Strategic Planning - Part Three - Strategy

Eight key questions were distributed on eight tables. Members joined discussions around each table developing suggested answers that were then presented to the full group. Polls were taken to measure member support. Answers were then handed off to the board for further refinement.

Question 1: What are the priorities and values we should use to guide and inform the work of the Co-op Power board and staff?

  • Assure the long-term sustainability (member engagement, financial sustainability, minimal footprint) and success of Co-op Power [full support]
  • Develop and present products & services that add value to members in the areas of energy conservation, sustainable energy production, low income community empowerment [good support]
  • Add something about community-scale, community-ownership, communities doing things, e.g. … build a grassroots self-empowerment network, all products and vehicles should be anchored in local member communities [good support]

Question 2: What types of products, and services and new businesses do you want Co-op Power to prioritize? Guidance for Board and Staff on how to choose.

  • Be a sustainable business - Make a profit (full support)
  • Footprint – minimal greenhouse gases (medium support)
  • Meet community needs (full support)
  • Regional and local resources – materials, labor, energy (full support)
  • Good value for Co-op members (full support)

Question 3: Which communities are most important for us to serve; limited resource communities or wealthier communities?

  • Both (full support)

To be more effective in providing services to limited resource communities, we want to challenge Co-op Power to:

  • Provide or facilitate a public education campaign on fuel assistance which provide good insulation and weatherization programs for lower income people including renters and landlords (regardless of income) [good support]
  • Create grants and fundraising projects (through colleges like GCC, agencies, like organizations on aging or cap agencies, CDC’s, foundation, non-profits, for the MassSave “matching” monies that are currently the homeowners’ responsibility [good support]
  • Encourage investments in limited resource communities – put a donation check off box on bills, and raise money from other sources to create revolving funds to help people pay their utility bills and weatherize [sent to the board for review]

Question 4: Do we want Co-op Power to be opposing the development of products and services that Co-op Power members believe will not help us be more sustainable or just… or do we want Co-op Power to only be an advocate for the things we want.

  • Advocate only (full support)

Question 5: How should we balance the autonomy of a LOC with the shared risk we currently have when we invest member equity in a project?

  • This question needs further thought. We’re not in favor of the Co-op Power board deciding on the answer to this question, but ask the Co-op Power board to develop a proposal and bring it back to the members. It’s important to have clarity on this question.

Question 6: What process do we need to have in place as LOC’s are getting started?

  • LOC’s should be self-organizing with Board oversight and approval. There should be a process where organizers complete an application to start a local organizing council. [medium support]
  • There should be a process where members are notified by the central office when a council is getting organized in their area. [medium support – no objections]
  • LOC’s can be removed or classified as inactive by the Board if they don’t meet minimum requirements created by the Board. [full support – no objections]

This is something that the board should address as we move forward.

Question 7: Moving to a just and sustainable future requires outward changes and personal transitions. What will we lose? What do we need to let go of?

  • Independence
  • Flexibility
  • Individual goals or dreams
  • Comfort and convenience

Co-op Power can help with this transition by naming, recognizing, and acknowledging those losses, by leading us away from our resource intensive culture and bring us to a more community based model.

Question 8: How can we build a vibrant invest-local program to build these sustainable energy resources? Recommendations (full support):

  • Get financial advisor consultants to help LOC’s to tap local investors; get anchor/partner institutions to partner with LOC’s
  • Get technical assistance from successful campaign advisors, to manage successful membership campaigns with built in fundraising for staff/membership support/infrastructure
  • Use crowd sourcing in fundraising and get technical assistance to maximize the visibility of our campaigns to ensure they’re successful

The board of directors will take this direction from members to guide their decisions and create board policies where needed.