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Co-ops Let Power and Light Shine Through at TEC 75th Annual Meeting

September 1, 2015

Co-op representatives shined a light on the power of coming together at the Texas Electric Cooperatives 75th Annual Meeting Aug. 2–5 in Austin.

"I think anniversaries are important, and I think relationships are important," said TEC President/CEO Mike Williams.

Relationships helped form cooperatives nearly 80 years ago as community members worked together to deliver electricity to their families and friends. At TEC's annual meeting, speakers attested that relationships also are a key to cooperatives' success in the future.

The conference, with 830 registrants, demonstrated TEC's efforts to build relationships among co-op directors and staff, Youth Tour participants, related organizations and competitors. Williams said he hoped the conference would provide co-op staff and board members "the opportunity to learn from your peers."

TEC celebrated its 75th anniversary with a conference program full of learning opportunities. In workshops, co-op professionals learned how to commit to service and adapt to change. In the general session, they listened to fellow leaders and guest speakers discuss how emerging technology, such as solar power, home energy battery storage and smart products, offer opportunities. Additionally, general managers on a panel shared tips on how to manage member complaints, and the audience heard how an organization's culture appeals to the next generation of leaders. TEC members also earned awards for political grassroots participation, and voting delegates elected their peers to the 2015–16 TEC Board of Directors.

In his industry update, Williams showed how the average customer bill of a particular Texas electric cooperative might be affected if they were not a co-op. Therefore, when members, who are mostly concerned about reliability and bottom-line electric bills, ask what co-ops have done for them lately, co-ops can say they save their members money.

Cooperatives also cooperate among one another and take advantage of scale economies for purchases and political power. "Electric cooperatives are as powerful politically as any group in the state," Williams said. "We help each other drive the cost down."

Williams concluded his talk by remembering former TEC General Manager Jim Morriss. He credits Morriss with teaching him—by example—what it means to be a cooperative.

"People will doubt what you say but believe what you do," Williams said, imploring the leaders in the audience to take that lesson home. "True leaders create more leaders. Learn what you can learn from your fellow cooperators," Williams said. "Each of you have great power in this program to lead by example, and that is my hope for you and this program—that we all do this together."

Reinforcing the message of coming together, singer-songwriter Darden Smith concluded the conference with a songwriting session. Audience members told Smith the co-op story, and the musician turned the message into song:

Shine a light, shine a light

Shine a light, shine a light

Let's all come together

Look at all that we can do

Let's all come together

Let the power and the light shine through.