Energy Owned by the People: Electric Cooperatives in the 21st Century

Speaker: Adam Schwartz, Founder & Principal, The Cooperative Way
Host: Energy Graduate Group
Date: 12/01/2017
Time: 10:30am to 11:50am
Location: 1605 Tilia Street, West Village, UC Davis

Seminar Video

Abstract: Electric companies that are owned by the very same people they serve. Over 42 million people receive electric power from one of over 900 cooperatives that operate in 47 states. Most were formed in the late stages of the depression and WWII era. The electric energy industry is going through the most disruptive phase in their existence since the days of Thomas Edison. How will cooperatives react?

Cooperatives with locally elected boards are comprised exclusively of members. They serve primarily rural areas or areas that were once rural like now suburban Atlanta. Cooperatives operate in all sectors of the economy and use the seven internationally recognized cooperative principles: Voluntary and Open Membership; Democratic Member Control; Members' Economic Participation, Autonomy and Independence; Education, Training and Information; Cooperation among Cooperatives; and Concern for Community.

They have displayed innovation in the past by creating a whole network of second tier co-ops that have been created for a variety of purposes including: generation & transmission, technology, finance, insurance, security, broadband, renewable energy, and power marketing. All of these 2nd tier co-ops are owned by the distribution electric cooperatives.

We will explore the prospects for cooperatives to meet the demands of the current energy consumer.

Bio: Adam Schwartz is the founder and principal of The Cooperative Way, a six year-old consulting firm dedicated to assisting all types of cooperative businesses succeed. The Cooperative Way is a strategic partner with CDS Consulting Co-op, a shared services cooperative of 35 cooperative consultants. Prior to founding The Cooperative Way, Schwartz served as vice president for public affairs and member services from 2005-2011 for the National Cooperative Business Association. From 2001-2005, he was Vice President of External Affairs for the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative.  From 1992-2001, Schwartz was a senior legislative representative for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). He is a frequent speaker and author on cooperative business. Schwartz is an adjunct instructor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA. He writes a monthly column for Rural Electric Magazine #gocoop The Future of Cooperatives. Schwartz has appeared on MSNBC and CNN to promote cooperatives as the better business model for economic and social change.