The Cooperative Difference
Whether it's the fact that you're a member-owner, concern for our community, or cooperation among cooperatives after a major storm, BEMC embraces all seven principles daily.
BEMC and other cooperatives operate according to the same set of core principles and values. These principles are a key reason why electric cooperatives are different from other utilities, by putting the needs of the membership first. The 7 Cooperative Principles are:
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
Each member has one vote to elect the board of directors, which is accountable to the membership.
3. Members’ Economic Participation
All members have an economic stake in the business based on their purchases from the co-op. When it is financially prudent, the board of directors can authorize a return of those capital credits to members.
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 cooperative. 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.