By and large, we don’t get to choose who provides our electric service. Folks on opposite sides of the road may be served by different electric providers, some by a stockholder-driven investor-owned utility, others a city-owned municipal electric system. We are a not-for-profit electric cooperative owned by you and your fellow members.
But there’s one major difference between these entities. Every home or business that receives power from an electric cooperative—18 million in 47 states—owns a portion of the utility. As a result, anyone who receives cooperative electric service becomes a member and consumer, not a customer. Across the nation, electric co-ops serve more than 42 million people.
Being a member of a cooperative matters. United Electric Co-op (UEC) doesn’t exist to make profits for distant investors on Wall Street. We exist to provide you with safe, reliable, and affordable electric service—and doing so in a way that raises the quality of life in our communities. Because electric co-ops operate on a not-for-profit basis, they have no need to increase revenues above what it takes to run the business in a financially sound manner. This structure helps keep your electric bill affordable.
Membership also matters because electric co-ops care about improving the quality of life in the areas they serve. From donating to local school districts and city parks to taking donations for the local food bank or providing coats mittens and stocking hats to the Christmas Council, United Electric Co-op invests in local communities where you live and work.
Membership matters because it entitles you to certain benefits like free energy audits that help you find ways to lower your electricity use, or college scholarships for your children. You receive the Ruralite magazine because you’re a member of an electric cooperative that wants you to stay abreast of important co-op news and events.
Membership matters because you have a voice and a vote in how your co-op is governed. Through democratic control, members like you elected me and others from our co-op to serve on the board of directors. Control stays in local hands. Your board of directors, along with those who work for your co-op, are your friends and neighbors.
Membership matters because you receive returns on your investment in your co-op. Electric co-ops aim to operate at-cost, so any excess revenues, or margins, are returned to members in the form of capital credits, based on their electric use.
The bottom line: Membership matters because you matter to your electric cooperative.