For those of us connected with electric cooperatives, May and June mean it’s co-op annual meeting season. Maybe your co-op just had its annual meeting, maybe it’s coming in a couple days or weeks.
Every year at this time the 25 electric distribution cooperatives across Kentucky hold these meetings, each one as different as the area where it takes place. For some it’s a big party, thanking hundreds or thousands of attendees for being co-op members. There are bands, balloons, food, and door prizes. For other co-ops it’s a more businesslike affair, focusing on co-op operating reports and director elections.
In either case, the co-op annual meeting is an important and unique gathering. It’s a sign that a cooperative is a different kind of business, one that’s owned by the people who use its services. I remember an apt phrase used by a farm co-op in another part of the country: “Where the customer is the company.”
There aren’t many businesses that offer this kind of social or business event for customers. I like to think it can be a reminder of the special characteristics of co-ops, like local, democratic control, not-for-profit service, and concern for the community.
The entertainment makes these meetings fun, but it also serves to attract as many people as possible to the meeting where there is always a business session. Listening to a financial report may not be as much fun as tapping your toe to a bluegrass group, but knowing something about how your electric co-op works is part of what makes this kind of consumer-owned corporation successful.
Attending these annual meetings provides a chance to do something important for yourself and your community, and have fun at the same time. What a great combination. Party on.