More than 29,000 co-ops operate in the U.S., with about 350 million members. More than 900 electric co-ops maintain nearly half of the electric distribution lines in the U.S. These lines cover three-quarters of the U.S. land mass and provide electricity to more than 40 million Americans. Like all co-ops, Peninsula Light Company operates under these seven cooperative principles:
- Voluntary and open membership. Co-ops are open to all who are able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership.
- Democratic member control. Co-ops are controlled by their members, who set the policies and make decisions. Elected representatives are accountable to the members, who have equal voting rights: one member, one vote.
- Member economic participation. Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. They allocate surpluses to develop the co-op, and benefit in proportion to their transactions with the co-op.
- Autonomy and independence. Cooperatives are self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members.
- Education, training and information. Co-ops provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute to the development of their co-ops. They inform the public, particularly young people and opinion leaders, about the nature and benefits of cooperation.
- Cooperation among cooperatives. Cooperatives serve their members by working together locally, nationally, regionally and internationally.
- Concern for community. While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities.