Organizations from seven Southeastern states assessed electric co-ops to give
members the information they need to improve their utilities
Today, several organizations, including the Partnership for Southern Equity, released scorecards examining how electric cooperatives in Georgia measured up across a number of areas, including governance, transparency, energy efficiency, member access to clean energy and other factors.
Electric cooperatives are utilities owned by their customer-members. An outgrowth of rural social movements in the 1930s and 1940s, and established by the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, electric co-ops helped bring electricity to rural communities that private corporations didn’t want to serve.
The unique, member-owned structure of electric co-ops means that they are supposed to be governed by their members, and aligned with principles of democratic governance that are supported by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (the cooperatives’ trade group). And yet, many electric co-ops have lost sight of these values over time. These utilities should be vehicles for meeting a range of needs in rural communities and instilling democratic values. Southeastern co-ops have an opportunity to lead the way by modeling the better practices this scorecard evaluates.
The Southeast Regional Electric Cooperative Scorecard is hosted on the website EnergyDemocracyYall.org, a hub for organizations working to build energy systems that serve the communities they live in. Website visitors will find an interactive source of information where they can look up specific data about electric cooperatives like geographic and demographic details of their service areas, and information about governance, board composition and accessibility of electric cooperatives.
Members are trying to transform electric co-ops, modernizing them and speeding their transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, while ensuring they are operating transparently and addressing the needs of members who struggle to afford their bills. These scorecards, rating the performance of cooperatives in relevant areas, will show members how their co-ops are doing, and where they need improvement, ultimately providing a roadmap for reform.
The scorecard release is part of a joint project between Appalachian Voices, Shareable, Partnership for Southern Equity, Energy Alabama, One Voice, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and Mountain Association via the Advancing Equity and Opportunity Collaborative. Scorecards were released today for rural electric co-ops in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.