While all electric utilities offer the same product, where the electricity comes from makes a difference.
In the U.S., the vast majority of people receive their electricity from one of three types of utilities: investor-owned, municipal-owned or through their electric cooperative, which is owned and controlled by the people who use it. Let’s take a closer look at these three types of ownership models and see why it matters to you.
In the investor-owned model, the corporation is owned by a great number of stockholders, some of whom do not live in areas serviced by the utility. Investor-owned utilities tend to be very large corporations such as First Energy (Penelec and Penn Power). They serve large cities, suburban areas and some rural areas, too.
About 72 percent of the U.S. population is served by investor-owned utilities.
Municipal electric systems are government owned. They can serve large cities, like Los Angeles or Orlando, or smaller areas, like the Wellsboro Electric Company in Pennsylvania. In municipal systems, the municipality runs the utility. About 16 percent of the market is served by municipal utilities.
Rural electric cooperatives serve the smallest number of consumers, about 12 percent of the market, or about 42 million people. There are more than 800 electric co-ops in 47 states, including the Northwestern Rural Electric Cooperative in Cambridge Springs. While co-ops serve the fewest number of people, their electric lines cover more than 75 percent of the U.S. This is because co-ops historically provided power where other utilities once refused to go because of low population density. Electric co-ops, which rank high in member satisfaction, are not-for-profit, locally owned and operated, and serve member-owners, not customers.
As the electric utility business continues to evolve, co-ops are committed to being there for members to provide for their electric energy needs.
The Northwestern Rural Electric Co-op offers electric safety demonstrations, Clearly Brighter teacher grants, GenerLink transfer switches, three types of energy audits, and dry hydrants, to name a few.
There is a cooperative difference. You own us, and we are here to serve you.