Cooperative refunds over $1.5 million to members
Just in time for Christmas, Berkeley Electric Cooperative returned over $1.5 million to its members this month.
The refunds, which are called Capital Credits, are the members’ share of the margins, BEC announced in a release last week. The total distribution amount was $1,865.635.25, which was mailed to the members in early December. The portion each member receives is based on the member’s total billings. A change this year saw amounts under $10 being credited to the member’s bill.
The refund also included $645,388.44 for deceased patronage. Although 25 percent of the monies gathered during the year are returned to members in the form of capital credits, the cooperative is required to hold back 75 percent.
This reserved amount is invested back into the system for improvements and line construction. These monies are also returned to members through the normal retirement cycle. Upon a member’s death, any remaining amount of their “patronage” is paid to the member’s heirs to use as they see fit.
“Because we are a cooperative, we don’t maximize profits so that dividends can be paid to stockholders, like an investor owned utility,” said Wayne DeWitt, BEC Board Secretary/Treasurer. “The co op is owned by its members; therefore any savings the co op manages to generate belong to the members.”
According to DeWitt, those additional monies are accumulated in order to provide financial stability for the cooperative. This helps keep rates at a competitive level by reducing the amount of money that the co op has to borrow.