Not-for-profit cooperatives are owned and operated by the very members they serve, which ensures they are always focused on member needs and local priorities. Member ownership also guarantees every member has a voice in co-op business, which is governed by an elected board of directors who are also member-owners. The board makes decisions to accommodate the best interests of the membership and local directors have a personal investment in assuring the cooperative is meeting the needs of the community.
Electric cooperatives across America were created more than 75 years ago to improve quality of life by providing safe, reliable and affordable electricity to members, not to generate money for shareholders. At its best, a cooperative does not differentiate between itself and members – they are one and the same. 


Co-ops power communities and empower members by improving their quality of life.

In Iowa, locally owned electric cooperatives power the lives of 650,000 people throughout all 99 counties every day. Across America, more than 100 million people are members of 47,000 cooperatives, enabling consumers to secure a wide array of goods and services such as health care, insurance, housing, food, heating fuel, hardware, credit unions, child care and utility services. One in three Iowans is a member of a cooperative; learn more about Iowa cooperatives at

Quick Facts about Iowa's Electric Cooperatives:

  • Electric cooperatives are owned by the members they serve, making co-ops truly democratic organizations with local governance.

  • Electric cooperatives are guided by a board of elected directors who must be member-owners of the co-op.
  • Iowa's electric co-ops maintain enough power lines to wrap around the equator 2.5 times.
  • The electric co-ops of Iowa serve about 15% of the state's population but cover 80% of the state's land mass.
  • While the cost of most things (cars, houses eggs, milk, stamps, gas ,etc.) has increased twentyfold or more over the past 75 years, electricity has remained very affordable. The average cost per kilowatt-hour has only doubled since the 1930s.
  • In Iowa, the average co-op household pays about $5 a day for safe, reliable electricity. 
  • Not-for-profit electric cooperatives were formed in the 1930s and 40s as a way for rural citizens to gain access to electricity. Before rural electric cooperatives were formed, only 10% of rural citizens in America had electricity while 90% of city dwellers had electricity.
  • The electric co-ops of Iowa serve primarily rural areas with sparse populations. Investor-owned utilities in Iowa serve 27 meters and generate $72,600 of revenue per mile of line on average, while co-ops serve about 4 meters and generate $10,700 of revenue per mile of line on average. Iowa municipalities average 54 meters per mile and generate $129,000 of revenue per mile of line.
  • Over the past five years, Iowa’s electric co-ops have kept the lights on 99.97% of the time, despite blizzards, ice storms, tornadoes or other extreme weather events.
  • The average Iowa co-op member-owner experiences one outage per year, lasting an average of 112 minutes.
  • Over the past 50+ years, Iowa's electric co-ops have sent more than 2,500 high school students to Washington, D.C., for the annual Youth Tour leadership program.
  • Through our affiliation with Iowa Area Development Group, Iowa's electric co-ops have assisted more than 2,000 companies in investing more than $10 billion in new locations and expansions over the past 30 years.
  • Iowa's electric cooperatives have helped create or retain more than 50,000 jobs in rural Iowa.
  • Each year, Iowa's electric co-ops pay $14 million in property taxes.
  • More than $300 million in equity has been returned to Iowa electric co-op member-owners in the form of retired capital credits/patronage capital.
  • The electric co-ops of Iowa directly employ more than 1,200 people.