Though the concept of serving “the last mile” is often spoken in the relatively new challenge of delivering high-speed internet to rural Kentucky, electric cooperatives have embraced “the last mile” for generations, and to this day.
Not-for-profit electric co-ops are led by, belong to and were built by the very people they serve, the people on the last mile. Conversely, for-profit utilities generally serve more densely populated areas, an average of 32 customers per mile of electric line. Though co-ops serve an average of only eight consumer-members per mile of electric line, through responsible practices, careful planning and expert management, they provide safe and reliable service to the last mile at competitive rates.
Value and values
The strength and resiliency of electric cooperatives can be traced to proactive maintenance and infrastructure investments. That’s where the value of your co-op’s service is found—in the electric grid.
“It’s a system that’s become so reliable, it’s understandable some people take it for granted,” says Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. A resilient grid utilizes different types of generation—such as coal, natural gas, solar and hydro—to seamlessly work together to provide safe, reliable and affordable power to the last mile of Kentucky co-op members. Yet Perry warns that political forces aiming to dismantle that diverse energy mix “threaten to sacrifice the on-demand reliability and affordability of co-op electric service. Kentuckians deserve a robust discussion before drastic changes are made that could impact future reliability and affordability.”
Kentucky’s electric co-op system is designed and built to withstand high winds, powerful storms, cybersecurity threats and other disruptions. When major outages do occur, such as after February’s ice storm, co-ops work together to help restore power. Your local co-op, local co-op board and local employees respond to needs in your local area, uniquely suited to understand your local community.
The cooperative way
The 26 electric cooperatives in Kentucky serve more than 1.5 million co-op members in 117 counties. Kentucky Electric Cooperatives is the statewide association that publishes Kentucky Living. Co-ops share information and practical advice, pooling their resources to encourage innovation and high standards in safety training, disaster response, communications, technical knowledge, economic development and advocacy.
“We advocate for all co-op members,” Perry says. “Yes, to the last mile.”