MONROE, Ga. – Providing service at cost is one of the bedrock principles of cooperatives.
Co-ops are owned by the same people who purchase their goods or services. That being the case, it doesn’t make sense to show a profit.
Walton Electric Membership Corporation (EMC), a cooperative owned by those who receive its electric service, is a real-life example. This December, its customer-owners will get refunds totaling $8.4 million.
Refund is a Plus
Peggy Hardigree, a long-time Walton EMC customer-owner, says receiving a capital credit refund is just a bonus to the good service she already receives.
“I was 5 years old when the lights came on. So REA, and then EMC, have always been some of my favorite people – they still are,” says Hardigree. “When there’s a wreck or when there’s storms and I call and report it [a power outage], they call me back when it’s fixed. They’re the best service people that I know.”
“The fact that we’re getting a refund is just a plus in addition to the good service we get year ‘round,” she adds.
Here’s how the capital credit refund works:
1. Walton EMC tracks the amount of money each customer-owner spends with the co-op each year.
2. At the end of each year, the co-op determines if there are excess revenues (co-ops call these margins).
3. Walton EMC allocates these margins to each customer-owner’s capital credit account based on the amount of money they spent with the co-op that year.
4. The co-op holds this money to retire debt, prepare for emergencies and keep the organization financially sound.
5. When Walton EMC’s financial condition permits, the board of directors (elected from the customer base) decides to retire – or pay – some of the capital credits.
6. The customer-owner receives their capital credit refund.
2019 Refund At-a-Glance
•Total returned this year: $8.4 million
•Customer-owners who had accounts in these years will get a refund: 1995, 2018
•When: Early December through early January
•How: Bill credit (less than $500) or check ($500 or more)
•All-time total capital credits refunded: $108 million
Walton EMC is a customer-owned power company that serves 130,000 accounts over its 10-county service area between Atlanta and Athens. Providing exceptional service while caring for the area’s communities is its focus.
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