December Manager's Message
At Renville-Sibley Co-op Power Association the people who receive electricity are not just customers, they are members of our cooperative. Members enjoy certain rights that customers don’t have with other electric providers. For instance, as a member of Renville-Sibley, you can choose to run for a board seat. Because you can vote in the annual election for the board candidates of your choice, our board is composed of people who live and work in the very territory that Renville-Sibley serves.
Many people, however, don’t understand the various ways their membership in a cooperative affects their rates. At Renville-Sibley, our rates are based on two main components – the actual cost of the wholesale power we buy from the company that generates electricity, and the cost for us to get that power to you. Our power provider, East-River Electric, which also is a cooperative, sets wholesale power costs. Renville-Sibley has a seat on East-River’s board of directors. As a cooperative, East River works hard to keep rates low, while guaranteeing a stable supply of electricity.
The second component – the cost for us to get power to you – is all other operational costs, including the cost for poles and lines, the cost and maintenance of trucks and buildings, actual employee costs like wages and benefits, and the costs associated with maintaining records, like the printing and mailing of bills.
One of the biggest advantages of being served by a cooperative is that we work only for you; we don’t have stockholders expecting a big quarterly dividend. We are a not-for-profit enterprise, which means we’re working only to provide you with economical, reliable service. We do collect some money, which is figured into your rates, that is used for capital improvements. It helps us to build many of the expensive improvements we are required to provide. Any money collected in excess of those required funds is allocated to each customer account as patronage capital. Patronage capital, or capital credits as they are often called, represents your investment in the cooperative and all its assets. While capital credits are not returned every year, the board of directors that you elect considers at least once a year whether or not we can return some of these investment dollars to our members. So, when figuring our overall rates, customers need to consider patronage capital in the quotient. Returning capital credits to members is a practice unique to the cooperative form of business and represents one of the cooperative principles – members’ economic participation. And perhaps best of all, the benefits of this economic participation accrues to our community.