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Frequently Asked Questions

 

  • What is PCRF?

A component of each United member’s bill is the Power Cost Recovery Factor (PCRF). Power Cost Recovery Factor, or PCRF, is the amount of money charged to generate electricity that was not included in United’s  base rate when the rates were established in 2003. The PCRF is the part of your electric bill that directly reflects the fluctuating cost of generating power. Whenever you see the PCRF charge go up or down, it means the costs to generate or purchase electricity changed. The PCRF can be negative if the price to generate or purchase electricity is less than the energy price established in the base rate.

 

  • What are Member Dividends?

An electric cooperative exists for the purpose of providing its members with electric service – on a non-profit basis. Therefore, in a cooperative, the net margins do not belong to the corporation – they belong to the individual consumers who paid the money on their monthly service bills. In most types of co-ops, net margins, after reasonable reserves are set aside to pay back loans, operating cost and other expenses, go back to the members in the form of a cash patronage refund. The funds credited to members are “Member Dividends,” and over a period of years these membership funds take the place of federal investment. The individual's member dividends are his/her ownership equity in the cooperative. Most electric co-ops have a provision in their bylaws for repayment of Member Dividends on a rotating basis

 

  • What is an electric cooperative?

An electric cooperative is a type of electric utility that is owned by the members it serves. Its profits, or margins, are put back into the cooperative to help run the business efficiently, or are returned to the member-owner. A co-op exists solely to provide high-quality service at an affordable price for its member-owners. Electric cooperatives were established to provide electricity to rural America, and now make up the largest electric utility network in the nation. Touchstone Energy is the national brand identity for that network. Did you know Electric Cooperatives … Are located in 80% of the nation’s counties; Are the largest electric utility network in the nation; Total 912 local systems in 47 states; Serve 42 million member-owners; Distribute power over 2.5 million miles of line; Serve 75% of the U.S. land mass; Own $140 billion in generation, transmission, and distribution assets; and More than 80% of all local electric co-ops, including United, offer electricity generated from renewable sources.

 

  • What is Touchstone Energy?

The Touchstone Energy Cooperatives brand represents a nationwide alliance of more than 750 local, consumer-owned electric cooperatives in 46 states. Touchstone Energy co-ops collectively deliver power and energy solutions to more than 40 million members every day. They accomplish their objectives by adhering to four core values: Integrity, Accountability, Innovation and Commitment to Community.
 
  • What is a United delivery charge?

United is an electric distribution cooperative. As such, it distributes (delivers) electricity—purchased from a generation and transmission (G&T) utility—to end-use consumers (our members). We break out the delivery charge and the Brazos G&T wholesale charge so that members see how exactly their bill is comprised. The wholesale Brazos energy charge is a direct pass-through to Brazos G&T. United does not obtain any revenue from that charge. The delivery charge is what allows United to maintain its distribution system so that members have reliable electric service.

 

  • What is United Cooperative Services?

United is an electric distribution cooperative owned by the members within its service territory who purchase electric service from the cooperative. United is governed by an elected board of directors. Each director is a member, not an employee, of the cooperative. The board establishes policies and procedures of the cooperative and those policies are executed by the cooperative’s chief executive officer who is responsible for hiring additional staff for the purpose of running the organization.
 
  • Where does our electricity come from?

United is one of 16 member distribution cooperatives of Brazos Electric Cooperative (Brazos). United purchases its wholesale electricity from Brazos, then delivers it via United’s distribution system to end-use members. Brazos owns a number of generation resources, which provides more reliability in a tight Texas energy market. These resources account for more about half of the electric demand and the additional power requirements are met through wholesale power purchases.
 
  • What is a kilowatt-hour?

A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is a unit of electrical energy equal to the energy delivered by the flow of one kilowatt (1,000 watts) of electrical power for one hour. For example, a 100-watt light bulb burning for 10 hours will use one kilowatt-hour of energy.
 
  • What makes a cooperative like United different from other businesses?

There are three kinds of electric utility business structures. They are electric cooperatives, investor-owned utilities, and municipally-owned utilities. • An electric cooperative is owned by the members it serves. Therefore, all of the owners live in the cooperative’s service territory, with most members living in rural or semi-rural areas. A cooperative operates on a non-profit basis. • An investor-owned utility (IOU) is owned by stockholders who may or may not be customers and who may or may not live in the service area. In fact, they could live in another country. The IOU is a for-profit enterprise. • Municipally-owned utilities are usually owned by a city, state or federal government agency. Municipal customers are usually located in urban or semi-urban areas. Where electric cooperatives serve approximately 7 consumers per mile of line, municipal utilities serve an average of over 40 per mile of line.
 
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