CEO’s Message – October 2019

Celebrating the Cooperative Difference

October is National Cooperative Month. National Cooperative Month provides us an opportunity to recognize our nation’s cooperatives and the cooperative business model. In the United States, there are approximately 30,000 co-ops serving nearly every business sector. Here in Central Minnesota, we rely heavily on agricultural, food and other cooperatives.

The unique co-op business model is based on these seven cooperative principles:

  • Voluntary and Open Membership
  • Democratic Member Control
  • Members’ Economic Participation
  • Autonomy and Independence
  • Education
  • Training and Information
  • Cooperation Among Cooperatives
  • Concern for Community

Rural electric cooperatives, such as Stearns Electric Association, differ from both investor-owned and municipal utilities in several ways. Investor-owned utilities typically provide electricity in urban and suburban areas. Municipal utilities, owned by the city, provide electric service within that city.

Rural electric cooperatives, however, provide electricity where investor-owned and municipal utilities do not — primarily in sparsely populated rural areas. Rural electric co-ops are also owned by the membership. This Democratic Member Control ensures our operating margins are returned to our members in the form of Capital Credits. Additionally, a democratically-elected board of directors, made up of Co-op members, ensures representation on local priorities.

Everything we do here at Stearns Electric is member-focused with these seven cooperative principles in mind. Our mission statement, “To safely provide competitively priced and reliable electric service, beneficial energy solutions, and a positive member experience,” clearly states our member-focus.

Our My Co-op Cares programs, which encompass our Energy Education, Operation Round Up and employee volunteer programs, among others, showcase our concern for community.

Learn more about electric cooperatives through some of our national affiliates: NRECA ( and Touchstone Energy (

Please take some time this month to support your local cooperatives and help educate others about the importance and value of our nation’s co-ops. Here at Stearns Electric, we will continue to work hard to be of great value to our member-consumers!


Robin C. Doege