Every October since 1930, not-for-profit cooperatives of all kinds have recognized National Cooperative Month as a way to appreciate their many members and educate the public about how co-ops work.
This year, Magic Valley Electric Cooperative highlights the beliefs that guide all co-ops: The Seven Cooperative Principles. These principles lead electric cooperatives such as Magic Valley to do business in a better way every single day.
Principles No. 1: Voluntary and Open Membership and No. 2: Democratic Member Control. Co-ops are open to anyone who is able to use their services, which means that any person who moves into Magic Valley’s service territory is eligible for membership. Annual meetings allow members to get to know the people who run their co-op. The meetings also are where members learn about co-op business matters.
Every year in April, Magic Valley convenes for its annual meeting, where members elect directors to serve on the board that governs the Cooperative.
No. 3: Members’ Economic Participation. Because members own their electric cooperatives, co-ops do not create profits for distant shareholders. Instead, any excess revenue—called “margins”—is allocated back to the membership in the form of capital credits, or patronage capital. The co-op uses these funds as working capital until the board of directors retires the funds to members when it makes financial sense. Members are paid based on how much electricity they purchased from the co-op for a given year.
Allocating and retiring excess revenue to members distinguishes cooperatives. We’re proud to support our communities by putting money back into the local economy—and into the wallets of those we serve.
No. 4: Autonomy and Independence. Electric cooperatives form a vast network across America. We’re in 47 states, and cooperative-owned electric lines cover 42 percent of the nation’s land mass. Yet each cooperative is an autonomous, independent business. We work with our co-op neighbors, but our members are the sole governors of Magic Valley Electric Cooperative. Our member-elected board of directors approves policies and resolutions that guide the way we do business.
No. 5: Education, Training and Information. Cooperatives have a charge to keep their members informed—not just about cooperative business, but also about topics like energy efficiency, safety and community contributions.
Magic Valley keeps its members up to date on relevant news every month through Texas Co-op Power, which aims to educate, inform and entertain our members.
You can also stay informed by visiting our website at magicvalley.coop or on social media Facebook: @MagicValleyEC and Twitter:@MagicValleyEC
No. 6: Cooperation Among Cooperatives. Although co-ops are independent entities, they still rely on one another to share resources, information and, in some cases, manpower.
Electric co-ops have long relied on one another to get power restored more quickly after severe weather emergencies, using a mutual-aid agreement. It works just as it sounds: When Magic Valley needs extra hands after a disaster, such as a hurricane, co-ops from surrounding towns and states help out. When neighboring co-ops need help, Magic Valley sends crews to them.
No. 7: Concern for Community. Possibly the most visible of all the cooperative principles, this is what drives electric co-ops to be good stewards of the communities they serve.
Magic Valley and its employees undertake a variety of projects, including supporting local charitable organizations, volunteer fire departments, schools and businesses.