SMECO is refunding members’ capital credits totaling nearly $7.1 million. Of that total, a general refund of approximately $4.7 million will be issued in July. Eligible active members will receive credits on their bills, and checks will be issued to eligible former members. Special refunds of about $2.4 million will be paid throughout the year to include estates of deceased members.
SMECO’s margins for 2021 totaled more than $24 million. SMECO uses margins—revenue minus expenses—as working capital for new construction, system improvements, and facility upgrades. Sonja M. Cox, SMECO president and CEO, explained, “Our members help to finance SMECO’s operations, and they can be assured that we are investing in infrastructure and technology that will benefit them.”
Cox added, “SMECO customers invest in their cooperative every time they pay their bill, and we are responsible for keeping the lights on. But, because our customers are our members, we also exercise a basic cooperative principle by sharing a portion of SMECO’s margins with them.” SMECO’s margins are based on the cooperative’s revenue and expenses, not the cost of energy. While the cost of energy has increased over the last year, SMECO makes no profit on energy costs, and energy rates have no impact on SMECO’s margins.
At the end of each year, SMECO’s margins are allocated to a special account for each member, based on how much electricity the member purchased and the rate at which the account was billed. SMECO’s Board of Directors regularly evaluates the financial condition of the cooperative and determines when SMECO members’ capital credits will be refunded. Refunds will be credited to members’ bills beginning July 11 and checks will be mailed to eligible former members beginning July 25.
All eligible active members will receive a credit on the bill for their primary account. If members wish to contact SMECO to designate their primary account, they may call (888) 440-3311. Eligible former members will receive a full refund of the balance in their capital credit account if the balance is $100 or less. Any remaining balances attributable to allocations made in the year 1988 will also be issued to eligible members and former members. Whenever SMECO members move out of the co-op’s service area, they should contact SMECO to update their mailing address in order to receive refund checks in the future.