Frequently Asked QuestionsAnswers to Some Common Questions
What is a Co-operative?
A co-operative is an organization that is created when individuals come together to fill a common need. Under this business model, members own the organization and vote on how services will be offered. This is different than being a shareholder of a business corporation. In a business corporation, a shareholder’s voting rights are tied to the amount of shares they own-the more shares they own, the more voting power they have. In a co-operative the system is more equitable; each member gets one vote ensuring that all members’ interests are represented. Co-ops, by nature, are autonomous organizations because co-op members are not responsible to outside owners or government owners.
What does Ag Energy Co-operative do?
Ag Energy is a member-owned energy co-operative. We leverage the combined volumes of our members to purchase natural gas and electricity on their behalf. The co-operative was formed in 1988 by flower and vegetable greenhouse growers in Ontario to reduce their energy costs. In 2003, the members voted unanimously to open membership to all agri-producers in Ontario and their respective associations.
What forms of energy does Ag Energy Co-operative sell?
Currently we offer extensive natural gas and electricity programs. We constantly look for new opportunities to benefit our members. Our business is energy and we are always willing to expand our services to best serve our members.
What is the difference between becoming a member and becoming a customer?
Members buy a share of the co-operative at a one-time cost of $100. Members own Ag Energy and elect the board of directors from within the membership. Membership is open to all agricultural producers and processors. We operate on a break even philosophy for our members.
Customers choose to use our energy services without becoming a member. Anyone is welcome to buy their energy from us as long as they consume over 150 000 kWh of electricity annually or 50 000 m³ of natural gas annually. We offer our customers several competitive pricing options so that they can choose the most cost effective energy solutions. We value our customers. They receive the same level of service as members and enjoy a great deal of flexibility.
Why should I become an Ag Energy member?
We operate on a break even philosophy for our members making our prices often better than those available from local utilities and other energy suppliers. Members are also entitled to patronage payments in profitable years. Over 28 years in the agri-business industry means that we are able to understand the business needs of our members. We give members access to daily energy news and monthly consumption reports so they can be sure they are making strategic energy choices. With Ag Energy managing their energy costs, our members can focus on running their business.
What is the cost of membership?
To join, you are required to purchase just one membership share at a cost of $100. This is a onetime fee that buys membership for a lifetime.
What agreements will I be required to sign?
Ag Energy requires a commodity contract for each commodity we would supply. Some natural gas utilities also require an agency agreement and a large volume consumer may need to sign a credit application.
How do I become a member, and what are the obligations?
To become a member simply complete an application form. Admission to membership is contingent on board of director approval. As a member, we ask that you keep us informed of changes in your business and respond to our requests in a timely manner.
Who can become a member of the co-operative?
Membership is open to all agricultural producers and processors in Ontario.The board of directors approves each new member.
Who is on the board of directors?
The board consists of eight elected individuals who must be members of the co-operative. We encourage all members to stand for election. In addition, the board is allowed to add up to two non-voting advisors to the board. Typically these individuals have very specialized expertise to complement the knowledge and experience of the elected individuals. Members who are interested in standing for election are encouraged to first attend meetings as trainees.
Who makes purchasing and pricing decisions and how?
Purchasing decisions are based on the needs of individual Members and customers. Our pricing comes from market prices and all Ag Energy fees are established by the board of directors.
How do you keep members informed?
We keep our members informed through a combination of news bulletins, quarterly newsletters, annual general meetings and an updated website. Additionally, we are always available by phone and email.
As a member will I receive patronage payments?
Yes, we give patronage payments based off of that year’s performance. If we are profitable, patronage payment and share allocations are determined by each member’s level of consumption.