Cooperative electricity cooperatives are growing faster than they used to in Georgia, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The Cooperative Energy Efficiency and Research Center released its latest report on the state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy market Wednesday, citing a 30 percent jump in the number of electric cooperatives in the state from 2012 to 2016.
Coalition electric cooperatively operates utilities in Georgia.
The cooperative was launched in Georgia in 2000.
“There’s been an explosion of cooperatives and their growth has accelerated.
They’re a big part of the market and they’ve done so in the last five years,” said Kevin Gentry, co-founder and executive director of the Cooperative Energy Education Center, which is a nonprofit research group.
The co-op movement has seen an influx of new members and has seen significant growth in Georgia’s electric cooperative market.
It now operates five electric cooperations, five utility cooperatives, and three solar cooperatives.
Gentry says the co-ops are able to keep costs low and to avoid the costly grid maintenance that often comes with owning a grid-connected power plant.
Co-ops also have access to a variety of resources, including cheap land, a low tax rate, and a network of cooperatively owned electric utilities, Gentry said.
Georgia has more than 6,000 cooperatives operating and more than 700,000 electric customers, according the Cooperatives for Public Service in Georgia website.
Genterson said the number one priority is to protect the rights of cooperators, but also to protect Georgia’s residents from rising energy costs.
He said the state has seen the cost of energy rises by more than 40 percent since the early 2000s.
The Georgia Cooperative Energy Market Information Report 2016 was prepared by the Cooperates for Public Services in Georgia and provides an overview of the electricity market in Georgia since 2006.
Cooperatives have become a key part of a broader energy market transformation in Georgia that has brought electricity costs down for Georgia residents and businesses.