Two good news cooperative stories in one day.
The first reaches me indirectly via Le Monde, which ran a major feature in its paper yesterday on the success of the green electricity distribution coop EWS, based in the south German village of Schönau. EWS, set up by a local teacher Ursula Sladek who had lived through the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster, took over the electricity distribution network for the community of Schönau itself in 1997 and now has grown to have customers throughout Germany. Its electricity is 100% renewable and comes from a variety of sources, including wind turbine and hydro generation… but definitely not nuclear. Turnover (2012) was 140 million euros, profits over 4 million euros, and the coop’s members earn a 4% return on their money. The Le Monde article is currently available online here.
Here, just to brighten up my blog, is a picture of their Board, lifted from the EWS website. (I’m not entirely sure what they’re holding.)
And closer to home an email brings news from the Phone Coop, which has just announced record profits for last year, at a little over half a million pounds. Dividends on customer purchases are in line to go up from 2% to 2.5%, and I understand that the Phone Coop is also planning to increase the contribution it makes to the development of other cooperatives through its Co-operative and Social Economy Development Fund. The Phone Coop also demonstrates the possibility of utilising capital from members, having now around £4m in members’ capital invested in the business.