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Parenthetical to the diary, but an interesting thing I've observed since creating this news alert is that there seem to be quite a few cooperatives operating already in the U.S., and many of those -- like the Powder River Energy Group -- in the energy sector.
Furthermore, there are surprisingly (to me) many articles about cooperatives in developing countries -- India, for example, but Latin America as well, among other places -- and these cooperative businesses appear from those articles to be quite significant in size and in how much they are relied on by the areas they serve.
So this article in the Billings Gazette was a nice dovetailing of my hopes for clean energy as well as my current interest (infatuation?) with the potential of cooperatives.
Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
The Rural Electrification Administration, now called the Rural Utilities Service, was and is one of the most successful of the New Deal programs, bringing electricity to rural America. It is not likely that the REA would have worked at all, absent the coops. Most investor owned utilities have never been interested in building distribution networks outside urban areas.
Disclaimer: I'm far from objective on this topic. I've been a coop customer and member essentially my entire life, and an employee for most of my adult life. Cooperatives have been very good to me and mine.
We all bleed the same color.
In this way they build upon the "Cooperative Advantage" which is that you don't have to pay a return to "rentiers" ie people who make money purely from money, and all things being equal, can therefore undercut either "For Profits" or anyone who borrows at commercial rates.
We had a case in the UK where the local waste disposal commercial companies were pleading to the local authority letting a contract that the "Social Enterprise" who got it had an "unfair advantage".
(to be fair, the authority did favour them, but not on price or quality of service, merely on experience where the anti argument is essentially Catch 22: if you've never had a contract then you are inexperienced and not fit to get one so can never gain experience!)
"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed"
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