In 2000, CNT created the Community Energy Cooperative to explore new ways to benefit small consumers and communities in a changing energy marketplace. The Cooperative implemented several successful projects.
The Cooperative was introduced as a membership organization that enabled communities to control their energy use and costs and to benefit from changes in energy technology and regulations. The organization showed the value of a neighborhood based effort to reduce stress on the electric grid. Members received information on new energy saving programs in the area, an energy efficiency kit (worth about $25 retail) with compact florescent light bulbs; and a quarterly newsletter.
In 2007, Illinois moved to a restructured electricity market and the Cooperative and CNT moved in a new direction to take advantage of the emerging opportunities. The Community Energy Cooperative was renamed as CNT Energy and has continued to grow in reach and achievements. Its original program areas have been strengthened and expanded and has led to a growth in staff capability and reach. Perhaps its greatest achievement came from its recognition by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as a Creative and Effective Institution in 2009. Only 9 organizations globally received this award.