Every October since 1930, not-for-profit cooperatives of all stripes have celebrated Cooperative Month. During this time, it makes sense to highlight the qualities that make electric cooperatives different from other types of utilities and businesses.
For starters, electric co-ops are owned by those they serve. That’s why you are called members, not customers. Without the members who first met in the fall of 1936 to discuss the possibility of an electric cooperative in Benton County, there would be no ECI REC.
Fall 1936 - Representatives meet to
As members, you maintain democratic control of our Co-op, which means you elect fellow members to represent you on the Board of Directors every June at our annual meeting. As a bonus, members receive special benefits through programs like our Co-op Connections® Card. We also return margins to our members in the form of patronage dividends (also called capital credits).
One principle that sets us apart from other businesses is our concern for community. As a cooperative, we have a special responsibility to support the areas in which our members live and work. From sponsoring a local school’s baseball team to supporting new jobs and industry through our economic development efforts, we stand as a driving force in our community.
Of course, co-ops span all industries, including credit unions, dairy operations, health care, housing, and much more. There are more than 29,000 co-ops across the nation. And not all are small or rural. Consider nationally known co-ops like Sunkist, Ace Hardware, and Land O’ Lakes.
Overall, co-ops are more accessible than other types of businesses. We give our members a voice, and we are local—living and working alongside those we serve.
After that meeting in the fall of 1936, Benton County Electric Cooperative Association was incorporated in 1937. Thank you, members, for celebrating 75 years of service with us in 2012. ECI REC is excited to continue our service to members for another 75 years and beyond!