The Co-op Difference: The Seven Cooperative Principles

Each October, we celebrate the cooperative difference during National Cooperative Month. But the question still bubbles up, “What exactly is the cooperative difference?” On the outside, Pioneer Electric may just seem like another utility. We build line, distribute electricity and in return you make a payment for your usage. However upon further inspection, your cooperative is much more. It is a collection of members and cooperative employees working together for one common goal. To empower our communities in southwest Kansas. To accomplish this, Pioneer Electric must follow seven principles in order to be recognized as a cooperative. In the end, the cooperative difference is nothing more than a matter of principles.

Open membership

Pioneer Electric is proud to provide an equal opportunity for membership to all. Each person who signs up for electric service is treated with the full respect as a new cooperative member-owner. They receive the same benefits, same quality of service and are granted a voice in how they choose to be represented on our board.

Democratic control and total independence

As a cooperative member, you hold the power to shape your cooperative. Every year, members vote for who they want to represent their districts at our annual meeting. Each member is given one vote, which they can then cast either in person or through proxy.

In addition, Pioneer Electric actively seeks your feedback through surveys, our annual meeting and other outreach opportunities. It is then actively shared with your elected board of trustees, and together they shape the rules and regulations that define Pioneer Electric. This allows the cooperative to act autonomously to meet members’ needs and not take influence from outside organizations.

Membership benefits

Every Pioneer Electric member is provided with a toolkit of services to ensure they receive the most out of their membership. Services including paperless billing, automatic payments and the SmartHub mobile app are available to help members customize their cooperative experience.

Being a Pioneer Electric member also gives you access to numerous discounts through the Co-op Connections program. This program allows members to receive great savings at a variety of local businesses. It’s completely free, requires no subscription and is usable nationwide for additional discounts. Visit for a full listings of discounts.

Finally, your contribution to your cooperative is partially returned back to you in the form of capital credits at the end of each year. Being a not-for-profit organization, any capital generated by Pioneer Electric is distributed back to our members.


Being a member-owner, it is vital for you to stay informed on the well-being of your cooperative. Whether it’s through face-to-face interaction at our annual meeting, articles in this publication or posting on our website and social media pages, open communication is accessible to all members. It gives you the knowledge of how your cooperative is performing and informs you of its accomplishments throughout the years.

Education doesn’t end at informing our current membership. It extends to actively searching for opportunities to reach the next generation co-op members. Accessible electricity has become so seamlessly integrated into the lives of our youth, that it is our goal that they harness it to its full potential. Opportunities like Safety Fest, poster contests and other youth programs gives us the opportunity to plant the seeds of safe electrical usage. It is a chance to remind this generation of the importance of conservation, safety and the power of a cooperative membership.

Cooperation and community

What truly sets your cooperative apart from other businesses is its concern for the community. Pioneer Electric was developed not to make money, but to provide the people of southwest Kansas with safe, dependable electricity and work to improve the lives of our member-owners. After all, we’re not just employees at your cooperative we are your friends, family members and neighbors too.

Pioneer Electric is proud to provide financial support through programs developed by your elected board of trustees. The H.U.G.S. (Helping Us Give to Society) program has supported numerous local projects over the years. Also, member contributions in our round-up program (Pioneer Electric Area Round-up) has helped give a helping hand to individuals in our service territory to recover from unexpected tragedies. Pioneer Electric is also proud to support local youth by providing scholarships to further their education, in hopes that they will bring these skills back with them and grow our communities.

Supporting our members also includes active community involvement, by holding tailgate parties, stopping for lunch at our area senior centers, supporting our local fairs and more. It’s through working together with the communities we serve, that Pioneer Electric is what it is today. Your contributions to your co-op have acted as a constant force providing inspiration for us to do our very best. We are your electric cooperative, and we promise to never forget that.