Unlike investor-owned utilities, electric co-operatives are owned by those they serve. Electric cooperatives are non-profit, with any profits allocated to the members as capital credits, which are based on patronage and returned over time. Because they are locally owned, electric cooperatives are community-focused organizations that deliver safe, reliable and affordable energy to the consumer-members they serve.
of the nation’s landmass
Electric co-ops rank
in member satisfaction
While co-ops serve the fewest number of people, our electric lines cover more than 56% of the U.S. landmass. This is because we provide power where others once refused to go because of the low population density.
Electric co-ops consistently rank highest in member satisfaction among the 3 types of utilities: co-ops, investor-owned and municipal/publicly-owned. We believe this is because we serve consumer-members, not customers. We are neighbors serving neighbors.
The 7 Cooperative Principles
Voluntary & Open Membership
Co-ops are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
Democratic Member Control
Co-ops are organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-ops, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote).
Member Economic Participation
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-op. They usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing the co-op, setting up reserves, benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-op, and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
Autonomy & Independence
Co-ops are self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-op autonomy.
Education, Training and Information
Co-ops provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-ops.
Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Co-ops serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-op movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.
Concern for Community
While focusing on member needs, co-ops work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members.