Electric cooperative offers members capital credits

Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative is in the process of returning more than $1 million in capital credits to members and former members of the cooperative.

The Tri-County board of directors approved the retirement of$1.1 million worth of capital credits allocated to members’ accounts in 1986, 1987 and 2016.

Current Tri-County members who received electric service from the cooperative in the retirement years will receive a credit on their December electric bills, a news release said.

The cooperative will mail checks to all inactive Tri-County members who are entitled to a capital credits refund but have moved from the co-op’s service area. The checks will be mailed Monday.

Capital credits reflect margins the cooperative realizes at the end of each year, the news release said. Margins are the excess of income over expenses.

Because cooperatives are member-owned, non-profit enterprises, margins are allocated back to the members in the form of capital credits. The amount of the allocation to a member’s account is based on that member’s energy consumption during the retirement years.

The cooperative retains margins for a period of time to be used as working capital to assist in the financing of plant replacement and to build and maintain the electric system, according to the news release. When the co-op is financially able to do so, it retires margins by returning capital credits, also known as patronage capital, to members.

This capital credits retirement marks the debut of the cooperative’s new hybrid capital credits program, which allows for the return of patronage capital in full for mature capital credits allocated in 1986 and 1987, as well as the return of capital credits earned by members in the most recent year, 2016, at a discounted rate.

“I am extremely pleased that the cooperative is in a strong financial position and able to return capital credits to members again this year,” said Craig Eccher, Tri-County’s president and CEO, according to the news release.

Eccher noted that the cooperative has returned over $4 million in capital credits to members since 2010, retiring capital credits in seven of the past eight years.

Matthew S. Whiting, chairman of Tri-County’s board of directors, said the board always considers the financial standing of the cooperative before approving the return of margins to members.

“The ability to return capital credit refunds to members reflects on the financial health of the electric cooperative, and Tri-County is closing out the year in an excellent financial position,” Whiting said.

Whiting added that capital credits refunds are one of the many benefits of being a member of an electric cooperative.

“Co-ops exist to make sure the needs of their members are being met, not to make a profit,” said Whiting. “When we have a strong financial year, the members are able to enjoy the rewards of membership by receiving a capital credits refund.”

With headquarters in Mansfield, Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative provides electric distribution service to more than 19,000 accounts in Tioga, Potter, Bradford, Lycoming, McKean, Cameron and Clinton counties.