One of the major benefits of being a cooperative member is receiving a patronage refund, which is like money back from your power company.
Here's how it works: money remaining after WCEC's bills are paid each year is known as margins (it is the margin between income and expenses). This money is used for capital expenditures, such as building or replacing lines, and is not paid back immediately. This becomes your investment or equity in the company. In a for-profit company, this money would be called profit. In a cooperative, we call it capital credits because this money belongs to you not to the cooperative. To be a true nonprofit cooperative, this money is returned to you as a patronage refund.
We keep track of capital credits in a special account. This is money is eventually refunded to you, your surviving spouse or your estate. The amount of capital credits allocated to your account is in proportion to the dollar amount of electricity you used. In other words, if you paid for 1 percent of the power we sold, you would receive a 1 percent share of the margins left over at the end of that given year into your capital credit account.
If a member passes away, the capital credit account should be transferred to a surviving spouse. If there is no surviving spouse, contact our office to initiate a refund of the capital credits. (Some paperwork is involved with this process). If a member passes away, we pay all patronage at its present-day value.
Patronage Refunds are usually issued once every two years. The amount refunded is determined by our Board and is a percent of the total in your capital credit account. If you are a current member, you will see this as a credit on your electric bill. If you are a past member who is owed a patronage refund, you will receive it in the form of a check.