Capital Credits

What Are Capital Credits?

Umatilla Electric Cooperative is operated on a not-for-profit basis. Electric cooperatives, unlike investor-owned utilities, are owned by the members they serve. When you pay your electric bill, you are accumulating equity in your cooperative.

All funds collected above the cost of operation (called margins) are annually assigned to our members in the form of Capital Credits. Margins are the funds left over at the end of the year after all bills are paid. Each year the board of directors, which are elected by the members, review our financial position and determines the most financially prudent amount of capital credits to pay out.

Whether your capital credit refund is taxable generally depends on whether or not you claimed your electric bills as a business expense. Most Capital Credit refunds for residential bills are not taxable; however, it would be wise to check with a tax accountant if you are in doubt. If you no longer receive electric service from Umatilla Electric, please keep us informed of changes in your mailing address so that any future refunds will reach you.

Refunds of less than $10 will not be mailed, but rather retained in the member’s Capital Credits account until it surpasses that amount in a future distribution. Members can also elect to donate all or a portion of your December Capital Credits refund to UEC’s UCARE program. UCARE provides aid to members in need, lessening their financial stress during this uncertain time and holiday season. The program is supported by member contributions, which are matched by UEC.

Since it began Capital Credits refunds in 1960, UEC has returned more than $80 million to members.

If you have questions regarding your Capital Credits, please call the office in Hermiston at (541) 567-6414. Our toll-free number is (800) 452-2273.


  • March 2022: UEC Surpasses $100 Million in Total Capital Credits Returned; $4.5 Million Returned in March

In March, UEC’s Board of Directors approved the return of $4.5 million to members as part of the cooperative’s capital credits program. Current and former members who purchased electricity during 2018 and 2020 will receive a refund.

Checks will be mailed in mid-April. Refunds of less than $10 will not be mailed, but rather retained in the member’s capital credits account until it surpasses that amount in a future distribution.

As a not-for-profit, member-owned company, UEC operates at cost, with net operating revenues returned to members in the form of capital credit refunds. Refunds paid out to members are based on the amount of electricity purchased during the specified year.

With the latest distribution to members, UEC has exceeded $100 million returned to members since the cooperative began distributing capital credit refunds early in its history. UEC becomes one of only a handful of U.S. rural electric cooperatives nationwide to reach the milestone.

“As capital credits reflect each member’s ownership in the cooperative, it’s a tremendous achievement to reach this milestone,” said Bryan Wolfe, President of UEC’s Board of Directors. “It’s important for us to demonstrate to our members what it means to be a cooperative. What better way to tell our story than to return capital credits?”

UEC’s annual meeting on October 10, 1947, was lightly attended; as it turned out, only a few dozen members were present in person to witness the dawn of “capital credits.”

Ray Woolley, UEC’s general manager at the time, explained how it would work: Members would share in the cooperative’s profits, called ‘margins’ — revenue minus expenses. A member’s share of the margins would be called capital credits.

For example, if a given member spent $200 for electric service during the year and UEC’s margins totaled 10 percent of revenue, UEC would set aside $20 to be returned to that member at a later date. The membership voted 30-1 in favor of adopting capital credits.

Typically, then and now, rural electric cooperatives keep capital credits money for a given period of time to help keep interest expense on loans to a minimum, using the funds to maintain and improve electric service. The process of refunding is called “retiring” capital credits, and started with retiring the oldest credits first.

At UEC, no capital credits were assigned from 1937 until 1941, because the cooperative operated without profits during its early years of service. Capital credits have been assigned in all years since, and UEC paid its first capital credits, totaling $29,216, to its members in 1960.

Today, noting the $100 million milestone, UEC General Manager and CEO, Robert Echenrode said, “We are proud to continue the tradition of capital credits, and to spend every day in service to our members.”


  • December 2021: $4 Million in Capital Credits Returned to Members

Umatilla Electric’s Board of Directors will return $4 million to Cooperative members in December as part of the utility’s Capital Credits program.

Checks will be mailed the third week of December to members who purchased electricity during the years 2008 and 2017. Robert Echenrode, UEC General Manager and CEO, said the cooperative’s efforts to maximize efficiencies and control costs make such refunds possible.

“Being able to give back to members during the Christmas season is always a gratifying time for our Cooperative,” Echenrode said. “Our business model allows us to focus on providing reliable service and affordable rates to members, not on making profits.”

As a not-for-profit, member-owned cooperative, UEC operates at cost, with net operating revenues (known as margins) returned to members in the form of Capital Credits refunds. Refunds to members are based on the amount of electricity they purchased during the specified years.

Under the leadership of the Board of Directors, UEC has returned a total of $15.5 million in the past two years.


  • August 2021: UEC Seeks to Return Unclaimed Capital Credits

UEC gives notice that Unclaimed Capital Credits payments are now and have been available since 2017 at the office of the Cooperative at 750 W. Elm Ave., P.O. Box 1148, Hermiston OR 97838, to members on a list that can be viewed by clicking the link below. These unclaimed credits were earned in the years of 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2015. Unless the members named or their heirs claim payment no later than December 31, 2021, they will be forfeited to the Cooperative.


  • April 2021: $4 Million in Capital Credits Returned to Members

Umatilla Electric’s Board of Directors has approved the return of $4 million to Cooperative members in April as part of the utility’s Capital Credits program.

In all, 10,265 refund checks will be issued to members who purchased electricity during 2019. Checks will be mailed April 7.

As a not-for-profit, member-owned company, UEC operates at cost, with net operating revenues (known as margins) returned to members in the form of Capital Credits refunds.

Refunds that are paid out to members are based on the amount of electricity purchased during the specified year.

“The return of Capital Credits reflects UEC’s financial strength and stability and provides a means to inform members about the cooperative difference,” said Robert Echenrode, UEC General Manager and CEO. “One of the best features of a rural electric cooperative is being able to invest in and support our local communities.”

Under the leadership of the Board of Directors, UEC has returned a total of $11.6 million since the pandemic began early last year. Distributions occurred in April 2020 (for electricity purchased in 2018), December 2020 (for electricity purchased in 2006 and 2007) and April 2021, for electricity purchased in 2019.

Since it began distributing refunds in 1960, UEC has returned more than $92 million to members.


  • December 2020: UEC to Return $5.1 Million During Holiday Season

Umatilla Electric’s Board of Directors has approved the return of $5.1 million to members in December as part of the cooperative’s Capital Credits program.

In all, about 8,700 current and former UEC members who purchased electricity during 2006 and 2007 will receive a refund. Checks are scheduled to be mailed in the second week of December.

Robert Echenrode, UEC General Manager and CEO, said the cooperative’s strong financial position and ongoing efforts to control costs and maximize efficiencies make such distributions possible.

“The Board is pleased to help make a positive impact in the community around the holidays, when it may be needed the most,” he said. “We know this has been a difficult year for many people.”

As a not-for-profit, member-owned company, UEC operates at cost, with net operating revenues, or margins, returned to members in the form of Capital Credits refunds. Refunds that are paid out to members (known as a retirement) are based on the amount of electricity purchased.

Since it began distributing refunds in 1960, UEC has returned more than $85 million to members.

Refunds of less than $10 will not be mailed, but rather retained in the member’s Capital Credits account until it surpasses that amount in a future distribution.

Please call UEC at (541) 567-6414 if you have questions regarding Capital Credits.


  • April 2020: UEC to Distribute $2.5 Million into Local Economy

Umatilla Electric Cooperative (UEC) is pleased to announce the Board of Directors has approved $2.5 million to be distributed to members in April 2020 as part of the cooperative’s Capital Credits program.

The refunds are based on the amount of power consumed during the year 2018. A residential member (customer) who consumed an average amount of electricity during 2018 would receive a check for about $70. All classes of service – homes, farms, businesses, industries – will receive refunds.

As a not-for-profit, member-owned company, UEC operates at cost, with net operating revenues, or margins, returned to members in the form of Capital Credits refunds.

Robert Echenrode, UEC General Manager and CEO, said employees’ hard work and fiscal responsibility have a positive effect on the bottom line, making such distributions possible. “We are proud to be able to make this distribution in a time of need to help stimulate a portion of the economy,” he said.

In all, 9,905 UEC members who purchased electricity during 2018 will receive a refund. Checks are scheduled to appear in mailboxes by mid-April.

Refunds of less than $10 will not be mailed, but rather retained in the member’s Capital Credits account until it surpasses that amount in a future distribution.

Since it began Capital Credits refunds in 1960, UEC has returned more than $80 million to members.

If you have questions regarding your refund, please call UEC at (541) 567-6414 or email us.