SWEPCO gives $300,000 to set up new BPCC scholarship fund

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Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell announced today a scholarship fund worth up to $600,000 will be established at Bossier Parish Community College to honor Bossier Rural Electric Membership Corporation (BREMCO) and its 55 years of service in NW Louisiana.

SWEPCO will dedicate $300,000 in remaining BREMCO capital credits, and BPCC has identified $300,000 in matching funds. SWEPCO purchased BREMCO in 1993, and has given out $645,000 in scholarships to former BREMCO members and their heirs.

The BREMCO/SWEPCO Legacy Scholarship Fund will be available to full-time BPCC students in the Fall of 2017.

BPCC Chancellor Dr. Rick Bateman Jr. said BPCC, which reaches 15,000 students, will leverage the BREMCO money to compete for endowment matching funds through the Board of Regents to make the scholarship worth up to $600,000.

“Bossier Rural Electric was critical to the development of Bossier Parish and surrounding areas from the era of the New Deal through the latter part of the 20th Century,” said Foster Campbell, Louisiana Public Service Commissioner. “Investing these remaining BREMCO funds to create scholarships for young people attending BPCC is a fitting way to carry on that tradition.”

SWEPCO President and COO Venita McCellon-Allen said SWEPCO assumed the obligation of returning $1.6 million in capital credits to BREMCO members when it purchased the co-op in 1993. SWEPCO made multiple rounds of payments over three years to refund the credits to BREMCO members and heirs.

“We are beyond grateful for this generous gift that will help support students pursuing educational training to meet workforce needs in our regional economy,” said BPCC Chancellor Dr. Rick Bateman Jr..

Capital credits are revenues collected by electric cooperatives in profitable years and returned to members based on the amount of electricity they use during those years.

In 2007, SWEPCO took the remaining funds and set up a general scholarship program for the former co-op members and their heirs.  The program has awarded 262 scholarships with a total value of $645,000.

“That program has now run its course, and so we are happy to work with Commissioner Campbell and BPCC on this new effort,” said McCellon-Allen.

As a state senator in the 1980s, Campbell encouraged the merger of BREMCO and SWEPCO after the co-op saw sharply increased rates during the decade.

BREMCO was founded in the late 1930s during the New Deal era of President Franklin Roosevelt.   It operated as a co-op until its sale to SWEPCO in 1993.  Its territory included 9,400 customers in four parishes: Bossier, Bienville, Red River and Webster.

Scholarship applicants (full-time students with 2.0 GPA) may apply for the 50 annual BREMCO/SWEPCO Legacy Scholarships through the BPCC Foundation beginning in Fall 2017 at www.bpcc.edu/Foundation/scholarships.  For more information contact the BPCC Foundation Director at srogers@bpcc.edu.

Compiled from Foster Campbell news release and news conference notes.

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