How Cooperatives Work

Columbia Rural Electric Association (REA) is part of the cooperative family of businesses and services that have helped change the world. Columbia REA is a utility cooperative that is proud to be delivering electricity to its members. All of our excess revenues above the cost of service are distributed to members in the form of “patronage” or “capital credits”, which essentially are dividends that are paid on a member’s investment into the cooperative.

Each of you as member and owner of Columbia REA has an equal voice like every other member of the cooperative, unlike investor-owned utilities where the number of votes are governed by the number of shares held.

Many similar cooperatives exist throughout the rural United States. Cooperatives were made possible by the passage of the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 to help bring electric power service to rural areas often when the nearest investor-owned utility would not provide service, believing there would be insufficient revenue to justify the capital expenditures required.

Columbia REA strives to bring the best service at the lowest possible cost. Columbia REA continues to grow in a positive way as rural areas served by the cooperative continue to develop into urban markets that can be served in a cost-effective manner.