by Bill Scott, Great Lakes Energy President/CEO
Some things change, some things stay the same.
During the month of October—National Cooperative Month—we celebrate both.
Mostly, we celebrate the fact that this electric co-op is owned by the members it serves. That hasn’t changed in 81 years.
The idea that co-ops exist to meet a need previously unmet in the community hasn’t changed, either. It’s what drives us to put people first and be a trusted voice in our communities.
Since Great Lakes Energy is one of the largest electric cooperatives in the nation, as measured by our 14,000-plus miles of line, we’re privileged to serve many different communities throughout our 26-county western and northern Michigan service territory.
You, our members, guide our decisions. How? One form of guidance happened in August when members in three districts re-elected incumbent Great Lakes Energy board members. You won’t find this type of grassroots democracy at any type of electric utility other than a co-op. Celebrate that!
For the past 15 years, we’ve provided our members with capital credit refunds. That is, we’ve paid back part of the capital investment you make in your co-op every time you pay a bill through refunding to you a portion of your co-op’s profits as a bill credit in December. Over those 15 years, we’ve given our member-owners capital credit refunds totaling over $66.4 million. We anticipate another round of capital credit refunds going out to you this December. Celebrate that!
The paths Great Lakes Energy takes are designed to best serve our members’ needs, sometimes by changing their communities and even their lives. You’ll see that in the form of initiatives such as the renewable energy programs we offer, economic development involvement, classroom grants, and People Fund grants made possible by our members’ own generosity. Of course, the most visible recent example is the launch of Truestream, our high-speed fiber internet business that sprang from realizing the huge need our rural members have for such a service. Celebrate all that!
We recognize that each community has different needs. The co-op business model allows Great Lakes Energy to have its own members’ best interests at heart and enrich the lives of those living and working in the communities we serve—now and in the future.
It’s the cooperative difference. Celebrate that!