Being a not-for-profit organization that is owned by its members, Firelands Electric provides its member-owners electric service at cost. Money to cover the cooperative’s day-to-day operating costs — maintaining, repairing, and constructing the electric distribution system — comes directly from the members paying their electric bills. At the end of the year, Firelands Electric subtracts expenses from the amount of money collected, and the remaining balance is called the margin. Any margin the cooperative makes — the money left over after all the bills are paid — is allocated back to the members’ capital credit accounts.
Firelands Electric allocates the margin as capital credits to each member based on the amount of electricity they purchased throughout the year. These capital credits represent each member’s ownership in the cooperative. As a member, you are investing in the efficient operation of your electric cooperative.
When we meet the financial requirements stated in our loan documents, and when our board of trustees determines it is financially feasible, we retire, or refund, capital credits back to our members.
Capital credits that are allocated, but unretired, are used to maintain, improve, and expand our electrical system and meet our other operating expenses. The cooperative invests the money in new poles, wire, transformers, substations, equipment, and other infrastructure in order to provide a reliable supply of cost-effective electric power. This reduces the necessity to borrow money and helps us provide dependable electric service.
Since 1948, Firelands Electric Cooperative has refunded over $15.3 million in capital credits. Refunds to current members are issued as credits on members' bills rather than issued as checks. Applying capital credit refunds to members' monthly electric bills is a more efficient way of refunding capital credits because it saves on postage and printing costs. Former members who lived in the co-op’s service territory during this period will receive a check. It’s pertinent for members who move out of Firelands Electric’s service area to provide the co-op with updated contact information to ensure that any capital credits owed to them in the future will be sent to the correct address.
Click here for helpful FAQs about capital credits and how they are allocated.
Firelands Electric operates in accordance with seven Cooperative Principles. To obtain additional information regarding capital credits, contact us here, call 1-800-533-8658, or check out the video below.