Many businesses use the word “member” to describe their customers. You pay a fee to buy their goods and services, but that is really all you get for the “membership.” No right to vote for the board of directors, no ownership stake in the company, no capital credits and no way to participate in the organization.
Cooperatives like Piedmont Electric are different, membership really does mean something more than just the right to buy electricity. Not only do you have a voice, but you’re part of a rich history.
Did you know that cooperatives are formed when the market fails to offer a quality good or service at an affordable price? That’s exactly why Piedmont Electric was formed.
In the 1930s, investor-owned utilities didn’t service our area because there weren’t enough people per mile to make a profit in our rural communities.
So, the founding members of Piedmont Electric went door-to-door to secure the rights-of-way required to start a co-op that would bring electricity to their neighbors. Those “go-getters” realized the only way to get electricity for their community was to do it themselves.
Ever since then, ownership and control of the cooperatives has been in the hands of the people who use the co-op’s service to power their everyday lives, not investors. That means that our primary interest has always been and will always be our members.