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.
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- Co-ops serve 42 million people, including 92% of persistent poverty counties.
- Co-ops power over 21 million businesses, homes, schools and farms in 48 states.
- Co-ops returned more than $1.5 billion in capital credits to their consumer-members in 2020.
- 831 distribution cooperatives 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 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.
Leveraging Infrastructure Funds to Support Rural Communities
Electric co-ops have decades of experience supporting local communities by accessing public and private funding. Today, co-ops are positioning themselves to leverage new infrastructure funds to support their communities. These efforts include work to:
- Advance electric vehicle charging networks.
- Deploy new cybersecurity tools.
- Expand rural broadband access.
- Develop rural microgrids.
- Promote clean energy research, development and deployment.
- Enhance grid resiliency and modernization efforts.
Co-ops Are Reducing Emissions
Cooperatives are meeting member expectations by reducing emissions through a combination of emission-reduction measures and fuel switching to natural gas and renewables.
Co-ops reduced sulphur dioxide emissions 82% from 2005 to 2021.
Co-ops reduced nitrogen oxide emissions 68% from 2005 to 2021.
Co-ops reduced carbon dioxide emissions 17% from 2005 to 2021.
Renewable Energy Growth
- From 2010 to 2021, co-ops more than tripled their renewable capacity from 3.9 gigawatts to more than 13 gigawatts.
- Co-ops added nearly 1.4 GW of new renewable capacity in 2021, second only to 2020.
- Electric co-op wind and solar capacity serves more than 3 million homes.
- Co-ops have announced more than 7 GW of renewable capacity additions through 2026.
- Co-ops purchase 10 GW of hydropower from federal dams and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Electric Co-ops Are Innovation Hubs
As co-ops meet tomorrow’s energy needs, they invest in the future of their communities.
- Broadband: More than 250 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 78% use of AMI meters, compared to 63% for the rest of the industry.
- Energy Storage: Cooperatives have developed more than 65 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 innovative carbon capture technology research projects.
The Cooperative Difference: Co-ops Are Local Energy and Technology Partners
- 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.
- 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.
- Co-ops earned the highest average score and secured 14 of the 20 top spots in the 2021 J.D. Power Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study.
- Electric cooperatives, on average, score higher than for-profit utilities, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, Energy Utilities Study, 2021-2022.