This month, Bluebonnet members are reaping two of the most important benefits that distinguish member-owned electric cooperatives from other utilities – democratic elections and dividend-like capital credits.
During this month’s annual meeting, our members re-elected Suanna Tumlinson of Travis County, Richard Schmidt of Caldwell County and James Kershaw of Bastrop County to represent them on Bluebonnet’s 11-member board of directors. More than 7,000 members voted in this year’s election, either by proxy or in person at our annual meeting, which was Tuesday, May 8, in Giddings.
“I am exceptionally pleased with the outcome of this election and honored by the vote of confidence that our members gave the current directors,” said Schmidt, board chairman. “We have a very dedicated board that strives to provide safe, reliable, competitively priced power. I think today’s vote validates all of their hard work.”
Directors serve three-year terms and one-third of the board is up for election each year.
One of the board’s responsibilities each year is to oversee the distribution of capital credits, which are similar to dividends that for-profit companies pay their investors. A few years ago our board adopted a policy that ensures the amount Bluebonnet pays in capital credits is equal to 2 percent of its assets plus any additional revenue collected above what the we projected in our business plan. This year the board unanimously voted to return $2.9 million to our members.
“During the last five years Bluebonnet has returned $18.7 million to its members,” Schmidt said. “Paying capital credits is what sets nonprofit, member-owned cooperatives apart from investor-owned and city-owned utilities. We will continue to use the revenue needed to provide safe, reliable electricity and return what we don’t use to our members.”
For more than four decades, Bluebonnet has returned capital credits to its members. The dividend-like payments represent a portion of each member’s share of their ownership in the cooperative. The amount each member receives depends on how much electricity they used in the previous years and how long they have been a Bluebonnet member. Current members will receive refunds on their May electric bills. Former members who are still owed a capital credit will receive a check in May or June.
Look for your capital credit on your May electric bill or as a check in your mailbox. If you voted in this year’s board election, thanks for your participation. If not, we hope you’ll vote next year. It’s a member benefit you have that customers of city-owned and investor-owned utilities don’t enjoy.