The Cooperative Difference

We are often asked why we call those who purchase electricity from Arrowhead Electric “members” and not “customers.” The answer is simple. The people who receive electricity are not just customers; they are members of our cooperative. Let me explain further.

Members enjoy certain rights that customers don’t have with other electric utilities. For instance, as a member of our cooperative, you can choose to run for a board seat, serve on a nominating committee or join the advisory committee. Because you can vote for the board candidates of your choice, the board of directors is comprised of people who live and work in the very territory that our cooperative serves.

As another example, we’re all familiar with service clubs in our area such as the Lions, 4-H clubs, etc. These service clubs have a common mission – together the club accomplishes more than an individual could. The same holds true for members of electric cooperatives.

Membership at Arrowhead Electric offers many of the same benefits as clubs do, but with a big extra. You and the rest of our members own the co-op! That means we answer to you, not investors who may have never walked our streets or spent time in our schools. This structure harkens back to our origins.

Arrowhead Electric was organized by farmers, fishermen and rural residents from this area in 1953, with the support from the federal Rural Electrification Administration (REA). At that time, investor-owned utilities said there wasn’t enough profit to be made to warrant the expense of building power lines into the countryside.

REA offered low-cost loans for bringing electricity to unserved homes and farms. So folks began forming electric cooperatives to meet the need. A fee of $5.00 was collected for each membership-making them co-op members and owners-to generate capital for borrowing. The rest is history.

You should be proud of what your cooperative has accomplished. We are an economic driver in communities we serve. A 2009 study funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found electric co-ops across the U.S. employ 130,000 Americans, both directly and indirectly, with revenues topping out at $45 billion. Not only is your cooperative a local economic supporter, but one that provides local service and response to your ever so important electricity needs. Frankly, we know the area, we know our distribution system and we care about our members.

Paramount of all, every co-op operates on a not-for-profit basis. Arrowhead Electric doesn’t offer profits to investors – we return money over and above operating costs to you, our members, based on electricity consumption. Annually, electric co-ops nationwide return $545 million to members through the capital credits retirement process.

In November 2009, the Arrowhead Electric Board approved a capital credit retirement of $87,978.76 to Arrowhead Electric members.

Our retirement process is based on first in, first out. Members of 1986 should receive your capital credit check in your mailbox by the end of December.

Electric cooperative membership remains as important today as it was in the late 1930’s. And all of the nation’s 900 plus electric co-ops in 47 states share a common mission: to keep energy safe, affordable and reliable.

Working together through efforts like the Our Energy, Our Future grassroots awareness campaign, we’re keeping our needs at the top of Congress’s agenda. We’re part of something special – a nationwide network owned and controlled by people like you and me. That’s why membership matters.

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