ORLANDO, Fla.—Phil Carson used his final address as NRECA president to reiterate some of the key themes that defined his two-year tenure: family, community and governance.

"Our co-ops exist for the sake of our communities. Our communities come first," Carson told the thousands of co-op leaders gathered for the NRECA Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida. "We are in the business of providing the quality of life our members need."

He compared the more than 900 electric co-ops that serve 42 million people nationwide to a large family.

"We agree on a whole lot of things, but frankly we don't agree on everything," Carson said. "Our diversity almost guarantees that.

"We listen, we debate respectfully, and then we come to that common ground and move forward. We remain family."

He said since the beginning, co-ops have been "quality-of-life facilitators" not only through provision of electricity but through their concern for community.

He urged co-ops to be vigilant with their core values, emphasizing governance and good practices.

"We must not get tripped up over governance," Carson said, noting NRECA courses, tools and other resources. "Please tend to the fundamentals. We must not misplace the trust put in us."

Carson is NRECA's Illinois director and serves as a board member for Tri-County Electric Cooperative in Mount Vernon, Illinois, and the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives. His term as NRECA president officially ends March 13.

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