Although nearly 90 percent of urban dwellers had electricity by the 1930s, only 10 percent of rural dwellers did. Private utility companies, who supplied electric power to most of the nation's consumers, argued that it was too expensive to string electric lines to isolated rural farmsteads. They argued that most farmers were too poor to be able to afford electricity anyway.
The Roosevelt Administration believed that if private enterprise could not supply electric power to the people, then it was the duty of the government to do so. So, in 1935 the Rural Electric Administration (REA) was created to bring electricity to rural areas like those in central North Carolina. In 1938, nine men gathered at a small gas station in downtown Asheboro to talk about building an electric cooperative themselves. They, too, believed that people in rural areas deserved the quality of life that electricity provided people in cities. As their talks continued, the men decided to form a cooperative that would bring electricity to the countryside. This business would be owned by those it served and the electricity would be distributed at a fair and reasonable cost to all who wanted it.
Those nine founders signed their names on the line to borrow $300,000 to build their new electric cooperative—Randolph Electric Membership Corporation—and for just $5, rural residents could become member-owners of this new cooperative. Today, Randolph EMC has grown to more than 31,000 consumer-members spread out over more than 4,100 miles of line in areas of Randolph, Moore, Montgomery, Chatham and Alamance counties.
In the 70-plus years that Randolph EMC has been in business, the cooperative still adheres to many of those same founding principles from the 1930s. We are still “owned by those we serve.” Randolph EMC still operates on the basic premise of those original directors:“ To provide electrical power at an affordable cost while maintaining sound business principles.”
Randolph EMC is dedicated to the delivery of energy and superior services in response to the needs of our members and communities.
Integrity - We will adhere to high moral principals and professional standards.
Accountability - We will be accountable to our member/owners in all of our actions and decisions.
Innovation - We will be innovative and use proven technology to provide excellent service and efficient operations.
Community Involvement - We will cultivate a strong relationship with and assist in developing our communities.
Cooperatives around the world generally operate according to the same core principles and values, adopted by the International Cooperative Alliance in 1995. The International Cooperative Alliance is a global membership association of co-ops and co-op support organizations. Cooperatives trace the roots of these principles to the first modern cooperative founded in Rochdale, England in 1844.
For a fun, illustrated guide to the history of electric cooperatives and our principles, click here.
- Voluntary and Open Membership: Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all people able to use its services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
- Democratic Member Control: Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members—those who buy the goods or use the services of the cooperative—who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.
- Members' Economic Participation: Members contribute equally to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. This benefits members in proportion to the business they conduct with the cooperative rather than on the capital invested.
- Autonomy and Independence: Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If the co-op enters into agreements with other organizations or raises capital from external sources, it is done so based on terms that ensure democratic control by the members and maintains the cooperative’s autonomy.
- Education, Training and Information: Cooperatives provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative. Members also inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives.
- Cooperation among Cooperatives: Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
- Concern for Community: While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of communities through policies and programs accepted by the members.