If your name is on your electric bill from OPALCO, then you are a member of a locally-owned and operated non-profit co-op. You are not just a member, but a member-owner of OPALCO. You have the right—and responsibility—to elect the board of directors who make the policies and set the rates for your electric service. Your financial investment in OPALCO is calculated annually as a percentage of the year-end margin (what’s left after expenses), allocated to a capital credit account in your name and returned to you (with board approval) in the form of a check after 25 years.
Independent, democratically-governed businesses, electric cooperatives are organized under the Rochdale Principles—also known as the Seven Cooperative Principles:
- Voluntary and Open Membership —Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership.
- Democratic Member Control —Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.
- Members’ Economic Participation —Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative.
- Autonomy and Independence —Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members.
- Education, Training, and Information —Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives.
- Cooperation Among Cooperatives —Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together.
- Concern for Community —While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities.
Electric cooperatives began to spread across rural America after President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) in 1935. Today more than 900 electric cooperatives serve more than 75% of America’s landmass. They provide reliable and technologically advanced service to more than 42 million Americans while maintaining a unique consumer-focused approach to business: members helping members. See The Nation’s Consumer Owned Electric Utility Network.
What can you do to be a responsible co-op member?
Stay informed: read OPALCO’s annual report; attend OPALCO’s Annual Meeting each May; join OPALCO’s grassroots activist Ambassador Program to receive regular communication about legislative issues that may affect the co-op membership; get to know the candidates running for the Board of Directors.
Take action: VOTE in the annual election; improve your household’s energy efficiency with a Home Snapshot Energy Assessment; round up your bill each month to help a co-op member in need through Project PAL; SUPPORT MORE local renewable energy by signing up to purchase blocks of green power on your bill; GO PAPERLESS with e-bill and/or AutoPay to save money and resources; talk with your family, friends and neighbors about co-op and energy issues.
To learn more about your extended family of electric co-ops, check out the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).
Have questions? Contact us.