Many North Western Electric Cooperative (NWEC) member-owners will see a lower electric bill around the holidays. This month, the local electric cooperative is returning $725,000 in capital credits to current and former member-owners. Eligible co-op member-owners will receive the refund as a credit on their electric bill or as a separate check in December. These capital credits represent the cooperative’s margins, or money left over after all bills have been paid.
As a not-for-profit community-focused organization, NWEC uses these margins for investments, such as building or replacing power lines, transformers, and other electric system upgrades to meet member-owners’ evolving needs. This helps keep the co-op’s service reliable.
After being used as working capital, the money is returned to member-owners. It represents each co-op member’s ownership — or equity — in his or her cooperative. Capital credits are allocated to member-owners in proportion to the dollar amount of electricity used. Then, usually on bills due in December, some of those allocations are distributed back to the member-owners in what NWEC calls a retirement.
“We return the money to member-owners around the holidays because that’s when many people need it the most – especially this year with many member-owners struggling due to COVID-19,” says NWEC President/CEO Darin Thorp.
This month, eligible member-owners’ bills should show a credit for 20% of their allocation from 2019 (allocation notices were included on bills for March use), along with any unretired capital credits from 2000. If you were a member-owners during either or both of those years, you get a return on your ownership. If you are no longer a member-owner now, NWEC will send a check to your last known address.
“Returning capital credits demonstrates that NWEC member-owners are not just customers; they are members and part-owners of their electric cooperative, which belongs to the communities it serves,” Thorp says. “They have equity ownership in NWEC’s physical assets — and receive a financial return on those assets, unlike customers of other utilities.”
For more information about capital credits, contact NWEC at 1-800-647-6932.