By Meghaan Evans
I love the feeling of being able to walk into my favorite locally-owned shop, restaurant or store knowing that the profit, product and labor can make positive impacts on my community. The spirit of main street is embodied in these local businesses. And electric cooperatives are as local and community centered as they come. Founded as a way to bring electricity to communities that didn’t interest Investor-owned utilities (or IOUs), electric cooperatives have been a cornerstone of community and economic development in rural America and beyond for decades.
That feeling I get when I frequent local businesses in our community is the same feeling I get when I walk into work at the co-op every day. It is a feeling of pride. I am proud to be a part of an organization that serves the community in which we live, instead of a group of shareholders who may never have set foot in our service territory.
Living on co-op lines is more than just knowing there are people out there working to bring you safe, reliable and affordable electric service. Living on co-op lines is an investment in our community and its members.
You see, Illinois cooperatives are not-for-profit businesses. When they make more money than they need to keep the lights on safely, affordably and reliably, cooperatives return it back to their members (that’s you!) in the form of capital credits. This means after all co-op expenses are paid, any additional money we earn goes back into our community, instead of going into a shareholder’s pocket, which is pretty great!
And because they are owned by you, our members, they have a vested interest in making sure our community is prosperous. Co-op’s do this by investing in economic development and community service projects and programs such as Operation RoundUp, Cooperatives Care Fund and educational grants.
I hope that you view Illinois cooperatives not just as your electric utility provider, but as a local business that brings pride and prosperity to our community. If you are interested in learning more about how we keep the lights on and beyond, please stop by the co-op or give us a call. We love being a part of this community, and we hope you feel the same way too!