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Seven Pillars of Electric Cooperatives

1. Voluntary and Open Membership

Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

2. Democratic Member Control

Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Members have equal voting rights; each membership has one vote. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership.

3. Member Economic Participation

Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. Part of that capital is typically the common property of the cooperative. The members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for the following purposes:

  • development of the cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible;
  • benefits for members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and
  • support for other activities approved by the membership.

4. Autonomy and Independence

Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If the cooperatives enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and the maintenance of the co-op’s autonomy.

5. Education, Training and Information

Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development and operation of their cooperatives. They inform the general public—particularly young people and opinion leaders—about the nature and benefits of cooperation.

6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives

Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, regional, national and international structures.

7. Concern for Community

While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members.

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