Capital Credit Returns Reflect Co-op Success

CEO Dave MarkhamIn mid-December, the Central Electric Cooperative Board of Directors returned $4 million in capital credits to current and former cooperative members who bought electricity in 1996. The ability to return this money is due to CEC’s financial strength–a direct reflection of efforts by the board of directors and employees to manage your cooperative efficiently.

Annually, after all operating expenses are paid, CEC’s remaining margins are allocated to members’ capital credit accounts based on the amount of electricity they bought throughout the year. After an extended period–historically within 25 years, based on the cooperative’s financial condition–capital credits are returned to members in the form of a check.

Since 1958, CEC has returned more than $40 million to members. In fact, capital credits have been returned every year since 2001 and in 38 of the past 41 years.

Capital credits are just one of the many benefits a CEC member-owner enjoys. As a not-for-profit electric utility, we focus on the quality of service, not profit. Members may participate in a democratic process to choose their respective board directors. Members may also benefit from our donations of time and funding to various organizations in local communities.

You enjoy the benefit of clean energy that is nearly 96% carbon-free, reliable and affordable, with some of the lowest electric rates in the state. On average, CEC’s residential rates are 15% lower than the local investor-owned utility’s comparable residential rate. There will be no change in CEC’s retail rate this year.

Successfully keeping our rates low relies on our members and their investment in the cooperative. As a not-for-profit, CEC has limits to obtaining funding for capital projects. We can borrow money from banks with interest or borrow funds from members through rates. Sometimes, CEC uses a combination of both options, but the latter enables us to keep borrowing costs and your rates low.

Over an extended period, CEC uses these funds to pay for long-term projects to maintain and upgrade the electric system. The effort proves challenging. Central Oregon is growing steadily, and the demand for electricity comes with ensuring reliability, enhancing safety and reducing threats to communities in high-risk wildfire areas.

Toward that end, we have strategically expanded substations to increase capacity to meet growth while replacing underground distribution cables in conduits to enhance reliability. We continue to upgrade outdated poles, aggressively expand wildfire mitigation practices such as tree trimming and vegetation management, and install specialized equipment on distribution and transmission lines in high-risk fire areas to protect members and their communities.

None of this is possible without our employees’ daily efforts to manage costs and operate the utility efficiently, led by the board of directors’ vision and guidance. Collectively, we work to ensure CEC members’ money is spent judiciously and provides the highest value.

If you have any questions about capital credits, please call one of our customer service representatives at 541-548-2144 or visit to learn more.