A cooperative exists solely for the benefit of its members and the community it serves; not to make money for corporate stockholders. Your cooperative takes this responsibility seriously, and every other year the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives (AIEC) mails thousands of surveys on behalf of all 25 Illinois distribution co-ops. Responses from these surveys reflect how satisfied you are with your co-op and its performance. This anonymous and confidential data is then processed into reports that are sent to cooperative managers. Co-ops use the survey results for self-evaluation and to determine how they can better meet your needs.
Touchstone Energy, the co-ops’ branding initiative, uses the power of more than 730 member-owned utilities across the country pooling their resources to provide beneficial programs and tools that individual cooperatives could not offer on their own. And co-ops use the brand’s offerings to meet specific member needs. For example, results from the 2011 survey showed that most co-op members saw the costs of everything from food to fuel rise while their income often remained stagnant or even decreased. Touchstone Energy offers a host of programs to ease members’ pocketbooks.
Through the Touchstone Energy Co-op Connections program, members of participating co-ops receive a free membership discount card. This is unlike any other discount card available anywhere. Regardless of where members live, they have access to more than 23,000 discounts on products and services in co-op territories across the country and more than 100 national deals. Co-op Healthy Savings benefits through the Co-op Connections program include deep discounts on prescriptions, dental, vision, lab/X-ray and chiropractic services and even savings on pet health care and online shopping. Some of these discounts are not offered in even the best insurance plans, and benefits for the Co-op Connections program even surpass those for the AARP program.
Energy efficiency education was another area of interest identified in the survey. Touchstone Energy provides www.togetherwesave.com, an interactive website that demonstrates how even the smallest changes can help to reduce energy costs. The website includes an interactive home tour that tallies energy savings as changes are made in each area of the sample house. “How-to” videos demonstrate energy efficiency actions such as how to caulk windows and doors and install insulation. And, through the site’s energy saving forum, site visitors can also see how other members have saved money on their electric bills. The site contains many more energy-saving tips and resources and continues to evolve, so visit often and find new ways to save.
Energy efficiency habits are formed at an early age, and the brand’s “Kids’ Super Energy Saver” classroom kits provide a fun way for kids to learn about energy efficiency. Teachers love the free kits, which are designed for grades K-5 and include classroom materials, online resources and take-home checklists that identify energy-saving steps in the home. Kids love Mascot “CFL Charlie,” the Super Energy Saver cheerleader who is seen online at the “Kids Energy Zone.”
The online program (www.kidsenergyzone.com) coordinates with the classroom activities and provides information about electric safety, renewable energy, games, coloring pages, stories, and more.
Touchstone Energy also provides a number of energy efficiency brochures such as the “Home Energy Savings Guide,” “101 Easy Ways to Save Energy and Money” and “Questions to Ask When Replacing Your HVAC,” which are free to cooperative members.
These are just a few examples of the many programs Touchstone Energy provides for you and your co-op. We’ll continue to collect information through surveying and Touchstone Energy will continue to create innovative solutions for your changing needs. For more information on these and other Touchstone Energy programs, contact your electric cooperative or visit www.touchstoneenergy.coop.