The Cooperative Philosophy

Chugach is a cooperative – a cooperative is a way to organize a business. Chugach was formed to serve its member-owners. In many ways, cooperatives are like any other business; but in several important ways they're unique and different.

Cooperative benefits:

  • Owned and democratically controlled by their members – the people who use the co-op’s services or buy its goods – not by outside investors; co-op members elect their board of directors from within the membership.
  • Return surplus revenues (income over expenses and investment) to members proportionate to their use of the cooperative, not proportionate to their “investment” or ownership share. This is Chugach’s “capital credits” program.
  • Motivated by service, not profit – to meet their members' needs for affordable and high quality goods or services.
  • Exist solely to serve their members.

There are about 950 electric cooperatives across the country.

Other businesses can be organized as cooperatives. There are a number of telephone cooperatives in the country. Other examples of cooperatives include REI and Sunkist.

For more information on cooperatives:

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)

History of cooperatives

The “modern cooperative era” began in 1844, when the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society was established in Rochdale, England. Its members documented the principles by which they would operate their food cooperative, implementing the central tenets around which cooperatives are structured today.

Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, cooperatives sprung up sporadically in America, particularly in times of economic hardship. In 1922, Congress passed the Capper-Volstead Act, allowing farmers to collectively market products without being held in violation of the nation's anti-trust laws.

In the Depression years, Congress established various agencies to provide loans and assistance to cooperatives, including the Farm Credit Administration (1929), the National Credit Union Administration (1934), and the Rural Electrification Administration (1936). The National Cooperative Bank was established in 1978 under the National Consumer Cooperative Bank Act. The bank's central function to this day is to stimulate economic growth and community development via an array of financial services for cooperatives.

The Seven Rochdale Principles

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership
  2. Democratic Member Control
  3. Members' Economic Participation
  4. Autonomy and Independence
  5. Education, Training, and Information
  6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives
  7. Concern for Community