Three electric cooperatives in Michigan merged to form the third largest power company in the state. The three cooperatives, Top O’Michigan Electric Co, Great Lakes Energy Cooperative and Western Michigan Electric Cooperative voted last August to merge, creating Great Lakes Energy Cooperative, which started trading on 1 January 1999.

The new cooperative serves 106 000 homes and businesses in 26 counties in Michigan. Combined sales of its forerunners in 1997 was 826 TWh and revenue was $77 million.

This merger has been stimulated by deregulation of the electricity industry in the USA. The companies expect to be able to operate more efficiently as a single entity. Tariffs of former Top O’Michigan Electric and Great Lakes Energy will be harmonised within one or two years, with Western Michigan Electric’s rates being harmonized a year or two later.