In recognition of National Co-op Month, which takes place in October each year to celebrate the benefits of cooperatives, I would like to take a moment to discuss the cooperative business model and its significant impact on our everyday lives.
While most community members have knowledge of Valley Electric Association, Inc.’s status as a nonprofit, member-owned cooperative, many people remain unaware of the fact that some of the most recognizable companies in the U.S. are also cooperatives.
Much like VEA, companies such as Ocean Spray, Blue Diamond Growers, Sunkist and REI operate under the cooperative business model. These are member-owned organizations that provide tremendous economic benefits to our nation, and VEA is proud to stand among these trusted brands as an example of what the cooperative business model can accomplish.
Unlike many other types of businesses, cooperatives answer to their member-owners rather than a group of outside shareholders. At VEA, our members have direct control of their cooperative, as they elect the individuals who represent their communities on the VEA Board of Directors.
As many of our members know, cooperatives like VEA do not earn profits. Instead, any revenue in excess of VEA’s annual operating expenses is invested into our cooperative and eventually returned to our member-owners through the retirement of capital credits.
VEA has experienced a great deal of success in recent years through our continued expansion and the acquisition of valuable new contracts. These efforts all tie back to VEA’s member-focused mission, which has allowed us to maintain long-term rate stability amid difficult economic times.
Rather than focusing solely on the bottom line, cooperatives like VEA have additional opportunities to pursue endeavors that have a direct impact on their membership. This includes VEA’s unique energy-saving programs and our continued efforts to promote economic growth through the development of new and innovative projects within our service territory.
At VEA, our member-owners are at the heart of everything we do, and we will continue to embrace this philosophy for the benefit of our communities.
Tom Husted has served as the CEO of VEA since 2006. He has more than 30 years of experience in the utility industry across the Western United States, including more than 20 years as a CEO. Each monthly edition of VEA’s Ruralite magazine features a column from Husted, offering his thoughts about issues affecting the cooperative and the communities it serves. These monthly columns are reprinted in the Pahrump Valley Times.