Celebrating theCooperative Model During National Cooperative Month // October 2023 CEO Column

LREC joins cooperatives across the country every October to celebrate National Cooperative Month. National Cooperative Month recognizes the cooperative difference and reminds all of us about LREC’s purpose. Minnesota was the first state to declare an official Co-op Month proclamation in 1948. Co-op Month has been a nationally recognized celebration since 1964, when U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman, a former Minnesota governor, proclaimed October as Co-op Month.

LREC was built by members who came together to bring electricity to our communities. We exist to provide safe, reliable, and affordable energy for you, the members of the co-op. LREC’s mission is to improve the quality of the lives of the members we serve.

LREC is locally governed. Our employees live in our communities. Our board members, who help set long-term priorities and goals for LREC, live on LREC’s lines and are elected to their positions by their neighbors and other co-op members who reside in their respective districts.

We are fortunate to have a highly engaged membership with members who have valuable perspectives. That is why we continue to seek your input through community events like the Energy Forum at Thumper Pond we hosted in May this year, our Virtual Member Advisory Committee (VMAC), the three district meetings we hold each year, and our annual meeting. Also, we seek engagement and input from our members when we host less formal events, such as the Member Appreciation Day held earlier this year at Glendalough State Park. Approximately 700 people came together during that event to eat, enjoy the beautiful scenery, and—most importantly—connect with employees and directors in meaningful ways. The close connections we have with our members motivate and empower us to make the most informed decisions we can on long-term decisions affecting you, your family, friends, and neighbors.

Co-ops provide members the absolute right to have economic participation. We want you to see LREC’s monthly billing statements different than other bills you pay on a regular basis. A portion of your LREC bill is an equity contribution, which is used to cover the costs of LREC capital projects and also increases LREC’s equity. To date, LREC has distributed over $34 million in capital credits back to our members since 1958.

LREC strives to be more than just your energy provider. We want to be your local trusted source of good and factual information. We want to be the local business, owned by all of you, our members, that supports our communities and powers economic development and prosperity for all.

Thank you all for making LREC a strong and innovative cooperative. I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve all of you, and I will never take that opportunity for granted. The greatest value of a co-op is the people who make it—and those people are you, the members. LREC is member owned—that is why you are members, not customers.

Co-ops are so meaningful to me, and the cooperative model allows us to focus on your needs and not a stockholder’s return on investment. I know October is known officially as National Cooperative Month, but to me every month, every week, and every day is dedicated to making LREC the cooperative our members deserve to own.