Managing Member Allocations With a Commitment to Detail
By Rachel Kvapil
Once a year, GVEA members are reminded of their capital credits when allocation notices arrive in the mail. However, Cash and Capital Credits Accounting Supervisor Patrick Dolan works year-round making sure all the numbers consistently add up so members receive their portions of the utility’s margins.
Patrick started as an intern with GVEA in 1999 while studying petroleum geology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Changes in the petroleum industry in the 1990s prompted Patrick to look into a career in business. After taking a few business classes, he decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He followed that with a master’s degree in the same field of study.
Not long after, a full-time position as a GVEA accounting assistant opened up.
“With three degrees, I was overqualified for the position,” Patrick says. “But GVEA is a great company with solid ties to the community that I wanted to work for.”
Eventually, Patrick was promoted to his current position. He recently earned a fourth degree: a bachelor’s in accounting with a minor in art. Though art might seem like a digression from his previous studies, Patrick is a lifelong photographer. His photo of a bull moose at Wonder Lake in Denali appeared in an issue of the Northwest Public Power Association’s “The Line” newsletter.
Patrick says capital credits benefit GVEA members. As a not-for-profit cooperative, GVEA is owned by its members. Technically, GVEA doesn’t earn profits. However, if revenues exceed the cost of doing business, the co-op earns margins. GVEA members are allocated margins in proportion to the amount of electricity they bought during that year. While the credits are assigned to members yearly, they are retained by the co-op, currently for 25 years, and are used as capital, which reduces GVEA’s need to borrow money. Capital credits reflect each member’s ownership in GVEA. When capital credits are retired, GVEA returns money to members.
In his role at GVEA, Patrick ensures members receive the correct allocations, issues board-approved capital credits, sends out annual allocation letters and reviews other request forms sent to his department. Most capital credit allocations are straightforward. However, Patrick says his department sees its fair share of cases that require further investigation. The most common are businesses that sell all their assets without realizing capital credits were included in the agreement, legal affidavits from estates that have left capital credits as an inheritance, and people with multiple name and location changes due to changes in marital status.
“There are many gray areas that we work with members to resolve,” Patrick says.
He says the co-op’s cash department is important, and stays busy with more routine duties including processing checks, cash, credit cards and auto payments made by members when they pay their utility bills.
Since starting at GVEA, Patrick has seen a few system conversions, such as the one that started in January. Though the cash department’s transition went smoothly, migrating the complex data associated with capital credits proved more challenging. Programming and testing the system took more time than expected, but was necessary to make sure members’ money is treated properly.
Patrick is as committed to his volunteer work as he is to the rest of his life. He has mentored three different “little brothers” over nine years as part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters school-based lunch program. He also volunteered for four years as board treasurer for Bread Line Inc. anti- hunger organization and was a volunteer head coach at Fairbanks Youth Soccer Association for more than 11 years. He participates annually in Clean-Up Day and is a regular donor at Blood Bank of Alaska.
Ironically, Patrick was born and raised in Winter Park, Florida, outside Orlando. He moved to Alaska with his family while in high school. In his free time, he loves playing strategy-based PC games, remodeling his home, repairing automobiles, hiking, walking and occasionally fishing. He loves traveling with his wife and 2 children, who all share a love for Disney World and trips on Disney Cruise Line.