Orange County REMC: Member-Owned and Member-Driven

Orange County REMC has always endeavored to provide for its members the best possible service. Belonging to its members affects more than just how the energy provider is run in the present; it also defines what sorts of goals the cooperative sets for the future.

From its founding, Orange County REMC was based on the principle that, through cooperation, rural communities could be granted the same access to power that larger, urban communities already had. Residents of Orange County banded together more than 80 years ago to “provide exceptional value and service” to the rural community. The cooperative was created to be not-for-profit and remains that way to this day. All proceeds continue to go into the upkeep and upgrading of equipment that is needed to provide energy and services to Orange County REMC members. Any extra margins are distributed back to the member-owners in the form of capital credits.

Today, Orange County REMC serves about 8,000 members and maintains over 1,100 miles of line. Throughout the years, new programs and opportunities have been created and operated in the intention of better serving the cooperative’s member-owners. One big project Orange County REMC orchestrated was the formation of Hoosier Energy.2017_07_DS_CoopStock_SolarArray_Source_StCroixElectricCoop_CMYK

Hoosier Energy generates and transmits the wholesale power that Orange County REMC and 17 other electric cooperatives across central and southern Indiana and southeastern Illinois all purchase from. Since Hoosier Energy is owned by electric cooperatives, which are in turn member-owned, it adheres to the same values as the people in our communities do. Hoosier Energy strives to “provide members with assured, reliable and competitively priced energy and services in a safe and environmentally acceptable manner,” as stated on their website. In the pursuit of these ideals, Hoosier Energy is in the midst of creating a more diverse energy portfolio. In 2000, Hoosier Energy was 100% coal-based. Members petitioned to the elected board their wish to see a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly approach to energy generation. Following through on this request, Hoosier Energy set a goal to have 10% of its energy to be renewable by 2025. After the creation of 10 solar arrays across Indiana and Illinois, renewable energy now makes up 7% of Hoosier Energy’s energy portfolio.

With the creation of Hoosier Energy in 1949, Orange County REMC is able to buy energy through a reliable source that observes the same goals that the members have, allowing the cooperative to be even more focused on its members. Orange County REMC has also branched into new terrains in order to better meet the needs of its members, whether it be in the offering of free energy audits, rebates on LED energy efficient lightbulbs and on appliances, or in the new home security program obtainable through Orange County Security.

Energy audits are where an Orange County REMC energy auditor goes to a member’s house and performs multiple tests, including a blower door test, to determine how a household can save money. A report is then sent to the member detailing where their home may be losing money and contains suggestions on how their home can be more energy efficient. For members with high bills, this is a great opportunity to not only find out why their bills are high, but it also gives them the knowledge on how they can remedy it. To learn more about the free energy audits offered by Orange County REMC, click here.

In Orange County REMC’s lighting store, members can log into their account and purchase energy-efficient, LED lightbulbs of various shapes, types, and wattages. LED bulbs use up to 80% less energy than incandescent bulbs and can last up to 25 times longer. In the lighting store, members receive free shipping and instant rebates. This is a great way to not only get lightbulbs, but also to save money and the lower the amount of times one has to climb up a ladder to change dead bulbs.

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Members also have the opportunity to receive rebates when they purchase qualifying equipment, such as heat pumps and water heaters. This program assists members in procuring more efficient equipment that will save them money throughout the years of its usage. More information about this energy and money saving program can be found here.

Orange County REMC also strives to meet its members needs through the availability of Orange County Security. Home security is important to members. Orange County Security offers affordable packages that not only include a security system, but also alarms for fire and carbon monoxide, sensors for glass-break and motion, and also equipment for home automation. Home automation is a great way to make a home more convenient and more energy efficient. The Honeywell system can be programmed to lower or raise the thermostat, depending on the season, while the homeowner is away to lessen energy usage. The system can be timed to adjust the temperature back to a comfortable level before the owner returns home, saving money without the inconvenience of an uncomfortable house. It can also save money by making sure that all of the household lights are turned off when everyone has left.

These programs help members save money and use less energy every month. Their formation and implementation have come about in Orange County REMC’s commitment to meeting member needs. Like cooperatives all over the world, Orange County REMC is led by the Seven Cooperative Principles. First drafted in 1844, these principles form the basis “of the cooperative spirit.” These principles guide Orange County REMC’s daily operations as well as the goals and projects that we set for our future. These goals are listed on Indiana Electric Cooperative’s website.

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership: Cooperatives are open to anyone able to use their services who is willing to accept the responsibility of membership.
  2. Democratic Member Control: Cooperatives are controlled directly by their members. Elected representatives are accountable to membership, and members are expected to participate actively.
  3. Members’ Economic Participation: Members control the capital of their cooperative and are expected to operate as a not-for-profit organization. If there is a surplus in capital, it is used to fund improvements or expansion, or it is credited to members.
  4. Autonomy and Independence: Cooperatives are autonomous, democratic and always controlled by members.
  5. Education, Training and Information: Cooperatives educate and train their members so they will continue to grow and improve. They also inform legislators and the public about the benefits and nature of cooperatives.
  6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives: The cooperative movement is strengthened by collaboration between cooperative organizations. This can happen at the local, national and international levels.
  7. Concern for Community: Cooperatives work for sustainable development in their communities through policies agreed upon by their members.

These principles guide Orange County REMC as it endeavors to serve its members fully. As Orange County REMC continues to serve its members in the oncoming years, we look forward to more opportunities to bring new services and programs to the members that own this cooperative.


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