NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Electric cooperative leadership grounded in the seven co-op principles will be key to serving members, building communities and creating a successful future, NRECA CEO Jim Matheson said at the kickoff of 2023 PowerXchange.

“Today, we’re called to do more for our members than ever before,” Matheson said Monday at the association’s annual meeting, which attracted more than 9,000 electric co-op representatives. “More is expected of us…to serve the entire community with quality and consistency. It’s time to lead.”

That leadership includes meeting the needs of members and their communities through safety, infrastructure, technology, resilience, reliability, cybersecurity and broadband, he said.

“Electric co-ops have the knowledge and the tools to do more for our members than at any point in time since we turned the lights on,” Matheson said. “We have the trust of our members and the support to make crucial new investments in our communities. It’s a big job—a job for leaders. Who better to take on that responsibility than us?”


That’s because the electric co-op model and the seven cooperative principles produce “a special kind of leadership,” he said.

“We want our accomplishments to outlive us,” said Matheson. “We truly and deeply care about our communities. And cooperatives, like no other businesses, thrive on true and selfless leadership.”

To remain durable, co-ops take the long view and are investing in strong and able leadership now, he said. Nationwide, co-op boards prepare new directors for governance, managers constantly develop new skills and train their workforce, and co-ops look for partnerships to benefit their members and strengthen their community.

“We’re always thinking about who will take the baton from us,” Matheson said. “Why do we invest so much across this cooperative network in preparing for the future? Because long after we’re gone, we know our cooperatives will continue to be vital to the communities we serve. Long after we’re gone, people will still depend on the co-op.”

He underscored how co-op leadership is committed to delivering reliable and affordable electricity to all members.

“We keep our promise to the entire community and everyone in it, whether they know or care who we are and what we do,” he said. “We’re always there for them. That is reliability.”

“No one else does business this way, but we do it without hesitation,” he said.

“Our common purpose is our cooperative identity. Your workforce connects to it. Communities respond to it, unite behind it and trust it. You live it; that’s why thousands of you are here. We see the world through a different lens. This is a cooperative movement. This is a cooperative moment. This is the time for us to lead.”

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