Cooperatives and Renewable Resources
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Summary information and national totals:   (Data updated January 2017.)

Electric cooperatives across the country are actively expanding their fuel portfolios to include an array of renewable sources, including wind, solar, heat recovery, biomass, and hydro.

Also of Interest: The Cooperative Research Network's renewable and distributed energy program is working to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy at cooperatives nationwide.

Cooperative Solar: Driven by Cooperative Principles
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Member-owned electric cooperatives have nearly 240 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity online or on the drawing board across the country.

Not-for-profit electric co-ops develop solar for one reason only: to serve their members.

Cooperative solar IS consumer-owned solar.

Cooperative Growth Over Time Visualization
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As late as the mid-1930s, 9 out of 10 rural homes were without electric service.

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Act in 1933, and the establishment of the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) in 1935 changed that.

Most rural electrification is the product of locally owned rural electric cooperatives that got their start by borrowing funds from the REA to build lines and provide service on a not-for-profit basis.

This visualization shows the growth of NRECA electric cooperatives in the United States over time.

Electric Cooperatives Serving Persistent Poverty Counties
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Electric cooperatives serve in 327 of the nation's 353 "persistent poverty counties" (93%). Of the 42 million Americans served by cooperatives, an estimated 4 million live in persistent poverty counties.

The Economic Research Service of The USDA defines these counties as those where the poverty rate has exceeded 20% of the population for the last 30 years.

See how NRECA Cooperatives serve our communities.

Cooperatives Promote Efficiency
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As consumer-owned, not-for-profit utilities accountable to their members, cooperatives have traditionally promoted energy efficiency and demand-side management (DSM) as a means to keep members’ bills low. Now, many cooperatives also see increasing efficiencies on both sides of the meter as key to addressing the challenge of growing demand and rising costs.

Also of Interest: The Cooperative Research Network's energy efficiency research.

Cooperative Service Territory
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Electric cooperatives serve the country’s most rugged and inaccessible territory – from villages in the Alaskan tundra to deserts in Nevada to rocky islands off the coast of Maine. Cooperatives own and maintain 2.5 million miles, or 42 percent, of the nation’s electric distribution lines, covering three quarters of the nation's landmass.

The more than 860 cooperatives nationwide serve:

  • 42 million people in 47 states
  • 18 million businesses, homes, schools, churches, farms, irrigation systems and other establishments in 2,500 of 3,141 counties in the United States
  • 12 percent of the nation's population

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Generation and Transmission Cooperative Service Territory

Like other cooperatives, generation and transmission cooperatives (G&Ts) are owned by their members – in this case, local distribution cooperatives.

The nation’s 66 G&Ts are primarily engaged in marketing, generating, or transmitting wholesale electricity. Some G&Ts, such as Basin Electric Power Cooperative and Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc., serve other G&Ts as well as distribution cooperatives.

Generation and transmission cooperatives:

  • Generate nearly five percent of the total electricity produced in the United States each year
  • Purchase nearly half of their energy requirements from other wholesale suppliers; most cooperatives are net buyers of power
Electric Cooperatives and Nuclear Power

(Data updated March 2013.)

Electric cooperatives own shares of nine nuclear plants totaling 2,695 MW of generation.

Contact information for individual cooperatives and statewide associations can be found by using the Member Directory