What makes an electric cooperative different?

Being a member of WH means you’re part of an electric cooperative, meaning that you have a voice in how the business is run. But what makes up a cooperative?

Posted by Lauren Dublin on December 21, 2022

Being a member of WH means you’re part of an electric cooperative, meaning that you have a voice in how the business is run. But what makes up a cooperative?

Low rates

In 2023, we anticipate the typical residential member bill will be more than 9% less than a customer of Xcel. As a cooperative, WH is a not-for-profit, meaning that money brought in must go out; it’s not used to benefit investors or stakeholders. WH also owns multiple subsidiary businesses, including WH Security, which are separate from the electric operation. These businesses keep costs down by generating profits and eating costs that offset the retail price of electricity for WH members. WH Holding is the legal umbrella under which these businesses reside, protecting the electric cooperative’s not-for-profit status. In 2021, WH Holding produced about $27 in savings for each WH member. 

Member services

Did you know you can call WH between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday and talk to a real, live person every time? WH also offers live chat and email options for members. Our friendly member services representatives are ready to help with questions about anything from setting up new service to billing questions and more!

A group of eight smiling women

Capital credits

Capital credit refunds are the equivalent of dividends from an investor-owned organization. Margins are collected dollars that are returned to member-owners of WH, after expenses are paid, for purchasing electricity during the years being retired. Before returning they money, WH uses member capital to offset the cost of debt for construction and maintenance. Based on the cooperative’s financial condition and other considerations, WH’s member-elected board determines the amount of margins retired each year. WH has provided members with capital credit refunds for 42 consecutive years.

Capital credits are also occasionally retired from Great River Energy (GRE), one of WH’s wholesale power suppliers, meaning that even more money is refunded to members. 

Annual Meeting

WH hosts an Annual Meeting to provide business updates to members. The business meeting includes a financial report, WH and WH Holding leadership reports, and results of the director election. Each year, three of WH’s nine directors are up for election, with one director from each district.

All members are encouraged to attend, and prizes and bill credits are raffled off for those who do. The 2023 Annual Meeting will be Thursday, April 20.

Commitment to Community

WH follows the seven Cooperative Principles, including Commitment to Community.

WH’s big yellow trucks are found at many parades, fairs, and other events over the summer, offering members a unique chance to get up close and personal with the big equipment. Santa and Mrs. Claus also make a point to stop by the office each year for last-minute Christmas requests.

Plus, in addition to donating night lights and USB drives to elementary schoolers, WH offers safety demonstrations to students, teaching them to be safe around electricity. For older students, WH offers scholarships both for college-bound students and for future lineworkers.

Each summer, WH also sponsors one high school junior to attend the Youth Tour, a week-long trip to Washington, D.C. in the summer. Students are given the opportunity to meet with state legislators and learn about issues that affect cooperatives across the county.

“I could not think of a better way to experience Washington D.C.,” said WH’s 2022 Youth Tour attendee Bethany Yu. “I’ve made priceless memories and met amazing people. I took a lot of time for reflection on this trip and I am incredibly thankful for it. I have learned so much and met amazing people. This trip has created future opportunities and opened doors for me.”

WH is proud to be celebrating 86 years of the cooperative difference in Wright and Hennepin counties! Thank you for being a member!

Lauren Dublin

Lauren Dublin

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