Our cooperative was built by the community 81 years ago. Today, we are still led by members of the community, owned by the community and strive to always give back to those that we serve. This business model allows us to focus on people, not profits.
We’re proud to announce that San Patricio Electric Cooperative has given back more than $2.6 million to our members in 2019.
Of that amount, $1 million was returned as billing credits on bills mailed in early December. That averages about $130 per member. For many members, that means their bills were completely covered, or significantly reduced this month. We know that can be a big help during the holiday season.
Billing credits were distributed in proportion to how much electricity you used throughout the year. The more electricity you used, the higher your bill credit. Likewise, if you kept your electricity costs low, you received a proportionate amount of billing credits.
In addition to the billing credits members received, SPEC also retired $1,636,951 in capital credits from the years 2000, 2001, 2002 and a portion of 2018. Members who were part of the co-op in these years received a capital credit check in early December, relative to the amount of electricity they consumed in those years.
Capital credits is a term SPEC uses to refer to our margins (profits minus expenses). When you pay your bill each month, SPEC uses that money to pay for things like the cost of power, maintenance on our system and our operations. Margins are what’s leftover after all of those bills are paid.
Each year, SPEC’s Board of Directors evaluates the cooperatives financial standing and determines what, if any, margins can be returned to our members. Since 2009, SPEC has retired more than $16 million in capital credits.
It may seem like a lengthy payback period –the year 2002 was quite some time ago—but we keep these funds for a period of time for the benefit of all members. Holding on to these capital credits allows the co-op to borrow loan funds at better interest rates, which in turn helps keep electricity rates affordable. These funds can also be utilized in the event of a natural disaster. In the case of Hurricane Harvey, SPEC repaired $3.5 million in damages without having to increase rates for members.
In fact, SPEC has not increased rates since 2006. Over the last 13 years, we’ve been able to keep rates level due to new technologies, a regular maintenance program and the low price of natural gas, among other things. And of course, the billing credits and capital credit checks we return to members also help reduce your overall cost for electricity.
We won’t always be able to keep our rates where they are today, but rest assured, we will always work hard to keep our costs as low as possible, and to give back to our members whenever we can.