Locally owned and operated electric cooperatives employ a unique and effective approach to emergency management and disaster recovery. As cooperatives, each subscribes to the sixth cooperative principle, “cooperation among cooperatives,” and all maintain a set of mutual assistance agreements that allow for the rapid deployment of support staff and equipment to emergency and recovery zones.
Because the national network of transmission and distribution infrastructure owned by cooperatives has been built to federal standards, line crews from any co-op in America can arrive on the scene ready to provide emergency support, secure in their knowledge of the system’s engineering.
Co-ops work closely with other first responders, state and local government and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ensure an effective and coordinated response in the event of an emergency.
FEMA Funding for Disaster Recovery
In a federally-declared disaster, the federal government financially assists all electric utility systems. Investor-owned utilities recover money from past federal income taxes paid and/or future tax obligations. Since electric cooperatives and municipal utilities are not-for-profit and do not pay income taxes, they are eligible for financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which can fund a major portion of the cost of emergency work to restore power and the cost of repairing, restoring, rebuilding or replacing damaged facilities.
This system gives electric cooperatives the ability to respond effectively and quickly in times of crisis and protects the financial interests of the cooperative members as the same time.