Delaware Electric Cooperative’s board of directors voted to return $7.7 million in capital credits to the cooperative’s member-owners in December.
Capital credits are also known as the co-op’s profits or margins. Because DEC is a not-for-profit utility, margins are returned to the people the cooperative serves.
To receive a billing credit or check from the cooperative, a person must have been a Delaware Electric Cooperative member in 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 2005, 2006 or 2007. If a member has eligible capital credits of $100 or higher, they will receive a check. If their allocated capital credits amount is less than $100, a member will receive a credit on their bill. Members who had an active account in 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 2005, 2006 or 2007, but are no longer served by DEC, will also receive a check for their portion of the retired capital credits.
“We return the money to members during the Christmas season because that’s when members need it the most, said Bill Andrew, president and CEO of DEC. “The return of capital credits is one of the many ways electric cooperatives are different from the for-profit utilities. We make decisions based on what’s best for our members and return any profits to those we serve.”
In the past six years, the cooperative returned nearly $35 million to members.
Newer members, who were not served by DEC between 1987 and 2007, will also receive capital credits, but it may take a few years. Capital credits are considered to be a return on the members’ investment in the system. Each month members pay their electric bill, they are helping to pay for improvements to the system. The immediate payback is in the form of increased reliability and low rates.
After about 10 years, members begin seeing a greater return on their investment in the form of either a yearly billing credit or a check from the cooperative. Members don’t receive a refund the first few years because it wouldn’t be fair to the older members who have paid for the current electrical system.
Each generation of cooperative members contributes, builds equity in the co-op and then is rewarded with a capital credit refund. This system is unique to cooperatives.