Consumers can expect electric refund checks

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Step aside Ed McMahon, because a number of Moffat County residents will be receiving checks through the mail in the next week, and these checks can actually be cashed.

Yampa Valley Electric Association (YVEA) customers will want to start watching their mailboxes a little closer for the pink envelopes that will contain refund checks.

YVEA will be refunding patronage capital in the amount of $1.125 million, which will retire all outstanding allocations for 1987, as well as the 11 percent of allocations just made for 2000.

Patronage capital is each member's (customer's) share of the company's earnings from the previous calendar year.

"This is a great way for the customers to get something back, not to mention the community as a whole," said Jim Chappell, YVEA manager of consumer accounts. "Whenever you can put back $1.125 million into a community, it is going to benefit everyone."

The Association is a member-owned, non-profit organization. Money received over the cost of service is treated as capital furnished by the members.

"We've had a cooperative program here in Moffat County since the mid-40s, and it has worked out well for the people here," he said. "The cooperative program has been something that has been successful across the country, not just in Moffat County."

Cooperative electrical companies were started in the mid-1930s, when agricultural progression was unable to keep up with the rest of the country. The co-ops also served as a way to employ the great number of people who were out of work during the Depression, many in ways that would benefit their own community.

Since electric companies were not willing to invest in the construction of power lines, transformers and stations in areas where they would see little revenue generated, small communities such as Craig formed cooperative partnerships and became owners of these services.

"There are over 1,000 co-ops like this throughout the U.S.," Chappell said. "They are still mostly in small communities, although in some areas, urbanization has helped to spread the population into areas where co-ops had previously existed."

The conditions of YVEA's permit require the patronage capital to be refunded to members who had the service in 1987 and 2000. It is impossible, though, to determine how much of a refund customers may actually see.

"We have some of the large businesses, coal companies and of course, our regular residential customers, so it is impossible to determine an average refund that people will see," Chappell said. "It could range anywhere from a few dollars, to possibly a six-figure refund for a large business. It is really difficult to tell."

Customers should see the bright pink envelopes in their mailboxes sometime this week.

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