Fredericksburg, Va. – While most businesses operate to make a profit, cooperatives operate with one simple purpose: To serve their members. This month, Rappahannock Electric Cooperatives joins co-ops across the country in celebrating National Cooperative Month, highlighting the benefits and values cooperatives provide their members and communities.
“Electric cooperatives are owned by those they serve,” explained Kent D. Farmer, president and CEO at REC. “That is why those who receive electric service from us are called members, not customers. Without our members, there would be no REC.”
Cooperatives operate in many industries and sectors of the economy based on seven cooperative principles that set them apart from other businesses:
- Voluntary and open membership
- Democratic member control
- Members’ economic participation
- Autonomy and independence
- Education, training and information
- Cooperation among cooperatives
- Concern for community
Members maintain democratic control of REC by electing fellow members at the Annual Meeting in August to represent them on the Board of Directors. As a bonus, members receive special benefits such as the Water Heater Replacement program, MyUsage.com, Co-op Connections, SurgeAssist and more. REC also returns margins (“profits”) to members in the form of capital credits.
One principle that sets REC apart from other businesses is concern for community. REC makes it a priority to focus on supporting the areas where members live and work. REC collaborates with local emergency services including fire and rescue departments, supports schools through safety demonstrations and electric presentations, and furthers students’ education with scholarships. These efforts – combined with grants to local organizations, sponsorships, and support for new jobs and industries through economic development – allow REC to stand as a driving force in the community.
The co-op model works for large and small endeavors, for urban and rural needs, because it allows people to do together what they cannot do on their own. REC and cooperatives in all industries nationwide have had a tremendous impact over the years serving their members.
Farmer said, “Co-ops are more accessible than other types of businesses. We give our members a voice, and we are local – living and working alongside those we serve. That’s the cooperative difference.”
REC provides electric service to over 160,000 connections in parts of 22 Virginia counties. With its general office in Fredericksburg, Va., the Cooperative operates and maintains more than 16,000 miles of power lines through its service area, which ranges from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay. For information about REC, please visit www.myrec.coop. Follow REC on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.