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As you may know, Trinity Valley Electric Cooperative is not alone in its mission to bring reliable electricity to rural residents.
There are more than 65 electric distribution cooperatives like TVEC in Texas and more than 900 nationwide. Despite our obvious similarities, each co-op is different—first and foremost because the areas and people we serve are unique.
Each cooperative has its own individual history and serves a distinct mix of residential, industrial, commercial and agricultural members. And each makes its own business decisions independently. That’s what Cooperative Principle No. 4, Autonomy and Independence, is all about. It’s one of seven principles that guide all cooperative businesses.
As electric cooperatives, our autonomy is a direct result of our business model, which places decision making and responsibility for the company’s direction in the hands of directors elected from and by the membership. Our independence from distant, outside influences is based on our historical commitment to the communities we serve.
Autonomy and Independence are crucial to our cooperative’s ability to best serve your needs. That’s because what may be a sound decision for a co-op with a relatively small number of members spread out across an extremely rural area might not work for one with a larger number of members, some living in a more urban setting.
Local service and attention to your unique needs are why having local control is best for your co-op.
Although TVEC sails its own ship, so to speak, we don’t sail alone.
Our co-op belongs to a statewide association, Texas Electric Cooperatives, and a national group, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. These umbrella organizations provide communications and safety services in addition to tracking what lawmakers in Austin and Washington, D.C., are doing that could affect co-ops. Our membership in TEC allows us to purchase equipment and materials, such as transformers and utility poles, at a significantly lower cost than if we tried to buy them on our own—the power of working cooperatively.
However, none of these groups tells us what to do. The decisions about how to bring you the best service at the best possible cost are left to our employees and your elected board of directors.
When TVEC enters into agreements with electricity suppliers, those contracts don’t give them the right to tell our co-op whom to serve or what rates to charge. That’s left up to the co-op, too.
On occasion, we might need a large amount of capital to pay for expansion. We can borrow it from a number of sources, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service or the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation, a bank that is itself a cooperative. Of course, while we enter into any such agreement with a great deal of deliberation, no deal gives lending entities any power over our operations.
The leaders of our co-op, who are also members, have a deep understanding of this community and its needs. Our independence and autonomy to make our own decisions allow us to serve you in the most efficient way possible. And that’s the way it should be.