"A utility cooperative is a type of cooperative that is tasked with the delivery of a public utility such as electricity, water or telecommunications to its members. Profits are either reinvested for infrastructure or distributed to members in the form of "patronage" or "capital credits", which are essentially dividends paid on a member's investment into the cooperative.
Each customer is a member and owner of the business with an equal say as every other member of the cooperative, unlike investor-owned utilities where the amount of say is governed by the number of shares held.
Many such cooperatives exist in the rural United States, and were created by the New Deal to bring electric power and telephone service to rural areas, when the nearest investor-owned utility would not provide service, believing there would be insufficient revenue to justify the capital expenditures required."
"The Nebraska Rural Electric Association (NREA) is the private non-profit trade association for 35 rural electric systems that provide electric service to consumers in most of the rural areas and many of the small towns in the great State of Nebraska. Together, the more than 950 dedicated employees of our member-systems serve approximately 231,000 meters across more than 87,000 miles of line.
In the 1930s, rural leaders took on the enormous task of building the electric utility infrastructure in Nebraska that would provide themselves and their neighbors with reliable and affordable electricity. The Rural Electrification Administration (REA) was created by executive order of President Roosevelt on May 11, 1935 and NREA was formed in October of that year to help these early leaders deal with problems of standardizing line construction and obtaining wholesale power supplies.
Over the years, NREA's mission has evolved to include a broad range of activities to assist our member-systems as they face the many challenges of providing low-cost, reliable electric service to the sparsely populated regions of Nebraska.
Today, the quality of electric service in the most remote areas of the state equals or exceeds the electric service available in our largest communities. This achievement continues to be a source of pride for the directors, managers, and other employees of our member-systems."
Project submitted by Patrick Meister. http://www.nrea.org/history.htm/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utility_cooperative
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