CEO Message — March 2022

A cooperative for everyone!

Les MorelandWhile the direction of each electric cooperative is inherently entrusted to a local board of trustees, seven principles collectively guide us as we build a stronger country.

Cooperative membership is open to anyone who can “reasonably” use our service. Cooperatives band together to help each other in times of need or create programs that spur development regionally and nationally.

For example, Operation Round Up began as an idea in one cooperative — a concept that has spread to rural power providers nationwide. This program has benefited individuals, schools, charities, hospitals, and more in several states in the last 30 years.

Perhaps the most fundamental principle of a cooperative, though, is one of our favorites at Wiregrass Electric Cooperative (WEC): democratic member control. It’s simple, yet beautiful. Each member has one vote, equal to that of every other member. Together our members, through the election of our board of trustees and their decisions regarding bylaws changes, determine the future of our organization.

A democracy works best when all voices are informed, heard, and connected. That’s why we embraced mail-in voting a decade ago and virtual annual meetings shortly after. This allows more member participation with another voting option and provides our membership a way to view the annual meetings afterward.

It’s why we love filling this magazine with as much local content as possible, and it’s why our website publishes contact information for our trustees. It’s why we invest in system reliability all across our grid and in economic development efforts wherever and whenever possible. When our entire region is strong, this cooperative is strong.

That’s why we’re embracing the motto “Working for Everyone” in 2022. With last year’s changes to our bylaws that expanded the annual meeting voting period and adjusted bylaw language to include feminine pronouns, we feel like we emulate this mantra now more than ever. We’ve even developed a program, which we’re unveiling in this edition, to further enhance the concept.

While teenagers aren’t members of the cooperative in name, they are a critical part of our focus at WEC. We award scholarships to them through the Electric Cooperative Foundation, the Youth Tour Program, and our Operation Round Up Charitable Foundation. Our Education Power Station inspires some teens to pursue careers in utilities and teaches all of them how to interact with electricity safely.

We often sponsor their clubs and teams — organizations that promote discipline, teamwork, and accountability. We feel all of these efforts develop teens into future leaders who will brighten our region and country.

That’s why we’re proud to introduce a monthly feature called “The Filter.” This page, and the related social media content, will keep teens engaged and informed about important subjects regarding the cooperative and life. We want our teenagers to be proud to be a part of a cooperative, even if they’re not the ones paying the power bill.

If you know a teenager who lives in our territory, we ask you to encourage them to check out “The Filter” and participate in our Instagram challenges. We’ll award cool prizes each month, and we’re working on more ideas to further teen participation in the cooperative.

Because when we work for everyone, we’re a stronger democracy and cooperative. We’re proud that you’re our members.

Les Moreland
CEO Wiregrass Electric Cooperative