The Cooperative Difference
What makes The Energy Cooperative different from other utilities? We do not have customers. We are owned by our members. Cooperatives have deep roots in the communities they serve because without them we would not exist. We were built by our members in 1936 to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy. While the times may have changed, our mission and outlook have not. We view our role as a catalyst for good. Working together, we can accomplish great things for our community now and in the future.
The Energy Cooperative is led by members like you who understand and listen to our communities. We work together with a nationwide network of cooperatives to develop new technologies and infrastructure, learn from each other, and help each other when needed. We support local charitable organizations and encourage our members to ‘round up’ their energy bill to the next dollar to make a big impact in our communities. Programs of all types are eligible for Operation Round Up grants, and to date our members have donated more than $3.5 million to deserving schools, groups and organizations. When you support Operation Round Up, you are supporting your community and making it a better place for everyone to live.
Additionally, because we are owned by our members (and not shareholders) every energy bill you pay helps to ensure better reliability for you and your neighbors. Your dollars are reinvested locally into improvements that impact the reliability and affordability of your energy.
Why Were Cooperatives Formed?
By the mid-1930s, almost every urban area in the United States had electric service. In rural areas, only 10 percent of people had electricity, and investor-owned utilities could not justify building miles of line to service only a few consumers. Today, Ohio’s electric cooperatives serve nearly 380,000 homes and businesses in Ohio, and there are nearly 900 rural electric cooperatives across the nation serving 42 million consumer-members.
In 1936, a group of farmers in Licking and Knox counties decided to take advantage of a federal program offered by the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) by forming an electric cooperative known as Licking Rural Electrification (LRE). At inception, five people were employed to service 410 members and 143 miles of electric line. The George Conrad Farm on Smoketown Road was the first member-owner energized. For 40 years, the office was located one mile south of Utica, Ohio, on State Route 13 and was built in 1959. In 1998, LRE moved the headquarters to Newark, Ohio.
In October of 1998, Licking Rural Electrification, Inc. acquired National Gas & Oil Company and its subsidiaries, National Gas & Oil Corp., Producers Gas Sales, NGO Development Corp., NGO Transmission, Inc., and NGO Propane. The Energy Cooperative is the trade name used by LRE and its subsidiaries, which operate as separate corporations.