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 "What's a cooperative anyway?"  "What's the difference between an electric co-op and an investor-owned utility?" "How can I find out more about electric co-ops?"  Why do cooperatives call their customers member-owners?  What's a G&T co-op? What does NRECA stand for? What role does a statewide association play in relation to co-ops?

America's Cooperative Electric Utilities The Nation's Consumer Owned Electric Utility Network

Electric cooperatives are:

private independent electric utility businesses,


incorporated under the laws of the states in which they operate,


established to provide at-cost electric service,


owned by the consumers they serve,


governed by a board of directors elected from the membership, which sets policies and procedures that are implemented by the cooperatives’ professional staff.

Distribution cooperatives deliver electricity to the consumer. Generation and transmission cooperatives (G&Ts) generate and transmit electricity to distribution co-ops. In addition to electric service, many electric co-ops are involved in community development and revitalization projects, e.g., small business development and jobs creation, improvement of water and sewer systems, and assistance in delivery of health care and educational services.

Statewide Associations
In 38 of the 46 states in which electric cooperatives operate, statewide associations provide a unified voice that speaks to the general public, regulatory bodies and state legislatures on behalf of their members. These associations are voluntarily supported, governed by representatives of the member cooperatives and offer commonly desired services. Thirty-two statewide associations publish newspapers or magazines for the co-op consumer-owners, reaching more than six million readers each month.

National Representation
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) represents the national interests of cooperative electric utilities. NRECA provides legislative, legal and regulatory services; and programs in insurance, management and employee education, training, consulting, public relations and advertising. NRECA and its member cooperatives also support energy and environmental research and administer a program of technical advice and assistance in developing countries around the world.

Cooperative Businesses
More than 100 million people are members of 47,000 U.S. cooperatives, enabling consumers to secure a wide array of goods and services such as health care, insurance, housing, food, heating fuel, hardware, credit unions, child care and utility services.


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