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Not just a kilowatt factory: Co-ops provide so much more

by Clarice L. Kesler


More than 20 years ago, electric cooperatives across the nation formed a brand called Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives. Through this brand, cooperatives share resources and promote the uniqueness of electric cooperatives that sets them apart from every other utility.

Electric cooperatives are owned by those they serve, and when the brand began to take shape in 1998, research showed that members of electric cooperatives held their utility in high regard. Results showed cooperatives offered much more than electric service. Co-op members viewed their cooperative as accountable and committed to their communities. They also felt cooperatives operated with a high degree of integrity. Along with that, co-op members liked that their local cooperative also benefited by belonging to a national network which allowed them access to innovative, technologically advanced energy solutions.

And that is how the core values of integrity, innovation, accountability and commitment to community became the core values of Touchstone Energy Cooperatives – from the voices of members who have been served by cooperatives for decades.



Today, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, the only national cross-industry measure of customer satisfaction in the United States, Touchstone Energy Cooperatives consistently rank among the highest for customer satisfaction in the energy utility sector.

This can be credited to the directors who listen to the needs of the membership and govern the cooperative based on those needs. Directors lead the cooperative while keeping local, reliable, affordable electric service at the forefront of their decision-making.

Credit can also be given to electric cooperative employees. Their relationships with members, and their volunteerism, show they are deeply rooted in the communities they serve.

In addition, employees and directors also engage in economic and community development. It is an integral part of their mission. Their work helps members prosper by helping to provide a foundation of services that helps businesses in their communities thrive and grow.

Electric service also gets high marks in reliability, responsiveness and innovation.

Cooperatives are also constantly looking toward the future. Electric cooperatives pool their resources across the nation to research advancements, such as smart grid technology, electric vehicles and other energy solutions.

The core values of Touchstone Energy Cooperatives are not just words posted on the boardroom wall – they are personified in the employees and directors who serve members every day. It is this connection between members, directors and employees that makes electric cooperatives uniquely positioned to provide the best service possible.

There are countless examples of cooperatives supplying excellent electric service and building local communities. Here are a few examples.

Clarice L. Kesler is communications manager for the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives and serves on the Brand Strategies Committee for Touchstone Energy Cooperatives. She can be reached at ckesler@ndarec.com.