President’s Message – November 2021

It’s a Matter of (Co-op) Principles

Jimmy Black headshotFor me, this is a time of year for reflection, and topping my list of things I’m grateful for is our wonderful community. I know I speak for all Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative (GCEC) employees when I say we are thankful to be in such an incredible place. We are fortunate to live in the same place where we work, making our ties to this community much stronger.

Last month, I touched on the first two cooperative principles. This month, I will tell you about the rest. The Seven Cooperative Principles are essential to the co-op business model and benefit all members.

Members’ Economic Participation

As a utility, our mission is to provide safe, reliable, and affordable energy to our members. But as a co-op, we are also motivated by service to the community rather than profits. Members contribute equitably to—and democratically control—the capital of GCEC. At least part of that capital remains the common property of the cooperative. Members allocate surpluses for co-op programs, initiatives, capital investments, and other activities approved by members.

Autonomy & Independence

The co-op operates in a way solely directed and guided by its members, reflecting the values and needs of our community. The co-op is not influenced by leaders or shareholders several states away. It is led by elected members.

Education & Training

Enhancing the knowledge of co-op employees and board members enables them to contribute to the co-op’s development.

By investing in continuous learning for our employees and board members, our co-op commits not just to individual professional and personal growth, but to the future of the co-op and the high quality of service our members expect and deserve.

We also strive to inform members (that’s you!) and the public about the mission and operations of the co-op. You receive this magazine every month so we can share the latest co-op news and updates, as well as energy-efficiency and safety tips.

Cooperation Among Cooperatives

The sixth principle fosters how co-ops work together to address bigger challenges. While this principle applies to all types of cooperatives, it is especially relevant in the energy industry. In our case, we put this principle in action after major storms and disasters that cause widespread power outages. When this happens, we call on nearby co-ops to assist with restoration efforts—and we, of course, extend the same help to them when they need us.

Because we are part of a national electric co-op network, we can connect and collaborate with other electric co-ops on industry-related challenges, such as cybersecurity and an everchanging energy landscape.

Concern for Community

The seventh principle is essential to who we are. We serve our community by providing an essential service and by helping to power our local economy. Whether through economic development, volunteerism, or donations to local causes, we invest in this community because it’s our home, too.

Most cooperatives bring good people together to make good things happen in the community. We hope you feel that way about us, your local electric co-op.

On behalf of everyone at Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative, we’re thankful for your membership, and we hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Jimmy Black