Members of the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives held their 72nd annual meeting Aug. 1-2. AIEC Board Chairman Larry Kraft of Monroe County Electric Co-Operative, Waterloo, Ill., congratulated the following co-ops celebrating 75 years of service: Coles-Moultrie Electric Cooperative, Egyptian Electric Cooperative Association, EnerStar Electric Cooperative, McDonough Power Cooperative, Monroe County Electric Co-Operative, Norris Electric Cooperative, Shelby Electric Cooperative, Southern Illinois Electric Cooperative, SouthEastern Illinois Electric Cooperative, Spoon River Electric Cooperative, Tri-County Electric Cooperative and Western Illinois Electrical Coop.
Kraft said, “Can you even imagine what life was like without electricity? Rural Americans were truly second class citizens, deprived of many things that their city cousins enjoyed. The formation and growth of electric cooperatives was responsible for a huge gain in the standard of living and provided for the economic growth of rural America. Cooperatives brought opportunity and equality that rural America had not known before.”
Kraft also asked the leaders in attendance if the co-ops’ job was through after 75 years of electrifying rural areas that were once in the dark.
He said, “We face an ever-growing list of challenges, both on the state and federal level. The challenges are political, environmental and societal. I don’t want to say we are fighting a war on three fronts, but we are definitely busy preparing for the present and anticipated challenges. As leaders of our cooperatives, we must keep our member/owners informed about the issues and ask for their help when appropriate. We must get to know and develop relationships with our local, state, and federal elected officials.