Our employees are often asked why we call those who purchase electricity from Altamaha EMC “members” and not “customers.” The answer is simple.

You probably have friends who are members of Rotary and Kiwanis clubs. Our children and grandchildren are members of various clubs at their schools. And you’re a member of Altamaha EMC. Service clubs have a common mission—together the club accomplishes more than an individual could. The same holds true for high school clubs; they pool resources and work together to help each member succeed.

Membership at Altamaha EMC offers many of the same benefits as clubs do, but with a big extra. You and the rest of our 13,000+ members own the co-op! That means we answer to you, not investors who’ve never walked our streets or spent time in our schools. This structure harkens back to our origins.

Altamaha EMC was organized by farmers and rural residents from this area in 1936, with support from the federal Rural Electrification Administration (REA). At that time, investor-owned utilities said there wasn’t enough profit to be made to warrant the expense of building power lines into the countryside.

REA offered low-cost loans for bringing electricity to unserved homes and farms. So folks began forming electric cooperatives to meet the need. A fee of $5 was collected from each family — making them co-op members and owners — to generate capital for borrowing. The rest is history.

You should be proud of what Altamaha EMC has accomplished. We are an economic driver in the communities we serve. A 2009 study funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found electric co-ops across the U.S. employ 130,000 Americans, both directly and indirectly, with revenues topping out at $45 billion.

Best of all, every co-op operates on a not-for-profit basis. Altamaha EMC doesn’t offer profits to investors—we return money over and above operating costs to you, our members, based on electricity consumption.

Electric co-op membership remains as important today as it was in the late 1930s. And all of the nation’s 900-plus electric co-ops in 47 states share a common mission: to keep energy safe, affordable, and reliable.

Working together through efforts like the Our Energy, Our Future™ grassroots awareness campaign, we’re keeping our needs at the top of Congress’s agenda. We’re part of something special — a nationwide network owned and controlled by people like you and me. That’s why membership matters.

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