Co-op Month

Celebrating the cooperative way

Each October, during National Co-op Month, co-ops across the nation celebrate the qualities that make the cooperative business model unique.

Electric cooperatives are among several types of co-ops operating in the U.S. and other countries. Our mission is to provide our members with safe, reliable, affordable and responsible electricity. However, our business model requires even more. As locally owned co-ops, we care about our communities. That’s why we provide programs such as the Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., the Electric Vehicle Rally and various other community programs. It’s also why we host the annual Energy Efficiency Makeover Contest, as well as promote energy efficiency through audits and other methods throughout the year. First Electric Cooperative is proud to be part of America’s cooperative network, which includes more than 47,000 cooperative businesses.

At the heart of the co-op business model are seven cooperative principles that set us apart from other businesses:

  • Voluntary and open membership.
  • Democratic member control.
  • Member’s economic participation.
  • Autonomy and independence.
  • Education, training and information.
  • Cooperation among cooperatives.
  • Concern for community.

In Arkansas, electric co-ops provide power for more than 1 million homes, businesses and farms. First Electric is one of 17 electric distribution co-ops in Arkansas that provide retail power to the member-owners of the co-ops. These distribution co-ops own a generation and transmission cooperative — Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation in Little Rock — that provides wholesale power for the state’s co-op members. They also own a diversified service co-op — Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. in Little Rock — that provides electric equipment, right-of-way and construction services, as well as communications support, which includes the publication of Arkansas Living magazine.  In addition, AECI provides employee and director training and governmental affairs support.

Other co-op businesses thrive in our state, too, and provide a variety of products and services, including telecommunications, farm supplies, groceries, agriculture, healthcare, housing, credit unions and education.

Nationwide, about 900 electric co-ops provide service to about 42 million members in 47 states. October is a great time to remember how the nation’s electric co-ops were formed in the 1930s to supply electricity to the nation’s rural areas — a challenge that the big utilities weren’t interested in taking on. It was the men and women of rural America who banded together to make rural electrification happen. And that’s why we celebrate each October. We celebrate the power of working together for the common good and bettering the quality of life for our friends and neighbors.