The Seven Cooperative Principles

What is a co-op, exactly?

When you hear the word “co-op,” what comes to mind? We hope you think of your friends here at Guthrie County REC, but maybe you think of a local farmers’ co-op or a credit union. You might be surprised to learn that co-ops, or cooperatives, can be found in many industries—and they offer a variety of services, each designed to serve their members in the best way possible. A cooperative is a not-for-profit organization owned by its members.

Rural electric cooperatives serve the smallest number of consumers, about 12 percent of the market, which equals 42 million people. There are more than 800 other electric co-ops in 47 states in addition to Guthrie County REC. While co-ops serve the fewest number of people, our electric lines cover more than 75 percent of the U.S. landmass. This is because we provide power where others once refused to go because of the low population density. Electric co-ops rank highest in member satisfaction among the three types of utilities.

As a member of Guthrie County REC, you have a voice - in other words, you’re not just a customer, you are a member-owner. Review the Seven Cooperative Principles listed here on why there is a "Cooperative Difference".

Membership in a cooperative is open to all people who can reasonably use its services and stand willing to accept
the responsibilities of membership, regardless of race, religion, gender or economic circumstances.

Principle two democratic member controlCooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. Representatives (directors/trustees) are elected among members and are accountable to them. In primary cooperatives, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote); cooperatives at other levels are organized in a democratic manner.

Principle three member economic participationMembers contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital remains the common property of the cooperative. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing the cooperative; setting up reserves; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.

Principle four autonomy and independenceCooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control as well as their unique identity.

Principle 5 education training and informationEducation and training for members, elected representatives (directors/trustees), CEOs and employees help them effectively contribute to the development of their cooperatives. Communications about the nature and benefits of cooperatives, particularly with the general public and opinion leaders, help boost cooperative understanding.

Principle six cooperation among cooperativesBy working together through local, national, regional and international structures, cooperatives improve services, bolster local economies and deal more effectively with social and community needs.

principle 7 concern for communityCooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies supported by the membership.