There are so many benefits that come with co-op membership, but perhaps one of the best benefits is capital credits.
What are capital credits, you ask? At the end of each year, Southern Indiana Power calculates our operating margin, which is the amount by which our income exceeded our expenses during the year.
We then allocate the operating margin as “capital credits” to each member based on the amount of electricity they purchased throughout the year. When our board of directors determines it is financially feasible and prudent, and when we meet the financial requirements stated in our loan documents, we retire the capital credits by sending a check to the members who had electric service with the co-op during the years that are up for retirement.
In the interim, we use the allocated, but unretired, capital credits to improve and expand our electric system and to meet our other capital needs. This reduces our need to borrow money and helps us provide reliable electric service.
You might wonder why we do this. As an electric cooperative, we are here to provide at-cost electric service. We aren’t here to make a profit, and we don’t have shareholders. As a member of an electric cooperative, you invest in the efficient operation of your co-op. Unlike an investor-owned utility, we don’t pay dividends or other amounts to shareholders who don’t purchase electricity from us.
Every year, Southern Indiana Power’s board of directors evaluates the cooperative’s financial position and capital needs, and approves a capital credit retirement plan.
We also publish information in the Electric Consumer when we are preparing to retire capital credits. In 2016, Southern Indiana Power retired more than $550,000 in allocated capital credits from the years 1988-1989.
Capital credits benefit all co-op members by keeping costs and electric rates as low as possible. And they ensure that non-customer shareholders don’t profit from the cooperative’s operations. Capital credit allocations help qualify Southern Indiana Power for cooperative status under federal income tax law. Capital credits also help to reduce the amount of debt the co-op has to borrow, which also keeps service costs down. The bottom line, capital credits are just one of the many benefits of being a member of Southern Indiana Power. To learn more, visit www.sinpwr.com.
If you leave the cooperative, please provide us your current address to help ensure you receive your captial credits as they are retired.
STEVE SEIBERT is president/CEO of Southern Indiana Power.