Your local co-op is supported by the cooperative family
WHEN THE CONSUMER-MEMBERS of electric cooperatives turn to the center section of Kentucky Living each month, they see the latest update from their local member-owned co-op. This magazine is an example of the cooperative principle Cooperation Among Cooperatives, because it is both a joint effort of all the electric cooperatives in Kentucky and a custom publication by and for each local co-op.
Your local co-op was built by, belongs to and is led by people in your local community. Unlike an investor-owned utility, your co-op is not owned or controlled by any outside interest or shareholders.
Cooperatives around the world operate according to the Seven Cooperative Principles. These core principles and values are a key reason electric cooperatives operate differently from other electric utilities, putting the needs of their members first. Your local co-op is in the best position to respond to needs in your own home area because a cooperative—by its very nature—is uniquely suited to understand its own community.
A strong alliance
Your co-op is a member of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. Both the manager of your local co-op and one of your local directors serve on the board of this statewide association of all 26 electric co-ops in Kentucky. Co-ops share information and practical advice, pooling their resources to encourage innovation and high standards in safety training, disaster response, communications, technical knowledge and in the annual co-op Frankfort and Washington Youth Tours. The association also coordinates management training and serves as a consumer advocate in representation before the General Assembly, Congress and regulatory bodies.
Your co-op is also one of 831 distribution cooperatives that are members of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), along with 63 generation and transmission cooperatives that provide wholesale power to the distribution co-ops. In Kentucky, electric co-ops serve about 1.7 million people. Nationwide, about 42 million people are served by electric co-ops in 48 states.
Who sets the rates?
Understandably, one of the most common questions asked about any electric service is, “Who sets the rates?”
Twenty-one electric co-ops are regulated by the Kentucky Public Service Commission, which is responsible for fostering safe and reliable service by setting fair, just and reasonable rates. In the map below, the 19 distribution co-ops are shaded in purple and green, the member-owners of East Kentucky Power Cooperative, and the member-owners of Big Rivers Electric Corporation. The orange-shaded co-ops are the five Kentucky co-ops that purchase their power from the Tennessee Valley Authority. This federally owned electric utility corporation oversees the rates of these five co-ops.
While other utilities serve more densely populated areas, which have an average of 32 customers per mile of electric line, the more rural nature of co-ops means that they serve an average of only eight consumer-members per mile of electric line. Yet, through responsible practices, careful planning and expert management, Kentucky co-ops are able to offer competitive rates. Kentucky has the 11th lowest electric rates in the nation.
The reliability of electric service for you, your community and the businesses and critical infrastructure powered by co-ops is a priority for all of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives. It takes attention, dedication and a variety of measures to maintain reliable electric service.
A resilient electric grid utilizes different types of generation—such as coal, natural gas, solar and hydro—to seamlessly work together to provide safe and reliable power. The system is designed and built to withstand high winds, powerful storms, cybersecurity threats and other disruptions that could result in outages.
Your co-op is also part of a concerted effort advocating for policies in Frankfort and Washington that protect the reliability of your electric service. This advocacy alerts and educates leaders so they know how government policies affect your bills and the ability of your local co-op to effectively serve you.