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The Power of Cooperative Membership

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How Your Electric Cooperative Works

What is an Electric Cooperative?

Coastal Electric Cooperative is a different kind of business. Unlike most other businesses, your Co-op is locally owned and controlled by its members and is characterized by the various membership benefits we provide.

Members are Owners

Anyone who gets electricity from Coastal Electric Cooperative becomes a Co-op member. Co-op membership is unique in many respects. Members don't just purchase electricity, they partake in the services provided for the member and have access to experts willing to assist the member in making the best energy decisions. Co-ops have a commitment to their members to provide service over profits, while remaining competitive and operating efficiently. Co-ops are also locally controlled. The one membership - one vote system offers the opportunity for members to participate in the decision-making process of the Co-op and members are encouraged to attend the Co-op’s annual meeting and participate in the cooperative process.

Guided by Members

The Co-op’s Board of Trustees is elected by its members and have the responsibility of running the Co-op in the member's overall best interest. The board hires and authorizes a CEO to manage the operations of the Co-op. The Board stays current with trends and events that are affecting the Co-op and are responsible for communicating with Co-op members to ensure that their needs are met. Co-op members themselves can also have direct input through member advisory committees, or by offering suggestions to the Board of Directors, CEO and staff.

Profits Returned to Members

On the surface, the Co-op looks very much like any other local business. However, unlike other business, any profits generated by the Co-op are returned to members, proportionate to the amount of energy purchased from the Co-op during the year. These excess profits, called capital credits, accumulate as equity in each member’s share account, so the more energy a member purchases, the greater his or her equity can become. At the discretion of the Co-op’s Board of Trustees, a percentage of a member’s equity may be returned to the member in the form of a cash refund or credit. In either case, the money stays in the community to be used and reinvested.

What is the Cooperative philosophy?

Coastal Electric Cooperative is guided by seven internationally recognized principles, detailed here. These Seven Cooperative Principles resemble those adopted by one of the world’s first cooperatives in Rochdale, England in 1844.