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Editorial: August 2015

Managing superstar status in a time of change


A recent national poll dealing with customer satisfaction provides some good news: Electric cooperatives that live up to the values of the Touchstone Energy® Cooperative brand are called the “superstars” of the electric industry.

That’s an enviable position to hold; one that comes with an increasingly higher standard to meet as our membership demographic changes, the needs of our membership change, and the technologies we use to serve that membership keep changing.

For the past 12 years, the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (NDAREC) has conducted a public attitude survey that measures how the people of North Dakota think of us. Starting with our first survey, the overall results show that RECs are held in high regard with the people of North Dakota and that perception has steadily improved over the past decade. The latest survey in 2014 (see the chart to the right) showed the strongest results yet, when we measured the attitudes of North Dakotans toward electric cooperatives and investor-owned utilities (IOUs).

These results, taken with the results of the 2014-2015 Cooperative Difference

national survey, underscore the importance of the human connection that electric cooperatives bring to the marketplace. This survey was fielded
between October 2014 and February 2015. The study included 78 cooperatives across 21 states with representation from each National Rural Electric
Cooperative Association (NRECA) region across the country. The tagline used in the Touchstone Energy Cooperative brand, “The Power of Human Connections,” confirms that we are the people-driven segment of the industry. Our cooperative delivery model starts with members, who elect directors, who hire managers, who hire employees to serve the 120,000 members who improve their quality of life on a day-to-day basis by purchasing power from an REC.

On these hot summer days when the power grid performs with steady reliability, we can all say thanks to the nearly 700 employees who work for distribution cooperatives and some 2,000 employees who work for the generation and transmission cooperatives. The day-to-day accomplishments of this talented work force keeps the lights on.

The Touchstone Energy Cooperative brand supported by North Dakota’s electric cooperatives operates with four values: integrity, accountability, innovation and commitment to community. By living up to these values, electric cooperatives provide exceptional service to their members, while working to continually improve the quality of life in the communities in which they live.

It’s fulfilling to see the polling prove that we indeed bring the power of human connections to the marketplace.




Dennis Hill, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, Mandan. Comments can be mailed to Dennis Hill, NDAREC, P.O. Box 727, Mandan, ND 58554-0727 or by email