Many La Plata Electric Association customers will have something to look forward to on next month’s bill. LPEA will be divvying up $2.5 million in refunds to members who have been with the electric cooperative since at least 2011, according to a news release issued by the electric cooperative Monday.
Most refunds will be credited to residents’ and business’ electricity bills.
About 38,500 current and former LPEA customers received the refund last year, and this year’s numbers will likely be about the same, spokeswoman Indiana Reed said. It’s impossible to say what the average rebate will be because electricity use is so varied among members, said Dennis Svanes, the cooperative’s chief financial officer.
The payments are called capital credits refunds and are similar to dividends payments made to stockholders of investor-owned utilities. Because LPEA is a nonprofit, it is required to refund capital credits to members as it is able, Svanes said. The amount of money handed back to members is based on how much cash the cooperative has on hand based on its current and future cash needs as well as the debt-equity ratios it needs to maintain, he said.
The payments come from a patronage capital account that is used to finance needed improvements to LPEA’s systems and infrastructure. The patronage capital account allows increased member equity in the cooperative and reduces how much it has to borrow, Svanes said.
LPEA is refunding capital funds earned between 1992 and 2011. Accordingly, customers who established LPEA accounts in 2011 or before will receive funds according to their contribution to the cooperative’s margins.
“The longer people have been members, the more they have accrued,” Jones said.
The cooperative has more than 30,000 members across La Plata and Archuleta counties.