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Andy Johns

When Hurricane Ian swept across Florida communities at the end of September, restoring power to electric co-op members was a priority for Utility Pioneers...despite many staff members at electric co-ops also suffering damage from the storm. 

“Co-op people are part of the communities they serve. They live where they work, and when storms like Ian occur, they share the same challenges faced by their neighbors,” Peace River Electric Cooperative Communications Coordinator Mark Sellers told NRECA.  

The co-op's service area took a direct hit from the storm, cutting power to 88% of members. “Our staff also knows that life gets a little better for everyone once power is restored and the lights are back on,” Sellers said. 

Pioneer Utility Resources joined a national effort to help staff at all of Florida’s impacted electric co-ops recover from the storm. The communication co-op's staff donations were more than doubled with matching funds from Pioneer, resulting in a combined donation of $5,000. 

The money goes to the Florida Electric Cooperatives Association’s Disaster Relief Fund, which was activated by the statewide association in October.  

“During October we celebrate the cooperative spirit. I can’t think of a better way to mark National Co-op Month than by supporting Florida co-op staff and their families,” Pioneer CEO Michael Shepard says. “These Utility Pioneers banded together to make life better for the people they serve, despite personal losses. Now it’s our turn to help them recover.” 

Pioneer joins other national cooperatives and associations sending funds to assist Florida utility staff. To help, please send donations to FECA Disaster Relief Fund, FECA, 2916 Apalachee Parkway, Tallahassee, FL 32301. Address donations to the attention of Jeff Banka, director of accounting. 


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About Pioneer 

As a communications cooperative created in 1956 by utilities in the Pacific Northwest, Pioneer serves the needs of consumer-owned utilities across the country with offices in Oregon, Missouri and Alabama. 

In addition to magazine and strategic communications services, Pioneer and its service partners Efficiency Services Group and NewsData partner with more than 250 community-owned utilities, broadband providers and state associations to assist with full-service social media, content marketing, broadband marketing and website services along with energy efficiency, electric supplies and focused, independent coverage of Western energy markets. Learn more at 

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