One of the benefits of belonging to Polk-Burnett, a not-for-profit electric cooperative that operates at cost, is that member-owners get money back. Other investor-owned utilities return a portion of their profits as dividends to stockholders, electric cooperatives allocate excess revenue back to the members they serve as Capital Credits, according to cooperative business principles.
- When members apply to receive electric service from Polk-Burnett they become a member-owner.
- Electric rates are set to cover the cost of doing business.
- At the end of each calendar year expenses are subtracted from income and the difference is called a margin.
- Margins are retained to keep the cooperative financially sound and reinvested for a number of years to pay for long-term projects, such as replacing or building electric lines.
- Capital Credits equal to those margins are allocated into a Capital Credit account for each cooperative member, based upon their use of electricity during the year, for eventual payment.
- Each year your board of directors determines the amount of Capital Credits to retire, or pay, to member-owners.
- Polk-Burnett notifies you of how and when you'll receive your capital credit retirements. Click to enlarge chart.
In 2012 the Polk-Burnett board of directors authorized distribution of $575,000 in Capital Credits to member-owners in October. A total of 15,839 members who purchased electricity in 1992 and 2008 will see a credit on October electric bills. The change to the new 50/50 distribution method in 2011 with 50% going to newer cooperative members that purchased electricity in 2008 and 50% to long-standing cooperative members from 1992 allowed us to demonstrate the value of cooperative membership and return capital credits to about 80% of our membership, up from 33% with our previous method. Your refund will be based on the amount tof electricity purchased during 1992 and/or 2008. One of the benefits of belonging to a co-op is getting money back. That's the cooperative difference!
Why was my neighbor's capital credit refund bigger (or smaller)?
Capital credits are based on your total payments to the cooperative for kilowatt-hours of energy purchased, including the fixed charges. If you received a smaller credit than your neighbor, it's because you used and paid for less electricity during the period in which the capital credit allocation was earned.
Why didn't I get a capital credit refund?
The capital credit refund cycle is determined by the board of directors. Even if you didn't receive a refund this year, you will earn a capital credit allocation for all years that you are a Polk-Burnett member. Once you're eligible for a refund on those allocations, you'll receive them even if you're no longer receiving electric service from Polk-Burnett, so it is important to make sure Polk-Burnett always has your current mailing address.
What if I'm no longer an active co-op member?
A check will be mailed to you if we have your current mailing address. The minimum refund to qualify for printing and mailing a check to inactive members is $10. Refunds that do not meet the minimum will be held on inactive electric accounts and distributed by check when the retired amount meets the $10 minimum.
What happens to unclaimed capital credits?
Polk-Burnett was required to give unclaimed capital credits to the State of Wisconsin prior to 1987. Now we can use these dollars for education and we are proud to offer continuing education scholarships to the children of our members. Polk-Burnett's scholarship program is based on community service and recognizes graduating seniors who make a difference in the lives of others. Read more about Polk-Burnett's Community Service Scholarship Program.