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By Indiana Reed
Special to The SUN
La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) is seeking members, or former members, who are due to receive Capital Credits refund monies.
To that end LPEA will publish in local newspapers, and post on its website, www.lpea.coop, a legal notice naming those individuals or businesses whose Capital Credit money (aka patronage capital) has gone unclaimed because of an invalid address, or whose Capital Credit checks have not been cashed.
The Unclaimed Capital Credits notice will appear in The SUN on Thursday, Feb. 7. The notice will also be posted on the LPEA website as of today, Jan. 31.
“This is money that belongs to our members,” said Greg Munro, LPEA CEO, explaining that electricity payments made by members in excess of the cost of providing their electric service (called the “margin”) is placed into a patronage capital account in each member’s name. “This capital, along with borrowed funds, is used to finance needed improvements to LPEA’s system infrastructure. The margins allow LPEA to maintain system reliability at its highest level and help keep rates lower. But when we find we have patronage capital in excess of what we need, we refund it to members.”
Annually, the LPEA board of directors determines the amount of patronage capital retired, and most retired capital is typically refunded to members in the August billing cycle through billing credits. Checks are issued to those due to receive $100 or more. Since incorporation in 1939, LPEA has refunded more than $34 million.
To claim funds, individuals and businesses are asked to contact LPEA’s Durango office, 45 Stewart St., Bodo Industrial Park, or call 247-5786. Identification will be required to claim the available funds.
Should individuals or businesses listed in the legal notice not come forward to receive their funds, the unclaimed monies will be used for educational or charitable purposes as determined by the LPEA board of directors, as set forth in the LPEA Bylaws. Unclaimed Capital Credit funds support LPEA’s annual scholarships, as well as have contributed to capital projects in La Plata and Archuleta counties.
“Capital credits can in some ways be thought of as dividends for our member-consumers, but these refunds do differentiate us from other types of utilities,” said Munro, noting that LPEA is a not-for-profit corporation with a 501 (c)(12) tax designation. “As part of that tax designation, which establishes us as a cooperative, we are required to refund capital credits to our members as we can afford to do so. We give the money back to our members instead of giving it to investors as is done in for-profit companies.”