Celebrating Co-op Month

Graphic of a fall landscape with the headline "Join us in Celebrating Co-op Month

Our identity as a cooperative is important to us. It’s why we take time each year to celebrate the communities, employees and members who have helped shape the way we provide energy services to southwest Kansas. This October, we invite you, our member, to help us share the cooperative spirit throughout our communities. Whether it’s by attending co-op events, supporting our local businesses or letting your voice be heard, your contribution will empower the cooperative for years to come. Join us in celebrating National Cooperative Month the following events:

Senior Center Lunches:

The bill is on us! Join us for a free meal at the following locations!

  • Oct. 17 noon, Rolla
  • Oct. 18 at 11:30 a.m., Hugoton
  • Oct. 19 at noon, Satanta
  • Oct. 25 at noon, Richfield
  • Oct. 26 at noon, Ulysses

Chamber Coffee:

Oct. 27 at 10 a.m.

Catch up with friends over a cup of coffee and a spread of sweet and savory treats at the Grant County Chamber Coffee at 10 a.m. in the Pioneer Electric Lobby in Ulysses.

The Co-op Difference: The Seven Cooperative Principles

Each October, we celebrate the cooperative difference during National Cooperative Month. But the question still bubbles up, “What exactly is the cooperative difference?” On the outside, Pioneer Electric may just seem like another utility. We build line, distribute electricity and in return you make a payment for your usage. However upon further inspection, your cooperative is much more. It is a collection of members and cooperative employees working together for one common goal. To empower our communities in southwest Kansas. To accomplish this, Pioneer Electric must follow seven principles in order to be recognized as a cooperative. In the end, the cooperative difference is nothing more than a matter of principles.

Open membership

Pioneer Electric is proud to provide an equal opportunity for membership to all. Each person who signs up for electric service is treated with the full respect as a new cooperative member-owner. They receive the same benefits, same quality of service and are granted a voice in how they choose to be represented on our board.

Democratic control and total independence

As a cooperative member, you hold the power to shape your cooperative. Every year, members vote for who they want to represent their districts at our annual meeting. Each member is given one vote, which they can then cast either in person or through proxy.

In addition, Pioneer Electric actively seeks your feedback through surveys, our annual meeting and other outreach opportunities. It is then actively shared with your elected board of trustees, and together they shape the rules and regulations that define Pioneer Electric. This allows the cooperative to act autonomously to meet members’ needs and not take influence from outside organizations.

Membership benefits

Every Pioneer Electric member is provided with a toolkit of services to ensure they receive the most out of their membership. Services including paperless billing, automatic payments and the SmartHub mobile app are available to help members customize their cooperative experience.

Being a Pioneer Electric member also gives you access to numerous discounts through the Co-op Connections program. This program allows members to receive great savings at a variety of local businesses. It’s completely free, requires no subscription and is usable nationwide for additional discounts. Visit connections.coop for a full listings of discounts.

Finally, your contribution to your cooperative is partially returned back to you in the form of capital credits at the end of each year. Being a not-for-profit organization, any capital generated by Pioneer Electric is distributed back to our members.

Education

Being a member-owner, it is vital for you to stay informed on the well-being of your cooperative. Whether it’s through face-to-face interaction at our annual meeting, articles in this publication or posting on our website and social media pages, open communication is accessible to all members. It gives you the knowledge of how your cooperative is performing and informs you of its accomplishments throughout the years.

Education doesn’t end at informing our current membership. It extends to actively searching for opportunities to reach the next generation co-op members. Accessible electricity has become so seamlessly integrated into the lives of our youth, that it is our goal that they harness it to its full potential. Opportunities like Safety Fest, poster contests and other youth programs gives us the opportunity to plant the seeds of safe electrical usage. It is a chance to remind this generation of the importance of conservation, safety and the power of a cooperative membership.

Cooperation and community

What truly sets your cooperative apart from other businesses is its concern for the community. Pioneer Electric was developed not to make money, but to provide the people of southwest Kansas with safe, dependable electricity and work to improve the lives of our member-owners. After all, we’re not just employees at your cooperative we are your friends, family members and neighbors too.

Pioneer Electric is proud to provide financial support through programs developed by your elected board of trustees. The H.U.G.S. (Helping Us Give to Society) program has supported numerous local projects over the years. Also, member contributions in our round-up program (Pioneer Electric Area Round-up) has helped give a helping hand to individuals in our service territory to recover from unexpected tragedies. Pioneer Electric is also proud to support local youth by providing scholarships to further their education, in hopes that they will bring these skills back with them and grow our communities.

Supporting our members also includes active community involvement, by holding tailgate parties, stopping for lunch at our area senior centers, supporting our local fairs and more. It’s through working together with the communities we serve, that Pioneer Electric is what it is today. Your contributions to your co-op have acted as a constant force providing inspiration for us to do our very best. We are your electric cooperative, and we promise to never forget that.

 

Guarding Your Identity

Identity theft can occur to anyone, from an infant to an individual who has passed. Each day thieves look for opportunities to use the identity of others for their own needs. That’s why Pioneer Electric is committed to combating scammers as best as we can. However, catching a scammer is easier said than done. It takes teamwork between the cooperative and members to ensure that no one falls for their tricks.

A common scam is targeting cooperative members and demanding payment through a credit card or money transfer. The scammer calls the member, threatens to shut off their electricity due to late payment and then demands payment in a specific method. These types of calls can occur throughout the day and even outside of Pioneer business hours. If you ever receive a strange call, don’t be afraid to report it to your local police and to Pioneer Electric. By having an idea of who the scammers are targeting, what they are demanding and how they are asking for it helps us ensure that we properly alert other members.

Additionally, a thief may try to compromise your identity. NEVER disclose any type of personal information unless you’ve initiated the call with a reputable number. Even innocent sounding questions can allow a scammer to gain enough information to cause serious damage. A thief may take money from your account, make purchases with your credit/debit card, take out a loan or open accounts under your name, usually without your knowledge. Once the theft occurs, it is a long, difficult and potentially expensive road to recovery.

Your safety and security are important to Pioneer Electric. We work hard to ensure that our members are educated of all scam attempts reported by our members. However, it comes down to you to safeguard your information. By taking an extra effort to be cautious you can help ensure that your identity remains safe. Here are some helpful tips to keep your information out of the hands of others:

  • Report lost, stolen or compromised credit or debit cards to the issuers immediately.
  • Only use payment options outlined by utilities or companies that you hold service with.
  • If you are unsure of the legitimacy of a call, hang up and look for a direct contact number of the utility or service provider.
  • Don’t give out personal information (such as credit card numbers, addresses, account numbers, social security information or banking information) over the phone, unless you have initiated the phone call to a trusted company.
  • Be skeptical of “special promotions” or “deals” offered by callers. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Monitor the amount of money in your savings and checking accounts. Many banks have access to mobile banking, text alerts and other tools to help keep a watch on your money.
  • If you ever have questions regarding the well-being of your Pioneer Electric membership, don’t hesitate to reach out and contact Pioneer Electric.