The Power of Membership
Your electric cooperative is different than almost all other companies with which you do business and also very different than utilities that operate for profit. First, electric cooperatives are non-profit corporations owned and governed by their members – the people they serve. Member-owners provide capital to operate the cooperative and share in any excess earnings that may be available after the cost of normal operations are paid and investments in the electric system and the economic well-being of local communities is made. The excess earnings are distributed in the form of capital credits which makes a member not just a consumer or customer, but an owner.
Members of cooperatives participate through a democratic process in electing members to serve on the board of directors and in approving changes to the governing Bylaws or Articles of Incorporation. The board of directors establishes policies and sets rates that affect the entire membership. Rates are set as low as possible because there are no hidden fees and no built-in profits for shareholders or investors – either locally or across the country. Through a locally-elected board, constant communication with the membership and opportunities for involvement, cooperatives give members a seat at the table.
When the electric cooperative movement began in the 1930s, neighbors banded together for the common good. That philosophy continues today. People who know and live in your community – and may even know you personally – resolve service and billing questions. Your local electric cooperative is a socially responsible organization that cares about the people it serves. Because your cooperative is a local business – owned by its members and staffed by local professionals – it listens and responds to your needs.
The relationship you have with your cooperative is special and one no other electric utility can offer. As a member of an electric cooperative, you are far more than just a customer. You are a member and an owner. You belong. You are part of making a difference.
The seven guiding principles under which cooperatives operate are: voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; members' economic participation; autonomy and independence; commitment to education; training and information; cooperation among cooperatives and concern for community.