For a utility co-op, the cooperative business model is used to manage electricity and other public utilities. More specifically electric co-ops use this model to bring safe, reliable, and affordable electricity to people all over the United States. Co-ops account for 42% of the United States’ electric distribution. Electric co-ops power over half of the nation’s landmass with over 900 electric co-ops providing power to 47 states. This includes over 18 million homes, schools, and businesses.

Electric co-ops are owned by the people using their services to receive electricity, so electric co-ops are putting the power in the hands of the community. By being community-owned, utility co-ops are heavily involved in the community events, development projects, and support.

Learn more about utility co-ops here!


The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) is an electric co-op that represents 12% of the total electric sales in the US and services 42 million people in 47 states. NRECA gives back through their cooperative spirit. They bring electricity to developing countries which has helped improve education, healthcare, daily life, and economic opportunities. The NRECA volunteers were able to witness people around the world reacting to their lights going on for the first time. They were humbled and overwhelmed by the volunteering they were doing. NRECA’s work of bringing electricity to communities around the world is an example of the power of cooperation and the effects it has on the community.


Colorado Rural Electric Association (CREA), based in Denver, represents Colorado’s electric co-ops. The 22 electric co-ops in Colorado have built nearly 80,000 miles of power line and serve about a million rural electric consumers in the state. Colorado and all electric co-ops are owned by the people who use the services, the community. CREA is very involved with the community.

Cooperative Youth Leadership Camp

Electric co-ops in Colorado and other surrounding states have been running a summer Cooperative Youth Leader Camp for about 30 years now. This camp was designed to teach young people about the cooperative business model; the operations, leadership, and organization of cooperatives.

In order to truly grasp the concepts of the cooperative business model, attendees are challenged to form a co-op! They elect a board of directors to serve on one of the camp activity comittees. By instilling cooperative values at a young age we know that they will use their growing knowledge to lead the cooperative movement in the next generation.

This electric co-op camp includes presentations about leadership skills, electricity safety, and more. The camp also takes the students to visit the Craig Station Power Plant and the Trapper Coal Mine. This camp is not all educational, there is also recreation time!

CRECA is empowering youth communities and spreading awareness to the nest generation!

It is critical for kids and young adults to learn about the cooperative business model because it is not taught in schools. This camp is an introduction for them to learn about an important movement in an engaging way with the traditional camp activities and more. The goal is to spread cooperative awareness to the next generation and these electric co-ops are doing so.

The potential for people to choose cooperatives over conventional businesses is promising. These millennials are passionate about building a better world and a better Colorado!

Check out electric co-ops in Colorado!