What is the cooperative difference? It is local. It is trusted. It is member-driven.
Cooperatives make members-consumers the priority and do so with an approach that focuses on trust, community and service.
There are qualities that make electric cooperatives different from other utilities and businesses. First and foremost, FreeState is owned by the people they serve. Being powered by FreeState means you are not a customer, you are a member-consumer. You own your cooperative. You have a voice, and a say in how your cooperative is managed.
Speaking of management. It’s local. As a cooperative FreeState is not governed by the Kansas Corporation Commission. We’re governed by nine members who are elected by members to represent them in the board room to make decisions that impact everyone – even those making the decisions.
Decisions are made in the board room by people members elect. Democratic control is another difference. The annual meeting each April gives members a chance to meet and discuss business, and elect leadership that will drive the cooperative into the future. That’s why it is important to engage with the cooperative and learn about initiatives and decisions being made on your behalf. And, as a cooperative it is our duty to provide members with education and practice transparency.
One of the most recognized differences between a utility cooperative and an investor-owned utility is capital credits (dividends). Each year if the financial health of the cooperative allows, the trustees make the decision to retire capital credits, which is money given back to the members – just for paying their electric bills. It’s returning a part of your investment back to you because cooperatives are not-for-profit. That means our goal isn’t getting rich, it’s returning money back to our members.
Principals, seven of them, guide us and the decisions we make daily. We have a responsibility every employee at FreeState takes seriously. We are not just your power provider, we power your community. We are your neighbors and friends, and we support your efforts to make living in rural Northeast Kansas the best it can be. We work to empower our members.
There are more than 29,000 cooperatives across the country in all facets of business. Not all of them are small or rural, but we consider small and rural an advantage.
The advantage is the difference. Living and working alongside those we serve. It’s the cooperative difference.