Powered by principle six: How electric co-ops join forces to maintain growth

The latest in a series of alliances forged by Texas Electric Cooperatives shows how collaboration can deliver economies and benefits for members

A series of alliances developed by a US electric co-op shows how principle six – co-operation among co-operatives – can help organisations stay ahead in competitive markets, and offer improved prices and services for their members.

The latest partnership for Texas Electric Cooperatives (TEC) comes in the form of a sourcing alliance with Greenbelt Electric Cooperative, a Texas Panhandle-based co-op, which represents an additional 5,000 meters in all or part of nine counties.

Greenbelt is the fourth co-operative to enter into a TEC alliance since the start of 2017, and brings the number of alliance partners for TEC to 21 – demonstrating the benefits that working together can bring in terms of negotiating strength and economies of scale.

TEC is keen to make more partnerships to increase these benefits. Johnny Andrews, chief operating officer of TEC Manufacturing & Distribution Services, said: “Growth is good for our members and it’s good for us. With each new alliance, TEC’s position in the market to negotiate pricing is strengthened.”

He added: “We are excited about working more closely with Greenbelt Electric Cooperative. Their track record for quality service and delivering electric power to panhandle users is well known.

“We are proud to support them in their mission to keep the lights on for their members.”

The addition of Greenbelt strengthens TEC’s supply aggregation model in a highly competitive market. While TEC already provides its members with many valuable services, the alliance supply model is one that can make an immediate difference in a co-op’s bottom line by reducing operational and redundant costs.

Through aggregation and scale, TEC sources high-quality products from leading manufacturers at competitive prices that individual co-operatives would not be able to negotiate alone. TEC passes those savings along to all member cooperatives at competitive prices.

Built on values

In referencing the seven co-op principles, the co-op says it is “built upon a foundation of timeless values”. It adds that Concern for Community, the seventh principle, has “always guided electric co-operatives working for the sustainable development of the communities they serve. Being local and member-owned, electric co-operatives are ideal catalysts for improving quality of life in their communities”.

Its statement of purpose adds: “Today, electric co-operatives in Texas are making a difference in the lives of nearly three million members by providing safe, affordable and reliable electric service. While electricity is the foundation of the program, both operations and concern for the community are integral to the success of co-operatives and their members.”

Additionally, it says electric co-operatives in Texas:

  • Assist communities with economic development and revitalisation projects.
  • Provide infrastructure to support community needs and improve quality of life.
  • Support important community organisations, such as volunteer fire departments, schools and local government.
  • Support educational opportunities by funding scholarships and sponsoring youth leadership programs.
  • Educate the public about electric safety and energy efficiency.
  • Assist fellow cooperatives to provide a quick-response power recovery network during natural disasters.

TEC, which has been operating since 1941, represents the interests of 75 electric co-operatives with more than three million members throughout the state. It says it serves its members by providing products and services that help sustain co-operative businesses in the 21st century and offers a full line of utility supplies and services through its Manufacturing & Distribution Services facility headquartered in Georgetown.

Greenbelt Electric Cooperative. established in 1938, serves 4,969 connected meters with over 2,445 miles of energised line. It operates in Armstrong, Collingsworth, Donley and Wheeler Counties as well as parts of Childress, Gray, Hemphill, Randall and Roberts Counties.

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