Were you a member of OPALCO in 1988? If so, you may be among the 4,192 people who will get a check from OPALCO later this month as capital credits are distributed. This is one of the distinctions that make an electric co-op unique: it is truly member owned and operated and we each have a “stake” in the utility. Once a year, as OPALCO’s finances permit, the Co-op returns capital credits to its members on a 25-year cycle. The decision is made annually by the Board after a thorough examination of the Co-op’s financial position.
What are capital credits? Because OPALCO is a not-for-profit cooperative, it does not retain profits. Instead, any revenues over and above the cost of doing business are considered “margins.” These margins are allocated to members as capital credits at the end of the year. We all receive a statement in our bill each summer that indicates the amount of capital credits allocated for the previous year. This member capital allows our co-op to finance operations and some construction projects, with the intent that this capital will be repaid to us in later years.
The amount of capital credits members earn in a given year is based upon the amount of capital each of us contribute to the cooperative through payment of our monthly bills in a formula that compares each member’s ratio of usage to the rest of the co-op. The more electric service a member buys, the greater their capital credits allocation. The total amount being distributed this year is $707,381 with check amounts ranging from $5 to thousands of dollars (large users like schools and grocery stores). The majority of the checks are in the range of $100 – $250.
Because OPALCO distributes capital credits on a 25-year cycle, it’s important to keep OPALCO updated with your current address—even if you’ve left the area and are no longer a member. The capital credits of a deceased member may be paid, on a discounted basis, upon approval of the Board. See www.opalco.com/members/capital-credits or the bylaws (Article VIII, Section 2) for full details. If you have specific questions about your capital credits, please call member services at 376-3500.