What would life be like without electric co-ops?

By Adam Schwartz

In the holiday movie classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the lead character, George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart), wishes he had never been born due to financial troubles he is experiencing. Through the help of an angel, he sees how many lives would have been negatively affected if he didn’t exist. George comes to realize that, even with his problems, he has a wonderful life with great friends and family.

So what do you think life would be like if community leaders had not founded your local electric cooperative?

Living in the U.S. in 2015, it is nearly impossible to imagine life without electricity. So many of our modern conveniences that improve the quality of our lives are dependent on electricity as the “fuel” to make them work: from the alarm clock that wakes us up to the refrigerator that keeps our morning milk cold and fresh, from the HVAC unit that keeps us cool in the summer and warm in the winter to the vacuum that lets us clean more efficiently and all those kitchen appliances that save us time and physical energy. Of course, so much of our entertainment, whether it comes from the TV, radio or computer, depends on the kilowatt-hours that your electric co-op provides. Just think: There would be no smartphones or cell phones if there were no electricity.

Businesses of all kinds rely on electricity to produce and sell the products we need. So, it is no wonder that many electric co-ops feel that, while their primary product is electricity, they are really in the quality-of-life business.

As we celebrate the season that reminds us to be thankful for all we have, it is important to remember the 1.3 billion people in the world who still live without reliable electric service. That is equal to about four times the U.S. population!

Many of the things we take for granted living in the U.S. are much harder and more time-consuming for people in developing countries around the world. Your electric co-op is a proud member of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) that is working through its affiliate, NRECA International, and the NRECA International Foundation to help bring power to people in developing countries like Haiti and Liberia. (www.nreca.coop/it-starts-with-power/)

We are thankful that our community ancestors right here had the vision and foresight to do for themselves what needed to be done, gathering our friends and neighbors to form our electric co-op. As the electric business of the 21st century continues to evolve, you can count on your local electric cooperative to meet all of your electric energy needs. More importantly, your co-op is here to help improve the quality of your wonderful life.

Adam Schwartz is the founder of The Cooperative Way, a consulting firm that helps co-ops succeed.  He is an author, speaker and member-owner of the CDS Consulting Co-op. You can follow him on Twitter — @adamcooperative — or email him at [email protected]

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