Neighbors helping neighbors. It’s a common phrase heard in rural America. We step up when our neighbors need help. That’s how the cooperative movement started around here. Neighbors made a promise to each other and worked to see it through. Oil and agriculture cooperatives sprung up to provide needed services. Electric co-ops were created by neighbors helping neighbors get electricity to the farm or ranch to benefit all rural families. Back then, people all across our region made a promise to each other: We’re going to work together to bring power to the prairie. People gathered together to help build their electric cooperatives by signing up their neighbors to bring electricity to rural areas that had never had it before; a service that no one else would provide. It’s made a profound difference in agricultural production, business and life in rural America. And then, those cooperatives made promises to neighboring cooperatives to create East River Electric, to provide a stable and reliable power supply to their local cooperatives.
Electric cooperatives today are still made up of member-owners that are accountable to each other. We do what we say we’re going to do. That means sticking with our commitment to provide reliable, affordable electricity to our neighbors.
Dakota Energy Cooperative headquartered in Huron has filed a legal complaint against its wholesale power supplier East River Electric Power Cooperative based in Madison. Through the legal complaint, Dakota is seeking to buy out of its long-term wholesale power contract they recently signed to take risks on the spot energy market with a for-profit company called Guzman Energy. They made a promise long ago to work together with surrounding cooperatives to create East River Electric and provide for long-term wholesale power supply. By attempting to break that promise to their fellow electric cooperatives, Dakota could end up paying more in the long run and leaving neighboring co-ops with higher costs. That’s not the co-op way.
The other cooperatives in our region want to continue working together to take advantage of economies of scale and the collective strength that our network provides and honor the promise they made to their rural neighbors. By keeping our cooperative family whole and helping our neighbors, we can continue to provide safe, affordable and reliable electricity for the long term.