In the United States, 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. As we celebrate cooperatives of all types this October, I’d like to point out the cooperative difference by comparing these three types of ownership models and provide some insight on why we should be proud to be “member-owners.”
In the investor-owned model, the corporation is owned by a great number of stockholders who may or may not be real customers of the utility. Investor-owned utilities tend to be very large corporations, such as Duke Energy, American Electric Power or Dominion Energy. They serve large cities, suburban areas and some rural areas, too.
In most cases, investor-owned utilities (IOUs) have few employees in the communities where they operate. They also have outside investors whose sole motive is to make a profit on their investment. These two factors generally tend to lead to less personalized service. Consumer surveys confirm that IOUs have the lowest customer satisfaction ratings. About 72 percent of the U.S. population is served by investor-owned utilities.
Municipal electric systems, as the name implies, are government owned. They can serve large cities, like Los Angeles, Austin or Orlando, or local cities like High Point or Fayetteville. In the U.S., about 16 percent of consumers are served by municipal utilities.
Rural electric cooperatives serve the smallest number of consumers, about 12 percent of the U.S. market, which equals 42 million people. There are more than 800 other electric co-ops in 47 states, in addition to Randolph Electric. While co-ops serve the fewest number of people, co-op electric lines cover more than 75 percent of the U.S. landmass. This is because we provide power where others refused to go because of the low population density.
As a member—and owner—of Randolph EMC, you elect the co-op’s Board of Directors who, in turn, make decisions based on what’s in your best interest. They provide the strategic guidance for the organization to meet members’ needs and position the cooperative for future success.
Another key benefit of being a member-owner is that you receive Capital Credits. Each year, your share of the cooperative’s margin is allocated to your member account. Those dollars are kept at Randolph Electric and used for financing and operational needs. When your Board of Directors deems it appropriate, those dollars are deducted from your equity account and sent back to you as Capital Credits.
This past year, the Board authorized a general retirement of $2.5 million, which went directly back to our members and into the local economy in the five counties we serve. Including estate retirements in the last five years, Randolph EMC has returned approximately $15 million. To date, this makes a total of $52 million that has been returned to the member-owners of this cooperative.
Your employee team and Board of Directors strive to meet and exceed your expectations in all that we do. Based on feedback from our members in the most recent satisfaction survey, Randolph EMC earned a score of 91 on the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). This was the No. 1 spot, by two points, when compared within a group of other high-performing electric cooperatives from across the United States. We believe this is because we serve member-owners, not just customers, and we’re very appreciative of the high marks our members consistently give us.
Our organization’s foundation was laid by the founding members of the cooperative right here in central North Carolina over 80 years ago. A lot of things have changed since that time. But the common thread that’s still in place from our humble beginnings, that member-owner focus, is as alive today as it was then. There is a cooperative difference. You own us, and we are here for the sole purpose of serving you.
Cooperatively Yours in Safety,
Dale F. Lambert, Chief Executive Officer
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Randolph EMC is dedicated to the delivery of energy and superior services in response to the needs of our members and communities.