St. Croix Electric Cooperative is returning $1,017,832 to current and former members who paid for electricity from the Co-op in 1997 and/or 2014. The payment – also called a retirement of capital credits – is for margins allocated to members in those years. Former members or current members receiving more than $100 will be mailed a check on Oct. 20. Current members with retirements under $100 will see a bill credit on their Oct. 18 or Nov. 1 bill.
“As a not-for-profit electric cooperative, SCEC does not receive additional revenue from outside sources, such as the sale of stock,” SCEC President/CEO Mark Pendergast said. “Our primary source of revenue comes from the members who pay their electric bills.”
In an electric cooperative, a customer is also a member-owner of the business. Members use electricity throughout the year and pay their bills, similar to other utilities. However, in the cooperative model, the cooperative – St. Croix Electric – keeps track of a member’s electricity use and how much the member pays for electricity each year. At the end of the calendar year, year-end bookwork is completed followed by a financial audit. Any revenue that remains after financial obligations are met is the Co-op’s “margin” for the year. Members that paid for electricity from SCEC during that year are allocated their portion of the remaining margin in proportion to how much they paid for electricity. Year after year, the Cooperative keeps records of former and active members’ allocated margin balances. After a certain amount of time (usually 20 years), the margins are returned to the members they were allocated to. In the meantime, the margins are held by the Cooperative and used as equity in order for the Cooperative to have the ability to obtain operational loans, per the Rural Utility Service (RUS).
“The total amount of capital credits the Cooperative has returned to members since 1963 is significant – more than $17 million,” SCEC Chairman of the Board Bill Peavey said. “Without the members’ equity in the Cooperative, we wouldn’t be able to obtain the loans we need to ensure our system is able to meet the electricity needs of our members. As margins are added each year, we are able to return past years’ margins and we keep the cycle going. Directors have also opted to approve partial retirements from more recent years so members don’t have to wait 20 years to experience what it means to be a member-owner of a strong, local electric cooperative. We are proud that the $17 million that has been returned to members since 1963 has stayed within our local communities.”
The Cooperative’s Board of Directors has set a policy to retire to members at least 6 percent of total equity each year, as financial conditions allow. This year’s retirement is a full payout of equity capital credits to all members who paid for electricity from SCEC in 1997, and a partial retirement of credits to current members who paid for electricity from SCEC in 2014.
If members have questions regarding their allocations or capital credit retirements, they can contact SCEC at 715-796-7000. Retirements to former members are mailed to the address on-file at the Cooperative. It is important for former members to make sure their information at the Cooperative is current. SCEC makes reasonable efforts to find former members, including publishing a list of “missing members” in local newspapers every July. However, equity capital credits not claimed after four years are allocated to the Co-op’s youth scholarship program. Since 1981, dependents of SCEC members have been awarded more than $250,000 in scholarships toward their college educations.
National Co-op Month
October is recognized as National Co-op Month by 40,000 cooperatives in the United States. This October, SCEC has been hosting “Fridays at St. Croix Electric Cooperative” where members are invited to visit the office for refreshments and register to win a $50 bill credit each week. SCEC wants to thank all who have visited so far this month. On Oct. 20, one pumpkin per membership will be offered to office visitors, purchased from SCEC member White Pine Berry Farm. Members unable to visit the office during business hours have a chance to answer a Co-op Trivia question each Friday for an opportunity to win another $50 bill credit. Cookies and coffee will be available throughout the day on Friday, Oct. 27.
Commitment to Community Grant Applications Available
Since 2003, the SCEC Board of Directors has annually awarded Commitment to Community Grants to help local organizations in serving the unmet humanitarian, social and educational needs within the Cooperative’s general service area. Applications are reviewed twice each year and the next deadline is Oct. 30. More information about the grant program and application is available at the SCEC office in Hammond and online at www.scecnet.net under “Community”, then “Commitment to Community Grants.”
Phones, Tablets for Operation Gratitude
All year long, SCEC accepts unwanted smartphones, cell phones and tablets. Collected items are donated to Operation Gratitude; the organization earns money from recycling the electronics and uses the funds toward providing care packages to solders, veterans and first responders. Items can be brought to St. Croix Electric Cooperative at 1925 Ridgeway St., Hammond, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. More information about Operation Gratitude can be found online at www.OperationGratitude.com.
About St. Croix Electric Cooperative
St. Croix Electric Cooperative (SCEC) was incorporated on Nov. 5, 1937, as a result of five farmers determined to bring electricity to rural St. Croix County, Wis. On May 24, 1939, electricity was delivered to the first account. Today, the Cooperative operates 1,772 miles of distribution lines that power more than 11,000 meters. SCEC helps members realize the Cooperative Difference through Commitment to Community grants, scholarships, rebates, and solutions to conserve and use energy wisely. More information is available online at www.scecnet.net, and on social media: @StCroixElecCoop (Twitter) and St. Croix County Energizer (Facebook). St. Croix Electric Cooperative is an equal-opportunity provider.