Celebrating the unique qualities of cooperatives

Posted on Sep 27 2016 in Orange County REMC


As a member-owned cooperative, the better Orange County REMC understands you, the better we can serve you. That’s why we occasionally survey our members to identify emerging trends in power use among important matters.  Research about the types of heating and cooling systems, electronic devices and appliances used by our consumers, as well as the consumers’ demographics, help us develop plans to provide reliable and efficient electric service throughout our communities. This information also helps us develop programs and services that are of value to you.


Originally drawn up by Charles Howarth, one of 28 weavers and other artisans who founded the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in Rochdale, England, on Dec. 21, 1844, these principles governing cooperative operations were introduced into the United States in 1874 by the National Grange. They were formally written down by the International Cooperative Alliance in 1937 (last updated in 1995).

open and voluntary membership

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.

democratic member control

Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. Elected representatives (directors/trustees) are elected by the membership and are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote). Cooperatives at other levels are organized in a democratic manner.

members’ economic participation

Members 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.

autonomy and independence

Cooperatives 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.

education, training and independence

Education 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, boost cooperative understanding.

cooperation among cooperatives

By working together through local, national, regional and international structures, cooperatives improve services, bolster local economies and deal more effectively with social and community needs.

COncern for community

Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies supported by the membership.

These principles are underpinned by six ideals — the so-called cooperative values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In addition, the International Cooperative Alliance lists cooperative “ethical values” of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.

MATTHEW C. DEATON is general manager/CEO of Orange County REMC.