UTILITY COOPERATIVES

What makes them great?

COOPERATIVES

How do they work

Co-operatives are businesses owned and run by and for their members.  Whether the members are the customers, employees or residents they have an equal say in what the business does and also get a share in the profits.  As businesses driven by values not just profit, co-operatives share internationally agreed principles and act together to build a better world through co-operation.

So why are energy utilities cooperative companies such a great idea? 

Ed Mayo, secretary General of Co-operatives UK, says 

“Co-operative energy businesses are owned by members and run for members. The co-operative model is a perfect antidote to current energy practices – co-operatives put their members in control of where profits go whether that is back to members, back to the community or to invest in viable green energy projects”.

In these times of privatisation of public energy generation assets, Energyshare wants to enable residents and businesses to own and control their own energy company Energyshare also offers this cooperative company model to others who would like to setup energy cooperatives in other cities around New Zealand.

Generally, Cooperative companies benefit their members by

  • Achieving what one cannot achieve on his/her own
  • Providing easy access to needed services needed by its members
  • Paying less for inputs, marketing, distribution and selling of products
  • Manufacture / create products and services if necessary

Cooperatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

United Nations ‘International Year of Cooperatives’

“Cooperative Enterprises Build a Better World” is the official slogan of the United Nations International Year of Cooperatives in 2012.

On December 18, 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives. The UN Resolution, “Cooperatives in Social Development,” recognizes the diversity of the cooperative movement around the world and the role of the cooperative business model in achieving economic viability while also contributing social and community benefits.

The International Year of Co-operatives, or IYC, celebrates a different way of doing business, one focused on human need not human greed, where the members, who own and govern the business, collectively enjoy the benefits instead of all profits going just to shareholders.

The UN resolution contains three goals for the International Year of the Cooperative:

Cooperative Principles

Cooperatives around the world generally operate according to the same core principles and values, adopted by the International Co-operative Alliance  in 1995. Cooperatives trace the roots of these principles to the first modern cooperative founded in Rochdale, England in 1844.

  • Democratic Member Control

    Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members—those who buy the goods or use the services of the cooperative—who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.

  • Voluntary and Open Membership

    Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all people able to use its services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

  • Members' Economic Participation

    Members contribute equally to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. This benefits members in proportion to the business they conduct with the cooperative rather than on the capital invested.

  • Autonomy and Independence

    Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If the co-op enters into agreements with other organizations or raises capital from external sources, it is done so based on terms that ensure democratic control by the members and maintains the cooperative’s autonomy.

  • Education, Training and Information

    Cooperatives provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative. Members also inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives..

  • Cooperation among Cooperatives

    Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

  • Concern for Community

    While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of communities through policies and programs accepted by the members.

INSPIRING FACTS

Cooperatives around the world

Some Cooperative business facts

Cooperative Companies play a major part in the global economy and are especially important for the communities that operate them and benefit from that participation.

Some facts about cooperatives describe the importance of these organisations

  • In New Zealand, 3% of the gross domestic product (GDP) is generated by co-operative enterprise. Cooperatives are responsible for 95% of the dairy export market.
  • The Cooperative Energy company in the UK supplies gas and electricity to more than 55,000 UK customers which represents 1.4% of the UK energy market.
  • In the United Kingdom, there was a 24% rise in the number of ‘member owned’ energy co-operative enterprises between 2007 and 2011.
  • In Norway out of a population of 4.8 million people, 2 million are members of co-operatives.
  • The country with the largest number of individual Coop members is the United States with 305.6 million members. There are nearly 30,000 co-operatives in the US.
  • Four of every ten Canadians are members of at least one co-operative. In Quebec, approximately 70% of the population are co-op members, while in Saskatchewan 56% are members.
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