Posted: Friday, March 1st 2013 at 1:25pm
Sawnee EMC looking to return $$$ to former members
CUMMING - Sawnee Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) is an electric cooperative; and Cooperatives, by very nature, are owned by the members that they serve.
Each year, Sawnee EMC members receive an assignment of “Patronage Capital,” which is defined in its Bylaws as “revenue in excess of operating costs and expenses in a given year.” The Bylaws require that each member have an account, in the co-op’s records, that tracks how much patronage capital is assigned to them for each year that they are a member. These assigned patronage capital funds are then “retired” or “returned back to the members” that provided them, when such retirement is approved by the Board of Directors of Sawnee.
Sometimes, however, it is difficult to find “former” members of Sawnee who have moved away or have not left a valid forwarding address with the Cooperative. In short, when a patronage capital retirement occurs, Sawnee simply cannot find these former members in order to give them the money that belongs to them.
To help in this task, Sawnee recently adopted an enhanced outreach program to hopefully address this issue called “Lost Members.”
“We are constantly striving to update our address file on former members and keep it as current as possible, so that when a patronage capital retirement occurs, we can easily reach the former members at their last known address,” said Blake House, VP of Member Services at Sawnee. “Tools have been in place for many years to assist the staff in this process, but if we do not have a good forwarding address or unless someone contacts us, the funds could go unclaimed and eventually, as provide for under Georgia law, be considered abandoned.”
In an attempt to locate more of its former members, Sawnee began working with a national information vendor who specializes in assisted research and updating information databases. The “new” multi-step process involves sending a letter to what is believed to be the former member’s now current address; the notice alerts them of their possible unclaimed funds. The letter goes on to ask the former member to contact Sawnee and provide key pieces of personal information that would be only known by this member. They may also so online and perform the identification process that collects the needed data.
“We are seeking to locate these former members so that they can claim their patronage capital refund before it is considered abandoned,” according to Ginny Ellis, Chief Financial Officer of Sawnee EMC. “We are sending a letter to the newest address that we discovered from our research in hopes of them coming forward, which will allow us to make the refund.”
If the updated process is successful, thousands of former members will be located and identified, which will allow them to claim funds that belong to them.
“It is our hope that this additional search and these additional steps, all of which are not required under Georgia law, will allow us to get these retired and unclaimed Patronage Capital funds back into the rightful hands of the people who provided it," House added.
For more information about Sawnee EMC’s “Lost Members” program, visit www.sawnee.com/lostmembers or call (770) 887-2363.
Link: Sawnee EMC
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