Cuivre River Joins National Cooperative Month Celebration
The theme for Co-op Month in 2012 is "International Year of Cooperatives" as declared by the United Nations to draw attention to and encourage action on major issues. Co-ops around the world are reminding their members about their community involvement, economic development activities, employment and other community contributions this month.
Co-op Month, celebrated in October annually since 1930, is the time to tell others just how much cooperatives are doing in our area.
Cuivre River Electric Cooperative is one of more than 40,000 member-owned cooperatives in the United States that observe National Cooperative Month during October. Besides Cuivre River, you may be familiar with brand names such as Land O’ Lakes, Ocean Spray, Florida’s Natural, ACE Hardware, Sun-Maid, Blue Diamond, Welch’s and Riceland, all products which come from cooperatives.
Over 130 million Americans (or 4 in 10 adults) find solutions to their needs through cooperatives that provide common goods and services. Cooperatives generate in excess of $230 billion in yearly revenue, employ more than a half a million Americans, and have total payrolls of more than $15 billion annually.
Cooperatives operate in a variety of industries, including agriculture, child care, electricity, financial services (credit unions), food retailing and distribution, health care insurance, housing, purchasing and shared services, telecommunications and others.
How are cooperatives different?
Cooperative businesses are owned and democratically controlled by their member-owners, the people who use the goods or services, not by investors. Cuivre River Electric Cooperative is owned by more than 60,000 consumers who receive electricity in St. Charles, Lincoln, Warren, Pike and Montgomery counties. Cuivre River is governed by 12 elected consumer-members who serve as the board of directors for all cooperative members.
Cooperatives return surplus revenues (income after expenses). During 2011, Cuivre River Electric Cooperative returned $3.8 million (Capital Credits) to its member-owners. And since 1976, more than $62.6 million has been returned.
Cooperatives are motivated by service, not by profit. Cuivre River Electric Cooperative consistently ranks among the top electric providers in the nation according to the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), a uniform and independent measuring of consumer attitudes. Cuivre River’s 2013 ACSI score of 87 was 9 points above the industry average.
The ACSI is produced by the Stephen M. Ross Business School at the University of Michigan, in partnership with the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and the international consulting firm, CFI Group.
Seven guiding cooperative principles
The Rochedale Equitable Pioneers Society in England prepared a set of principles in 1844 to operate a food cooperative. The successful establishment of this cooperative marks the beginning of the modern cooperative era.
The seven cooperative principles are:
Voluntary and Open Membership: Cooperatives are open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership.
Democratic Member Control: Cooperatives are controlled by members who, through representatives, set policies and make decisions. Members have equal voting rights – one member, one vote. In August, nearly 4,000 people attended Cuivre River Electric Cooperative’s Annual Meeting to elect directors.
Economic Participation: Members contribute equally to the cooperatives’ capital and allocate surpluses in proportion to their transactions.
Autonomy and Independence: Cooperatives are autonomous self-help organizations controlled by their members.
Education and Information: Cooperatives provide education for their members, directors and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives. Cuivre River offers several programs to local schools and community groups, plus sponsors several high school juniors each year to attend the Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., and several sophomores to attend the Cooperative Youth Conference & Leadership Experience (CYCLE) in Jefferson City.
Cooperation Among Cooperatives: Cooperatives serve their members and strengthen the cooperative by working together through local, regional, national and international networks. A great example of this network was the call for assistance from electric cooperatives in the Gulf Coast region during recent hurricane seasons. Cuivre River line workers joined thousands of other employees from cooperatives across the nation to help reconstruct electric systems destroyed by the strength of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Gustav. They also helped rebuild power lines close to home in southeast Missouri after ice storms last winter. Cuivre’s power supply is even generated and delivered by cooperatives, owned in part by Cuivre River members themselves.
Concern for Community: While focusing on member needs, cooperatives also work for the sustainable development of their communities. For example, Cuivre River’s Operation Round Up program has provided area residents and community organizations grants to assist with unmet needs since 1997.
These seven time-tested principles still provide the foundation for all cooperatives 165 years later. During October, think about how cooperatives may affect your life the next time you flip a light switch, bank at the local credit union or shop for food.
Cuivre River is the largest electric cooperative in Missouri, providing dependable electric service to over 60,000 homes and businesses. Currently 57 percent of Cuivre River members live in St. Charles County, 25 percent in Lincoln County, 16 percent in Warren County, and 2 percent in Pike County. Several members also live in Montgomery County. For more information, call (636) 528-8261, 695-4700, (800) 392-3709 or visit www.cuivre.com