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Guest Opinions

Not Just an Electric Company

When times are good, the lights come on and the bill is affordable, it is easy for all of us to take for granted a very basic human need – electricity.  But when the lights go out or rates go up, whom do we call first?  Your local rural electric cooperative, of course, because they are the people who you can trust to get the juice flowing again and provide you with answers to your questions.  However, the Wyoming rural electric cooperatives are so much more than just electric companies.

Like all electric cooperatives around the United States, Wyoming’s rural electric cooperatives adhere to the seven cooperative principles as our business model.  One of these principles is “Commitment to Community.”  This commitment comes in many forms, from the volunteer work that our employees and directors perform in their communities, as well as many elected and non-elected capacities, to financial contributions made to various educational, service-oriented and other community-minded organizations.

Here are just a couple of benefits that your local electric cooperative may offer.

Operation Round Up is a voluntary program that asks every cooperative member-owner to increase his or her electric bill to the nearest dollar.  These extra pennies go into an account to help fund community needs such as the purchase of a new fire truck or ambulance or to help a family in need.

The Co-op Connections Card is a cooperative member benefit card that offers co-op members product and service discounts at participating national and local retail businesses. In turn, participating businesses benefit from increased customer traffic, as well as from promotions in co-op communications and advertising materials. 

The Co-op Connections Card not only offers valuable discounts, it provides members a sense of belonging to the cooperative and strengthens the partnership between local businesses and the co-op.

At the statewide level, the Wyoming Rural Electric Cooperative Association (WREA) shares this same commitment to our community and because our “community” is the entire state. 

We are involved with and make financial contributions to various organizations that benefit people across Wyoming.  For the past several years we have been involved with Wyoming Ag in the classroom, Future Farmers of America and the State Fair. 

More recently we contributed to the Wyoming Agriculture Leadership, Education and Development (LEAD) program, as well as the Rancher Relief Fund, to help those folks affected by super storm Atlas.

But we need your help.

It is because of this commitment to our communities that I hope you will feel compelled –whether or not you’re a member of a cooperative – to help Wyoming cooperatives continue to be a positive presence in our communities and a trusted electricity provider.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be considering several proposed regulations in the coming year that will have a dramatic impact on your electric cooperative and, in turn, on you.  Because of these anticipated impacts, we are asking those who are concerned to take actionby going to action.coop.  

By going to this website, you’ll be able to not only submit comments to the EPA asking them to reconsider their “All-But-One” approach to energy policy, but you’ll also be signing up for the WREA Grassroots Network.  You can also visit the WREA website at wyomingrea.org to find out more information.  

Your comments matter, and I am hopeful that you’ll take a few minutes to register your views on these important issues. Together we can make rural voices heard and ensure that our opinions are a part of the policy discussion in Washington, D.C. going forward. 

Shawn Taylor is the executive director of the Wyoming Rural Electric Association. Learn more about the WREA at wyomingrea.org or call 307-634-0727.