As an electric cooperative, our top priority is always to provide reliable, affordable energy to you, the consumer-members we serve. Because we are a co-op, our mission is to enrich the lives of our members and serve the long-term interests of our area –– and this mission has never been more critical than in recent months. One of the seven principles that guide all co-ops is "concern for the community." To us, this principle is the essential DNA of Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, and it sets us apart from other electric utilities.
October is National Co-op Month, and electric cooperatives across the country highlight the many ways we "Power On." Keeping this theme in mind, we recognize the essential role we play in serving a particular community like ours.
Who would have fathomed in March that the COVID-19 virus would test our community and our nation? The changing circumstances due to the pandemic have created both challenges and opportunities. Over the past several months, our challenge is to operate differently, and UCEMC has stepped up to help our members and strengthen the safety net for our more vulnerable neighbors.
As an essential service, and to ensure the reliability of your power supply, we modified our operations to safeguard business continuity. Our line crews and other employees began working on staggered schedules to maintain separation. Some staff worked remotely. In the office, we limited and modified meetings and gatherings to allow for safe distancing. We also adjusted our walk-in office availability and in-person service calls to ensure the health and safety of our employees and our valued members. Also, we held a safer annual "drive-in" meeting this year to keep members informed according to cooperative bylaws. For the health and safety of everyone, we think these measures were the prudent course of action for the times.
For our members impacted by COVID-19 who needed help with their electric bills, we waived late fees and worked with those hardest hit to make special payment arrangements. And while we certainly missed visiting with you in person, we found new ways to stay connected. We tell you about all of these efforts not to boast about UCEMC, but to explain how much we care about this community––because we live here too. We've seen other local businesses rising to meet similar challenges during this time because that's what communities do. While the difficulties caused by COVID-19 are daunting, we're heartened to see how everyone is pulling together.
In 1938, Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation was built by the community to serve the community, and that's what we'll continue to do – Power On.