America’s vast network of rural electric cooperatives covers most of the country and serves more than 40 million people -- including many who live in areas with high concentrations of poverty. Arising to serve where for-profit utilities would not, these “democratic” cooperatives could be fertile testing ground for innovative policies and programs. In crucial community services, like Internet access, several cooperatives have provided affordable, next-generation service. In energy, on the other hand, rural electric cooperatives remain more reliant on last century's power sources (like coal) and retain less self-determination than many other utilities.

On this page, you'll find ILSR's original research and perspective on rural electric cooperatives and their role in expanding access to local, renewable energy.