At South Central Power, we are owned by the members we serve, so nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our members, our employees and our communities. We know our members are focused on health, safety and family, and some will face economic hardship as a result of the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ohio.
“We take our responsibility to keep our employees and members safe seriously and we will continue to monitor and adjust to the COVID-19 situation,” says Rick Lemonds, South Central Power president and CEO.
As an electric cooperative serving you and your community for more than 80 years, we are uniquely positioned to adjust to changing conditions to help our communities, and we took new action at our March board meeting, in addition to changes we’ve already put into place. We want to do everything we can to help you and our communities come out on the other side of this crisis as strong as you were before. Your trustees and company leadership have taken these steps voluntarily, and we hope it will help you and our communities. We’re working every day to find out how else we can help.
Postponing our planned rate adjustment
The cost of delivering your power continues to rise, and we’ve held the line on rate adjustments since 2017. This year, we’d planned a rate adjustment starting on April 1, but, given the current hardship so many in our communities are facing, your board of trustees voted in March to suspend this rate adjustment indefinitely. The adjustment would have increased the consumer charge for most members from $17 per month to $20 per month, keeping our average bills still in line with other electric providers in our area but, for now, rates will remain the same. This was a decision we made in March, and it came as a direct response by your elected trustees who understand the hardships facing our members and communities.
Expediting retirement of $4.5 million in capital credits
As a co-op, the way we do business is different from many of the other utilities and organizations you may do business with. That includes the fact that we are able to retire capital credits and return that money directly to you. Capital credits — your money that you’ve invested in the co-op over time, and which are normally retired on a 20-year cycle and credited to bills or paid out in checks in June of each year — will instead be distributed starting in mid-April. Our goal is to put this money into the hands of our members and former members as soon as possible during this crisis, so that money can be put to work helping people when they need it. Because of our 20-year retirement cycle, this will impact members and former members who had active accounts in 1999.
All South Central members are accruing capital credits, so if you are curious about your investment in our cooperative, you can see a statement of your own capital credits on your June bill.
A pause on late fees and disconnects for nonpayment
Starting in mid-March, we voluntarily suspended both late fees and disconnects for nonpayment. We are encouraging members to contact us to make payment arrangements, so they do not fall too far behind, because balances will continue to accrue even if we are not conducting disconnects. And, we’re encouraging members who experience financial hardship as a result of the spread of COVID-19 to reach out to community resources that may be able to help. One good starting point for community resources is 211, which you can see online at: http://www.211.org/services/covid19.
Lobbies and drive-up windows remain closed for member payments and routine business
To protect our members and employees, we are no longer conducting routine business in our office lobbies or at our drive-up windows. We are encouraging members to take advantage of our online, app and phone payment and member service options for the time being. You also can use our payment drop box.
Ways to pay
We encourage members to make payments via our South Central app, the My Account section of our website or by using the payment system on 800-282-5064. You can find the app in the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Employees are still at work and on call
Our workforce of 250 employees is still hard at work, even as we take steps to protect ourselves through social distancing, suspending unnecessary travel and other measures. We are following our business continuity plan to ensure that we will be available to restore outages and respond when and where we’re needed.
Member events postponed
South Central Power announced on March 13 that we are indefinitely postponing planned member meetings in Canal Winchester, St. Clairsville, Hillsboro, Lancaster, Pickerington and Circleville, following the guidance of health officials and limit unnecessary large gatherings that would include many people coming together from different areas of the state. Updating our members on the business of their cooperative is important, but we can do so in other ways for the time being.
We are here for you
We are your cooperative, and we care. Our board and staff continue to work on your behalf during this crisis, and we will continue to be there for our members and our communities, just as we have over the past 80+ years, in good times and bad. For the latest on our efforts, please follow us on social media or give us a call at 800-282-5064.
We encourage our members to continue to follow the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations for mitigation of the COVID-19 and to be aware of phishing scams offering health advice or threatening you if you do not pay your bill. Here are some helpful resources:
- Center for Disease Control
- Ohio Department of Health
- World Health Organization
- South Central Power’s Scam Alert Tips
If you have any questions or concerns, please give us a call at 800-282-5064.