Intercounty Electric Cooperative’s board of directors recently approved $1.5 million to be distributed back to the membership as a discount on the December bill, the organization announced this week.
The monies will be distributed at an amount based on each member’s usage between the months of January and October. The average discount will be approximately $100, Intercounty said.
Intercounty is a cooperative owned by the user — the member. Because Intercounty is a cooperative, it works with a different philosophy than other utilities. It does not technically earn profits. Instead, any revenues over and above the cost of doing business are considered margins and belong to the membership, the owners.
Rates are set based on averages and forecasts that take into account a variety of factors — sometimes events can occur that cause revenues to be higher or lower than projected expenses. In 2010, along with successful cost measures, Intercounty experienced extreme weather last winter and again this summer causing record kWh sales that generated revenues allowing the organization to distribute a refund.
As Intercounty prepares the 2011 budget, it does not anticipate a rate increase. It does foresee an increase in power costs from their power provider, Associated Electric Cooperative, for 2012 that could affect member’s rates. Intercounty said it hopes to minimize the end impact on members and continues to look optimistically at 2012. However, with the current direction EPA is taking, Intercounty said it is probable that their regulations will cause additional increases in fuels and emission controls for carbon that may affect everyone greatly.
Intercounty stresses the importance of communicating with legislators as to how increases caused by EPA regulations will affect members.
Intercounty said the discount members will be receiving highlights “the cooperative way of doing business.” The member shares in the success of the cooperative. Because the member is the owner, the refund is distributed directly to the member/owner and not to stockholders as a dividend. Its just one more way cooperative is different, Intercounty said.