I am proud to report to you that the State of your Cooperative is excellent.
I am proud to report to you that the State of your Cooperative is excellent, and it continues a tradition it has experienced for the last eighty years. From the beginning, Magic Valley has always been committed to providing our member-owners excellent service, as well as reliable and affordable electricity. We are proud to say that our members have come to expect this from us. When we think of reliability, we also think of safety, both for the public and our employees. There is no greater responsibility for MVEC than to deliver reliable and affordable electricity safely to your homes and businesses.
There are many factors that go into operating a cooperative our size. We have grown from the original 125 members who helped establish MVEC in 1937 to obtain electricity when no one else would provide that service. At the end of 2016, we were serving over 96,000 members. Along with the growth of our membership, the complexity of doing business has also grown. So, how do we manage this on a daily basis? Well, it’s simple: we have 256 dedicated employees who strive to do their best for our member-owners. We could not operate and manage this Co-op if it weren’t for the dedication and commitment of all our employees, regardless of which department they work in. It truly takes a team effort by all our employees to keep your lights on during the day and the night.
At the end of 2016, we had over 118,000 electric services in place; that number consists of residenti al, commercial, and lighting accounts. Our utility plant included 3,868 miles of overhead lines as well as 1,222 miles of underground lines, for a total of 5,090 miles of energized lines. And, we have already added to that number during the first quarter of 2017.
Every day, our four offices are visited by an average of 1,500 members. Each of these conveniently located offices allow members to conduct business transactions such as making a payment or opening a new account. During December of last year, we processed approximately 130,000 transactions.
MVEC has always given back to the communities that we serve, by being involved in civic organizations in the Valley. United Way, Teach for America, Boys and Girls Clubs, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, and Habitat for Humanity, are just a few of the organizations that we support on a yearly basis. We also award seven College Academic Scholarships, one for each of the seven districts of our cooperative, to outstanding children of MVEC members. We are also proud to sponsor four high school students to participate in the Washington D.C. Youth Tour Program held every year by our State and National Associations. Finally, we support the International Program at NRECA, our National Association, which works to bring electricity worldwide to those who sti ll live in the dark.
WE ARE INVOLVED IN OUR COMMUNITY, WE HAVE GROWN TREMENDOUSLY IN SIZE, YET WE STILL REMAIN TRUE TO OUR CAUSE.
One of our major milestones over the past eighty years occurred in 1950, when Magic Valley retired its first capital credits to members. We were the first co-op in the nation to do so, and we continue to issue these checks every year. To date, we have returned over $57 million to our members. No other electric utility in the Valley can say that.
In 2016 alone, we retired and returned all of 1994 and partially retired the years of 2000 and 2014 for a total distribution of $5.6 million to our members. These capital credits are residual funds left after all our expenses have been paid.
So, as you can see, after eighty years of service, Magic Valley has done a lot more than just keep the lights on for its members. We are involved in our community, we have grown tremendously in size, yet we sti ll remain true to our cause.
Going forward, you can rest assured that MVEC will continue to provide excellent service, reliable and affordable electricity to your homes and businesses. And do so while providing a safe working environment for our employees. Together, we will make MVEC and the Valley we serve a greater place for us and our children to call home.