09:51 AM

Perspective: You're a Member of a Cooperative

Across the country, we’re celebrating the power of cooperatives this month. Cooperatives come in all shapes and sizes and provide many products and services. You may recognize some of these cooperative brands and products: REI, Land O’Lakes, Florida’s Natural Orange Juice, Ocean Spray and many others. Jackson EMC, for example, is one of more than 900 electric co-ops serving members across the United States.

You can take pride in being part of something special as a member of a cooperative. I’ve always been excited about the power that cooperatives give to a group of people to accomplish big tasks that they may never have been able to do alone. That’s what happened when rural families in our area worked together more than 80 years ago to bring electricity to their local community by establishing Jackson EMC.

When you’re part of a co-op family, you’re a member – not a customer. And at your local electric cooperative, Jackson EMC, you’re part of a large and growing family. In fact, Jackson EMC is the second largest electric cooperative in the U.S. We’re proud to serve you by providing safe, reliable and affordable electricity to your homes and businesses.

So, what’s different about being a member of a cooperative? To start, when you’re a member of a co-op, you have a say in how the cooperative is run. That means, as members, you have a voice. You elect the board directors, who are also members of Jackson EMC, to make decisions about how we govern the co-op. At Annual Meeting each year, you elect fellow members to the board of directors and learn more about how the co-op is doing. Over the years, I’ve been to many Annual Meetings. And each year, I’m reminded how Annual Meeting is like a family reunion – bringing together members to enjoy food and fellowship, while participating in the business of the co-op. It’s one of the many opportunities you have to see the cooperative principles at work.

Another key difference is that cooperatives operate to provide at-cost electric service to their members. When the co-op has income remaining after all expenses are paid, your board of directors can return those excess funds to members. We call those margin refunds. Since Jackson EMC was founded in 1938, more than $147 million has been returned to members. This year alone, we’re returning $12 million.

We know at the end of the day, in the homes, on the farms, and in the other businesses we serve, that the people in our local community just want the lights to come on when they flip a switch. As a cooperative member, you can take pride in helping to make that happen. We accomplish great things when we work together, cooperatively!

Have a story to share about your participation in your cooperative? Email me at [email protected]