PenLight Celebrates National Co-op Month

Black and white photo of the members of Peninsula LightYour vote matters - October is National Cooperative Month, and it’s a good time to reflect on our commitment to Gig Harbor and the Peninsula.

Your actions matter! In 1924, when Tacoma Power was building a transmission line through the peninsulas to deliver power from its hydro project at Lake Cushman on Hood Canal, our community members came together to form an electric utility.

The founders of Peninsula Light chose the co-op model because many farmers in the area were already familiar with how it worked. PenLight’s first articles of incorporation were adopted in July 1925, and the peninsulas were energized in December 1926. Today, there are more than 900 electric co-ops nationwide, and most began with the purpose of serving rural areas, like ours did back then, too.

PenLight has grown as our community has grown. We serve more than 33,000 electric meters, making us the second-largest co-op in the state. We cover 112 square miles in Gig Harbor, Fox Island, and Key Peninsula, and 75% of our service is residential.

Signatures from years ago.As a member of our co-op, you have a vote during our election process each year to decide who will represent the membership on our board of directors. You can also choose to donate money through your electric or water bill to help those less fortunate in our community through Project Help.

While innovation has changed a lot of the energy business, our core values have remained constant during the past century because we are a cooperative. Our core purpose is to continually improve the quality of life in Gig Harbor and the Peninsula. We continue to be stewards of your member dollars and strive hard to provide reliable power at low rates.

The Seven Co-op Principles

At PenLight, our goal is to serve our members with integrity, dedication, and respect. These core values are what drive our employees to achieve excellence in serving our members.

In addition to our own cooperative’s values, PenLight adheres to the same seven principles all cooperatives follow. These principles guide our decisions, from how we run the co-op to how we engage with our local communities.

While we set aside the month of October to celebrate what it means to be a member-owned cooperative, these seven principles remain strong and form what we believe to be the cornerstone of service to our members.

  • Black and white photo of a truck outside of Peninsula Light CoVoluntary and Open Membership — Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership.
  • Democratic Member Control — Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.
  • Members’ Economic Participation — Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative.
  • Autonomy and Independence — Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members.
  • 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 cooperatives.
  • Cooperation Among Cooperatives — Cooperatives serve members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together.
  • Concern for Community — While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities.