Columbus, OH—Ohio’s electric cooperative network announced today that, in 2018, its 24 not-for-profit, consumer-owned co-ops collectively returned more than $34 million to their consumers.
A co-op’s consumers are also its owners. By paying their electric bills, consumers are contributing operating capital to their co-ops. When all of a co-op’s bills have been paid, and the operating capital is no longer needed, the excess money is returned to consumers in proportion to how much electricity they purchased in a given year. The regular return of money to consumers is a primary tenet of the electric cooperative industry.
“Consumers contributing money to their co-op, and the co-op returning money to them when it’s no longer needed, is one of our fundamental business practices,” said Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives President & CEO Pat O’Loughlin. “Unlike a for-profit business, which returns dividends to shareholders, co-ops give money back to their consumers. It’s a sign that the co-op is in strong financial shape.”
Ohio electric cooperatives across the state also coordinated the donation of $1.6 million in 2018 from electric bill “round-up” initiatives, wherein consumers voluntarily round their monthly bills up to the next dollar. Participating co-ops each have local funds, where the extra change is funneled. Donations are made to organizations like nonprofits, schools, and fire departments or to individuals in need, depending on the co-op’s program. All of the donations stay right in the co-ops’ local communities.
Ohio electric co-ops collectively serve about 1 million Ohioans in 77 of the Buckeye State’s 88 counties.
“Co-ops were built by their communities, and those communities are the reason we’re still here. We exist to serve them,” O’Loughlin said.