoughts, their observations, what makes them excited and what’s unique about that child. It’s like the “All About Me” story is a snapshot of the mind of each student.
If I were to give you a snapshot of what it means to be a cooperative, you’d see some pretty unique things, too.
For starters, all cooperatives – whether supplying energy, food or other services – follow seven principles. You’ll see these seven principles listed on this page. It’s these principles that are the basis for the cooperative difference.
7 Principles of Cooperatives:
Cooperatives base their business model on the seven cooperative principles, which are:
1. Open and Voluntary Membership
2. Democratic Member Control
3. Members' Economic Participation
4. Autonomy and Independence
5. Education, Training, and Information
6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives
7. Concern for Community
What makes cooperatives, like Jackson EMC, different is that we put our members’ needs first. In fact, when Jackson EMC was established 80 years ago, it was local leaders, farmers and neighbors who came together to start this electric cooperative to serve their community. Today, one of the best examples of cooperatives in action is Annual Meeting. To me, Annual Meeting is like our family reunion – just a very big reunion! Of course, there’s plenty of food and fellowship, but there are also members participating in the business affairs of their cooperative. If you couldn’t attend last year’s Annual Meeting, you can watch a video of the business meeting at jacksonemc.com/annualmeeting.
When it comes to cooperation among cooperatives, you may have heard of our linemen helping to restore power for other co-ops after major storms. But, did you know we also have partnerships with other cooperatives to improve services for our members? Take, for example, our partnership with Walton EMC and GreyStone Power Corporation. All three cooperatives own EMC Security, which provides security service for more than 53,600 homes and businesses in Georgia. Another valued partnership is with Green Power EMC, which currently supplies 12.7 megawatts of renewable energy to our members. Over the next few years, Green Power EMC will expand its solar power facilities to serve more than 30 cooperatives in the state, including Jackson EMC.
Cooperatives are also focused on educating their members. For Jackson EMC, that means we share ways you can lower your monthly energy bill. We share these tips each month through JEMCO News, our website, on social media and in our bill messages. Following some of these tips can have a positive impact on your monthly bill.
Since October is National Cooperative Month, it’s only fitting that we share the message of the cooperative difference. You’re a member of a co-op and that means you’re part of something special.
Do you have a question about the “cooperative difference”? If so, send me an email at [email protected].