What is a Co-Op?

Electric cooperatives are private, not-for-profit businesses governed by their consumers (known as consumer-members). Two federal requirements for all co-ops, including electric co-ops, are democratic governance and operation at cost. Specifically, every consumer-member can vote to choose local boards that oversee the co-op, and the co-op must, with few exceptions,
return to consumer-members revenue above what is needed for operation. Under this structure, electric co-ops provide economic benefits to their local communities rather than distant stockholders.

The majority of co-ops distribute electricity to consumers through low-voltage residential lines that cover more than 75 percent of the nation’s land mass. Many of these distribution co-ops, as they’re called, have joined to create co-ops that provide them with generation and transmission services. Distribution co-ops also buy power from investor-owned utilities, public power systems, federal hydropower power marketing administrations and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

What are Capital Credits?

A cooperative does not earn profits in the sense that other businesses do. Instead, any margins, or revenues remaining after all expenses have been paid, are returned as capital credits, to the members in proportion to their patronage during each year.

Capital Credits represent each member’s share of OCEC’s equity.

What do cooperatives do with Capital Credits?

Every business needs to maintain a suitable balance debt to equity to ensure its financial health and stability.
Capital credits are the most significant source of equity for most electric cooperatives. Equity is used to help meet the
expenses of the co-op, such as paying for new equipment to serve members and repaying debt. Capital credits help keep rates at a
competitive level by reducing the amount of funds that must be borrowed.

How does the cooperative determine who receives Capital Credits?

Capital Credits are allocated to each member of the cooperative every year based on patronage in the cooperative.

What is a Kilowatt-Hour and what is a Kilowatt?

What is a Kilowatt-Hour (kWh)?

A kilowatt-hour is a measure of energy. The amount of electricity your home or business uses over a period of time is measured in kilowatt-hours.
For example, if you clean your floors with a 1,000-watt vacuum cleaner for one hour, you use one kWh of energy. Different devices use different amounts of kWh when operated for the same amount of time. It all comes down to dividing 1,000 by the number of watts in an appliance. 

  • If you are using a 100-watt device, such as a LED TV, you would have to watch your favorite shows for 10 hours before using 1 kWh.
  • If you are running a 2,000-watt appliance, such as a clothes dryer, you only need to power it for 30 minutes to use 1 kWh.

The front of your billing statement displays your energy use in kWh for the current month, the previous month, and the same month the year before. You can reduce your electric bill by using devices that consume fewer watts or by using devices for less time.

What is a Kilowatt (kW)? 

A kilowatt is a measure of power. It is the volume of electricity that your home or business uses at a point in time. A kilowatt is one-thousand times greater than a watt (W). Watts are small, so kilowatts are a more fitting unit of measurement for whole house electricity use. 

What is Demand?

Demand (measured in kW) represents the rate at which electricity is consumed at a given point in time during a billing period. The demand kW on your electric bill is the peak amount of energy your home or business used during the billing period. At OCEC, the peak is an average measured over a rolling 15-minute interval. Not all rates have a cost associated with the demand charge.

Even if there is no demand charge for your rate schedule, being energy-smart and reducing demand can help keep rates low for everybody. During busy times of the day or extreme weather events, the power grid may be pushed to its limit because many devices are running at one time. Simple changes like using the timer to run the dishwasher or dryer at night will help ensure plenty of energy is available when we need it the most.

What is the Revolving Loan Fund?

Okanogan County Electric Cooperative (OCEC) administers a USDA Revolving Loan (RLF) grant for economic development in the Methow Valley. As these funds are loaned and paid back OCEC is able to loan the funds out over and over again. Currently OCEC is looking for projects in our community to loan zero interest money to. The maximum loan period is for 10 years with a 1% administrative fee.

The type of projects that would be eligible include municipal community development and service projects, non-profit business incubators, medical services, education and training to enhance economic opportunities for rural residents, advanced telecommunications, land and building acquisition, land and environmental improvements, new building construction, building renovation, machinery and equipment, community infrastructure and facilities, business startup or expansion, civic and other types of projects approved by the Okanogan County Electric Cooperative board of directors which are compatible with the stated Revolving Loan Fund objectives.  OCEC reviews the funds available for relending annually. Notice is posted in the Methow Valley News and our newsletter when funds are available.

What is the Right-Of-Way and Tree Trimming guidelines?

On all new services, the member will be responsible to clear the initial right of way based on Okanogan County Electric Co-op’s specifications. The OCEC Engineering department will be in contact with the member to discuss the required specifications and to show member what trees/brush need to be trimmed or removed. OCEC crews will do all clearing within the State and County right of way and the member will be invoiced for this service. Members will not be put on the construction schedule until the right of way has been cleared and approved by the Engineering department.

After construction is complete OCEC will handle all future right of way clearing/trimming. Generally, on Overhead lines the easement width is 15′ from center for 30′ total width. For an Underground installation, the easement width is 8′ from center for 8′ total width. Your Title Report should show existing easements on the parcel.

Please do not plant trees under – or near – the power lines.

Contact the OCEC Engineering department at (509) 996-2228 opt. 3 if you have questions about right-of-ways or easements.