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Northwestern REC Helps Build Stronger Rural Pennsylvania

Cambridge Springs, PA - Northwestern Rural Electric Cooperative Association is joining with 30,000 other cooperatives nationwide in October to celebrate National Cooperative Month, which recognizes the many ways cooperatives help to build stronger communities and a stronger economy. “Cooperatives Build” is the theme for this year’s celebration, spotlighting the many advantages cooperatives offer to their members and the communities in which they live and work.


Nationwide, cooperatives create 2.1 million jobs and generate more than $650 million in sales and other revenue annually. “Our cooperative delivers electricity to 20,000 members in our five-county service area of northwestern Pennsylvania,” says Mary Grill, president & CEO of Northwestern REC. “Northwestern REC generated nearly $34 million in revenue last year. Revenue beyond what is required for salaries and expenses is either returned to members as capital credits or reinvested to make system improvements that enhance the quality of life for our members. Either way, our co-op revenue goes back to Main Street, not Wall Street.” 


The co-op is also a major employer in the region with a fulltime workforce of 65. Through the payroll taxes it pays, the co-op is a major contributor to the tax base of local governments, helping to support schools, police and fire protection and other vital community infrastructure. It also donates to a number of local charitable and civic causes every year.


“We like to talk about ‘the cooperative difference,’ because co-ops offer so many advantages to their members, “ says Kathryn J. Cooper-Winters, board president of the co-op. “Because our business is owned by the people we serve, all of our efforts are aimed at delivering improved services locally. Members control the co-op through their democratically elected board of directors.” 


Rural America is served by a network of about 1,000 electric cooperatives, most of which were formed in the late 1930s and 40s to bring electricity to farms and rural communities that large, investor-owned power companies had no interest in serving because of the higher costs involved in serving low-population-density areas. 


Northwestern REC was incorporated in 1936 and is celebrating 80 years of powering its members and local communities. This local cooperative has been identified by Touchstone Energy Best Practices as the leading cooperative in the Nation on member engagement. 


Northwestern REC is a not-for-profit electric distribution cooperative providing service to over 20,000 members in Crawford, Erie, Warren, Venango, and Mercer counties in Pennsylvania and Ashtabula County, Ohio. To view a video about Northwestern REC, visit and click on the spotlight link or YouTube icon.