How South Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives Build Capacity through Multi-Level Governance
Background: Electric cooperatives serve over 40 million consumers in the United States, and have a history stretching back eight decades. Historically, the provision of high-quality electricity services at the lowest possible wholesale price to its distribution cooperative members might have proven sufficient to declare generation and transmission (G&T) cooperatives a success. But electric cooperatives’ business and governance models are facing new pressures as distributed energy technologies evolve and emerge; consumer-member preferences shift; and the economics of electric utilities changes regarding the cost structures of nuclear, coal, natural gas, and utility-scale renewables. Little information exists on how the governance models of G&T electric cooperatives are prepared to weather these changes. This study, sponsored by Central Electric Power Cooperative (“Central”) of South Carolina, is an effort to address this gap.
Goals and Objectives: The goals of this study are to: 1) address the knowledge gap on corporate governance of cooperatives, and 2) demonstrate the benefits of pursuing such an inquiry. The specific objectives of the study are to develop an in-depth case study of Central that describes how the entity effectively self-governs by exploring several hypotheses informed by previous research on cooperatives.