Your article in the July 1, 1997 issue of PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY regarding co-ops and competition was very much on target ("Co-ops and Competition: Still a United Front?" p. 16). Our firm spends a significant amount of time providing financial advice to some of the more progressive rural electric cooperatives and have had some association with a few of the organizations mentioned in your article.
We are strongly pro-cooperative. Co-ops continue to provide high-quality electric, gas and other services to significant numbers of Americans, both rural and urban dwellers. Many progressive boards of directors and general managers of cooperatives are striving to bring their members the lowest-cost power available and to prepare for a more competitive environment. However, many others are protecting outmoded organizations, operations and capital structures.
Based on our recent experiences, the differences of opinion among cooperatives regarding how to face competition is splintering the ranks at a time when they need each other the most. From our vantage point, the United States government through the RUS bears significant responsibility, as does the leadership of rural electric cooperatives, all the way from NRECA to many G&T cooperatives.