Why is CCEnergy a Co-Op?
Our focus is to benefit our members and educate our communities, not make profits. Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by members who share in the power structure by actively participating in setting policies and making decisions for everyone's mutual benefit. CCEnergy was originally formed as a co-op to use our buying power to secure discounted prices from the top equipment providers, and pass those savings on to our members.
A cooperative is also distinct from a tax-exempt non-profit organization. While CCEnergy is not focused on making profits, it is a for-profit organization and is allowed to share profits with its members.
What Constitutes a Co-op?
A cooperative is an organization, enterprise, or business that is owned and controlled by the people who use its products, supplies, or services. While cooperatives vary in type and membership size, they are usually formed to meet some specific objectives of members, and are structured to adapt to member's changing needs. Co-ops are characterized by self-reliance and self-help.
CCEnergy is a retail buyer's cooperative, offering a full range of services. Retail cooperatives sell consumer goods and services to members who enjoy discounts, patronage refunds or both. Patronage refunds are a percentage of the total amount of money a member has spent on purchases over a specified period of time. These refunds come from the earnings of the cooperatives. In the case of CCEnergy, the goods are the PV systems and equipment we sell to our consumer members; however, solar professionals including designers and installer contractors are also part of our co-op. The services CCEnergy offers include: education, training, collaboration, system design, installation, permit facilitation, and incentive/loan program application and processing.
Regardless of the type, size, geographical location, or purpose, all cooperatives provide at least one of the following:
- Improve bargaining power when dealing with other business
Combining the volume of several members leverages their position.
- Reduce costs
Volume purchasing reduces the purchase price of needed supplies. Earnings of the cooperative returned to individual members lower their net costs.
- Obtain products or services otherwise unavailable
Services or products that would not attract private business are often supplied by cooperatives.
- Obtain market access or broaden market opportunities
Value added to products by processing. Offering larger quantities of an assured type and quality attracts more buyers.
- Improve product or service quality
Value added to their products, competition, and improved facilities and equipment increase member satisfaction.
- Increase income
Distribution of the cooperative’s earnings boosts the income of members.
Guiding Principles for Co-ops
1st Principle: Voluntary and Open Membership
Co-operatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.
2nd Principle: Democratic Member Control
Co-operatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote), and co-operatives at other levels are also organized in a democratic manner.
3rd Principle: Members' Economic Participation
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
4th Principle: Autonomy and Independence
Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.
5th Principle: Education, Training and Information
Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public - particularly young people and opinion leaders - about the nature and benefits of cooperation.
6th Principle: Co-operation Among Co-operatives
Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.
7th Principle: Concern for Community
Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.
For more information about how CCEnergy is organized, please contact us. We’d be happy to talk with you.