Cooperatives differ from other forms of business in that our consumers are member-owners of the company. A business has shareholders who expect to make money from their investment in the company. Cooperatives are a not-for-profit business that exists solely to provide its members with electricity. As a member of an electric cooperative, you receive not only a needed service but a benefit reserved for owners of a company--a return on your investment - called capital credits.
Capital credits come from margins, or the money left over after all expenses are paid in a given year. If margins are available, that money is credited to your account according to the amount of electricity you purchased. Assigning capital credits to members instead of paying dividends to distant stockholders is just part of the accountability the Cooperative offers you. When the Cooperative's finances permit, that money is returned to members in capital credit checks.
Being paid for patronizing your own company is just another benefit of buying your power from an electric cooperative. That's the cooperative difference!