The second round of refund payments to members of the former Valley Electric Membership Corp. has been mailed, said Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell.
“More than 32,000 refund checks are going out before the New Year,” Campbell said. “There is an estimated $4.5 million being refunded.”
Shreveport-based SWEPCO completed the purchase of Valley Electric in October 2010. As part of the $100-million transaction, Valley’s board of directors pledged to honor Valley’s estimated $25 million in “patronage capital credits” owed to its members.
Patronage capital credits are accumulated by electric co-op members as their share of co-op earnings.
The first round of payments amounted to approximately 80 percent of the accumulated credits in member accounts. The approximately 20 percent remaining, paid out in this round, was retained by Valley officials to satisfy various claims and liabilities of the Natchitoches-based cooperative.
“I’m happy the people on the former Valley system are getting the balance of their money back,” Campbell said. “It’s a great time of year to be receiving a check in the mail.”
Campbell initiated talks between Valley’s management and SWEPCO early in 2009 after Valley switched wholesale electricity suppliers and its rates increased dramatically. With Campbell’s backing and that of both companies, Valley members voted overwhelmingly in January 2010 to merge operations with SWEPCO.
“They made the right decision to sell,” Campbell said. “The first month after the sale took effect rates were down almost 30 percent.”
The territory of the former Valley Electric, now known as the Valley District of SWEPCO, includes approximately 30,000 households and 41,000 meters in eight parishes – Caddo, DeSoto, Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine, Vernon, Grant and Winn.
To receive patronage credit payments, eligible members were required to complete an application first mailed to customers in 2010. The current distribution was made to eligible members who had completed the application and documentation process by December 3, 2012.
Payments were made to those who claimed to be Valley members, qualifying former members and surviving spouses or heirs.