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Brand reflects electric cooperative difference

By Dennis Hill

Fifteen years ago, North Dakota’s electric cooperatives helped launch a modern national brand for America’s electric cooperatives. The Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives brand has come a long way in that relatively short amount of time. 
Touchstone Energy Cooperatives was pioneered to bring electric cooperatives from across the country together under one brand. Over the years, Touchstone Energy Cooperatives has grown to include 741 co-ops serving 30 million members in 46 states. It is now one of the most recognized and trusted brands in energy.

Throughout its 15 years, the brand has continually evolved to meet the needs of members. Today, Touchstone Energy Cooperatives provides co-ops with more than 50 powerful programs, including award-winning public information campaigns, nationally recognized energy-saving initiatives (visit, economic and business development tools and more. By providing these programs to cooperatives around the nation and here in North Dakota, it helps them focus on what they do best —improving the quality of life for their member-owners and making their communities stronger while delivering safe, reliable and affordable power. 

A recent national customer satisfaction survey points out that Touchstone Energy Cooperatives continues to earn the respect of their member-owners. The first-quarter findings of the American Customer Satisfaction Index found that Touchstone Energy Cooperatives scored best among all utilities with an 83. The index for investor-owned utilities was 77, while municipal electric utilities scored a 76 (on a 100-point scale).

Touchstone Energy Cooperatives set the following four values for electric cooperatives that chose to operate under the brand:

  • Commitment to community: Electric cooperatives are locally owned and operated. Touchstone Energy cooperative board members and employees live and work in the same communities and service territories as their members. As such, Touchstone Energy cooperatives believe strongly in making their communities stronger.
  • Integrity: Touchstone Energy cooperatives are owned by their customers. As such, Touchstone Energy cooperatives operate under the mantra that “our word is our bond.”
  • Accountability: Touchstone Energy cooperatives serve their customers as their owners. Investor-owned utilities exist to provide returns to their stockholders while serving their customers. Touchstone Energy cooperatives serve only one interest: That of their members, and are thus accountable to them.
  • Innovation: Touchstone Energy cooperatives continually improve and evolve to serve the needs of their members, using the latest technologies available to deliver safe, reliable and affordable power. In our state, electric cooperatives led the industry in the use of smart-grid and smart-meter technologies.

Touchstone Energy Cooperatives is a value-driven brand that embodies the way North Dakota’s electric cooperatives have operated for the past 75 years. It precisely portrays that the electric cooperative business model is distinctly different in the marketplace, and it’s a difference that serves cooperative members and the communities in which they live very well.

.Dennis Hill, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, Mandan. Comments can be mailed to Dennis Hill, NDAREC, P.O. Box 727, Mandan, ND 58554-0727 or by email to


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