What is an electric cooperative?
An electric cooperative is a consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric
power provider. Each ratepayer/member gets one vote
and has an equal ownership interest in the cooperative
with all other members.
Why were electric cooperatives formed?
In the 1920s and 1930s, large power companies refused
to extend service to farmers and rural areas. In
order to extend power to rural America, Congress
and the President passed and signed the Rural Electrification
Act in 1936.
This act authorized locally-owned cooperatives to
borrow money from the federal government to provide
electric service to themselves at cost.
How many electric cooperatives are there in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin’s 24 electric distribution cooperatives serve
about 257,600 farmers, residences, and businesses
in the state.
Nearly one out of every ten electric consumers in
Wisconsin is an electric cooperative member.
Nationally, 900 electric cooperatives serve nearly
How is the cooperative governed?
Each year the members of the cooperative elect directors
to serve on the board of directors. The board of
directors oversees the operation of the cooperative
and hires a CEO to run the day-to-day operations.
How are electric cooperatives regulated?
Electric cooperatives are regulated by their locally
elected board of directors, subject to federal Rural
Utility Service regulations, if applicable, and
to all applicable state and federal laws, regulations,
Who can run for director?
Any member in good standing can run for the cooperative’s
board of directors. Please consult the by-laws of
your particular cooperative for details.
If I have a complaint, question, or suggestion for
the cooperative, what do I do?
First, call the member services representative at
your cooperative headquarters. Most questions or
complaints can be resolved by talking with your
member services representative or by discussing
the issue with the manager/CEO.
If your question or complaint is not resolved by
the staff of the cooperative, you may call a member
of the board of directors.
Also at each annual meeting of every electric cooperative,
there is a time set aside for questions, comments,
or suggestions. Some cooperatives use a “question
box” for people who wish to remain anonymous,
or they may have an “open mike” period
for questions and comments.
The important thing to remember is that the cooperative
is governed by you and your elected representatives
on the board of directors.
What are cooperatives doing to promote energy conservation
and renewable energy?
Electric cooperatives operate some of the most successful
and effective load management programs in the state.
This delays the need for expensive new power plants,
keeping costs down for members.
In addition, many cooperatives are building wind
generation, anaerobic digesters, landfill methane
gas generators and use clean, renewable hydro-power.
All of Wisconsin electric cooperatives exceed the
states renewable portfolio standard law which specifies
minimum amounts of renewable power utilities and
co-ops must supply.
What else do electric cooperatives do?
Wisconsin electric cooperatives donate
to hundreds of local events, charities, and community
projects. They provide hundreds of thousands of
dollars in scholarships to rural young people and
in youth activities and education.
In addition, electric cooperatives aggressively
work to expand and attract businesses to the areas
they serve, increasing employment and the tax base,
which helps everyone in the community. Electric
cooperatives lend millions of dollars to help expand
local businesses and to attract new ones.