As an electric cooperative, our top priority is always to provide reliable, affordable energy to you, the member-owners 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 local 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 Nodak Electric, 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 special communities like ours.
Who would have fathomed back in March, that the COVID-19 virus would amount to a test of our community and our nation? The changing circumstances due to the pandemic have created both challenges and opportunities. During the past several months, we’ve all been challenged to operate differently, and Nodak 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 line crews and other employees began working to maintain separation from each other to ensure we have healthy employees ready to serve you. 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 office availability and in-person service calls to ensure the health and safety of our employees and our valued members. In addition, we initially postponed our annual meeting and finally held that meeting as a “ballot only” meeting to protect our membership. For the health and safety of everyone, 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 service disconnections for several months and worked with those hit hardest to make special payment arrangements.
And while we certainly missed visiting with you in person, we found new ways to stay connected. As a member-owner, you can now virtually transact all your business with the cooperative online if you choose, including signing up for new services. We also ramped up our social media efforts to help you stay better informed and added additional content to our website.
I tell you about all these efforts not to boast about Nodak Electric, but to explain how much we care about the communities we serve – 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 challenges caused by COVID-19 have been daunting, I’m heartened to see how everyone is pulling together.
In 1939, Nodak Electric Cooperative was built by the community to serve the community, and that’s what we’ll continue to do – Power On.