A co-op is founded when people with a similar need form an organization to provide goods or services, like a farmers market food co-op or financial services credit union co-op. Electric co-ops were formed in much the same way to provide electricity to rural areas abandoned by for-profit electric utilities.
There are no Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative customers. Our Member-Owners have an equal voice in the co-op's direction and certain rights that are quite different from those who are customers of a for-profit utility, owned by shareholders.
Members gain a share of the co-op ownership as they use our services. Our net margin after expenses and reserves does not belong to the utility; it belongs to our Members. The margins must be used either to improve and maintain operations or be distributed back to Members. This is a major, unique and beneficial aspect of a cooperative.
Electric cooperatives are:
- private, independent electric utility businesses
- owned by the members they serve
- incorporated under the laws of the states in which they operate
- established to provide at-cost electric service
- governed by a board of trustees, elected from the membership, who set policies and procedures that are implemented by the cooperatives' professional staff
In fact, according to the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA), more than 120 million people–two out of every five people–are members of one of 48,000 U.S. cooperatives. Worldwide, more than 750,000 cooperatives serve 730 million members.
You might be familiar with some well known national cooperatives, such as Welch's, Land O'Lakes, Ocean Spray, Sunkist, Publix Supermarkets, ACE Hardware, Nationwide Insurance and the Associated Press.
Nearly 1,000 rural electric co-ops own and maintain nearly half of the electric distribution lines in the U. S., which cover 75 percent of the nation's land mass and provide electricity to 36 million people.
In Ohio, there are 25 electric co-ops serving more than 320,000 homes and businesses in 77 of Ohio's 88 counties.
Their combined service areas cover about 40 percent of the state's land mass, including most rural areas.
See our History.