What is the Cooperative Model?

Being a member of a cooperative is a special thing. Electric cooperatives are different from investor-owned utilities. Members of a cooperative are also owners and receive a wide range of benefits.

  • Mission focused: Electric cooperatives were established to provide safe, reliable, and affordable power.
  • Members, not customers: Cooperatives are unique businesses because they are owned by their members. This means that members have a voice in how the cooperative is run. They elect the co-op’s board of directors and have the ability to run for a seat on the board themselves. Member votes and participation help shape the direction of the cooperative.
  • Co-ops are not-for-profit: Unlike investor-owned utilities, which are operated to make the most profits for shareholders, electric cooperatives do not earn profits. Instead, any margins (revenue remaining after all expenses have been paid) are returned to members in the form of capital credits
  • Local, community-focused businesses: Because they are owned by the members they serve, electric cooperatives have a strong commitment to their local communities.
  • Guided by a set of principles. All co-ops operate according to the same set of Seven Cooperative Principles: voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; members’ economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training, and information; cooperation among cooperatives; and concern for community. These principles guide every decision made by the co-op.