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What is a Cooperative?

America's Electric Cooperative Network

Electric cooperatives were created when President Roosevelt signed an executive order in 1935 creating the Rural Electrification Administration.

A cooperative is a form of business owned and operated by its patrons. Members of the Cooperative work together for a common goal, and share in the excess margins (profits) of the Cooperative based on their patronage (annual energy charges).

Today there are 834 Distribution and 63 Generation & Transmission cooperatives that serve:

  • 42 million people in 47 states
  • 19 million businesses, homes, schools, churches, farms, irrigations systems, and other establishments in 2,500 of 3,141 counties in the U.S. (80 percent of the nation's counties)
  • 12.8 percent of the nation's population
  • 56 percent of the nation's landmass

To perform their mission electric cooperatives:

  • Own and maintain 2.6 million miles, or 42%, of the nation's electric distribution lines, covering three quarters of the nation's landmass
  • Deliver 11 percent of the total kilowatt hours sold in the U.S. each year
  • Employ 71,000 people in the United States
  • Retire more than $1 billion in capital credits annually
  • Pay more than $1.3 billion in state and local taxes
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