The word “margins” means something different to a cooperative member.
As a cooperative, Wiregrass Electric Cooperative (WEC) does not earn profits like private corporations. Instead, WEC is member-owned, and members are entitled to a share of the margins earned by selling electric services. WEC refers to these margins as capital credits or patronage capital, and they reflect each member’s ownership in their electric cooperative.
WEC tracks how much each member pays into their cooperative through the purchase of electricity. Each year, the Board of Trustees examines the cooperative’s financial stability, including the investment needed for wholesale purchased power, power poles, equipment, and much more.
Sometimes the cooperative will have a small margin of unspent funds at the end of the fiscal year. The cooperative uses this money to help finance the operations of the cooperative, to ensure the cooperative can fulfill its mission of providing reliable, low-cost power. After a set amount of time, WEC retires its margins and issues a capital credit.
To date, WEC has retired more than $14 million in capital credit refunds. Each year, the cooperative does its best to deliver these credits to the member, even if they have since left the cooperative’s service territory. Advertisements are made for those who cannot be reached to claim their capital credit as soon as possible.
“Capital credits are a benefit of participating in a not-for-profit cooperative,” says Les Moreland, CEO of WEC. “Here, each member is also a partial owner, and we answer to our members. Sometimes a power company will answer to a board of directors who live hundreds of miles away. At WEC, we’re accountable to our neighbors. And I believe that’s what makes this cooperative strive to do its best every day.”
Unclaimed Capital Credits
To date, WEC has returned more than $14 million in capital credit refunds. Each year, the cooperative does its best to deliver these credits to the member, even if they have since left the cooperative’s service territory. When we mailed these checks this year, several were returned as undeliverable.
If you have any questions, please contact us at (800) 239-4602.