PRECO Celebrates the 7 Cooperative Principles
October is National Cooperative Month.
Every October since 1930, not-for-profit cooperatives of all kinds have recognized National Cooperative Month as a way to educate the public about how co-ops work and to appreciate their many members. These concepts lead electric co-ops like Peace River Electric Cooperative to do business in a better way every single day. Here are real-life examples of how the principles affect your cooperative.
1: Voluntary and Open Membership
A co-op is open to anyone who is able to use its services. This means any person who moves onto PRECO lines is allowed membership. Annual meetings serve as a way for members to get to know the people who run their co-op, and it’s where members are updated on business matters. Every year in March, PRECO holds its Annual Membership Meeting.
2: Democratic Member Control
Members vote for a Director who represents them on a board, which governs the cooperative. Each year, three of the co-op’s nine Directors are elected at District Meetings held at a location within the district.
3: Members’ Economic Participation
Because electric cooperatives are owned by its members, they do not create profits for faraway stockholders. Any excess revenue—called “margins”—is allocated back to the membership in the form of capital credits. Capital credits are “retired” and then paid back to members based on their purchases (in the case of electric cooperatives, electricity) from the co-op. Margins are used by the co-op as working capital for a period of time, then paid back to individual members.
Over its lifetime, PRECO has paid out more than $19 million in capital credits to members. Your Board of Directors, who is charged with the task of ensuring the co-op’s financial stability, determines when and how much to retire in capital credits.
Allocating and retiring excess revenue to members distinguishes electric co-ops from municipal and investor-owned utilities. PRECO is proud to support our communities by putting money back into the local economy—and back to those we serve. It makes our business model unlike any other.
4: Autonomy and Independence
Electric cooperatives form a vast network across America. There are more than 900 electric co-ops in 47 states. Each one is autonomous and independent.
Regardless of any relationship with other businesses or government entities, our members are the sole owners of PRECO. Our member-elected Board of Directors makes sure that it stays that way.
5: Education, Training and Information
Cooperatives have a charge to keep their members informed—not just about cooperative business, but also about topics like energy efficiency, safety and community support. For example, the Florida Currents magazine is one way PRECO keeps members up on appropriate news and events. You can also stay informed via our website, Facebook and Twitter.
6: Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Even though co-ops are independent entities, they still rely on one another to share resources, information and, occasionally, personnel.
Electric co-ops have long relied on one another to get power restored more quickly after severe weather emergencies by maintaining “mutual-aid agreements.” When Peace River Electric needs more boots on the ground after a major storm or hurricane, co-ops from neighboring towns and states help out. And when neighboring co-ops need assistance, PRECO sends crews to them. By calling in other co-ops to repair lines after a major storm, we get the power back on much faster than we could on our own.
7: Concern for Community
Possibly the most visible of all the cooperative principles, the last is what drives electric co-ops to be good stewards of the communities they serve. PRECO undertakes a variety of projects, from supporting local charity fundraisers to conducting school safety programs and supporting high school sports.
While PRECO’s main priority is delivering safe, affordable, reliable electricity to those we serve, we also feel strongly about supporting and contributing to the development of our communities.