By Dena Eakles | rural Ontario

To all ratepayers of Vernon Electric Cooperative:

This is the first in a series of informative columns produced by Dena Eakles of Echo Valley Hope https://echovalleyhope.org. The intention is to increase awareness and involvement with our energy cooperative.

As a cooperative member, you are one of 10,000 voices that can steer the direction of Vernon Electric Cooperative, VEC.  

Our history: On May 11, 1935, Roosevelt signed an executive order establishing the Rural Electrification Administration (REA). A year later, the Rural Electrification Act was passed and the lending program that became the REA began. It soon became evident that investor-owned utilities were not going to use the federal loan funds available to serve the more sparely populated rural areas. However, loan applications from farmer-based cooperatives poured in, and electric cooperatives made rural electrification a reality. In 1937, the REA drafted the Electric Cooperative Corporation Act, enabling the formation and operation of not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives. That included VEC.

In general, cooperative members maintain equal status, work together for the good of the community and follow seven guiding principles:  voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; member economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training, and information; cooperation among cooperatives; and concern for community.

From the VEC website, https://www.vernonelectric.org: “Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. The elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote), and cooperatives at other levels are organized in a democratic manner.  Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.”

At the annual meeting in April of this year, members passed a resolution asking for a cost-benefit analysis of locally sourced energy (solar, wind, etc.), which retains the revenue in Vernon County versus outside developers, which tend to pull finances away from our area. This was a step toward more transparency. It remains up to each of us to ensure our cooperative is working in the best interest for the “common good” of every member. 

Question to ponder and to ask: How has VEC demonstrated willingness to comply with the resolution passed in April 2022?