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Smart Compassion

As I write this column in late August, 81 linemen from eight Kentucky electric co-ops are driving toward the wind and rain of Hurricane Isaac, to help get the lights back on for companion co-ops in Louisiana.

More co-ops are standing by to help if they’re needed. And that’s just the latest development. For the past week a Louisville-based co-op, United Utility Supply, has been shipping transformers and other repair materials to Alabama and Florida, to prepare for the restoration operations.

That convoy of co-op linemen is no spur-of-the-moment reaction of sympathy. It’s part of a well-planned business strategy that places service to co-op customer/members and their communities as the top priority.

That business model goes back hundreds of years, when co-ops first formed around a set of what have been developed into seven principles. One of those principles worth noting is “Cooperation among cooperatives.” That’s at the core of why those Kentucky linemen headed south. It’s compassionate, but also smart, hard-headed business—not many of us have forgotten linemen traveling up from the south to help us with tornadoes and wind and ice storms in the past few years.

Swashbuckling linemen

This issue of Kentucky Living delivers some in-depth background on how co-ops keep that user-owned, community focus alive.

The “Stalking the Weather” feature shows how Kentucky is leading the way with a network of new weather stations that will help electric utility planning with better weather predictions.

You can read about the kind of guys who drive into the teeth of a storm to help restore power in the Co-operations column. Their swashbuckling culture goes on display every year at the Lineman’s Rodeo, where they show their skills and safety sense.

And you can find out how to save money on your electricity use in the Kentucky Living 2012 Energy Guide. This is the fourth year in a row for this comprehensive how-to handbook for getting the most out of your energy dollar.

From helping storm victims to describing how to save money by caulking leaks in your house, electric co-ops show how it’s good business to be a good neighbor.

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