N. Duane Noland
the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives
Cooperation Among Cooperatives
In times of crisis cooperatives pull together
Cooperatives across America celebrate the role, accomplishments and contributions of our nation’s cooperatives each October. The theme this year is “Stronger Together – Go.coop.” One of the principles of cooperatives is cooperation among cooperatives. It is that old-fashioned, neighbor helping neighbor principle that is a key ingredient in the success of every type of cooperative.
The power of that principle was once again demonstrated in September when we activated our emergency work plan and Illinois electric cooperatives began sending personnel, trucks and other equipment from across the state to the Baton Rouge, La. area. Our sister cooperative members at Dixie Electric Membership Cooperative (DEMCO) were devastated by Hurricane Gustav. Everyone was without power.
Seven other Louisiana electric cooperatives were affected by the hurricane and an estimated 200,000 co-op members were without power at the peak of the outage. So far, cooperatives from 13 states have sent help in what could be a six-week rebuilding effort.
Another looming crisis where cooperatives across the country are cooperating is the energy crisis. Our future energy supply is one of the most important issues facing our country. If you watched the national Democratic and Republican conventions they addressed a lot of issues, but front and center is energy. Where are we going to get the supply? And how are we going to control costs?
Renewable energy and energy conservation will be a big part of the energy platform presented by both parties. We already have an Illinois cooperative that has built its own wind turbine. Two more co-ops are in the process of building wind turbines. Some co-ops are buying wind energy from other wind farms. And one is planning to build the state’s first renewable energy biomass plant.
You can have a role in helping cooperatives meet this energy crisis. If you’ve been to your co-op’s annual meeting this year you’ve heard your cooperative manager speak about what you can do. You can take small steps such as installing compact fluorescent light bulbs, or following your co-op’s energy efficiency advice that is often printed in this magazine each month. Small energy efficiency steps can really add up and be a part of the solution.
Another part of this energy crisis is what is happening on Capitol Hill and the debate on energy legislation. This legislation may include an energy tax, either a carbon tax or a carbon cap and trade system. Either way, it is going to impact the cost of energy for you. But you can be a part of that debate through our national cooperative network’s Our Energy, Our Future e-mail campaign.
The Our Energy, Our Future e-mail campaign asks three very basic questions of our leaders. Where is the energy supply going to come from in the future? Will you help us fund the technology we need to meet that demand? And finally what will this legislation cost? Just go to www.ourenergy.coop and you can help us start this dialogue with our leaders.
Also, this is an election year and if you have a chance to be at a town hall meeting or a political rally and see your representative or senator, let them know about your concerns about the cost of energy. We need a balanced approach, a cooperative approach to controlling carbon emissions and the cost of energy.
The answer to our energy crisis can’t stand on just one answer. It should be like a four-legged stool with a balanced approach that addresses climate concerns, the need for energy supply, increased energy efficiency and more energy research and development.
With Cooperative Month in mind we are once again asking you to step up and be a part of the solution. Help us get our message out to our elected officials. Your voice can make a difference. There is no better time than now to talk to them about your concerns and our energy future.
N. Duane Noland is the President/CEO of the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives, Springfield. He is a former state senator, active on his family farm near Blue Mound and a member of Shelby Electric Cooperative.
The opinions and views of guest commentators are their own and may not represent those of the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives or the electric co-ops of Illinois.
© 2015 Illinois Country Living Magazine.
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