Bring Co-op Power to Your Community
You can start your own energy cooperative, or you can share ours (if you live in the Northeastern US). The Community Energy Cooperatives in Co-op Power's network are working together to create a commons - a shared group of resources and a support system that you can use to develop community-owned, community-scale sustainable energy products and services, projects, businesses, and jobs for your community. They are focused on creating a more just and sustainable energy future in the Northeastern US.
Reasons why you might want to bring Co-op Power to your community: You'll have access to technical expertise, business plans, and development resources right away from the network of Community Energy Cooperatives. You'll save time. You'll have a CEO and CFO to meet your regulatory and compliance requirements right away and you'll have all kinds of expertise along with a list of benefits you can quickly bring to your members. You'll save a lot of money each year in management salaries, governance, accounting and legal fees, and you will contribute a share of your development fees and income to support shared expenses.
You'll be part of a multi-race, multi-class cooperative supporting local, regional, national, and global energy solutions, creating a more just and sustainable future. When you're ready to build community-owned enterprises, projects, products and services and jobs for your community and/or for the region, you can access valuable development resources and industry expertise, and use the Membership program to sign on new Members, raising income and equity to use as core funding for your development projects.
You'll be part of governance system, making decisions with other community energy co-ops in the Co-op Power network. You'll build relationships with other Community Energy Co-op leaders and focus on regional, national, and global solutions as well as your own local solutions. You'll share risks and rewards with the other Community Energy Co-ops and learn together about what works to build a more resilient, just and sustainable energy future for everyone in our region.
Governance: The Co-op Power Board is made up of representatives of the Community Energy Co-ops along with several at-large Board Members elected by all of the Co-op Power Members. Each CEC's Board is a subcommittee of the Co-op Power Board. Most decisions are made by your Board. When you decide to invest your Member Equity, you develop a proposal and bring it to the Co-op Power Board for decision. You send all contracts to the CEO for signature so that we can keep track easily of the commitments we're making. Financial risks and rewards are shared.
Here's a description of our regional structure, the charter each Community Energy Co-op agrees to when they join, and the development chart that helps describe the journey of building your Community Energy Co-op.
How to Apply to be a Community Energy Co-op in Co-op Power's Network
Step #1) Apply. Decide you want to become a Co-op Power Community Energy Co-op. You can define your Community Energy Co-op in any way you wish, with whatever geographic or interest group you choose. Have a group of 20 people sign a Letter of Interest to the Co-op Power Board, saying they're ready to join (if they haven't already).
Step #2) Getting to Know Each Other. Nominate one of your members to be an advisor to the Board. Elect another member to be your CEC coordinator. Send both to participate in Board meetings via conference call or in-person.
Step #3) Decision Time. The Co-op Power Board decides whether to accept your new Community Energy Co-op based on Board Criteria for CEC's and Projects. If accepted, your CEC's advisor to the Co-op Power Board will continue to advise the Board until your Community Energy Co-op members elect your representative to the Co-op Power Board.
Step #4) Getting the Collaboration Started. Your CEC decides what products and services it will offer, what enterprises and jobs it needs, what the community needs most now. Co-op Power and the other CEC's will extend the products and services it offers members to your region where possible. You'll figure out what you have to offer the other CEC's too.
Step #5) Membership Development. You'll build your membership base. You might recruit local vendors to “Sweeten the Pot” to encourage members to join (restaurant and book store discounts, food co-op discounts, hot tub discounts, massages, etc). You might hold outreach meetings, table at events, run training programs, and run stories in local newspapers and newsletters encouraging people to join your CEC and support your work. You will want to develop your mailing list of people interested in building a sustainable and just energy future for your region and sign on more members. 75% of the memberships raised by your CEC will be held in trust to invest in your projects (2/3rd of that is equity to invest and 1/3rd is income you can spend). 25% of the memberships you raise will be allocated to support regional Co-op Power Member Development and Governance activities.
At that point, you're up and running, providing valuable resources to your community.
How to Apply to Start-up a New Enterprise Using Member Equity
Step #1) Project Letter of Interest. If you want to invest in a business development project, you send a Project Letter of Interest to the Co-op Power Board.
Step #2) Review Process. Co-op Power Staff send the Project Letter of Interest to a Board-Appointed Advisory Group for review. The Advisory Group produces a report that advises the Board on how well this project meets each of the Member-Adopted Criteria.
Step #3) Decision Making. The Advisory Group sends their report into the Co-op Power Board. If the project meets the Member-Adopted Criteria and if Co-op Power has the capacity to adequately support the project, it will be accepted. The Board will instruct the Co-op Power CEO to negotiate a Project Agreement with your CEC's Leadership Team that will outline roles, responsibilities, action plans, timelines, and budget for Project Development.
Step #4) Business Planning and Development. With support from Co-op Power staff and other CEC's, your CEC will complete the planning process, secure financing, and develop your business or project.
Step #5) Project Launch. Launch your project to create green jobs and energy resources needed in your community.
For more information contact: 877-266-7543 or info [at] cooppower.coop!