Co-op Month 2019
By the Community, for the Community
October is National Co-op Month.
When you think of October, pumpkins, Halloween and beautiful fall foliage naturally come to mind. But October is notable for another reason – it’s National Co-op Month! This is the time of year when cooperatives across the country, including St. Croix Electric Co-op, celebrate who they are and more importantly, the members they serve.
Cooperatives are different from other types of businesses. When the market declines to offer a product or service, or does so at a very high price, co-ops intervene to fill the need.
Similar to how SCEC was built by members who came together in 1937 to bring electricity to the rural community, cooperatives are conveners for the common good. SCEC exists to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy to the members of the co-op. Equally important is its mission to enrich the lives of the members served.
Over the years as gaps or needs for services have been identified the co-op has created programs to fill them. Among those offered today to both members and non-members within and outside SCEC electrical service territory are:
- FirstCall Medical Monitoring, established in the late 90s. This medical alert system offers help at the push of a button. An SCEC employee sets up and tests the systems in people’s homes and makes follow-up “house calls” as necessary.
- Internet, established first as dial-up in the late 90s and now offered as Viasat satellite internet. Although a large portion of SCEC members have access to wire-based broadband Internet, there are some gaps within SCEC’s territory
- Enviro-Clean, established in the early 2000s. SCEC accepts bulbs, batteries and electronics for recycling year-round 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. There is no charge for rechargeable NiCad and lithium-ion batteries or for CFL bulbs. A fee list for fluorescent tubes and electronics and more information on the program can be found online at scecnet.net under Rebates & Programs -> Enviro-Clean|Recycling.
As a co-op, SCEC is well-suited to meet the needs of the community because the co-op is locally governed. SCEC’s leadership team and employees live right here in the community. The board of directors, who helps set long-term priorities for the co-op, all live locally on co-op lines. These board members have been elected to the position by neighbors like you include (listed in District order 1-9) Neil Plourde, Somerset; Al Wilkie, Town of Troy (Hudson); Dave Orf, Town of Hudson; Paul Nyhus, Town of Hammond (Roberts); Bill Findlay, Town of Rush River (Baldwin); Bill Peavey, Town of Eau Galle (Woodville); Fran Klatt, Town of Emerald; Douglas Faber, Town of Cady (Wilson); and George Yates, Town of St. Joseph (Somerset).
“Our close connection to the community ensures we get a first-hand perspective on local priorities, thereby enabling us to make more informed decisions on long-term investments, such as satellite internet, community solar programs, equipment and technology upgrades and electric vehicle programs,” said SCEC CEO/President Brian Zelenak, himself a Hudson resident.
Another feature that sets SCEC apart from a traditional utility is one of the co-op’s core principles, “Concern for Community.” SCEC partners with local organizations like the St. Croix County Fair, St. Croix County Farm City Day, local school districts, 4-H clubs and more for fair parking passes, sponsorships, Career Fairs, SafetyTown Demonstrations and other worthy programs, as well as offering a Commitment to Community Grant program with applications reviewed twice a year (June and November).
“Ultimately, the larger community benefits from these programs because of our members who empower the co-op through their membership and through their participation in and support of these programs,” Zelenak said. “SCEC is more than an energy provider; we are also a local business that supports this community and powers economic development and prosperity for the people.”
St. Croix Electric Cooperative employees and directors kicked off Co-op Month as they always do: Sponsoring and serving the Tuesday Community Supper in Baldwin.