Electric cooperative members across Great River Energy and its member-owners’ service territories collectively received millions of dollars as part of a benefit of the cooperative business model.
As not-for-profit organizations, cooperatives are owned by their members and operate at cost. Any excess revenue that is left over once all bills associated with doing business have been paid is then allocated and paid to co-op members in the form of “capital credits.”
Great River Energy issued patronage capital payments to its member-owners for the fourth consecutive year in 2022, returning $25 million in March. As the year draws to a close, several Great River Energy member-owner cooperatives are making similar payments.
“Capital credits are just one of the many benefits of membership that set co-ops apart from other types of utilities,” said Lake Country Power (LCP) General Manager Mark Bakk. “Unlike for-profit companies, co-ops don’t operate to build shareholder wealth. Our goal is to provide members with electricity at a price that is as close to cost as possible, even as the ongoing supply chain issues and unprecedented material cost increases continue to impact us at the local level.”
LCP members will see a special credit printed on their December billing statement after their board of directors authorized a retirement of just over $1.7 million in member equity. Between LCP and its three predecessor cooperatives, more than $67.2 million in capital credits have been returned throughout the years.
The Stearns Electric Association board of directors also authorized a return of $2.1 million to its members, averaging $56.45 per check. The cooperative has distributed more than $38 million in capital credits to date.
The board of directors for Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association (WH) announced its members would receive a check this holiday season as well. The board approved a capital credit refund of $4.55 million, including $2.55 million from WH and $2 million from Great River Energy’s return to its members.
“The board is proud of WH’s strong financial and operational performance, especially in the face of continued inflation and other economic concerns this year,” said WH Board Chair Erick Heinz. “Being able to return capital credits to our member-owners for another consecutive year in spite of these pressures represents just one of the many ways WH values its members.”