A cooperative is a not-for-profit business that is owned and operated by its members. A cooperative electric utility, like VEC, operates differently from shareholder-owned utilities in that we are not designed to create a profit for shareholders. You, our customers, are our owners, or “member-owners.” Your ownership is reflected in what’s known as patronage capital.

Patronage capital is your share of the money that remains at the end of the year after we pay our operating expenses. VEC reports your patronage capital balance on your monthly bills. This information includes the amount of patronage capital allocated to you for the previous year, the amount of patronage capital returned to date, and your remaining patronage capital balance. Each year, we provide updated information.

For more information, check out our Frequently Asked Questions below or contact the member services department at 1-800-832-2667 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Frequently Asked Questions

What is patronage capital?

Patronage capital is your share of the money that remains at the end of the year after we pay our operating expenses.

How is patronage capital determined?

Patronage capital is allocated to members annually, based on how much they paid in electric charges in a given year. On your monthly bill, you will see the amount of patronage capital allocated to you the previous year, the amount of patronage capital returned to-date, and your remaining patronage capital balance. Each year, we provide updated information.

How and when do I get the value of patronage capital back?

Each year VEC's Board of Directors determines whether VEC is in a strong enough financial position to refund a portion of patronage capital and if so, the amount of any refund. If VEC is in a strong enough position to offer a refund, that amount is applied to your bill in the form of a bill credit.

For example, over the past five years, the VEC Board of Directors authorized the following patronage capital refunds:

  • 2013: $850,000 ($425,000 for 1997 and $425,000 for 2012)
  • 2014: $500,000 ($250,000 for 1997 and $250,000 for 2013)
  • 2015: $500,000 ($250,000 for 1997 and $250,000 for 2014) 
  • 2016: $500,000 ($250,000 for 1997 and $250,000 for 2015 ) 
  • 2017: $1,000,000 ($750,000 for 1997 and $250,000 for 2016)
  • 2018: $1,500,000 ($1,250,000 for 1997 and $250,000 for 2017)

Refund amounts are a percentage of a member’s total patronage capital allocation for those years. Active members in good standing who were members during the refunded years can expect to receive a bill credit in the fall. Inactive members can expect to receive an application to receive a refund. Once the application is returned, those inactive members can expect to receive payment via check.

According to Vermont statues, unclaimed patronage capital credits are considered abandoned after three years. There will be a $5 dormancy fee on unclaimed patronage capital prior to submission to the state of Vermont’s Unclaimed Property Division. At any time, the owner may contact the Unclaimed Property Division at 802-828-2407 to get instructions on how to claim this property. This property will be held in perpetuity until the rightful owner or heir claims it. 

Can you simply send me a check for all the capital I've been allocated?

In order to provide safe and reliable service to members, VEC must retain a reserve of some patronage capital so VEC cannot send members refunds for their entire allocations. These capital funds allow the co-op to make upgrades to the electrical system, secure stable power supply contracts, and make other beneficial investments. 

I have several accounts. How will I know my total patronage capital amount?

The information printed on your bills is the total patronage capital for all your accounts combined.  You can contact member services for a breakdown of each account.  
 

What happens to my patronage capital balance if I move away?

The balance that you earned will remain in your name. It is important that you keep VEC informed of your current address so we can notify you if VEC refunds patronage capital in the future. When you move away, you will no longer receive additional patronage capital allocations.

What if I'm no longer a VEC member? How will I know when a patronage capital refund is issued?

If you are listed as a member during the years authorized for a patronage capital refund, you may be eligible to receive a refund check. You must be in good standing with the co-op and not have a remaining balance due on your VEC account. Additionally, the patronage capital refund must exceed $10 in order for VEC to issue a refund check per the VEC Board of Directors policy.

Former members eligible to receive a refund check will be notified via mail (to the last address on file) and will be asked to complete a Refund Request Application. This application, along with proof of identification, must be returned to VEC in order to claim the refund check. It's very important that you keep VEC informed of your current address to prevent a delay in receiving your refund. 

Click here to see a list of former VEC members with available patronage capital distributions. Former members can submit a Refund Request Application at any time.

What if the member who has a patronage capital balance passes away? 

In the event of the death of a member with a patronage capital balance, the surviving spouse should contact member services at 1-800-832-2667 to transfer the account into the surviving spouse’s name. If the account remains active, the surviving spouse will continue to earn patronage capital and receive future distributions.

If there is no surviving spouse, the heir(s) will need to furnish a copy of the death certificate and information that establishes who the beneficiary of the estate is. For more detail, please contact member services at 1-800-832-2667. 

Why is patronage capital unique to cooperatives?

A cooperative is a not-for-profit business that is owned and operated by its members. VEC operates differently from shareholder-owned utilities in that we are not designed to create a profit for shareholders. Our customers are also our owners. Since we are owned by the customers we serve, all earnings are allocated to you.