Message from the CEO
In recent years, there has been a resurgence in the appeal of buying locally. It’s evident in the increased popularity of farmers’ markets across Iowa, with shoppers wanting to buy produce or goods that have been grown by their community members. People have a desire to know more about how their food is grown and raised; buying from a local farmer helps bridge that gap. The appeal of buying local is also visible in the promotion of Small Business Saturday in November and the “shop small” movement, which encourage shoppers to return to Main Street and support the local small businesses they know and trust. In short, people of all ages and walks of life prefer to buy locally when given the choice.
For electric cooperatives, it doesn’t come as a surprise that there is a renewed commitment to supporting local communities and economies with purchases. Local ownership and local control are hallmarks of the cooperative business model, which has served our members well during our 75 years of operation. Member involvement was the key to our formation decades ago, and it’s what continues to fuel how we serve you today and the way we plan for the future.
Local ownership and democratic member control—one of the seven key cooperative principles—distinguishes us from other utilities. Every single member of ECI REC has a voice in how we do business. As a member, you elect Directors—who are also ECI REC members—to represent your interests when it comes to setting policies or making decisions on issues that impact you. One member equals one vote, and every vote counts.
Because ECI REC is owned by your neighbors, friends, and community members, decisions are made in the best interests of the needs of the communities we serve. We don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. We know that what works well for a cooperative in northwest Iowa may not work as well for a cooperative in southern Iowa. Because Wall Street investors are not making decisions for ECI REC on your behalf, we can remain flexible and adapt to the unique needs of our region. We can pursue economic development opportunities that are complementary to existing businesses in our area and provide for sustainable growth of local communities.
While ECI REC’s core purpose is to provide electricity that is safe, reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible, we’re also committed to making our communities quality places to live. We do this in many ways, such as by providing good and stable jobs; offering educational opportunities on programs and services, such as energy efficiency and safety; encouraging student leadership and education; paying local, county, and state taxes; and distributing patronage back to members based on our not-for-profit business model.
Across the country, America’s 838 locally owned electric distribution cooperatives provide electricity to an estimated 42 million people in 47 states, covering three quarters of the nation’s landmass. The endurance of the cooperative business model is a testimony to the success of local control and ownership by the same people who rely on electric services to power their homes, businesses, and lives.