Diverse businesses share common goal of serving you
Here’s a question for you as we begin the new year: What does Rock Energy Cooperative have in common with Blackhawk Community Credit Union, True Value, Sunkist, Land O’ Lakes, and the Associated Press?
“Not much” might be your first thought. But if you look at how these businesses operate, you’ll discover they are all cooperatives with the goal of benefitting their members. From the butter you eat to the energy that powers your home, cooperatives play a big role in your everyday life.
Co-ops sell food, farm supplies, hardware, and recreational equipment. They provide utilities, such as electricity, telephone, television, and Internet service.
Throughout the United States, more than 40,000 cooperatives have about 350 million members. They generate $514 billion in revenue and more than $25 billion in wages, according to a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives. Rock Energy is among more than 900 energy co-ops that serve an estimated 42 million nationwide.
Some co-ops have become so much a part of our lives that we forget they are cooperatives. Nationally, co-op brands like Sunkist, Ocean Spray, Welch’s, True Value, and many others have become household names. Credit unions are among the fastest growing type of co-op. The number of customers at credit unions nationwide has grown 21 percent since 2012, according to the Credit Union National Association.
Cooperatives are based on the concept that great things can happen when people collaborate. Sharing ideas, resources, and capital helps individuals accomplish more together than they can on their own.
More than ever today, many businesses are focused on making profits rather that serving people. But as a cost-of-service energy provider, Rock Energy isn’t concerned with earning a big profit for out-of-town investors. When we realize a profit at the end of a fiscal year, that profit is allocated back to members in the form of capital credits. Rock Energy has paid back about $17 million to past and current members over the years.
Members also benefit by having a say in how the cooperative is governed. At the annual meeting each year members elect directors to make policy decisions on their behalf. The directors are members themselves, and they make decisions based on what will benefit the membership, not what’s best for a group of distant shareholders.
Community involvement is another benefit that co-ops provide to members. We work to improve the quality of life in the communities we serve, from offering scholarships to providing advice on how members can save money by making their homes or businesses more energy efficient.
Our employees live in the communities we serve, and they interact with you—our members—regularly at grocery stores, schools, churches, and community events. We understand and value the role that we play in your lives.
While doing business with Rock Energy, you might have noticed that we treat the people we serve differently. Everyone who receives energy from us is a member, not a customer. You might think it’s just a different word we use to describe the business-consumer relationship, but it’s much more than that. It’s our way of doing business. Because you and your fellow members govern how Rock Energy operates, our top priorities are providing reliable service and keeping your energy bills affordable.
As we head into 2019, the co-op’s 83rd year, please don’t hesitate to let us know if there’s anything we can do to improve our service. We exist to serve you.