ANSWER: Your Membership Share gives you access to discounts on the energy products and services members purchase together in bulk, education resources, trustworthy information, a share in the profits of Co-op Power, and a vehicle for building community-owned sustainable energy resources. During this start-up phase, Co-op Power has developed several key energy products and services for members. Many more will be developed over the coming years. Right now we have:
1.Great discounts on solar hot water system installations;
2. A terrific Energy Efficiency Crew to help you insulate and air seal your home;
3. A home heating oil buying group in communities wherever we have 50 people in the buying group;
4.Conservation and Efficiency products with a 10% discount for members; and
5. Renewable Energy installations in VT, NH, CT, MA, and RI with a 2% rebate for members.
Three years after the biodiesel plant is built, the business plan projects that Co-op Power will receive a significant dividend from its investment in Northeast Biodiesel. That money will be used to build renewable energy products and services according to the business plan adopted by members. Half will be distributed to members through steep discounts on energy products and services, unless members vote to use these funds in a different way. After ten years, Co-op Power will own 70% of Northeast Biodiesel and we'll determine together how to invest the much higher dividends we receive from the plant. Members are committed to continue to reinvest a majority of these funds in building affordable, sustainable energy resources in the region; and members will continue to receive steep discounts on energy products and services. We plan to offer green electricity through your utility company once we have 10,000 buying group members.
The most important reason to join is to be part of an effort to secure community control over renewable energy resources and to be part of a multi-class/multi-racial movement working for justice and sustainability. Whatever the immediate benefit to you may be, you will be contributing to an effort that will help create a more balanced and viable future for our children and grandchildren. It would be great if you could join now!
QUESTION: If we buy a membership share, how long before we have a financial return?
ANSWER: A membership share gives you the benefits of membership. Member benefits are based on how much you purchase through Co-op Power, not on how much you pay for your membership share. Co-op Power is projecting that members will receive discounts, rebates, and a patronage refund (a share of the profits based on how much you purchase from the co-op) of 25 cents on each dollar spent at the co-op. There will be financial benefits before then, but they will not be as significant.
QUESTION: What is the projected return on investment?
ANSWER: There isn't a return on member equity. According to the federal and state laws we're governed by, member equity gives you the rights of membership only. Only securities can give you a return on your investment. This is not a securities offering. Your membership share entitles you to the benefits of membership which have financial value based on how much you use Co-op Power's products and services.
QUESTION: Why is the member equity share set so high?
ANSWER: We have special membership share prices for low-income people and for people whose income comes at least in part from farming, forestry, horticulture, and fishing and the membership share can be paid in over time.
But the answer to the question is that we don't have access to sustainable energy resources now. Co-op Power is a tool we can use to build them. They are expensive to build, so we need to raise a significant amount of money to build them. We also want to be able to anchor the resources we're developing here in our region and the only real way to do that is through local, group ownership. With lots of us as the owners, it's unlikely we'll all decide together to cash them out. Retaining a majority ownership share of these resources is essential for us to be able to decide how they'll be managed, how prices will be established, and when and if they'll be sold off to another owner. To do that, we need a large number of serious members with a significant investment in this cooperative effort. We hope you'll be one of those people!