Connecting-Us is a grassroots effort to engage Connexus Energy member-owners. We believe that the 7 Cooperative Principles should guide and inform all electric co-ops, including Connexus Energy. These principles are a key reason that America’s electric cooperatives operate differently from other electric utilities, putting the needs of their member-owners first.
Rural Electric Co-ops (REC) were created as a part of the New Deal in the 1930s to bring electricity to rural communities across the country. In the beginning, all REC member-owners had a say in the operation and oversight of their electric utility and the information necessary to do so. This democratic control was central to how rural electric co-ops worked.
However, co-ops have lost their way. Co-op member-owners can’t easily access the information necessary to be fully involved in decision-making. Democratic values and member-owner input no longer seem to be central in the operation of RECs. Entrenched REC leadership have co-ops stuck in the old energy system reliant on dirty, expensive electricity – including being coerced into signing 60+ year coal-generated electricity contracts. Opportunities for energy efficiency, clean energy policy, and member-owned renewable energy are missed.
Representative Jim Cooper has detailed the effects of co-ops that have abandoned the principals, turning away from their historic role as exciting, pro-consumer organizations; instead taking on deeply troubling anti consumer behaviors. Cooper calls member-owners to take back their property and their co-ops, for the good of themselves and their country.
When member-owners take back their own power in RECs we’ve seen an immediate shift towards the electric utility of the future. This effort is especially important because Connexus Energy is the largest electric co-op in Minnesota (133,000 member-owners and $450 MILLION is assets) and has considerable influence on how electricity is generated.