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Unlike investor-owned utility companies that strive to generate profits for shareholders, electric cooperatives like AEC operate on an at-cost basis. Any profits made by AEC—referred to as margins—are returned to the consumer-members. Capital credits represent these dividends.
Capital credits are calculated each year in which AEC makes a profit and distributed to each member in proportion to his/her electrical usage for that year. AEC retains and uses capital credits for operating capital until the financial condition of the cooperative and AEC’s board of trustees, permits the co-op to issue a refund.