Cooperative Difference

LEADERS IN RURAL COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE NATION RECOGNIZED THE VALUE OF ELECTRICITY HEADING INTO THE 1930S. THIS BEGAN THE NATION’S ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE MOVEMENT.

About the time the electric co-op movement began, leaders of Indiana Farm Bureau Cooperative Association drafted legislation permitting the formation of nonprofit rural electric cooperatives. To further the benefits of the electric cooperative distribution efforts, Hoosier Energy was formed in 1949 to provide its member systems a dependable, economical power supply.

ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES TODAY

Expansion of electric cooperatives changed the face of the national economy and continues to be a catalyst for economic growth today. Nearly 900 electric cooperatives across the nation are part of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), located in Arlington, Virginia. Touchstone Energy is the national brand for electric cooperatives, supporting cooperatives and their specific needs by sharing information and technology.

CUSTOMER-DRIVEN BUSINESS MODEL

Cooperative businesses are unique because those they serve own the business. Today, electric cooperatives contribute nearly 5 percent of electricity in the United States. Across the country, local cooperatives work together to learn from each other and keep the grid secure as they deliver electricity to 42 million consumer-members. Providing wholesale power to these local cooperatives are generation and transmission cooperatives like Hoosier Energy. Electric cooperatives are community-focused organizations that provide at-cost energy and are led by directors who are elected by members. Cooperatives were built by those living in the communities they served – creating jobs, fueling growth and powering communities.

AMERICA’S ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE FACTS

Electric Cooperatives serve an estimated 42 million people in 48 states through 832 distribution and 63 generation and transmission electric cooperatives. Co-ops provide service in 2,500 of 3,141 counties in the United States, serve nearly 12% of the nation’s meters, and generate nearly 5% of the electricity produced in the United States each year. Co-ops own and maintain 2.7 million miles or 42% of the nation’s electric distribution lines, covering 56% of the nation’s landmass. Co-ops returned more than $1.3 billion in capital credits to member-consumers and generated more than $22 billion + generated in federal, state, and local taxes while powering more than 20 million businesses, homes, schools, and farms.

THE 7 COOPERATIVE PRINCIPLES

The consumer-owned cooperative business model is based on 7 cooperative principles established in 1844 in Rochdale, England.

Open & Voluntary Membership: Cooperatives are voluntary organizations open to all who are willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without regard to gender, social, racial, political, or religious affiliation.

Democratic Member Control: Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. Elected representatives are accountable to the membership.

Members’ Economic Participation: Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. Members allocate surpluses for developing the cooperative.

Autonomy & Independence: Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations. If they enter into agreements, they do so on terms that ensure that they maintain cooperative autonomy.

Education, Training, & Information: Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of the cooperative.

Cooperation Among Cooperatives: Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.

Concern for Community: While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members.

COOPERATIVE AFFILIATES

Indiana Electric Cooperatives

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association