Ace Hardware, State Farm, REI, Land O’Lakes, and Little River Electric all share something in common: they’re all cooperatives.
Although the industries differ, we share a passion for serving our members and helping our communities to thrive. In fact, all cooperatives adhere to the same set of seven principles that reflect our core values of honesty, transparency, equity, inclusiveness, and service to the greater community good. October is National Co-op Month, so this is the perfect time to reflect on these principles. Let’s take a look at the first three cooperative principles.
Voluntary and open membership
Just like all co-ops, LREC was created out of necessity—to meet a need that would have been otherwise unmet in our community. So in 1940, a group of neighbors organized our electric co-op so everyone in our community could benefit. For a modest membership fee, any farmer could get electricity brought to his farm. The newly established electric lines helped power economic opportunity in our community.
We include everyone to improve the quality of life and economic opportunity for the entire community. Membership is open to everyone in our service territory, regardless of race, religion, age, disability, gender identity, language, political perspective, or socioeconomic status.
Democratic member control
Our co-op is well suited to meet the needs of our members because it is locally governed. Each member gets an equal voice and a vote in how the co-op is run. Little River Electric’s leadership team and employees live right here in the community. Our directors, who help set long-term priorities for the co-op, also live locally. These board members have been elected by neighbors just like you. We know our members have a valuable perspective, and that’s why we are continually seeking your input and encourage you to weigh in on important co-op issues and participate in co-op elections.
Our close connection to this community ensures we get a first-hand perspective on members’ priorities, thereby enabling us to make more informed decisions on long-term investments, such as new and updated substations along with our AMI meter system.
Members’ economic participation
As a utility, our mission is to provide safe, reliable, and affordable energy to our members. But as a co-op, we are also motivated by service to the community, rather than profits. Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of LREC at least part of that capital remains the common property of the cooperative. Members allocate surpluses for co-op programs, initiatives, capital investments, and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
Because we are guided by seven cooperative principles, it’s not just about dollars—it’s about opportunity for all and being fair when engaging with our members. The cooperative way is a values-based business model.
Little River Electric is a reflection of our local community and its evolving needs. We view our role as a catalyst for good and making our corner of the world a better place. And, that sums up the seventh co-op principle, “concern for community.”