In the eye of the storm

By Baynard Ward, PowerSouth Communications Manager

As I write this column, Hurricane Michael has devastated parts of the Gulf Coast. Michael is one of many hurricanes that have challenged us with unexpected changes and devastation.  There will likely be more in the future. When a hurricane is being tracked, we hear about the eye of the storm, typically a calm center around which the stormy bands circulate.

In many ways, your local electric cooperative is that calm center. They are at their best when things are at their worst. In a 2018 survey of more than a dozen Alabama and northwest Florida cooperatives, members overwhelmingly rated their cooperatives as trustworthy.

A central reason is the employees of each electric utility — whether a lineman replacing a downed pole or a customer service representative answering the phone — will work tirelessly to provide reliable electric service and to repair any power outage as quickly and as safely as possible.

They leave their own families at home to go and take care of yours. They keep going as long as the safety guidelines allow. They do everything within their power to restore yours.

The people who work at your local electric cooperative and the people at PowerSouth are committed to providing you with reliable, safe and affordable electricity.

One of the factors that also strengthens trustworthiness is resilience. We can trust resilient people. They recover quickly following a crisis, expected or unexpected. Resilient organizations, like cooperatives, overcome difficulties and adapt, learning from the challenges they faced.

Electric cooperatives have resources and support systems to deal with a challenge, like a power outage, and stay the course for a positive outcome. They focus on providing 24/7 reliable electricity, while quickly and safely restoring service if something happens. They are focused on service.

Cooperatives care for the communities they serve

Another reason people trust cooperatives is the commitment to local communities. From scholarships for students to strengthening the local economy, members understand that their local cooperative is committed to the community. Their cooperative is owned by the people in that community. Their success is the cooperative’s success.

This was underscored by the 2018 survey results. Members voiced similar positive perceptions of the cooperatives’ overall management, the way the cooperative shows concern for its members and of how well their cooperative functions as a member-owned company.

Their responses praised their cooperative’s employees, specifically on how knowledgeable and competent, as well as how friendly and courteous they are.

These are the qualities that propel us forward. These traits are why survey satisfaction scores ranked PowerSouth cooperatives overall higher than the national co-op average, investor-owned utilities, and popular brands such as Apple.

They are the characteristics you hope to find in the eye of the storm.