Electric company refunds $2.38M

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Smile if you see a bright pink envelope in your mail this month. The envelope probably contains a check from Yampa Valley Electric Association refunding members capital earned in 1990 and 1991.

During those years, the association earned $2.38 million more than its operating costs. Because it is a member-owned nonprofit organization, the association will return that capital credit to anyone who purchased electricity from Yampa Valley Electric in 1990 or 1991. About 11,800 people will receive checks, which for most residential consumers average $35 to $45, but larger customers such as Twentymile Coal Company and Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. will receive much larger reimbursements.

"The refund is based on kilowatt-per-hour usage," said Jim Chappell, the manager of consumer accounts at YVEA. "The more electricity you buy, the bigger your refund."

The refund comes 14 years after the fact because of the way YVEA operates. The association, which services most of Routt and Moffat counties except for Oak Creek, uses the extra capital from each year to maintain its facilities over several years. The Board of Directors then decides how much money it can reimburse people.

"They determine how much money could be paid back to people and still be financially solvent," Chappell said.

So members annually receive statements about how much money was allocated to their account that year based on extra capital, and that money then is returned to them.

One caveat does exist, however.

"If someone owes us money, we're going to pay their debt off before we give them a check," Chappell said.

In another special situation, if someone has passed away before being reimbursed, the estate can collect the refund at the normal time or can receive an immediate payment at a discounted rate.

Although death cannot deter the refund, lack of a forwarding address can. Chappell advises everyone to maintain a current address with Yampa Valley Electric Association in order to receive future payments. Every year, 10 percent of the money returned to people comes back in the mail as undeliverable, he said.

-- To reach Kristin Bjornsen, call 879-1502

or email intern@steamboatpilot.com

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