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Beartooth Electric Board of Trustees Retires $352,416 in Capital Credits Back to Member-owners


November 30, 2018

Contact: Kaaren Robbins, Member Communication & Services, 406-446-2310,

The  Beartooth Electric Cooperative’s Board of Trustees has elected to return $352,416 in retired  capital credits to the Cooperative’s member-owners this past November. Capital credits are also known as the Co-op’s margins. BEC is a not-for-profit utility; margins are returned to the members the Cooperative serves. Since 2011, the Cooperative has returned more than $1.5 million to member-owners.

“The BEC Board of Trustees are working to financially position BEC into a 20-year capital credit retirement cycle (or a minimum of 5% of total credits annually) when financial stability exists,” stated BEC Board President, Julie Lindgren.

This year, active Beartooth Electric Cooperative member-owners in 1992 and 1993 will receive checks based upon their share of margins those years. If a member has eligible capital credits of any amount, they will receive a check, unless they hold an uncollectible account, which will be paid first from the return.

According to Kevin Owens, General Manager of BEC, “This process is what sets us apart from other utilities. We’re not in business to make a profit for shareholders; we work to offer the greatest value to our Co-op member-owners. If there is leftover money, we give it back to our members in the form of capital credit retirements.”

 It is important for members to know two things about capital credits to understand how they work:

 1.    Allocations: Each year, members are “allocated” a portion of the previous year’s margins based on the amount of electricity purchased from BEC in relation to the total amount of electricity purchased by all the members during the year. This amount is put into a holding account for a number of years and used by BEC to fund capital needs for items such as power line construction, transformers, trucks, inventory and other operational needs. This is an underlying principle of the cooperative business model and is one more way we keep electric rates as low as possible. This “allocation” becomes the member’s equity in the cooperative and is maintained in an account assigned to each member. 

 2.    Retirement: This is what members will get in cash at a later date. BEC uses the amount “allocated” to each member for a time but then returns this amount to members in the form of “retirements,” which are actual “cash back” dollars. When capital credits are retired, member equity in the cooperative is reduced.

What happens if Capital Credit refunds are unclaimed?

A cooperative shall, upon the action of the board of trustees, retain patronage refunds allocated to its members that remain unclaimed for a period of 5-years after the end of the year in which the refunds are given. Montana Code Annotated 35-18-316 allows unclaimed refunds retained by the cooperative to be used for educational purposes or be forfeited to the State. BEC uses unclaimed capital credits to fund the Beartooth Electric Scholarship program, Washington D.C. Youth Tour and other service area educational based projects.

Do you or someone you know have unclaimed CapitalCredits?

When BEC mails out Capital Credit Retirement checks to current and former members several of these checks are returned or remain uncashed. The list of unclaimed capital credits checks is posted on our website 2018 unclaimed capital credits list and in the BEC office. If your name appears on the list or you know the whereabouts of any individuals on this list, please let them know to call BEC at 800-472-9821 or 406-446-2310 to speak with a customer service representative about unclaimed capital credits.

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