Capital Credits

Big Bend Electric Cooperative, Inc. (BBEC) is a non-profit, member-owned corporation. Electric service is provided to BBEC members on a cost basis. The difference between what members paid for electric service and what the service actually cost to provide, is what electric cooperatives call “margins”. Each year, BBEC allocates any margins back to members based on how much business each member did with BBEC in accordance with BBEC bylaws.

This allocation of margins is referred to as “capital credits” or “patronage capital”. BBEC is on a calendar year accounting basis and allocation takes place after the audit of financial statements are complete. Each year, statements are sent to members showing the amount of allocation. Members that have more than one account receive only one statement showing the combined allocation for all accounts held by the member. Capital credits are not necessarily distributed to members immediately following allocation.

Margins are used by BBEC to improve electric lines, build new services, and purchase trucks and equipment needed to operate the business. As finances in future years allows, BBEC pays back capital credits to members. It is important for former members with unpaid capital credits to keep their address current with BBEC. Heirs of deceased members with unpaid capital credits should contact BBEC to find out how to transfer the unpaid capital credits.

The amount of capital credits to be refunded depends upon prior years’ margins and future capital needs. The board of trustees decides the amount to be refunded. Capital credits have been refunded to members for 46 consecutive years, with payments during those years totaling more than $49 million. BBEC has refunded all capital credits through the year 2002 and a portion of 2003.

The X axis of the graph represents cumulative Capital Credits refunded to members of BBEC.

If you move off of our system, it is important that you notify us of your new address in the event we attempt to return patronage capital to you in the future. Year after year, thousands of dollars go unclaimed when the Cooperative pays back patronage capital because former members do not provide us with forwarding addresses.

Feel free to contact our office with other questions you may have or visit our frequently asked questions page. Send emails to

Please have your member number available, if possible, to assist us with your inquiry.


Even if you move and are no longer a member of the cooperative, it may take many years before all of the capital credits you accrued are paid out.  Be sure to update your mailing address with Big Bend Electric every time you move so we can send future capital credit checks to the correct address.

If you are an heir to an estate, please contact Big Bend Electric if you think capital credits remain in the estate’s account.

A list of unclaimed capital credit refunds can be found via the links below. If you have any contact information for these individuals, please contact our office during working hours at 866-844-2363.