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What is a Co-op?

A co-op is founded when people with a similar need form an organization to provide goods or services, like a farmer's market food co-op or financial services credit union co-op. Electric co-ops were formed in much the same way to provide electricity to rural areas abandoned by for-profit electric utilities.

There are no Lumbee River Electric Membership Cooperative customers. Our Member-Owners have an equal voice in the co-op's direction and certain rights that are quite different from those who are customers of a for-profit utility, owned by shareholders.

Members gain a share of the co-op ownership as they use our services. Our net margin after expenses and reserves does not belong to the utility; it belongs to our Members. The margins must be used either to improve and maintain operations or be distributed back to Members. This is a major, unique and beneficial aspect of a cooperative.

Electric cooperatives are:

  • private, independent electric utility businesses
  • owned by the members they serve
  • incorporated under the laws of the states in which they operate
  • established to provide at-cost electric service
  • governed by a board of directors, elected from the membership, who set policies and procedures that are implemented by the cooperatives' steering team

Nearly 1,000 rural electric co-ops own and maintain nearly half of the electric distribution lines in the U. S., which cover 75 percent of the nation's land mass and provide electricity to 42 million people in 47 states.

In North Carolina, there are 26 electric co-ops serving more than 2.5 million people in 93 of North Carolina's 100 counties.

See our History.


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