Customer ownership of public utilities is presently a marginal phenomenon in quantitative terms, despite its long history. The first customer-owned cooperatives appeared at the turn of the 19th century mostly in the power and water sectors. Their development was later hindered by the municipalisation of local public services, but today new prospects are arising and new interest is growing around them. After reviewing data about the present diffusion of customer-owned providers of public utilities, with a special focus on the European Union, we examine the structural
features of the markets for public utilities and the economic reasons why this organizational mode is more likely to expand today than it has in the past.