CEO Karen Moore
In 1967, the Beatles had the world singing along to a tune about getting by with a little help from our friends. When John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote that song, they probably didn’t have electric cooperatives in mind.
But they could have. That’s because mutual aid among cooperatives throughout the United States is a fundamental element of the way we operate.
Electric cooperatives, like all other cooperatives, operate according to seven principles. Principles six and seven (Cooperation among Cooperatives and Concern for Community) are most relevant to this concept of mutual assistance. From the very beginning of the rural electrification program in the 1930’s, electric cooperatives have relied on other cooperatives to assist in times of disasters.
In 2018, these mutual aid agreements were put into use as Baldwin EMC aided cooperatives in southeast Alabama and Florida following the devastating impact of Hurricane Michael. Our crews helped to essentially rebuild infrastructure from the ground up. During their time away, many notes of thanks came flooding in from those who live in the areas they were helping, explaining that if not for our help, they were uncertain when and how they’d ever get power back on.
Those of us who were here when Hurricane Ivan impacted our area can remember that feeling all too well. As we stared at the forecast models for the strong Category 3 storm, we knew the restoration efforts that would follow were going to surpass the manpower of our crews. So, we called for help, and within 48 hours, help arrived in the form of bucket trucks, employees and supplies from numerous states. Thanks to their “cooperation” we were able to restore power in just eight days following Ivan’s landfall.
Maybe you’re wondering how a co-op in Alabama can jump right in and assist a cooperative in another state. Thankfully, the national network of distribution infrastructure owned by electric cooperatives has been built to federal standards, so line crews from any co-op in America can arrive on the scene ready to provide emergency support. And when our crews travel to aid a sister cooperative, they take our rigorous safety standards with them, which helps us feel confident that when the work is done, they’ll all be coming back home in the same condition in which they left.
The crews we send to help other states travel long hours and work long days, and they sacrifice many of the comforts of home to do so. Yet, whenever we put out the call for volunteers, they answer without hesitation.
They know how much it matters to those they’re going to help. They know what it feels like when the tables have been turned. They know that this could be the year they turn again.
And because of this shared knowledge and experience, cooperatives across the country know that when they call, Baldwin EMC will do our best to respond.