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The strengths of Oklahoma’s electric co-ops

Chris Meyers

You may have heard the saying before: “alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” It was based on this premise that electric co-ops were born, bringing light to America’s countryside for the first time. Fast forward to 2019, and your electric cooperative is part of a strong network of 900-plus co-ops nationwide. In Oklahoma, 27 distribution electric cooperatives and 3 generation and transmission (G&T) electric cooperatives are the backbone of local communities. Owned by Oklahomans and serving Oklahomans, our state’s electric cooperatives have a strong positive impact in our economy and in the quality of life of rural and suburban communities.

Numbers do tell a story. The collective co-op investment back into local communities and in electric infrastructure communicate a compelling story. Owning and maintaining more than 122,600 miles of energized line, electric co-ops have a larger number of miles of line than any other utility in our state. In fact, Oklahoma’s electric co-ops own and maintain more miles of line than all of the other utilities in the state combined.

Do you know why? Co-ops own the most miles of line because co-ops are the only utility that invested in serving every member, farm or ranch in sparsely populated areas when other utilities did not find it profitable to do so. Electric cooperatives put people before profits.

Co-ops serve more than 643,300 active meters throughout the state and employ nearly 3,000 people. Additionally, every year co-ops collect gross receipts taxes that are distributed to local schools. In 2017, nearly $40,000,000 was distributed. Through the years, hundreds of thousands of local youth have been positively impacted with scholarships, participation in the Rural Electric Youth Tour in Washington, D.C., and in the YouthPower Energy Camp in Oklahoma, to name a few outreach efforts. While some aspects of the electric cooperative program are measurable, others are immensurable, just as the long-lasting impact cooperatives continue to make in many lives. We understand the power our unity brings. We know that together we can accomplish much to serve our valued members. As we press on with our mission, Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives are united with a common purpose: to power the needs of new generations of Oklahomans with our service, talents and resources. The saying is true: alone we can do little, but together we can do so much more.