CEO’s Message – September 2021

Future Focus: Strategy and Planning

Every three years, the Stearns Electric Board of Directors, alongside the Cooperative’s Executive and Management teams, create a strategic plan for the Cooperative. The strategic plan is a very important planning tool we use to help assure we are adequately meeting our members’ needs. On August 5th and 6th, strategic planning discussions took place, using the results of our 2021 Member Satisfaction Survey, to help set the direction of the Cooperative for the next three years and beyond.


In May, Stearns Electric Association completed a Residential Member Satisfaction Survey in partnership with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). Over 400 Stearns Electric member-consumers were surveyed by phone and another 460 members were surveyed online. Members were selected at random from throughout the Cooperative’s service territory.

Our Stearns Electric team was pleased with the results, which showed a mean overall member satisfaction rating of 8.94 on a 10-point scale. Overall, 95% of respondents were satisfied with the Cooperative, including 53% of members who indicated they were very satisfied.

Stearns Electric completes this large-scale Member Satisfaction Survey every three years. Since 2018, overall member satisfaction increased slightly from 8.84 in 2018 to 8.94 in 2021. A few areas that were identified as potential areas of focus in the future include helping members be more efficient with their energy use and keeping members informed of outages.

Beyond member satisfaction, the survey allowed members to share their views on items regarding energy efficiency, communication, programs and potential future programs. The results of the survey have been evaluated carefully by both Stearns Electric employees and board members, and were used to help drive the conversation in our strategic planning session.

Overall, the Cooperative is very pleased with the Member Satisfaction Survey results and will continue to work to maintain this high level of satisfaction among our member-consumers.


Strategic planning is an exercise we do not take lightly at Stearns Electric. Every year, we set goals that are more strategy and long-range focused, which are then woven in our day-to-day activities. These include items surrounding safety, reliability, financial health, technology, member satisfaction and engagement, and people and culture. Strategic items are more long-term and are used to build the foundation for the larger decisions of the Co-op.

Our strategic plan provides a consistent road map for the strategies, goals, and activities we undertake to maintain a well-run cooperative. It is also a great tool for identifying the best ways to serve our members in new and innovative ways.

This year, outside consultant Terilyn Wallis, who specializes in working with cooperative organizations and boards of directors, assisted Stearns Electric’s strategic planning preparation and planning session. In addition to the Member Satisfaction Survey, all Cooperative employees and board members completed an analysis on Stearns Electric’s internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as potential external opportunities and threats, ahead of the August planning session.

In July, the Great River Energy Board of Directors, and member CEOs met to discuss Great River Energy’s future strategies. Stearns Electric had two representatives, Greg Blaine and Robin Doege, who worked to help shape Great River Energy’s future. Outcomes and action items from our Great River Energy strategy session include:

  • Managing reliability with good resources for cold weather and increasing overall physical available generation.
  • Managing the financial aspects of energy market purchases by hedging against natural gas and power scarcity pricing, and avoiding excessive retail energy prices like we saw in Texas this past winter.

Implementing an effective strategy at Great River Energy will assure that Stearns Electric’s reliable energy and competitive pricing will be sustainable well into the future.

During the planning session we had good discussion on distribution system infrastructure and reliability, technology, member engagement, rates and power supply, employees, load growth, economic development and safety.

In the coming months, the Cooperative’s board of directors and leadership team will take the items identified as priorities in the strategic planning session and set short- and long-term initiatives and action plans for the Cooperative. Fulfilling our mission continues to serve as our top priority: to safely provide competitively priced and reliable electric service, beneficial energy solutions and a positive member experience.

Thank you for your continued support of your Stearns Electric Board of Directors and employees, and thank you for your continued participation in your Cooperative.


Robin C. Doege