Cooper, Jim
June 2008
Harvard Journal on Legislation;Summer2008, Vol. 45 Issue 2, p335
Academic Journal
Most people who live or work in rural America must buy their electricity from their local co-operative, a unique and largely unregulated type of utility. Electric co-ops are owned by their customers who are called "members." This Policy Essay by Congressman Jim Cooper focuses on the primary obligation electric co-ops owe their members: "at-cost" service, i.e., the lowest feasible electric bills. To meet this obligation co-ops must provide low electric rates and timely return of equity. They must also reduce the quantity of unneeded electricity purchased. This Essay demonstrates that most distribution co-ops have a financial incentive to sell more electricity, not less. It also shows that co-ops have sought to conceal information from their members--information to which owners are entitled in other business contexts.


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