FAQ

A movement by rural Albertans, for ALL Albertans

What Is an REA?

  • Rural Electrification Associations (REAs) were formed in the 1940s under the Cooperatives Act because multinational power companies refused to bring service to rural Alberta citing cost as a factor. Farmers lobbied the government and were the driving force behind the successful delivery of electricity to rural Alberta.

  • REAs played an integral role in developing rural Alberta’s economy by building hundreds of millions of dollars in utility infrastructure and generating employment opportunities across the province.

  • REAs leverage the power of the individual member/consumer. Within a co-operative, one voice becomes the voice of thousands. The membership has brought a voice to local and provincial governments, regulating bodies and industry - ensuring consumers are protected and equally served despite being rurally located.

  • REAs are governed by a member-elected Board of Directors; Directors who are fellow members living and working in the rural communities their REA serves.

How REAs Keep Costs Low

  • As a not for profit co-operative, REAs have set the benchmark for electrical distribution pricing in Alberta for the past 70 years. Multinational corporations operate at a profit with the goal of generating dividends for stockholders. By pooling electrical distribution needs, REAs create economies of scale for individual consumers. Operating as co-operatives combined with building and maintaining their own systems eliminates mark-ups on infrastructure and administrative services.

  • Local decision-making reduces bureaucracy and waste.

  • Members of an REA, like all Albertans, have a choice to purchase electricity at the regulated rate or through an electricity retailer.

How REAs Provide Better Customer Service

  • REAs operate on a co-operative business model. This means our consumers are members of a co-operative that was built by rural Albertans who understand the needs of rural Albertans.

  • REAs provide service to like-minded individuals through personalized member service. Best of all, when you call customer service real people answer.

  • The REAs relationship with members is a lot like ‘neighbours helping neighbours’. Offices are located in rural communities and decisions are made locally by people who live in rural Alberta; not outsiders in big city corporate offices located in eastern Canada.

  • Members of one REA recently ranked their REA at a 95% member satisfaction rating.

  • REAs deliver safe, reliable and regulated service 24/7/365. One REA has achieved a 99.1% reliability rating from its membership.

Loss of Control of an Essential Service

  • How much of a voice will you have regarding your service levels if you lose your REA member status and become a customer? What input will you have around the board room table? Will you have a friendly voice at the end of the phone line when you call with a question or for service? How many buttons in that automated phone system will you have to push to get to a real person?

  • When multinational power corporations do not make expected profits they are required to make choices about what services to cut – in the past they have been known to cut costs on system maintenance, customer service and response times. In emergency situations, like the recent storms in central Alberta, how reliable do you think your utility system will be if profits are down?

  • Considering recent storm activity and changing weather patterns, do you want corporate executives in high-rise offices deciding whose power is restored first or would you like your local REA to make that call?

  • Electricity is an essential service because it is vital to all Albertans. As more co-operative services are sold off / taken over by large multinational power corporations (whose main goal is generating profits), you need to ask the question - will Albertans be best served by the monopoly of a multinational or by maintaining the successful cooperative REAs.

  • How much control does the average Albertan really have over the decisions needed to protect the best interests of the ordinary consumer? Member-owned, locally governed and operated REAs protect the rights of members and by extension, all Albertans. Operating as a cooperative power provider, they demonstrate the true cost of electrical service delivery and continue to benchmark on behalf of all Albertans.

Trust

  • REAs have proven their ability to distribute safe and reliable electricity at a fair rate while growing the economy for 70 years. Do you trust multinational corporations to set standards that protect individual consumers? To make decisions with customers’ and public interest in mind?

  • The best person to make a decision on something as important as your electricity service is someone with a vested interest, a member-owner. As a cooperative member you elect REA Directors – fellow members  who live and work in your community and who care if their  neighbor’s family and livelihood are protected

  • In some industry markets, large corporations have almost priced consumers out of the market. As a not for profit cooperative, REAs do not have the same stockholder obligations. Your rates do not have to generate profits for investors and bankers; they are based on the real cost of doing honest business.

  • Multinational power corporations are misleading consumers on the reliability and cost effective service REAs provide. They portray REAs as antiquated, unregulated and unprofessional even though REAs systems not only adhere to all the same regulatory requirements as multinationals corporations, they voluntarily go above and beyond minimum requirements to exceed regulatory standards in an effort to ensure the highest quality service to our membership.

  • Evidence is mounting that demonstrates multinational power corporations are creating special rates and investment options for REA members while these lower rates and investment schemes are not offered to their broader consumer base. Who do you think is paying for this and how long will these special deals last once REAs are no longer around and Albertans are faced with a multinational power monopoly?