Midwest Energy and Thumb Electric are the most recent co-ops to invite their members to join the ACRE (Action Committee for Rural Electrification) Co-op Owners for Political Action® movement. This growing network of member-owners willing to send strong messages to elected officials on important issues plays is vital to the long-term success of electric co-ops and the communities they serve.
Over 30,000 people nationwide now belong to ACRE for Co-op Owners, but there is much more potential for growth since the total number of electric co-op members in the U.S. is about 42 million.
“At all the district meetings last year, we explained to our members what ACRE is, its importance in today’s political process, and the value it brings to their electric co-op,” says Thumb General Manager Dallas Braun on how they decided to launch the program. “We then introduced the concept of ACRE for Co-op Owners and discussed the untapped potential and power of 42 million nember-owners.” What they found, Braun adds, is that interest in the PAC was about 50-50, but what did come out loud and clear was that members were comfortable with rolling out the program if it was strictly a voluntary “opt in” program.
After this feedback, the board decided to make it as easy as possible for members who want to support ACRE by offering several options, including a monthly fee added to their electric bill or sending the money directly to ACRE.
The co-op is starting the roll-out with an ad in Country Lines magazine (May) and a presentation at its annual meeting in June, which includes having an NRECA (National Rural Electric Cooperative Association) representative there to help introduce the program.
Cherryland and HomeWorks Tri-County were the first two Michigan electric co-ops to encourage their members to join ACRE.