Skip to main navigation.

The importance of member engagement

By Adam Schwartz

In 2012, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), the premier trade association representing approximately 900 electric cooperatives in 47 states, released a report entitled, “The Electric Cooperative Purpose - A Compass for the 21st Century.” The findings of the blue ribbon task force comprised of a dozen co-op leaders from across the country were that an electric cooperative’s purpose is to, “Power communities and empower members to improve the quality of their lives.”

    Clay Electric Co-operative is a member of NRECA and firmly believes that you, our members, need to be at the heart of everything we do. We are proud of the fact that we are different from investor-owned utilities like Ameren, where the primary purpose is to generate profit for their stockholders. Many of those stockholders don’t live in the communities served by the utility. While Clay Electric Co-operative must generate enough revenue to cover our costs, profit is not our primary motive. Serving you and your neighbors is our number one priority. 

    As the Electric Cooperative Purpose report noted, “Our story is about ordinary people that banded together to improve the quality of life by providing electricity to our community when no one else would do it.” But that was 72 years ago. As we look to the future, we once again need your active participation in determining the future of our co-op.

    Cooperatives enjoy the support of people from all walks of life. We operate in every type of business from agriculture, housing, finance, health care, technology, small business, food and many more. Co-ops can be found in the most rural to the most urban areas.  

    Clay Electric welcomes your input on what we can do to ensure we are meeting your needs. 

    One thing you can absolutely count on from your locally owned electric co-op: we will never be moving to Mexico or China like you hear of so many other companies doing. We will always be local – right here and ready to serve our members. 

Adam Schwartz is the founder of The Cooperative Way a consulting firm that helps co-ops succeed. He is an author, speaker and member-owner of the CDS Consulting Co-op.
 You can follow him on Twitter @adamcooperative or email him at