“To advance the position of agriculture, to enrich the life of the community, to free men and women from the heavy drudgery of home and farm, this electric system was erected in cooperation with their federal government by farmers and their neighborhood to whom it supplies the limitless service of electricity.”
Over fifty years ago the people of the surrounding area chose to band together to bring a necessary service to a community in need. The founding members of Webster Electric Cooperative went to great extremes to ensure that the members of their community would be able to receive the same services as their counterparts in the cities. It is from this idea that the group’s mission statement was born and from this mission statement grew the cooperative. From its charter in 1946 the cooperative has endured many changes, difficulties and trials only to emerge stronger and more robust.From the earliest beginnings as a dream shared by a handful of citizens to being a low-cost energy supplier for over 16,000 consumers, Webster Electric Cooperative has evolved to be an integral part of the lives of the citizens in a seven-county area.
Continuing with the founders’ vision, the cooperative continues to strive to provide its members with new technologies and efficient services. As we begin the second millennium, the cooperative is offering its members such services as surge suppression, home energy audits and local internet connections. By offering these services, the cooperative continues to strive to fulfill its promise to the participating members as it was written in 1946.
With a rate per kilowatt hour of just $.06851, Webster Electric Cooperative has one of the lowest electric rate among the 40 Missouri Cooperatives.
Electric cooperatives are:
- Private independent electric utility businesses,
- Incorporated under the laws of the states in which they operate,
- Established to provide at-cost electric service,
- Owned by the consumers they serve,
- Governed by a board of directors elected from the membership, which sets policies and procedures that are implemented by the cooperatives’ professional staff.
Most electric co-ops are distribution cooperatives that deliver electricity to the consumer. Some are generation and transmission cooperatives that both generate and transmit electricity to meet the power needs of distribution co-ops.
What Makes Cooperatives Different?
Cooperatives are operated to provide at-cost electric service to the consumer-owners. On the other hand, investor-owned utilities that are not co-ops are operated to maximize profit for the shareholders. A co-op’s net margin above expenses and reserves does not belong to the utility; it belongs to the individual consumer-owners of the co-op. The margins must either be used to improve or maintain operations, or be distributed to those who use the co-op’s products or services.
All cooperative businesses adhere to seven guiding principles:
1. Voluntary and Open Membership — Cooperatives 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.
2. Democratic Member Control — Cooperatives 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.
3. Members’ Economic Participation — Members 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 membership. 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.
4. Autonomy and Independence — Cooperatives 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 cooperative autonomy.
5. Education, Training, and Information — Cooperatives 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.
6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives — Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.
7. Concern for Community — While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members.
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