Featured Business of the Month – Tricounty Rural Electric Cooperative
Tricounty Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc., Malinta, Ohio, is one of Ohio’s 25 electric distribution cooperatives. Tricounty was incorporated in 1936 by farmers in Fulton, Henry, and Lucas counties who could not persuade the investor owned electric utility to extend lines into the countryside to serve their homes and farms. The Cooperative’s line construction program started with the setting of the first pole in September of 1937. By December, farmers in Wood and Putnam counties requested service from the newly formed co-op and construction of lines to these additional counties was included in the work plans.
As a member-owned cooperative, Tricounty is governed by a seven-member Board of Trustees who is elected by their fellow members at the Annual Meeting of members held each September. A nominating committee selects candidates for the position of trustee from cooperative members residing in the district up for election who express an interest in serving on the Board of Trustees. Each trustee represents a geographic district within Tricounty’s designated service area. Board members serve a four-year term and are limited to three consecutive terms. They are responsible for the Cooperative policies, work plans, rates and objectives; and regularly review the Cooperative’s operating performance and approve any refunds of capital credits.
Operating as a non-profit cooperative, Tricounty allocates any profits or margins made by the Cooperative to the members. Called capital credits, these margins are based on the amount of each member’s electrical usage, or patronage, with the Cooperative. Each member has a capital credit account established with the Cooperative. Unretired capital credits are used by the Cooperative to provide financing for electric plant maintenance and expansion, building new lines and replacing some of the older sections of line, as well as substation equipment maintenance and vehicle replacement.
Capital credits are refunded to the Cooperative’s current and past members as the financial condition of the Cooperative permits, on a first-in, first-out basis. The first capital credits earned are the first paid back. With the general retirement made in December 2016, Tricounty has made a general retirement of capital credits since 1950, with over $16.1 million refunded to current and former Cooperative members. Capital credits are paid in full to estates of deceased members.
Tricounty receives all of the electricity required by its members from Buckeye Power, Inc., the generation cooperative owned by Tricounty and the other 24 electric distribution cooperatives in Ohio. The majority of the power consumed by Ohio’s cooperative members is generated by two coal-fired power plants at the Cardinal Station on the Ohio River south of Brilliant, Ohio.
Tricounty currently serves nearly 4,400 member accounts over 600 miles of distribution line in parts of five counties.
Want to know more about how Cooperatives work? Check out this video!