CEO’s Message: A Guiding Light

October 2021

By Michael S. McWaters, Executive V.P./CEO

Each October, all of us at Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative (SVEC) prepare for a very important celebration. No, not Halloween, as much we might love a good scare and the chance to dress up. I’m talking about National Cooperative Month, when we get the chance to recognize the important role cooperatives of all kinds play in communities across the country.

If there was one thing that scared the people who came together to form SVEC decades ago, it was the prospect of being left behind, denied access to a life-changing new technology. Electric power had already transformed major cities, but investor-owned power companies didn’t see how they could make money bringing it to rural communities.

So the people of this community united to deliver the service themselves. At the time, the cooperative model was an experiment that relied entirely on the hard work of volunteers. Today, more than 80 years later, there are nearly 30,000 cooperatives across the country still going strong.

A big reason for that is the cooperative principles that guide everything we do. One of them, cooperation among cooperatives, ensures that co-ops assist other co-ops when the need arises. It’s an important promise we make to each other and one that helps each of us take on challenges we could never handle individually.

In June, SVEC was fortunate to receive help from fellow cooperatives after Hurricane Elsa. And twice this year, our own crews traveled to west Florida for three days to aid the recovery efforts of other cooperatives after Tropical Storm Fred and to Louisiana for 10 days to help repair damage after Hurricane Ida. You can read about those trips in this issue and what it’s like for our linemen to pick up and go to work on an electric system they are unfamiliar with. It’s important work, and we’re thankful to have so many linemen ready and willing to volunteer for the job.

Concern for our community is another of our core cooperative principles. This month, you can learn about the impact Operation Round Up® continues to have as it helps our local students and how the first-ever Suwannee Valley Food Fight benefited the Florida Gateway Food Bank.

Finally, we’re bringing back our Meet Your Trustee feature this month to introduce everyone to BeBe Roberson, our new trustee for the consumer-members of District 3. I’m excited to have him on the board, and I know he will serve our members well.

So this month, as you plug in the Halloween decorations in your front yard and keep the porch light on for trick-or-treaters, take a moment to appreciate the cooperative system that has made electric power such a reliable part of our daily lives in the Suwannee Valley.