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This month we will drop about 5000 letters in the mail inviting members to join us for one of eight district meetings. Names are selected based on a purely random draw from our billing system. Sadly, based on our 13-year history with these events, fewer than 200 members will respond.

I get it. If any of my utility providers invited me to a dinner meeting, I’d likely pitch the invitation before finishing the opening paragraph. But my providers don’t extend that type of invitation because my opinion doesn’t matter to them, and that’s the difference.

You are an owner of Midwest Energy Cooperative based on the fact that you take electric service from us. That gives you a voice in the life of your utility and a stake in our success. Your opinion matters here.

In many ways, 2017 will be among the most transformational years in our history, and an important time for you to understand what’s going on. While most electric utilities take a very status quo approach to the customer service experience, Midwest Energy Cooperative is pushing the envelope to make sure that our members can access everything that the ever-evolving electric grid is making available.

We’re continuing to make significant investments in our distribution system to improve your reliability and give you more options to manage your service experience. We’re entering the third year of our fiber internet deployment, bringing the gold standard to areas that were previously unserved with any type of high-speed service. Later this year we’ll open a new headquarters that will represent everything your utility of the future is striving to be.

We’re also taking steps to restructure rates so that all members pay an appropriate share of the fixed costs required to make electricity available. You can read more about that on page 17 of this issue.

Midwest Energy Cooperative is anything but status quo, because our members need and deserve more. We will address these transformational changes and the impact on rates and your bill during our 2017 meetings. There has never been a more important time for you to be engaged.

Invitations for our meetings will be mailed early this month. If you do not receive an invitation and are interested in attending, we invite you to sign up on our wait list. We do limit attendance based on the size of each venue, and will contact you if space allows. We’re also adding a daytime session this year that will be live-streamed over Facebook. Follow us at Facebook.com/TeamMidwest to learn more and participate.

Your opinion matters here. That’s the co-op difference.