COO Message — March 2021

Committed to a Co-op Culture for All

Theresa QuirozOver the years, you’ve heard me expound on why and how Rio Grande Electric Co-op (RGEC) is different––because we’re a cooperative. Our business model sets us apart from other utilities because we adhere to seven guiding cooperative principles that reflect core values of honesty, transparency, equity, inclusiveness, and service to the greater good of the community.

Our most recent experience with arctic weather allowed us an opportunity to take measure of Rio Grande Electric, and as a whole, I hope you will agree that we measured up. Although we truly regret that some members, along with Co-op employees and their families, had to endure the record-setting freezing temperatures without electricity at times, we can all take comfort in that the fact that there were those silently working on our behalf to restore power as quickly as possible. You will see in the articles that follow just how Co-op Country fared the winter weather emergency.

Electric cooperatives, including RGEC, have a unique and storied place in our country’s history. We democratized the American dream by bringing electricity to rural areas when for-profit electric companies determined the effort too costly. Back then, cities were electrified, and rural areas were not, creating the original rural-urban divide. Newly established electric lines helped power economic opportunity in rural areas. Today, that spirit of equity and inclusion is a vital part of our co-op DNA.

Equal Access For All

When our electric co-op was founded, each member contributed an equal share in order to gain access to electricity that benefited individual families as well as the larger local community. Each member had an equal vote in co-op matters. That sense of equity and inclusion is still how we operate today. Rio Grande Electric Co-op was built by and belongs to the diverse communities and consumer-members we serve. Membership is open to everyone in our service territory, regardless of race, religion, age, disability, gender identity, language, political perspective or socioeconomic status.

By virtue of paying your electric bill each month, you’re a member of the Co-op, and every member has an equal voice and vote when it comes to co-op governance. This ties back to our guiding principles of equitable economic participation and democratic control of the Co-op.

This year’s director election process starts this month with the Member Advisory Committees’ selection of District Nominating Committees for Director Districts 2, 3A, 4, and 9. We encourage all members to vote in Rio Grande Electric’s director election in October, and we invite all members to participate in Co-op meetings to weigh in on discussions that set Co-op policies and priorities, such as communications and technology upgrades, system improvement, and renewable energy projects.

We know members of our communities have different needs and perspectives, and we welcome diverse views on all issues under consideration by the Co-op. The more viewpoints we hear, the better we are able to reflect the needs of all corners of our service territory.

Inclusion

While our top priority is providing safe, reliable, and affordable energy, we also want to be a catalyst for good in our communities. Because we are your local electric cooperative, Co-op revenues stay right here in our communities. In turn, we invest in our diverse community base through scholarship programs, charitable giving, educational programs, and more. We strive to make long-term decisions that improve and enrich the communities we serve.

While today’s world is radically different than it was when Rio Grande Electric Co-op was founded, our cooperative values have stood the test of time and remain just as relevant today. We recognize that today’s Co-op members expect more, and my pledge to you––the members we proudly serve––is to promote a cooperative culture of inclusion, diversity, and equity for all.

Theresa Quiroz