Opalco: check is in the mail

By Steve Wehrly, Journal reporter

Orcas Power and Light Cooperative wants you to know “the check’s in the mail.”

The member-owned cooperative electric utility that delivers power to the San Juan Islands announced Dec. 5 that it is distributing $628,146 to 3,742 people who were co-op customers, thus “members,” in 1987.

The distribution represents profits from 1987; OPALCO calls them “margins”. Margins are allocated to a member’s capital account from “all amounts in excess of operating costs and expenses” for a given year.

These allocations, called “capital credits,” are retained by the cooperative for 25 years and used primarily as part of its operating capital. Distributions of “capital credits” are made on a 25-year cycle: only OPALCO member-customers from 1987 will receive checks. The co-op did not say whether the amounts distributed included the entire 1987 “margin,” or profit, just that the distributions are made “once a year, as OPALCO’s finances permit.”

The co-op noted in its press release that checks range from $5 to “thousands of dollars” to large power users such as schools and grocery stores. “The majority of the checks are in the range of $100 – $250,” according to the co-op.

Distributions of less than $5 or distributions to members from 1987 who cannot be located are held for two years, then allocated to either the Education and Promotion Fund or the Retirement and Replacement Fund. OPALCO urges members and former members to keep the co-op updated with a current address.

Deceased members may be paid capital credits “on a discounted basis, upon approval of the Board,” according to the cooperative.

For more information, visit  www.opalco.com/members/capital-credits.