What do you expect from your cooperative? It’s a question we regularly ask ourselves and like to ask our consumer-members when we get the chance. Because the co-op belongs to those we serve, we hold ourselves to a higher standard than the average business. You probably don’t expect the store where you do your grocery shopping to send you their financial statements each year. But as a an owner of this cooperative, you do expect that transparency from Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative (SVEC).
To some, that might be a burden or a hassle. But at SVEC, each and every one of us takes pride in bringing an essential service to our neighbors and running this cooperative in a way our members would approve of. After all, we are members ourselves. We are not here to turn a profit or pay dividends to far-off shareholders. We are here solely to bring you safe and reliable electric service at a price you can afford.
That dedication extends to how we manage the money our members entrust to us. While being a good steward of that money is a responsibility of every employee, for those in our finance and accounting group, it’s the very reason they come to work each day.
In our newsletter, you can read about the work they do and just how important it is to keep our cooperative running. Find out where the money SVEC uses to build new infrastructure comes from — spoiler alert: it isn’t just your rates. Learn how we make financial plans for the future, how capital credits work, and more.
Speaking of capital credits, we are excited to retire about $1.3 million back to our members this year, bringing the total capital credits returned to members over the life of the cooperative to $15.9 million. This is yet another indicator of the strong financial footing our cooperative is on and the good work being done by all our employees to manage expenses.
We aren’t the only ones giving something back to our community, though. Since SVEC launched Operation Round Up, the participation of our members has been incredible, and it is truly making a difference for kids in our local schools. So far this year, the program has approved 112 grants and awarded more than $60,000 for deserving projects.
Finally, as our state continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, SVEC has stepped up to partner with the United Way of Suwannee Valley to help those who may be struggling. We joined United Way as a sponsor of its COVID-19 Relief Fund, which directly supports local community resources, and SVEC employees donated $1,000 of their own money to the fund.
These are just a few of the ways we are always working to live up to the expectations our consumer-members have for their cooperative. It is a privilege to meet those expectations every day, and we will continue working to exceed them in bigger and better ways.
Michael S. McWaters