Rural electric cooperatives in Virginia
Rural electric cooperatives are non-profit electric utilities. Unlike the big investor-owned utilities, rural electric cooperatives (also called “electric co-ops”) are owned by member-owners, the customers whose electricity they provide.
Virginia’s rural electric cooperatives
Virginia is home to 13 rural electric cooperatives. More than one in six Virginians get their electricity from an electric cooperative. Unfortunately, many cooperative members don’t know they are owners of their electric company or that they have a say in its governance. As a result, many rural electric cooperatives are still controlled by insiders who favor the status quo. Too many rural electric cooperatives still heavily rely on coal-fired power and see renewable energy as a threat to their customer base, rather than an opportunity for their members.
Customers own rural electric cooperatives. As such, they are supposed to be responsive to members’ concerns. Each member-owner has one vote in board of director elections. The democratic structure of electric cooperatives allows them to change their energy policies if their member-owners demand it. More than one in six Virginians get their electricity from an electric cooperative, meaning that more than one in six Virginians is a member-owner of a rural electric co-op. As such, there is a tremendous opportunity to mobilize Virginia’s co-op members to fight for solar.
|How organized Virginia solar supporters can win
In fall 2017, Virginians joined together to push back against rate increases proposed by the Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) and won. Read how REC member-owners fought to keep their fixed access charges from doubling.
- Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative members push for solar – Learn how rural electric cooperative members in the Shenandoah Valley are working together to demand more solar.
- BARC Electric Cooperative in Lexington launches first community solar in Virginia – Learn how the BARC electric cooperative is providing community solar options to its members.