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This year has certainly provided a unique set of challenges, from a global pandemic and economic crisis touching every person on the planet to social struggles and a renewed focus on long-standing injustices in our own nation and communities.
Thankfully, electric cooperatives have a long history of weathering adversity and acting as a catalyst for improving the communities they serve. In fact, co-ops were born out of challenging times.
This resilience will help Trinity Valley Electric Cooperative and our members overcome everything that has affected our area and our nation this year.
Electric co-ops formed after 1935 to relieve the hardship rural areas faced while their urban neighbors enjoyed the conveniences of electricity. The Rural Electrification Act made low-cost loans available to farmers and ranchers, who banded together to create nonprofit co-ops to deliver electricity to rural America, including Texas. Lawmakers of the time have been proven right in their foresight that electricity would revolutionize the rural way of life.
Soon after, electric co-ops weathered World War II. Construction of rural distribution systems slowed during that period, but the model prevailed. Within four years after the war, the number of co-ops in the U.S. doubled, and the number of connections tripled, according to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
When many of our family members and neighbors were called to serve in other wars, including the Vietnam War, Korean War, and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, co-ops endured. We kept the lights on for them while they were away.
Several major recessions have come and gone since TVEC was established, most recently in 2008. While many long-standing businesses thought to be too great to fail actually failed, electric co-ops persevered. We looked to our values—the Seven Cooperative Principles, which put members’ needs first—as a guiding light during the downturn.
Electric cooperatives have continually weathered storms at home. Forces of nature such as tornadoes, hurricanes and ice storms threaten and sometimes damage our infrastructure, but our brave lineworkers battle the elements to keep the electricity flowing.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, co-ops everywhere have taken extra precautions to keep employees and members safe. We aim not just to survive as an organization but to help our members make it through the hard time and recover, too.
Some ways that electric cooperatives put members’ needs first during the pandemic included providing flexible bill payment options, disbursing Operation Round Up™ funds to food banks and bill assistance organizations, and providing personal protective equipment to area first responders.
Even though the world is grappling with uncertainty and difficulties because of the pandemic and its economic effects, you can rest assured that TVEC will be here for you.