Electric Co-op Facts & Figures

From booming suburbs to remote rural communities, America’s electric cooperatives are energy providers and engines of economic development. Electric cooperatives play a vital role in transforming communities.

Learn more below, or download the PDF version of this dataset.

  • Co-ops own and maintain 42% (2.7 million miles) of U.S. electric distribution lines that serve our communities.
  • Co-ops serve 42 million people across 2,500+ counties, including 92% of persistent poverty counties
  • Co-ops power over 20 million businesses, homes, schools and farms in 48 states.
  • In 2019, America’s electric co-ops returned more than $1.3 billion in capital credits to their consumer-members. 
  • 832 distribution co-ops are the foundation of the electric cooperative network. They were built by and serve co-op members in the community with the delivery of electricity and other services. 
  • 63 generation & transmission cooperatives provide wholesale power to distribution co-ops through their own electric generation facilities or by purchasing power on behalf of the distribution members.

Electricity Use and Energy Mix

Co-ops rely on a diverse energy mix to ensure a reliable, affordable and responsible electricity supply that meets the needs of their consumer-members. More than two-thirds of the electricity delivered by co-ops to members comes from low- or zero-carbon sources.

Unlike the rest of the electric sector, electric co-ops sell the majority of their power to households rather than businesses. Keeping rates affordable is especially important for these consumer-members at the end of the line.

Helping Rural Communities Respond to COVID-19

Throughout the pandemic, co-ops worked tirelessly to support their communities by keeping the lights on and finding new ways to lend a hand. Since the start of the pandemic, co-ops have:

  • Provided COVID testing and hosted vaccination clinics in high-demand areas.
  • Donated masks and hand sanitizer.
  • Established free wifi hotspots for students and families working from home.
  • Donated laptops to schools. 
  • Delivered meals in their communities.

Co-ops Are Reducing Emissions

Co-ops are meeting member expectations by reducing emissions through a combination of emission-reduction measures at power plants and fuel switching to natural gas and renewables.

Co-ops have reduced sulphur dioxide emissions 83.8% from 2005 to 2020.

Co-ops have reduced nitrogen oxide emissions 67.9% from 2005 to 2020.

Co-ops have reduced carbon dioxide emissions 23% from 2005 to 2020.

Co-ops Are Jump-Starting Renewable Energy Growth

  • From 2010 to 2020, co-ops nearly tripled their renewable capacity from 3.9 gigawatts to more than 11.4 gigawatts. 
  • Co-ops added more new renewable capacity in 2020, nearly 1.6 GW, than in any previous year. 
  • Electric co-ops have deployed enough wind and solar capacity to serve nearly 2.7 million homes. 
  • Co-ops have announced more than 6.4 GW of new renewable capacity additions planned from 2021-2024. 
  • Co-ops purchase 10 GW of hydropower from federal power marketing administrations and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Co-ops Are Hubs of Innovation

As co-ops meet tomorrow’s energy needs, they invest in the future of their communities.

  • Broadband: More than 200 co-ops are developing or planning to deploy broadband service to their members, giving them access to telehealth services, online learning, remote work and new possibilities for local businesses.
  • Smart Meters: Electric cooperatives lead the industry in smart meter deployment, with a 73% penetration rate of AMI meters, compared to 58% for the rest of the industry.
  • Energy Storage: Cooperatives have developed more than 50 energy storage projects, ranging from residential batteries to large utility-scale projects paired with renewable generation. Storage is an important element of microgrids, including on military installations.
  • Carbon Capture: Electric cooperatives are partners in more than $30 million in innovative carbon capture technology research projects.

The Cooperative Difference

Electric co-ops are local energy and technology partners. Consumer-owned and not for profit, they are shaped by the specific needs of the communities they serve. This local, member-driven structure is one reason why cooperatives enjoy the highest consumer-satisfaction scores within the electric industry, according to J.D. Power and Associates and the American Customer Satisfaction Index. 

  • Electric cooperatives are built by and belong to the communities they serve. They are led by members from the community and are uniquely suited to meet local needs.
  • Co-ops earned the highest average score and had 5 of the top 7 satisfaction scores among all types of electric utilities in the J.D. Power and Associates 2020 Utility Customer Satisfaction Study. 
  • Electric cooperatives, on average, score higher than all other electric companies, according to the 2021 American Customer Satisfaction Index.