MONTPELIER (AP) - The Vermont Electric Cooperative is returning $850,000 to members, the first time it's made such a distribution in its 75-year history.

In previous years, the Co-op has reinvested earnings in upgrades to its electrical system and used capital to secure power supply contracts.

Vermont Public Radio reports the co-op recently adopted new policies that enable "patronage capital" distributions. That's based on the principle that the economic benefits of a cooperative's operation should be returned to its members or reinvested in the co-op.

The distributions apply to members during 1997 and 2012. Active members in good account standing and with patronage capital balances from these years can expect to receive a credit on their bills between now and mid-October.