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Power in Purpose

Dave Cross, CEO Plateau Electric Cooperative and Board President, TECA

Vince Lombardi, famed coach of the Green Bay Packers, once said, “Success demands singleness of purpose.” The purpose of Tennessee’s electric cooperatives — the reason we exist — is to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy and improve the lives of the people we serve.

October is National Co-op Month, which is the perfect time to consider how our purpose impacts almost everything we do.

Co-ops are consumer-owned.

Electric co-ops are owned by the people we serve, not by the government or investors. Co-op members elect directors to represent their interests and set policy and procedures for the co-op. This focus on our consumers makes co-ops far more responsive to the people and places we serve.

Co-ops are not-for-profit.

Co-ops serve their communities instead of shareholders. We distribute and sell energy to our members at cost and invest excess revenues back into the electric system. All of this means that our consumer-owners pay less for energy — 15 percent below the national average.

Co-ops are community-focused.

Electric co-ops work to improve everyday life in our rural and suburban communities. We do this through reliable energy and investments in education and community development.

Later this month, cooperatives across the state will participate in the Tennessee Electric Co-op Day of Service, an intentional effort to get our hands dirty by serving our communities. This is a small but real example of the many ways our co-ops impact the communities we serve.

According to Coach Lombardi, if you wish to be successful, you need to first identify your one true purpose.

Tennessee’s electric cooperatives are successful because we have identified that purpose. It is not serving shareholders in another state. It is not making a profit. It is not pushing a political agenda.

Our business model is unique. It is pragmatic, mission-oriented and people-focused.

Our one true purpose is serving our members, and I hope that is seen in everything we do.

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