Cooperatives are Unlike Any Other Utility

October 9, 2020

Electric cooperatives power 56% of the nation’s landmass—from booming suburbs to remote rural farming communities. Stearns Electric Association is among more than 800 distribution cooperatives serving as energy providers and engines of economic development for more than 20 million homes, businesses, farms and schools in 48 states.

Unlike investor-owned and municipal utilities, the purpose of a cooperative—above all else—is to provide reliable and  affordable electric service to its membership. In recognition of National Co-op Month in October, take a look at other ways cooperatives are different from other utilities.

  1. You’re a member, not a customer. Cooperatives are unique because they are owned by you, the member. This means you have a voice in the way we run Stearns Electric. Members elect the board of directors and can run for a seat on the board if they wish to do so. Your vote and participation help shape the direction of the Cooperative.
  2. We focus on service, not profits. Unlike investor-owned utilities, which are operated to make the most profits for stakeholders, electric co-ops do not earn profits. Instead, any margins or revenue remaining (after all expenses have been paid) are returned to members in the form of Capital Credits. Capital Credit returns are based on each members’ years of participation in the Co-op.
  3. We’re local, community-focused businesses. Because we are owned by the members we serve, and because our employees live and work locally, too, electric cooperatives have a strong commitment to our local communities. In addition to providing safe, reliable and affordable power, electric co-ops are involved in local community development programs and projects.
  4. We’re committed to innovation. Because we answer to local members rather than far-away shareholders, electric cooperatives are able to respond quickly to changing member needs. We are committed to experimenting and innovating in ways that benefit the local communities and members we serve.