On July 27, the Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives held its first-ever virtual annual meeting. It seems we have gone from one calamity to the next this year in Louisiana, with tornadoes, lawsuits, the COVID-19 pandemic and an active hurricane season.
In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, it was clear the pandemic would change our perception of normal. As concepts such as social distancing first circulated among health officials, electric cooperatives looked ahead to identify an
d confront the possible impacts of COVID-19.
Throughout this new COVID-19 reality, our Louisiana electric co-ops have taken necessary extreme measures to protect employees so they can keep the lights on.
The services they provide are vital across Louisiana in our homes, businesses and
hospitals. Damage from multiple storms and the ongoing impact of the pandemic have
made this a challenging year, but our co-ops have risen to the challenge and served their communities with compassion and pride.
As our co-ops responded to local concerns and circumstances, we at ALEC worked to present a unified front to our political leaders in Baton Rouge and Washington, D.C., and urged them to address the specific needs of our communities and their cooperatives. Working alongside the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, our national trade organization, we informed policymakers about the challenges
faced on the ground in Louisiana.
The pandemic has caused reduced income for many of our member co-ops, but they have responded by helping their communities, working with members on extended payment plans, promoting local businesses and expanding broadband access.
Helping member co-ops accomplish those goals is the ALEC team, which is dedicated to supporting Louisiana’s electric cooperatives through safety training, employee education, member engagement, communications, Youth Tour, community outreach, government relations and legal affairs—anything that helps your cooperative
better serve you and your communities.
It is unclear what the coming weeks, months or years hold, but I am absolutely confident our co-ops will be there serving their communities, leading with compassion, and trying each and every day to do the right thing for their members and their
One of the Seven Cooperative Principles—Concern for Community—
looms large right now in the minds of America’s electric co-ops. It has governed
our response to the pandemic from the beginning, and will continue to serve as our
primary focus as we seek additional ways to help our co-op members. Despite the challenges, our annual meeting was a success. Guest speakers included Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and NRECA CEO Jim Matheson.
Following their presentations, Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange, CoBank and the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corp., presented checks to ALEC. Member co-ops were recognized for their previous year’s accomplishments and involvement in the Action Committee for Rural Electrification.
The annual safety and awards banquet will be held at a later date due to social distancing restrictions.