October is Cooperative Month, and while I might be biased I can’t think of a better business model. Howard Electric Cooperative has 15 employees and those employees work for you, the 2,833 member/owners who receive power from Howard Electric. There is an extra level of pride you can take when you say you work for those you serve. It seems fitting as cooperatives are being celebrated throughout the month of October, to share a few items that you, as a member/owner of Howard Electric Cooperative, should celebrate.
As we celebrate our 85th year, Howard Electric has grown from the 362 meters on the original cooperative application to 3,649 meters and over 900 miles of line. Electric Cooperatives nationwide own and maintain 42% of the U.S. electric distribution lines. That is 2.7 million miles of electric lines, enough miles to circle the world over 108 times.
Over the last year your Board of Directors have adopted a right-of-way program that will clear the 800+ miles of overhead lines in a 7-year rotation. In 2020 seventy-seven miles were cleared, 2021 is on track to end with an additional 144 miles of line cleared. As right-of-way is cleared it will help improve reliability, reducing blinks and outages.
The support your cooperative provides to the seven local school systems in our service territory is something to be proud of. Your electric cooperative, working with Central Electric Cooperative, provides safety and energy efficiency programs to all the schools in our territory. If you get a chance, ask your kids if they remember the safety program at their elementary school. Some of you may remember seeing that program. In addition to the elementary and middle school programs a graduate level course, Energy in Today’s Classroom, is offered at the University of Missouri free of charge to the teachers in our area. The high school students are not left out, they have the option to apply to attend the Cooperative Youth Tour, a chance of a lifetime. The winner of the Youth Tour receives a scholarship to the school of their choice. There is a separate scholarship available for those that want to enter a lineman program.
In the fast-paced world of technology your cooperative has responded. You can now access your account using SmartHub from any computer or mobile device. SmartHub allows you to see your daily kWh usage, KW demand, and the ability to pay online. You can find Howard Electric on Facebook. This is the easiest way for us to get timely information out to you, our member/owners.
Can you believe that in the beginning some members would add a note to their payment they mailed in reporting a power outage? I can’t imagine asking members to wait that long to report an outage. Today our number is answered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Once we enter an outage into the software it begins working to help predict where the issue is on the system.
While many things have changed during my time at Howard Electric the guiding 7 Cooperative Principles of Howard Electric and electric cooperatives across the nation remain the same.