By Ann McCreary

Approximately $140,000 will be returned in capital credit payments to members of the Okanogan County Electric Cooperative who had service with the co-op in 1993 and 1994.

The co-op board of directors recently approved a higher rate of payment – about twice the amount paid in 2012, when $66,000 was returned to co-op customers.

The higher payments are possible because the co-op is in a good financial position, due to “efficiencies gained over the last few years and power costs not rising as fast as forecasted,” said Paul Taylor, president of the co-op board.

David Gottula, who was hired as general manager just over two years ago, said the co-op has taken steps to reduce costs, including reducing staff by 20 percent. In addition, an increase in the cost of power purchased by the co-op came later in the year than anticipated.

In a cooperative, members are entitled to share in any revenues that exceed expenses, said Gottula. Each year that share is determined for each member based on how much the member paid in power bills during the year.

Years later, those credits are returned to members on a rotating basis. The co-op works on a 20-year cycle, so members who belonged to the co-op in 1993 or 1994 will receive capital credit checks. Last year 1,273 of the co-op’s total 2,800 members received checks.

The payments will be made in December. Former members should contact the co-op to make sure their current address is on file so they can receive payment, Gottula said.


Electric co-op has new around-the-clock service

Okanogan County Electric Cooperative (OCEC) members can now call with questions about outages, electric service or billing any time of day, any day of the year.

The co-op has joined a cooperative answering service that specializes in handling calls for rural electric cooperatives. The new call center service became effective this week.

Called Cooperative Response Center (CRC), the organization can dispatch OCEC crews to deal with outages or other problems reported by co-op customers in the Methow Valley, said David Gottula, co-op general manager.

Calls will still be made to the co-op’s local number, 996-2228.

CRC, located in Minnesota, will also have access to OCEC’s billing system so “people can also ask billing questions” outside normal office hours, Gottula said.