R M | C O O P E R AT I O N photo courtesy Cuivre River Electric Cooperative Cuivre River Electric Cooperative's Patty Williams was one of many co-op employees who worked remotely during the crisis. Electric co-ops took extreme measures to keep employees safe so they could keep the power flowing during the crisis. Co-ops vs. COVID-19 We'll keep the lights on & help with financial difficulties A s difficult as the coronavirus crisis has been, imagine being shut up in our homes with no electricity. Electricity is something we take for granted, using it to literally power our everyday lives. Early on, employees of electric co-ops across the state circled the wagons to ensure the lights stayed on for every member, including those facing financial difficulties. From the day the first line was energized electric cooperatives have made plans to keep that electricity flowing. Those plans provided an excellent starting point to navigate the uncharted waters of a worldwide crisis. These efforts started with the power plants operated by Associated Electric Cooperative and the transmission lines from the six transmission co-ops that wheel power across the state. So vital are these plants and high-voltage lines that there are contingencies for anything that can happen. This includes isolating employees to avoid the risk of infection, closing doors to outsiders and bringing in trailers in case the situation worsened to the point that employees had to stay on site. Meanwhile the distribution co-ops that serve you made their own plans, confident there would 4 RURAL MISSOURI | MAY 2020 be no hiccups in power supply. These plans varied but included increasing levels of concern triggered by events such as positive cases of COVID-19 being reported nearby. Boards - meeting by conference call to avoid exposure - weighed the difficult decision of whether or not to postpone annual meetings. Managers shared solutions to common problems. Unprecedented steps were taken to protect the health of employees deemed essential. Offices were closed to the public. Trucks went home with linemen. Workers practiced social distancing or performed their duties remotely. These are extreme times, and they call for extreme solutions. Know that electric co-ops will keep the lights on - and will work with any member experiencing financial difficulties. We encourage you to reach out to your electric co-op to discuss payment options if you are having difficulty paying your electric bill. Co-op employees also can help you find ways to reduce your energy use and lower your monthly bills. Pay as much as you can in order to avoid accumulating a large bill that will have to be paid when this crisis ends. We are all in this together, but we will get through it together - the cooperative way.