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Record-breaking $2.6million paid out to Fall River Electric customers


ASHTON, Idaho (KIFI) — This week, Fall River Electric Cooperative mailed cash back checks to the owner-members (customers) of the Co-op totaling more than $2.6 million as part of its patronage capital program.

This represents the largest payout of patronage capital in the cooperative’s 84-year history.

Since Fall River Electric operates as a nonprofit cooperative, it is in fact owned by the customers it serves which the co-op refers to as owner-members. When revenues collected by the co-op exceed operating costs, those extra revenues become patronage capital, which is then disbursed to its owner-members on an approximate twenty-year cycle. This retirement cycle helps the Cooperative achieve its ideal equity level which also helps the co-op obtain loans at lower interest rates which helps to keep electric rates to members low.

Unlike investor-owned utilities that pay profits to stockholders, Fall River Electric’s patronage capital is a customer’s equity in the Cooperative and is used in building new or maintaining existing infrastructure, including generation facilities, poles, wire, transformers and substations. These cash back payments will be especially beneficial to members who are dealing with near record inflation. Additionally, payments can be likened to an infusion of capital into our area’s economy just in advance of the holidays.

The amount of cash back that a member receives is based on how much electricity they purchased during the years being retired. This year, members are receiving patronage capital earned in 2004 through a portion of early 2005.

According to Fall River Electric’s CEO/General Manager Bryan Case, “Cash back payments made to our customers are a unique and tremendous benefit of being a member of our Cooperative. It is made possible with the approval of our elected Board of Directors. They analyze the financial health of our Cooperative and only pay out patronage capital when it is in the best interest of our entire membership. Fortunately our staff and management continue to do an outstanding job of managing our financial and physical resources, so our equity has dramatically improved in recent years, now at 48 percent, which is a significant contributing factor to the board’s ability to retire patronage capital to our owner-members.”

Members of Fall River Electric who have moved from the Co-op’s service territory can request an early discounted payout of their patronage capital equity. Over the course of the Cooperative’s 84-year history, members have received over $30 million.

Article Topic Follows: Idaho

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