We’re Going the Extra Mile, Literally

From the Board of Trustees

This month, we celebrate America’s most patriotic, spirited holiday: Independence Day. Whenever this special day rolls around, we can’t help but reflect on the history of Baldwin EMC. After all, it was a desire to be independent from investor-owned utilities, who had long-since ignored Alabama’s rural areas, that prompted our founders to come together and form a cooperative 81 years ago.

As Baldwin EMC Board members, this history and its legacy are never far from our minds, even as we look to the future. Looking forward is something we do quite often, as we participate in training to maintain our knowledge of what’s on the horizon for the electric cooperative industry.

Going through these continuous updates has given us some very interesting and compelling insights into what cooperatives are doing for their members and how we compare to investor-owned electricity providers. We’d like to share some of that with you.

Baldwin EMC is one of nearly 900 cooperatives serving an estimated 42 million people in the Untied States. Co-ops are located in 47 states and provide electricity to more than 19 million businesses, homes, schools, churches, farms, irrigation systems and other establishments in 2,500 of 3,141 counties throughout the nation. Co-ops also provide jobs to 71,000 men and women.

Because we’re located in mostly rural areas, the communities we serve are typically not as densely populated as those of our investor- owned counterparts. We serve an average of 8 members per mile of line, whereas 32 customers per mile of line are served by investor- owned utilities and 48 by municipalities (which are owned by local governments).

However, even though we’re covering more miles of line, cooperatives only collect an annual revenue of approximately $16,000 per mile, as compared to investor owned utilities, which collect $75,500 per mile, or municipalities, which collect $113,000 per mile.

Here’s something else that sets us apart. We also consistently rank higher in satisfaction among those we serve. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), in 2017, Touchstone Energy Cooperatives like Baldwin EMC had an average score of 78. Investor-owned utilities came in several points lower at 75 followed by 72 for municipal utilities. Baldwin EMC’s score last year was a 92. (You can participate in this year’s ACSI survey by filling out and returning the questionnaire that was mailed out with June bills.)

In other words, we do more with less, and apparently, we’re better at it.

Eighty-one years ago, a spirit of independence motivated the creation of a cooperative with those exact goals in mind.

Do more for our members. Keep rates competitive. Put people before profits in everything we do.