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Seven Cooperative Principles

Cooperatives around the world generally operate according to the same core principles, and they trace these roots to the first cooperative founded in Rochdale, England in 1844. This is considered the birth of modern cooperatives because of the principles and practices created to guide the co-op. The principles have evolved over the years, but no matter the industry, today 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, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination. 
  2. Democratic Member Control – We’re governed by our members. Those elected to the board can actively participate in setting policies. Elected board representatives answer to the Member-owners. In the name of equality, each member gets one vote at election time. (It doesn't depend on your energy usage or your tenure with us.)
  3. Members’ Economic Participation – Members contribute equally to, and democratically control, the capital of CEC. The cooperative returns margins (or profits) to Members in the form of Capital Credits.
  4. Autonomy and Independence – Cooperatives are independent companies controlled by our members. If we enter into agreements with other organizations (including governments) or raise capital from external sources, we do so on terms that ensure continued democratic control by our members.
  5. Education, Training, and Information – We teach and train our members, board directors, managers, employees and the general public. Topics include industry issues, conservation, community involvement, safety and more.
  6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives – Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through structured groups such as the Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association (PREA) and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).
  7. Concern for Community – We live in Western Pennsylvania too and want to see our communities prosper. That’s why CEC invests in worthy causes throughout our service territory and has community based programs. 
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