What’s An Electric Cooperative?

Learn about our superhero origin story, and how you can be part of the legacy!

Electric cooperatives are not-for-profit businesses governed by the consumer-members they serve. Every consumer-member can vote to choose local boards that oversee the co-op, and the co-op must, with few exceptions, return to consumer-members revenue above what is needed for operation. Under this structure, electric co-ops provide economic benefits to their local communities rather than distant stockholders. Co-ops are committed to serving their communities, and that’s why Michigan’s electric co-ops provide the annual Washington, D.C. Rural Electric Youth Tour at no cost to their member-consumers. Learn more about electric co-ops here:

The 7 Cooperative Principles

These seven concepts are the foundation for every cooperative (and every cooperative leader).

1. Voluntary and Open Membership

Anyone can join (or leave).

The Cooperative Leader:

I can find a common interest with others if I am open to their needs and behave in a way that enables them to cooperate with me.

2. Democratic Member Control

Your voice will be heard.

The Cooperative Leader:

Because I have an equal say in what happens, I listen and I communicate openly and honestly.

3. Member Economic Participation

You control the capital.

The Cooperative Leader:

I keep a close eye on what we are trying to do together and the decisions I make are guided by this.

4. Autonomy and Independence

Together, you are in control of your own future.

The Cooperative Leader:

I help others so that they can help themselves, and they help me in the same way. Together we are more in control of our future.

5. Education, Training and Information

You can develop yourself (and help develop others).

The Cooperative Leader:

I take advantage of education and training opportunities and share my own talents with others.

6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives

You can be more successful by cooperating with others who know how to cooperate.

The Cooperative Leader:

I look for opportunities to cooperate with others in new settings.

7. Concern for Community

You can do something for your community even as you keep succeeding.

The Cooperative Leader:

I am aware that I am part of a larger system and I am committed to doing what I can to make it better.
Adapted from the International Co-operative Alliance “Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade.”