Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative is a locally owned and managed, tax-exempt electric utility, built by those in the communities we serve. For over 80 years, we have been committed to our goal of delivering reliable, sustainable and affordable energy to the people of northern New Jersey. Based in Sussex, we are the only electric cooperative in New Jersey and the most technologically advanced electric utility in the state.
Our service territory represents the Northwestern portion of Sussex County in New Jersey and a small portion of Orange County in New York State. We also have a fifty year utility service contract with the U.S. Army to provide utility service at Picatinny Arsenal.
You may be wondering, what exactly is a cooperative? Cooperatives are a different kind of business with different sets of goals. We differ from traditional utilities in several key ways:
- Local focus: Compared to other utilities, our electric Co-op is unique because we belong to the communities we serve. Our Co-op is led by its members, which gives us a unique understanding of and a distinct focus on the needs and values of the communities of Sussex County. In fact, many of our leaders and employees live right here in the community and are members of the Co-op—just like you! We care about promoting growth in Sussex County, providing jobs and investing in the community through internship programs, scholarships for college and trade school, and partnerships with charitable organizations.
- Nonprofit nature: The purpose of our Cooperative has always been to offer our community its much-needed electric power at the lowest possible cost. SREC is a not-for-profit entity operating at an "at-cost" basis. We charge only a $5 membership fee to establish service. Money billed from our members goes toward purchasing power to distribute to homes and businesses, maintaining and improving our infrastructure, and general costs of operation. We also keep an emergency fund in case of severe storms or other unforeseen events. Money collected for this fund that remains unused is eventually "retired" and returned to our members as capital credits.
- Member ownership: You are more than just a customer to us. Under its articles of incorporation, Sussex Rural Electric is owned by the members it serves. As a "member-owner" of Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative, you have a say in the way the Co-op is managed and are entitled to a vote in the elections of our Board of Directors, who guide the Co-op's business decisions. This democratic process lets members like you control our leadership, and as a result the way the Co-op runs. Elections are held every year at our Annual Meeting, which all members are invited to. The purpose of this meeting is to elect three of the nine board members or directors for a three year term and to report to our members yearly updates on the physical and the financial status of the Co-op.
- Cooperation among cooperatives: The need for fair, affordable electric service is not isolated to New Jersey. There are over 900 electric cooperatives in the United States across 47 states, supplying 56% of the nation's landmass with power. Even though we’re locally owned and operated, we cooperate with other electric cooperatives across the country to develop new technologies, invest in equipment and infrastructure and assist with major outages. This type of collaboration allows us to address complex challenges while remaining true to our local roots.
All of these facets of SREC are influenced by the 7 Cooperative Principles which inform the values of all electric cooperatives.
The primary objective of the Cooperative is to provide reliable electrical service to our members at the lowest possible cost. The Accounting and Engineering standards of the Cooperative were established by The Rural Utilities Services (RUS). The Cooperative’s debt was financed from two sources, 70% from The Rural Utilities Services and 30% from National Rural Utilities Cooperative Financial Cooperation (CFC). However in July of 2002 the Cooperative bought out of the RUS debt and is currently financed 100% from CFC.
Sussex Rural Electric’s tax exempt status (501c12) was granted by the IRS and requires that 85% of our revenue must come from the sale of electricity and that any margin generated from this activity be refunded to the members in the form of Capital Credits. The method of capital credit retirement is determined by the Board of Directors. The financial constraints, which must be achieved in order to refund capital credits, are determined by the mortgage agreement between Sussex Rural Electric and its lenders.