Power to the people and people over profits
Cooperative organizations provide economic, social and cultural benefits for their members that they often wouldn’t be able to get otherwise. Across America, more than 100 million people are members of 47,000 cooperatives, enabling consumers to secure a wide array of goods and services such as health care, insurance, housing, food, heating fuel, hardware, financial services, child care and utility services.
Most electric co-ops were formed in the 1930s and 40s to improve quality of life in rural areas by providing safe, reliable and affordable electricity to local members. At that time, 90% of rural citizens didn't have electricity and the investor-owned utilities at the time weren't interested in serving them. These rural folks worked together to form local member-owned cooperatives and borrow money in the form of low-interest loans from the federal government. By the 1950s, 90% of farms were connected to the electrid grid. Today, more than 99% of rural residents and businesses have access to safe, reliable and affordable electricity.
A co-op exists solely to provide high-quality service at the lowest possible price for its member-owners. Electric co-ops are locally owned and governed, which ensures that they are always focused on community needs and local priorities. Member ownership also guarantees every account holder has a voice in co-op business, which is governed by an elected board of directors who are also members. The board makes decisions to accommodate the best interests of the membership and local directors have a personal investment in assuring the cooperative is meeting the needs of the community.
Electric co-ops power communities and empower members by improving their quality of life.
Owned by the member-consumers we serve, Iowa’s community-focused electric cooperatives power the lives of 650,000 Iowans throughout all 99 counties and are committed to delivering power that is safe, reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible. Built by the communities we serve, Iowa’s electric co-ops have also invested heavily in local economic development for decades.
All cooperatives adhere to the Seven Cooperative Principles:
- Voluntary and Open Membership - Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.
- Democratic Member Control - Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. The elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and cooperatives at other levels are organized in a democratic manner.
- Members' Economic Participation - Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing the cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
- Autonomy and Independence - Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.
- Education, Training, and Information - Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public, particularly young people and opinion leaders, about the nature and benefits of cooperation.
- Cooperation Among Cooperatives - Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.
- Concern for Community - While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members.
IAEC is proud to be part of the Touchstone Energy cooperative network, the largest utility network in the nation. The Touchstone Energy brand represents a nationwide alliance of 750 local, consumer-owned electric cooperatives in 46 states. Championing the cause for lowest-cost, democratically governed energy, Touchstone Energy provides a unified face for hundreds of electric cooperatives across the country that power the lives of 32 million member-owners. Touchstone co-ops gain access to a wealth of advertising stock, education and training tools, member benefit programs, and web development resources. By working jointly, the network of small cooperatives that make up Touchstone Energy generate services that would normally require the resources of a national corporation. Learn more at www.touchstoneenergy.com.