Withlacoochee River Electric Coop building in Dade City, about 15 miles inland from my home. Photo taken God knows when.
Those of you who read old Toritto know that I live in a semi-rural area on the Florida gulf coast north of Tampa Bay. My eldest daughter thinks I live in the boonies. She, her husband and Clark boy live on Florida’s Atlantic coast in Broward County which I think is the equivalent of living in New Jersey.
One of the benefits of living where I live is that I became a member of an electric cooperative. Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative is a non-profit democratic electric company servicing three semi-rural counties.
I must say that my electric bills are significantly lower than those folks unlucky enough get their electricity from Duke Power or Tampa Electric, which are traditional for profit power companies.
In addition to a very long and different name, Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative, Inc., is different from many electric utilities with which you may have been associated. The name Withlacoochee River Electric was chosen in 1941 as a common thread that ran through the Cooperative’s original service area. The title “Cooperative” signifies the non-profit status of the utility.
Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative, Inc., was first organized on August 20, 1941. At that time, a group of far-sighted individuals asked Franklin Roosevelt’s Rural Electrification Administration for a loan to begin construction of an electric system. Just a few days later war was declared and all loans were repealed. After the conclusion of the war in 1945, the loan application was resubmitted and approved.
The first member was connected on April 4, 1947. The first operating report ending on May 31, 1947, reflected sales of 862 KWH at a cost of $0.19 per KWH. Today the Cooperative’s energy sales exceed 200 million KWH per month, at a cost of less than $0.091 per KWH.
Although the numbers have changed considerably the Cooperative principles remain the same today:
- Open Membership – Any person, firm, association, corporation, business trust, partnership, Federal agency, state or local political agency in the service area is eligible for membership.
- Democratic Control – Board of Trustee members are elected by the membership. Each member has one vote. Trustees set policy and employ the General Manager. Trustees serve three-year terms and ballots are cast by mail.
- Economic Participation – As a non-profit organization any funds remaining at the end of the year are returned to the membership through the Capital Credits process and Revenue Rate Reductions. To date, the Cooperative has returned more than $327 million to its member-owners.
Obviously these principles differ greatly from investor owned power companies driven by the need to generate profits for their stockholders. Most of these investors live outside the community and are far removed from the issues faced locally.
Living in Florida my largest use of power is for air conditioning. Without the invention of air conditioning no one would live here save the gators, pythons, armadillos and birds.
Winter heating is much less of a drain. Many homes in Florida built years ago had no heating system at all save maybe a fireplace, particularly south of where I live. Now all do but heat is a much smaller drain on the pocketbook. My home is all electric; there are no gas lines out here.
Remember now, my electric bill includes cooling AND heating in addition to everything else requiring power. Your electric bill is not comparable if you have an oil burner or gas for heating purposes. You must add the two bills together and compare.
At the height of the summer months my monthly electric bill usually runs about $125. This month’s bill, after a really hot month was $121.21
A really cold snap in winter might cost $100,00 for the month. Spring and fall, when air conditioning and heating requirements are much less, brings a bill of under $100.00
In December I usually pay little or nothing thanks to my share of the profits credited against my usage. Profits are divided based on usage levels during the year.
Today there are 63 electric generating and transmission cooperatives operating in the United States and 834 transmission cooperatives which do not generate their own electricity operating in 47 states.
Withlacoochee is a generating and transmission coop which doesn’t have to buy its electricity from other for profit power companies. It is the part owner of a coop generating company.
Seminole Electric Cooperative , headquartered in Tampa, is the Cooperative’s wholesale energy supplier. Seminole is also a not-for-profit Cooperative returning margins to WREC..
Seminole Electric is owned by my Cooperative and eight other electric distribution cooperatives located from the Georgia border to the Everglades. These distribution Cooperatives provide power to more than 1.7 million individuals and businesses across the state through nearly 800,000 meters in 42 counties.
WREC also owns and operates transmission facilities that connect Seminole’s system to Florida’s electrical transmission system.
I have not had a single issue with reliability or customer service in 15 years. After the last hurricane my power was back on the very next day.
So indeed there are benefits to living in the country, Those of you paying $400 a month for power are free to be jealous.
Today in Dade City