Electric Cooperatives Connect

By: Ivan Segoviano

“I’m sorry, Old Sport. I won’t be making it home for Christmas this year. The EMC over here in Gibson really needs me.” These words over the phone from his father shattered twelve year old Ben Scrooge’s heart. “You do this every year Dad. There are many other available jobs here in Middle Tennessee. Is an electric co-op really more important to you than your own family? I hate you.” At the sound of the clicking line, Ben rushed to his room in a trail of cold tears.

“I’m so sorry sweetie. Your father is just following one of the Seven Cooperative Principles, Concern for Community. Tennessee really needs them right now through all this winter weather. Ben could not hear his mother’s words through his sobbing storm. It was not only full of sorrow but also of bitter hatred directed towards every single electric co-op. “You and Dad say electric co-ops are important, but I don’t even notice the help they supposedly provide. Sharp silence fell over the room. Abruptly, Ben’s mother got up saying, “I understand why you’re angry. It’ll all make sense sooner or later. Just go to bed. It’s Christmas tomorrow.

As Ben lay in the quiet darkness of his room, a warm orange light suddenly illuminated every dark corner of the space. A light bulb-shaped presence with a face and limbs emerged from it saying, “I am the Electric Co-op Spirit of the Past.” Ben turned pale with fear. “Now boy, no need to be afraid. I just want to show you something. He teleported next to Ben’s bedside placing his stubby arm on him. He began to immediately float just like the ghost. Why are you doing this, demanded Ben. The spirit answered, I would just like to clarify something your mother could not.”

They were now in what appeared to be Ben’s living room. His whole family was gathered around the brightly lit trees smiling. It was a past memory. The current Ben shed a teardrop as he watched his old self spend time with his father. “The reason I brought you here was not to bury you in depression but to show you the important role an electric co-op has played in your previous years. That fully functioning Christmas tree you see there would not have been possible without the power that Tennessee’s electric cooperatives provide to more than 1.1 million homes, farms, and businesses. These electric co-ops are owned by the consumers they serve. That said, these cooperatives have been dedicated to providing safe, reliable, and affordable energy because of their history with the locals. So next time you question the help of electric co-ops in your community, remember all the joyful Christmases made possible with the energy gifted by them.”

Ben woke up in a cold sweat. The lighting of the room had switched to a fluorescent green, where a coin-shaped orb materialized from. “I am the Electric Co-op Spirit of the Present, “I am sure my counterpart has already discussed the reason we are here so let us not waste anymore time.” Once again, Ben began to ascend after the specter placed its limb on him.

Ben and the ghost flew to the outside of a bank. Reading the look of confusion on Ben’s face, the spirit explained, “Electric co-ops serve as not-for-profit businesses. This means the current rates are kept low because they do not have to pay stockholders. In fact, they are kept 17 percent below the national average. Any excess revenue is invested back into the electric system. Electric cooperatives also have 2,672 employees who receive $171 million in payroll and benefits. Your family is a prime example of the Middle Tennessee community being presently connected economically with electric co-ops.”

Ben opened his eyes to his bedroom yet again. His clock read 3:00 A.M. From it escaped a blue light that blinded Ben. When he glanced back a clock-shaped essence stared at him saying, “I am the Electric Co-op Spirit of the Future. I am afraid it is almost sunrise, so we must be quick.” At once, the visitant placed its hand on Ben. He felt the same heightening sensation he sensed before.

They traveled to Washington D.C. Ben spotted a group of teenagers walking around with electric co-op t-shirts. “This is one of many examples of electric cooperatives connecting its community with opportunities. Tennessee electric co-ops are giving young people changes to develop their leadership, government understanding, and knowledge about electric cooperatives to grow as individuals. They do this through experiences like the Washington Youth Tour, Youth Leadership Summit, and 4-H Electric Camp. These skills are preparing today’s youth to be tomorrow’s leaders. The future of Tennessee is in good hands with the young people connected to electric co-ops through their various opportunities.”

Ben woke up to the sound of his alarm. It was 6:00 A.M. Despite the fact that his father was not going to be there for Christmas, he did not feel furious anymore. He was in fact grateful. He had never realized how much of a significant role electric co-ops play in connecting Tennessee communities through electricity, economic development, and opportunities to the youth. Having learned this, Ben Scrooge’s anger melted away like the snow on the bright Christmas morning.

If you're interested in participating in the Washington Youth Tour or want to learn how your local school can participate in the program, contact our community relations coordinator.