“The Electric Cooperative Story”: The Story Behind The Video


What is a cooperative? What are cooperative principles? What makes a cooperative different? Cuivre River Electric Cooperative is proud to present “The Electric Cooperative Story” video. This incredible video is provided by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and features a fast-action hand-drawn guide to the history, structure, and purpose of rural electric cooperatives.


The NRECA is the national service organization for more than 900 not-for-profit rural electric cooperatives and public power districts providing retail electric service to more than 42 million consumers in 47 states. NRECA's members include consumer-owned local distribution systems and 66 generation and transmission cooperatives that supply wholesale power to their distribution cooperative owner-members and share an obligation to serve their members by providing safe, reliable and affordable electric service.


“The Electric Cooperative Story” video was produced by the award-winning creative studio Killer Minnow, whose exceptional work in the areas of conceptual design, motion graphics, animation, and visual effects were used in the video production.


What was the process behind the creation of the “The Electric Cooperative Story” video? The NRECA wanted to create a unique and engaging way to tell the rich history of electric cooperatives in America. As a solution, the Killer Minnow team focused on storytelling and utilized a hand-drawn illustration style that, when paired with voiceover and music, expressed the grassroots nature and history of this organization. They worked with NRECA to write a script that was refined and timed seamlessly with illustration builds and once approved, created a whiteboard set to film the real-time drawing process. In post-production, using After Effects, the video was sped up and the illustrator's hand was removed from shots and timed to match the voice over.


Here are some fun facts about “The Electric Cooperative Story” video. The Killer Minnow team spent more than twelve and a half hours over the course of two days creating the hand-drawn illustrations. How many markers were used? Four black, three red and one green marker were used in the production. Now you know! Into, outro tags and page banner were created by Lonnie Tucker for Cuivre River Electric Cooperative’s production and use. Enjoy the video!


A cooperative is a business that is owned and controlled by the people who use it. Its primary purpose is to provide goods and/or services to its members for their mutual benefit. Rural electric cooperatives operate more than half of the electric distribution lines in the United States and provide electricity for 26 million people. Cuivre River Electric Cooperative is Missouri’s largest electric distribution cooperative, serving more than 62,500 families and businesses in Lincoln, Pike, St. Charles and Warren Counties.

America’s Cooperative Electric Utilities

Electric cooperatives are an integral part of the $364 billion electric utility industry. They play a critical role in our nation's economy and in local communities.

Electric Cooperatives Are:


  • Private independent electric utility businesses,
  • Owned by the consumers they serve,
  • Incorporated under the laws of the states in which they operate,
  • Established to provide atcost electric service,
  • Governed by a board of directors elected from the membership, which sets policies and
  • Procedures that are implemented by the cooperatives’ professional staff.

Distribution cooperatives deliver electricity to the consumer. Generation and transmission cooperatives (G&Ts) generate and transmit electricity to distribution coops. In addition to electric service, many electric co-ops are involved in community development and revitalization projects, e.g., small business development and jobs creation, improvement of water and sewer systems, and assistance in delivery of health care and educational services.


The Seven Cooperative Principles


Voluntary and Open Membership: Cooperatives are open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership.


Democratic Member Control: Cooperatives are controlled by members who, through representatives, set policies and make decisions. Members have equal voting rights – one member, one vote. In August, nearly 4,000 people attended Cuivre River Electric Cooperative’s Annual Meeting to elect directors.


Economic Participation: Members contribute equally to the cooperatives’ capital and allocate surpluses in proportion to their transactions.


Autonomy and Independence: Cooperatives are autonomous self-help organizations controlled by their members.


Education and Information: Cooperatives provide education for their members, directors and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives. Cuivre River offers several programs to local schools and community groups, plus sponsors several high school juniors each year to attend the Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., and several sophomores to attend the Cooperative Youth Conference & Leadership Experience (CYCLE) in Jefferson City.


Cooperation Among Cooperatives: Cooperatives serve their members and strengthen the cooperative by working together through local, regional, national and international networks. A great example of this network was the call for assistance from electric cooperatives in the Gulf Coast region during recent hurricane seasons. Cuivre River line workers joined thousands of other employees from cooperatives across the nation to help reconstruct electric systems destroyed by the strength of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Gustav.  They also helped rebuild power lines close to home in southeast Missouri after ice storms last winter. Cuivre’s power supply is even generated and delivered by cooperatives, owned in part by Cuivre River members themselves.


Concern for Community: While focusing on member needs, cooperatives also work for the sustainable development of their communities. For example, Cuivre River’s Operation Round Up program has provided area residents and community organizations grants to assist with unmet needs since 1997.


These seven time-tested principles still provide the foundation for all cooperatives 165 years later. During October, think about how cooperatives may affect your life the next time you flip a light switch, bank at the local credit union or shop for food.


Important Cooperative Facts At A Glance


864 Distribution and 66 Generation & Transmission (G&T) Cooperatives Serve:


  • 42 million people in 47 states.
  • 18 million businesses, homes, schools, churches, farms, irrigation systems, and other establishments in 2,500 of 3,141 counties in the U.S.
  • 12 percent of the nation's population.


To Perform Their Mission, Electric Cooperatives:


  • Own assets worth $112 billion,
  • Own and maintain 2.5 million miles, or 42%, of the nation’s electric distribution lines, covering three quarters of the nation's landmass,
  • Deliver 10 percent of the total kilowatthours sold in the U.S. each year,
  • Generate nearly 5 percent of the total electricity produced in the U.S. each year,
  • Employ 70,000 people in the United States,
  • Pay more than $1.4 billion in state and local taxes


Compared With Other Electric Utilities:


  • Co-ops serve an average of 7.0 consumers per mile of line and collect annual revenue of approximately $10,565 per mile of line,
  • Investorowned utilities average 35 customers per mile of line and collect $62,665 per mile of line,
  • Publicly owned utilities, or municipals, average 46.6 consumers and collect $86,302 per mile of line.


Statewide Associations


In 38 of the 47 states in which electric cooperatives operate, statewide associations provide a unified voice that speaks to the general public, regulatory bodies and state legislatures on behalf of their members. These associations are voluntarily supported, governed by representatives of the member cooperatives and offer commonly desired services. Thirty-two statewide associations publish newspapers or magazines for the co-op consumer-owners, reaching more than eight million readers each month.


National Representation


The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) represents the national interests of cooperative electric utilities. NRECA provides legislative, legal and regulatory representation; medical insurance and financial services; education and training programs; business consulting; a weekly newspaper and a monthly magazine. NRECA and its member cooperatives also support energy and environmental research and administer a program of technical advice and assistance in developing countries around the world.