Three South American Electric Cooperatives and a Texas Electric Cooperative lead the way in actions that fulfill the sixth cooperative principle.
The sixth cooperative principle – Cooperation Among Cooperatives – reads: “Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.”
The brief 6th principle statement makes it clear that cooperation is about unity. Just as member-owners form cooperatives to achieve common goals, cooperatives join forces to work together and help one another when needed.
The sixth cooperative principle was carried out enthusiastically by Magic Valley Electric Cooperative (MVEC), a Texas electric cooperative, when three South American Electric Cooperatives reached out for help when conducting a best practices trip to South Texas.
The three cooperatives COPELEC, CRELL, and SAESA from Chile, along with ENERSYS from Costa Rica, Procetradi from Peru, and ENSA from Panama, spent half a day on May 24, 2019 at MVEC’s headquarters office in Mercedes, Texas, learning about MVEC’s meter distribution network technologies.
“Magic Valley’s meter network technology is powered by ACLARA’s TWACS System, which supplies two-way communication to any meter connected to the network. This technology provides support for demand response and load control solutions; it detects outages and monitors restoration times,” said Rene Saenz, I.T. Manager for Magic Valley Electric Cooperative. “Plus, the system provides real-time communication, allowing us to accommodate our significant population of Winter Texan members with remote connect and disconnect services.”
“This was my second trip to Magic Valley with a group of clients from South America,” said, Rodolfo Tirado, Vice President of ACLARA Latin America. “What is great about MVEC is not only the location, but also their years of experience. They are also one of the biggest cooperatives in North America, which is significant for our customers and, of course, the language. Most MVEC’s employees are bilingual. When we bring people from South America, it’s important for them to be able to ask questions in Spanish, the language they prefer.”
“We’ve learned so much about Magic Valley today: We share the same cooperative principles and history; they truly abide by this principle. They opened their door for us to learn about their TWACS meter technology,” Said Patricio Lagos, COPELEC’s CEO. “One of the challenges for us in Chile is convincing our elected officials that smart technology will benefit us all. At COPELEC, we put our members first, and we know that this technology will benefit our members.”
“We’ve decided that we will be implementing the TWACS meter technology at our cooperative soon,” Said Franco Aceituno, CEO of CRELL Cooperative in Chile “our goal will also include developing an educational piece for our members and community to understand the benefits associated with this technology.”
Cooperatives internationally are alike: they share a vision of community and control over their economic destiny. Co-ops join to get better deals, eliminate duplicate costs, expand services to members, and strengthen the movement as a whole – these are just a few benefits that come from following the sixth cooperative principle.
“In Panama, we are in the process of modernizing our technology systems; we want to learn from others how they implemented their smart meter technology,” said Carlos Chang, I.T. Manager of ENSA. “I want to thank the I.T. staff of Magic Valley. This is the first time we meet, and they have been exceptionally friendly to us.”
“I’ve learned on this trip that in order to implement new technologies successfully in any organization, you must have a dedicated and structured group of knowledgeable individuals in order to capitalize this technology.” said Will Medina, CEO of Procetradi in PERU.
The best practices trip to South Texas by the four South American Electric Cooperatives demonstrates the huge strength of the cooperative business model and its ability to collaborate among its sector, both locally and internationally. With its flexibility, resilience, and focus on putting human capital before financial capital, the cooperative business model generates tangible social, economic, and environmental benefits both at home and internationally.