Electric cooperatives exist to embrace change
This has been an interesting autumn for my wife and me. We recently dropped our youngest daughter off in Bowling Green to start her freshman year at Western Kentucky University. We are now making the transition to empty-nesters.
Over the last couple of months, we talked with our daughter about new friends, her classes and grades, and how she’s adapting to her newfound freedom. I think she is beginning to understand some of the responsibility that comes with that freedom.
On a recent visit to campus, I began to think about the young men and women who are the next generation cooperative members. In many of our co-op meetings, we discuss how to best connect with younger members. It is difficult for young women like my daughter to understand what life was like on the farm before electricity. She looked at me one day when we were talking about today’s technology and she asked quizzically, “How did you live without the internet? Are you kidding me, there was no Netflix?”
What are cooperatives doing to meet members’ needs today and be prepared for the future? You may not realize that effort is already under way. First, cooperatives have mobile websites that highlight their systems and give you access to information about outages, scholarships, and local news. Second, technology is being adapted in every aspect, including line trucks, automated billing, and safety. Finally, cooperatives are embracing social media to communicate more quickly and interactively.
What will the next generation member want? I predict the methods to deliver information will be different. Future members will be extremely busy, as our information society takes up more and more of our discretionary time. I think they will demand reliability, affordability, and options from our electric cooperatives.
With changing member demographics and technology comes new expectations. Are we up to the challenge? Yes. The mission will be the same. The cooperative model was about making adjustments 75 years ago to bring electricity to rural areas, and electric cooperatives continue to make adjustments to meet tough industry challenges and embrace technology.
We are your friends and neighbors and we are committed to providing our communities with the energy to make life better for all.