What is the difference between a cooperative such as CHELCO and a conventional, investor-owned electric utility?
CHELCO is a member-owned, not-for-profit utility, unlike other utilities that are investor-owned. Cooperatives are locally owned and operated, and the members have a say in the business. Members vote each year for directors and changes in the by-laws. CHELCO has approximately 44,000 services in place on almost 3,000 miles of line. CHELCO’s average density is 9.8 customers per mile of line, while investor-owned utilities serve approximately 35 to 50 customers per mile of line. Cooperatives such as CHELCO are a part of the communities they serve. Employees (147 at CHELCO) and the business are active in a wide variety of community activities. Because the business is not-for-profit, margins go back into the company to fund upgrades and prepare for emergencies (repairs from hurricanes, for example). When sufficient credit accumulates, CHELCO may issue the equivalent of a stock dividend (capital credits) to members.