The Cooperative Way

Electric cooperatives are leaders, delivering power and light to 42 million consumers in 47 states—more than 75 percent of the nation’s landmass. Our way of doing business is special because we are owned by the consumers we serve and because we are guided by a set of seven principles that reflect the best interests of our consumers.

In the interest of those they serve, all cooperatives adhere to these seven guiding principles:

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership
    Membership in a cooperative is open to all persons who can reasonably use its services and stand willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, regardless of race, religion, gender, or economic circumstances.
  2. Democratic Member Control
    Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. Elected representatives (i.e. directors) are elected from among the membership and are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote); 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 remains the common property of the cooperative. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing the cooperative; setting up reserves; 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 as well as their unique identity.
  5. Education, Training, and Information
    Education and training for members, elected representatives (directors), CEOs, and employees help them effectively contribute to the development of their cooperatives. Communications about the nature and benefits of cooperatives, particularly with the general public and opinion leaders, helps boost cooperative understanding.
  6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives
    By working together through local, national, regional, and international structures, cooperatives improve services, bolster local economies, and deal more effectively with social and community needs.
  7. Concern for Community
    Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies supported by the membership.