Power On: October is National Co-op Month
A Message from the CEO
As an electric cooperative, our top priority is always to provide reliable, affordable energy to you, the consumer-members we serve. Because we are a co-op, our mission is to enrich the lives of our members and serve the long-term interests of our community––and this mission has never been more critical than in recent months. One of the seven principles that guides all co-ops is “concern for community.” To me, this principle is the essential DNA of Volunteer Energy Cooperative (VEC), and it sets us apart from other electric utilities.
October is National Co-op Month, and electric cooperatives across the country are highlighting the many ways we “Power On.” Keeping this theme in mind, I recognize the essential role we play in serving our community.
Who could have imagined in March that COVID-19 would amount to a test of our community and our nation? The changing circumstances due to the pandemic have created both challenges and opportunities. Over the past several months, we’ve all been challenged to operate differently, and VEC has stepped up to help our members and strengthen the safety net for our more vulnerable neighbors.
As an essential service, and to ensure reliability of your power supply, we modified our operations to safeguard business continuity. Our employees began working on staggered schedules to maintain separation. Some staff worked remotely. In the office, we limited and modified meetings and gatherings to allow for safe separation. We also adjusted our walk-in availability to ensure the health and safety of our employees and our valued members. We think these measures were the prudent course of action for the times.
For our members impacted by COVID-19 who needed help with their electric bills, we waived late fees and worked with those hardest hit to make special payment arrangements. We also offered payment assistance through our Project Deserve program, a fund made possible through your kind donations.
In addition to Project Deserve, VEC Customers Share Program donated all of April and May’s funds to area food banks. In partnership with Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the Share’s program donated $53,865, and TVA gave $34,180. In total, our foodbanks received $88,045 to help with the increased need due to Covid-19.
I tell you about all of these efforts not to boast about VEC but to explain how much we care about this community––because we live here too.
We’ve seen other local businesses rising to meet similar challenges during this time, because that’s what communities do. While the difficulties caused by COVID-19 have been daunting, I’m encouraged to see how everyone is pulling together.
In 1935, VEC was built by the community to serve the community, and that’s what we’ll continue to do – Power On.
CEO and President Volunteer Energy Cooperative