I just received a check in the mail for $30.80 as a distribution of my capital credits from an electric cooperative association.  These credits were my earnings from 1983 and a partial distribution from 1984! The letter was sent in my maiden name to an address that I lived at five addresses ago. It took from November 7 to February 6 to find me.

“Some retail cooperatives return capital credits very quickly, while more capital intensive cooperatives, such as electric cooperatives, may retain them for a period of time in an effort to reduce the cost of borrowing,” the letter read. I guess they deem 32 years as an appropriate “period of time.”

While I am never one to turn down thirty bucks, I had no idea I would ever receive any distribution. When I think of the cost of the rebate and tracking people down after three decades, it strikes me that something better could have been done with these funds. 

Couldn’t they have had a clause in the original agreement that all capital credits would be put in a fund to pay the bills of those unable to pay, or used to defer the costs of a non-profit agency?  Maybe they could have used the funds to pay it forward and lower the costs of those in the cooperative now.

When you are establishing policies and regulations, add an element of practicality to your practices.  Thirty years to return thirty bucks fails that test.

— beth triplett

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