In December, capital credit checks will be sent out to members who were active in 1992, which is OPALCO’s usual 25-year cycle for capital credit distributions. Based on a larger than projected margin, the Board decided to include an additional amount, about 45% of 1993 margins. Some of our longest standing members will get a little extra this year.
The seven cooperative principles that govern co-ops include "Members' Economic Participation." Each year, our non-profit member-owned cooperative allocates any margins available at year end to each members' account to be paid back in the form of capital credits after 25 years. Capital credit allocations represent members’ equity in the Co-op. Every summer, members get a statement in their bill that indicates the amount of capital credits accrued under the account and, the capital credit distributions – actual checks in the mail – are typically made each December, with Board approval based on Co-op finances.
This year’s capital credit distribution total of about $950K is the second highest on record (highest was 2016 when we paid out 50% of 1990 + 100% of 1991 for a total of ~$1.27M). In the next 25 years, the margins we will be basing capital credit distributions on vary widely: from $121K to $3.1M. In November, the Board discussed smoothing out capital credit distributions based roughly on a ten-year rolling average. Smoothing helps OPALCO to budget for the cash required to pay capital credits and keeps co-op margins in the members’ hands. Members will continue to get their capital credits at 25 years, but distribution will be calculated based on a general rolling average to balance the spikes in our capital credit forecast. A capital credit policy revision will be discussed at the December board meeting.
Capital credit checks will be mailed in mid-December to members who were active in 1992 and 1993. The check amounts range from $5 to thousands (for big energy users like grocery stores); most checks are for between $100 - 250. Please remember to keep OPALCO updated when your address changes so your capital credit distributions can find you. Learn more about capital credits.
Orcas Power & Light Cooperative (OPALCO) is our member-owned cooperative electric utility, serving more than 11,000 members on 20 islands in San Juan County. OPALCO provides electricity that is 95% greenhouse-gas free and is generated predominantly by hydroelectric plants. OPALCO was founded in 1937.