Feature
By the Numbers
The countless ways electric co-ops make a difference across Texas

IMAGE: Shaw Nielsen

In some ways, the less you think about your electric cooperative, the better. That means your power has stayed on almost without fail, outages are quickly remedied, and your monthly bills are fair and reasonable.

But a lot of thought goes into electric co-ops because they are so much more than power providers. They are united by a business model that values community over profits. They are locally owned and democratically controlled by their customers, called members. They work together to achieve goals and solve problems. Your cooperative is one of more than 900 electric co-ops in the U.S.

The co-op business model is used by a wide variety of organizations—not just electric utilities. Ace Hardware; REI, which specializes in outdoor clothing and gear; Ocean Spray; Sunkist; and Land O’Lakes operate as co-ops. In fact, there are more than 40,000 co-op businesses in the U.S., with 350 million members, according to a University of Wisconsin study.

October is National Cooperative Month, a good opportunity to show the reach, scope and numbers behind Texas’ electric co-ops that, when added up, reveal the significant impact they have on rural and suburban communities.

 

30–35 pounds of gear weighs down lineworkers when climbing a pole—hooks, a belt, tools and more.

9,300 people work at the 69 electric co-ops in the state.

85 years of co-ops in Texas. Bartlett EC, formed in 1935 as the first co-op in the country to receive a Rural Electrification Administration loan, turned on its first light March 7, 1936, at a farmhouse outside Bartlett.

3.7 million readers of Texas Co-op Power, which has been landing in mailboxes since 1944. That’s like everybody in Houston and Dallas having the same favorite magazine as you.

3 million Texans enjoy co-op electric service, mostly in rural and suburban areas.

325,000 miles of co-op power lines in Texas, enough to encircle Earth more than 13 times.

1,338,828 hours worked without a lost-time incident at Bandera EC, which was honored in March for that long stretch of safety—remarkable considering the high voltage within arm’s length of its lineworkers every day.

241 of Texas’ 254 counties are served by electric co-ops.

47 million lightning bolts struck Texas in 2019—the most of any state by far. Not all of them knocked out power, but you can bet many of them put workers on edge.

$1.6 million in scholarships awarded annually to college students by co-ops. A stack of 1.6 million $1 bills would reach 573 feet high—or nearly twice the height of the Texas Capitol.

5.5 million poles hold up power lines in Co-op Country in Texas.

TAGS: Co-ops at Work, Education, Linemen, Youth Tour


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