When a member pays an electric bill to a cooperative, those dollars remain in the community served by the co-op. When a cooperative experiences financial success, they return cash to members.
This process, known as returning patronage capital, is one of the things that makes cooperatives unique.
For the first time in its history, Great River Energy retired patronage capital through cash payments to its member-owner cooperatives. In March, Great River Energy returned more than $15 million to its membership.
“Our member-owner cooperatives decided long ago to invest in the financial strength of Great River Energy by gradually increasing equity over time, with the goal of returning patronage capital to members in 2020,” said Great River Energy Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Michelle Strobel. “With our members’ support, we achieved that goal in 2018, and we will provide cash back to members two years earlier than planned.”
Cooperatives are not-for-profit businesses that, when appropriate, return margins to members by retiring patronage capital.