In recent years, there has been a resurgence in the appeal of buying locally. It’s evident by the increased popularity of farmers’ markets across Iowa with shoppers wanting to buy produce or goods that have been grown by their community members. People have a desire to know more about how their food is grown and raised, and buying it from a local farmer helps to bridge that gap. It’s also visible with the promotion of Small Business Saturday in November and the “shop small” movement, which encourage shoppers to return to Main Street and support the local small businesses they know and trust.

For Access Energy Cooperative, the commitment to supporting local communities and economies with purchases has always been our way of doing things. Local ownership and local control are hallmarks of the cooperative business model, which has served our member-owners well for more than 78 years. Member-owner involvement was the key to our formation decades ago, and it’s what continues to fuel how we serve you today and the way we plan for the future.

Local ownership and democratic member control – one of the seven key cooperative principles – distinguishes us from other utilities. Every single member of the cooperative has a voice in how we do business. As a member-owner, you elect directors – who also are cooperative members – to represent your interests when it comes to setting policies or making decisions on issues that impact you. One member equals one vote, and every vote counts.

Because Access Energy Cooperative is owned by your fellow neighbors, friends and community members, decisions are made in the best interests of the needs of the communities we serve. We don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. We know that what works well for a cooperative in northwest Iowa may not work as well for our cooperative members. Because Wall Street investors are not making decisions for the cooperative on your behalf, we can remain flexible and adapt to the unique needs of our region. We can pursue economic development opportunities that are complementary to existing businesses in our area and provide for sustainable growth of local communities.

While Access Energy Cooperative’s core purpose is to provide electricity that is safe, reliable, efficient  and environmentally responsible, we’re also committed to making our communities quality places to live. We do this in many ways, such as by providing good and stable jobs; offering educational opportunities on programs and services such as energy efficiency and safety; encouraging student leadership and education; paying local, county and state taxes; and distributing patronage back to members based on our not-for-profit business model.

Across the country, America’s 838 locally owned electric distribution cooperatives provide electricity to an estimated 42 million people in 47 states, covering three quarters of the nation’s landmass. The endurance of the cooperative business model is a testimony to the success of local control and ownership by the same people who rely on electric services to power their homes, businesses and lives.