The Electric Co-op Sector

California/Minnesota/South Carolina/Indiana

Business-to-Business Innovations

The U.S. electric co-op sector has the potential to establish new standards for the electric utility sector, revealing how electric utilities can deliver on climate justice. The electric co-op industry adage of once you’ve seen one co-op, you’ve seen one co-op, speaks to the decentralized nature of the sector, in which 850+ local and distinctive co-ops federate into a series of associations, with a collective annual revenue of $42 billion, employing a mostly rural workforce of over 70,000, and governed by over 7000 democratically elected board directors, representing 40 million Americans across 53% of the U.S. landmass. The deep local ownership and community control at-scale translates into a distributed network of innovation and policy experimentation on topics from microgrids, to energy efficiency, community economic development, and knowledge diffusion.

Our research program takes an appreciative approach in understanding the unique contributions of the electric co-ops. Electric co-ops introduce policymakers, and industry incumbents to new standards and practices, promising to create new yardsticks for delivering on the public good. This research program will inform new standards for excellence across all utilities.