Finding Fun and Connection at Your Co-op Annual Meeting

A typical co-op annual meeting.

For those of us fortunate enough to live here, we all know that Colorado summers are glorious. The wildflowers are blooming, the rivers are running cold and clear, and the mountain trails are beckoning hikers. Whether biking, horseback riding, kayaking, paddleboarding, rowing, or just walking your dog, you can find a stunning place in Colorado to indulge your passion.

So, what’s my favorite summertime activity? Attending electric co-op annual meetings, of course!

As the executive director of CREA, the trade association for Colorado’s electric co-ops, it’s important for me to attend co-op annual meetings and hear what’s happening in electric co-op country. Electric co-ops have a substantial footprint in Colorado, providing electric service to more than 70% of the land mass of the state.

Each year from April through September, I travel around the state, from Akron to Cortez, La Junta to Craig — and many points in between — to witness up close and personal the co-op spirit in action.

Every electric co-op in Colorado conducts an annual meeting of its members, and many of those meetings take place in the late spring or summer months. Co-ops hold annual meetings to take care of required business and to pass along important information about the co-op’s activities. The meetings are also a great opportunity for co-op members to come together, share a meal, and get reacquainted with old friends and neighbors.

The meetings I have attended so far this year have ranged in size from 1,500 co-op members gathered in a large hotel ballroom to 50 folks meeting at a local saddle club. The attendance numbers reflect the diversity of Colorado’s electric co-ops: Some have from 50,000 to more than 100,000 members; others have just a few thousand members spread across a vast service area. In some cases, the meetings included bucket truck rides for the kids, and in others, co-op staff members gave safety demonstrations warning members about the potential dangers of electricity.

Of course, a couple key agenda items at co-op annual meetings are the reports given by the president of the co-op board of directors as well as the co-op general manager (sometimes called the chief executive officer). At every co-op annual meeting, the board president and the general manager provide updates on the activities of the co-op. This includes the status of important construction projects, an overview of new policies or rates, an update on the financial condition of the co-op, and any other information the board and general manager believe is important for members to know.

So, what’s so special about your right to attend the annual meeting of your electric co-op?

Let me count the ways …

First, as a member of your local electric co-op, you have a say in the direction of your electric utility. You can talk to the co-op’s board of directors — who are all members of your community — and to the co-op management about any issue involving the operation of the co-op. Heck, if you think things should be headed in a different direction, you can run for the board yourself.

Second, since the electric utility business is undergoing a significant transition — both in how power is produced and consumed — it’s important for co-op members to understand how the industry is changing. The best way to do that is to attend your co-op’s annual meeting to hear from experts who stay on top of all the changes that are happening. There are certainly other sources of information on energy issues, but there is no better source than the professionals who operate your local electric co-op.

Third, it’s fun! Annual meetings are a celebration of the tremendous success of the electric co-op program. There’s no better business model for your local power company than the co-op model, and that’s always demonstrated at these gatherings. And it gives you the chance to thank the many people who make your co-op work.

In a world full of turmoil and strife, it’s nice to know that there are events like electric co-op annual meetings where people come together to celebrate what’s right with the world!

Kent Singer is the executive director of CREA and offers a statewide perspective on issues affecting electric cooperatives. CREA is the trade association for 21 Colorado electric distribution co-ops and one power supply co-op.