The Electric Cooperative Story
A video produced by the National Rural Electric Administration
When you get your power or other services from Bowie-Cass Electric Co-operative, you're more than a customer; you're an owner. That's because BCEC is a non-profit, member-owned cooperative. Co-ops are owned by the people they serve, not shareholders. As a co-op member, you have a voice and a vote.
A co-op is founded when people with a similar need form an organization to provide goods or services.
You are a member and co-owner in this nonprofit organization. This gives you certain rights that are quite different than if you were a customer of a for-profit utility that is owned by shareholders. In addition to having a say in how the company is operated, you will gain a share of the ownership as you use our services. A cooperative's net margin above expenses and reserves does not belong to the utility; it belongs to the individual member-owners of Bowie-Cass. The margins must either be used to improve or maintain operations or be distributed to BCEC's member-owners. Indeed, this is one of the major aspects of a cooperative that make it truly unique.
According to the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA), over 120 million people -- two of every five people -- are members of 48,000 U.S. cooperatives, and worldwide, some 750,000 cooperatives serve 730 million members.
You might be familiar with some well known national cooperatives, such as Welch's, Land O'Lakes, Ocean Spray, Sunkist, Publix Supermarkets, ACE Hardware, Nationwide Insurance and the Associated Press.
In our electric cooperative industry, nearly 1,000 rural electric co-ops own and maintain nearly half of the electric distribution lines in the U. S., cover 75 percent of the land mass and provide electricity to 36 million people.
Here in Texas, there are 75 different electric co-ops serving more than 3,000,000 member-owners. Texas co-ops own more than 260,000 miles of lines serving more than 1.2 million meters in 231 of the state's 254 counties.