Baldwin EMC Board of Trustees
When you applied for service with Baldwin EMC, the forms you signed probably didn’t look out of the ordinary. A standard agreement – you pay for electricity, we provide it.
But what actually happened when you completed that membership agreement was a bit more significant. You became a part owner of this cooperative. And in that moment, our cooperative principles became your bill of rights.
Cooperatives all around the world operate according to the same set of core principles and values, the roots of which go back more than 170 years. These principles are a key reason that electric cooperatives like Baldwin EMC operate differently from other utility providers.
So what are these principles, and what rights do they give you as a member?
To begin with, the first principle, Open and Voluntary Membership, means you are entitled to electric service from Baldwin EMC, as long as you are willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, regardless of your race, religion, gender, or economic circumstances.
Next comes principle number two, Democratic Member Control. This is one principle that really sets Baldwin EMC apart from other utility companies in the area. This co-op is a democratic organization controlled by our members, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. Your Board of Trustees is elected by members from among the membership. And every member has equal voting rights – one member, one vote, regardless of how much electricity you use, how long you’ve been a member, or any other conditions.
Members’ Economic Participation is the third cooperative principle, and gives you a right to contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of your cooperative. Any revenue we take in that exceeds what we need to operate the cooperative is refunded to our members, and the financial status of the cooperative is overseen by the democratically elected board – that’s us.
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. That’s dictated by principle number four: Autonomy and Independence. Even if Baldwin EMC enters into
agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raises capital from external sources, we will always do so on terms that ensure democratic member control.
You are entitled to Education, Training, and Information about your cooperative, thanks to principle number five. We believe this helps you effectively contribute to the development of your cooperative. This is the driving force behind the local section in Alabama Living, the inserts in your monthly bill, the advertisements in your children’s school yearbooks, our social media channels and all of the methods we use to keep you informed.
Cooperation Among Cooperatives is the sixth cooperative principle, which prompts Baldwin EMC to enter into mutual aid agreements with other cooperatives. How this one relates to you, our members, might not be as obvious. But when Hurricane Sally came through in 2020, and almost 1,500 line workers from cooperatives across the nation came to our rescue, you probably felt the benefits of this one. Not only do cooperatives help each other after natural disasters, we also work together through local, national, regional and international structures to improve services, bolster local economies, and deal more effectively with social and community needs.
The last, but certainly not least, cooperative principle is number seven: Concern for Community. This one needs almost no explanation, because our members have seen it in action so many times. Through our programs like Operation Round Up and our employee community service leave program, and events like our annual blood drives, it’s not hard to catch this co-op working to improve the quality of life for our members and the communities you call home.