• Electric co-ops are privately owned businesses established to supply electricity to their member-owners.
• Electric co-ops are owned by the people who use the power the co-op provides. Its customers are also its owners.
• Electric co-ops operate on a not-for-profit basis, with excess margins
returned to the consumer either in the form of patronage capital or in
• Electric co-ops are governed by a board of directors elected from among the membership.
• Any member may run for the board and all members are asked to
participate in an annual membership meeting at which board members are
• Electric co-ops adhere to the seven guiding principles of all
cooperatives: Voluntary and open membership, democratic member control,
member economic participation, autonomy and independence, education,
training and information, cooperation among cooperatives and concern for
Seven guiding principles of a cooperative:
1. Voluntary and Open Membership
Cooperatives 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.
2. Democratic Member Control
Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled
by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and
making decisions. The elected representatives are accountable to the
membership. In primary cooperatives, members have equal voting rights
(one member, one vote) and cooperatives at other levels are organized in
a democratic manner.
3. 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 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 cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of
which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to
their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other
activities approved by the membership.
4. Autonomy and Independence
Cooperatives are autonomous, 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 cooperative autonomy.
5. Education, Training, and Information
Cooperatives provide education and training for their
members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can
contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They
inform the general public, particularly young people and opinion
leaders, about the nature and benefits of cooperation.
6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and
strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local,
national, regional, and international structures.
7. Concern for Community
While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for
the sustainable development of their communities through policies
accepted by their members.