A cooperative is a member-owned corporation created to provide a service for the members that the individual members could not on a practical basis provide for themselves. In our instance, the members of our cooperative are businesses and individuals who have combined their buying power to purchase energy in the wholesale market at wholesale prices. That makes the Energy Cooperative of America a “consumer cooperative” (our members are consumers). In other instances the members of a cooperative can be producers who combine their efforts to market their product (the large agricultural cooperatives like Welchs or Ocean Spray are producer cooperatives).
When deregulation removed the monopoly on energy supply, energy purchasers became free to direct their utility to use an alternative supplier to transport natural gas and electricity to their meter. This new competition allowed users to search out the lowest supply rate vs. paying “retail rates” directly from the utility.
In 1997, the Energy Cooperative was founded to provide businesses across New York State with the best purchase leverage in the state. Because it is a not-for-profit member-owned cooperative, all savings are passed along to the members in lower natural gas and electric costs. The Cooperative buys energy at the lowest wholesale price and passes along those savings to our members for only a flat nominal administration fee based on volume used.
Cooperatives as a type of corporate entity have been around for over 150 years. Over the years the Cooperative Movement has developed 7 principles that distinguish a cooperative from ordinary businesses.