By SKYE POURNAZARI
MARYVILLE, Mo. — United Electric Cooperative has announced it is giving its 7,742 members a $500,000 gift in December.
The electricity provider intends to waive the service availability charge on its 9,819 meters, thus decreasing members’ bills by $45 for residential members and $60 for nonresidential members.
“I personally feel great about it,” said Jim Bagley, CEO of United Electric Cooperative. “We’re a nonprofit company. All of our profits, even from our for-profit subsidiary, end up going back to the members at some point. The sooner we can get the money to them, the better.”
In a letter sent out to co-op members the company wrote,
“So many families go without on a daily basis and struggle to make ends meet. This struggle can be especially hard during the holiday season. For this reason, United Electric is giving back to our membership on their bill they receive in December. We hope you are able to return the favor to someone in need this holiday season. Whether you donate items or volunteer your time, every act of kindness matters. Every time we give back, we strengthen the communities we live in. So take the time to give back this holiday season. You’ll be glad you did. We hope you and your family have a blessed holiday season. We look forward to sharing our successes and serving you, our members in 2019.”
He said a number of factors played into members receiving this gift within the same year, including this year’s weather causing more sales than usual and the fact that United Services had a very good year.
“We’re owned by our electric members, so any profits that we generate are their profits and we get it back to them eventually,” Bagley said. “We thought it would be better to get some money back to them in the same year. Especially this time of year, with the holidays and property taxes and everything people have planned.”
Bagley explained that traditionally, the co-op waits until the end of the year to allocate funds to its members. This year is different, because of the success of United Services, and also because the 12-member Board of Directors approved paying off its U.S. government debt and refinancing.
“Before that we couldn’t do this,” Bagley said. “Actions that the board took early this year, is what allowed us to be able to do that this year,” he said.
He explained because of a previous loan covenant, funds from United Fiber couldn’t be given back to United Electric Cooperative members.
“Since March of 2017, we’ve given $2.1 million back, but this is the first time we’ve done an actual rebate within the same year. … Everyone who is a member this month will see a reduction in their bill.”
Amy Tobin, communications manager with the co-op, said the savings will be seen on each bill per meter.
“If they have two accounts they get one for each account,” she said. As an example, she said farmers will have grain bins and their homes.
“We’re here for one reason, that’s for our membership,” Bagley said. “There are no stock or shareholders. We’re not owned by hedge funds, we’re owned by the people we serve. I’m just happy this is at least something small we can do to help them out.”