Capital credits reflect each member’s ownership in the cooperative. Electric cooperatives like Blachly-Lane Electric do not earn profits in the sense that investor-owned utilities earn profits for their investors. Instead, any margins — revenues related to the sale of electric service remaining after all expenses have been paid — are returned to the cooperative’s members in proportion to their electrical usage.
Returning Capital Credits to Members
“Retiring” i.e., paying back or returning capital credits is a two-step process:
- Step 1: Allocation
An allocation determines your share of the cooperative’s margin in a particular year. Margins are “allocated” or assigned to members who belong to the cooperative during the year in which a margin is generated. The allocation is based on the member’s proportion of electrical usage for that year. Each member’s portion is referred to as a “capital credit allocation.” As an example, if a member had purchased 0.05% of the electricity the co-op had sold in a year, the member would be allocated to receive 0.05% of the margins for that year.
- Step 2: Retirement
Once capital credits are allocated they are retained by the co-op for up to 25 years, depending on the percent periodically retired. They are retained because capital credits are the most significant source of equity for the cooperative. Equity is used to help meet the expenses of the co-op, such as paying for new equipment to serve members and repaying debt. Capital credits help keep rates at an affordable level by reducing the amount of funds that must be borrowed to grow and maintain Blachly-Lane Electric’s existing electric system.
The board of directors will review the cooperative’s financial health annually and may declare a retirement (your cashback payment), whereby a portion of your capital credits are returned to you.
When Capital Credits Become Equity
Blachly-Lane Electric seeks out the former member-owners who are due capital credits, even if they are no longer on our system. Approximately once a year, the co-op will post the names of the member-owners who have unclaimed capital credits in the local paper (The Register-Guard). If the member-owner does not claim them and the capital credits remain unclaimed, then they become a part of the co-op’s equity.
Please call our office at (541) 688-8711 if you have questions regarding capital credits.
Providing Contact Information
It is important that all members, including past members, keep a current mailing address on file with Blachly-Lane Electric Cooperative (BLEC) in order to assure that they receive any capital credits issued to them. Update your mailing address by calling us at (541) 688-8711 or (800) 446-8418 Monday through Thursday from 8 am to 5:30 pm. You may also submit our contact form and a BLEC representative will call you to confirm your address change.