Electric Co-ops in South Carolina
The principles followed by most member-owned cooperatives have their
origin in the experience of the highly successful consumer cooperative
begun in Rochdale, England, in 1844.
The Rochdale Equitable
Pioneer's Society was formed by a group of 28 weavers who started a
cooperative selling food staples and other needed supplies.
stated in many different ways, the principles essentially provide that a
cooperative follows the guidelines listed below.
As adopted by the International Cooperative Alliance in 1966 and amended in 1995:
- Voluntary and Open Membership.
are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their
services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership,
without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.
- Democratic Member Control.
are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively
participate in setting policies and making decisions. The elected
representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary
cooperatives, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote)
and cooperatives at other levels are organized in a democratic manner.
- Members' Economic Participation.
contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of
their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common
property of the cooperative. Members usually receive limited
compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of
Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the
following purposes: developing the cooperative, possibly by setting up
reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting
members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and
supporting other activities approved by the membership.
- Autonomy and Independence.
are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If
they enter into agreements with other organizations, including
governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms
that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their
- Education, Training, and Information.
provide education and training for their members, elected
representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute
effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the
general public, particularly young people and opinion leaders, about the
nature and benefits of cooperation.
- Cooperation Among Cooperatives.
serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative
movement by working together through local, national, regional, and
- Concern for Community.
focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable
development of their communities through policies accepted by their