Mitigating risk, setting rates, understanding power supply, strategic planning, financial decision making, promoting the cooperative business model, gaining insights on political and environmental impacts, and meeting member expectations — these might sound like bullet points pulled from varying co-op employee job descriptions, but there’s one person who’s responsible for all of these tasks consecutively — the co-op director!
Cooperative boards are challenged around the country to discuss the challenges they face daily and into the future, and to plan for those emerging issues, through education, training, and peer-to-peer networking.
Adams Electric seats a board of nine directors, who with the CEO/general manager, meet monthly to review policy, assess rates and receive co-op updates.
While directors are not salaried, they do receive compensation for meetings attended and are reimbursed for travel and training expenses. A member interested in serving as a director must be a full-time resident of the zone they are representing and have been a co-op member for at least one year; and their account must remain in good standing.
Serving as a director goes back to the Seven Cooperative Principles -- one of which is a duty of service to the community. The commitment of a director requires both education and training, another co-op principle put in to action. There are so many questions a director needs to be able to answer, discuss and debate, including decision-making on a $150 million business and setting rates that are affordable yet competitive locally.
There is also a significant time commitment to serving on an electric cooperative board. Beyond the monthly board meetings, which can last up to four hours, there is time at home reading meeting notes and minutes, reviewing board packets, and prepping for meetings. In addition, time is needed to attend committee meetings, trainings, seminars, special events, and statewide and national update meetings.
Directors do earn a per diem and receive travel compensation reimbursements at a mutually agreed upon level. Many times spouses are also able to attend events, other than board/committee meetings, but at the expense of the director.
The board meets monthly for regular board meetings. There is generally a committee meeting that day at 3:30, followed by the board meeting at 4:30 p.m. These meetings are currently held the third Tuesday of the month at the co-op. Each board member also serves on more than one committee and depending on your assignment you could have one to two other committee meetings a month as well.
As for travel and training, the first three years are the most intensive as we require our new board members to earn the Credentialed Cooperative Director certificate. This consists of completing five courses. You can take these online or travel to various training classes. It will depend what best suits your schedule. Some of these classes are offered in conjunction to other co-op events.
Additionally, most directors attend at least two statewide conferences and one or two national conferences a year. These average three to five days, depending on travel.
All directors also agree to an ACRE commitment, and a compensation and expense plan. This would be explained in more detail if elected.