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Things You Want to Know-the FAQs, or Frequently Asked Questions

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What is an Electric Cooperative?

A Cooperative is a non-profit business that provides electric service to its member/owners. This differs greatly from the investor-owned utility that is in business to earn money for investors.

Who represents each member?

Each Cooperative member has the right to direct representation on the Cooperative's Board of Directors. Board members serve three-year terms and ballots are cast by mail. Each member also has the right to participate in the annual business meeting. Any member may run for director by being a bonafide resident of the district he or she wishes to represent and by having a petition signed by at least 15 members of the association within the district for which the person is nominated.

What are Capital Credits and how are they assigned?

Southeast Colorado Power Association is operated on a non-profit basis; any funds remaining at the end of the year are assigned to the membership as CAPITAL CREDITS. These credits are assigned on a pro-rate basis: that is, proportionate to the amount paid for electric service during the period the credit was accrued.

Why don't you pay me my capital credits?

Patronage Capital (capital credits) is used by your cooperative to repay its loans from RUS and CFC, to establish necessary reserves for financing or plant replacements, storm damage and other contingencies, and for other purposes. When the financial condition of the cooperative permits, capital credits will be refunded in the same order in which they were paid; that is first paid in will be first paid out. The amount of patronage capital paid by you is shown as a credit on patronage capital credit records established in your name and made a permanent part of your account.

Why do you charge a security deposit?

A security deposit is required to protect the Cooperative from losses due to unpaid final bills. As mentioned previously, Cooperative members share margins; adversely each member also shares losses. To help control these losses a security deposit is required on all new accounts. From time to time, additional deposits may be required based on payment history/risk.

Why don't you accept other utility credit references rather than make us pay a deposit?

The Board of Directors wants a security deposit because we can be 30 to 60 days behind in billing for usage on the self-read meters.

Why do we have to sign so many forms to get service?

Basically, these forms are for the Consumer's and the Cooperative's protection. Our attorney requires specific information in the event collection procedures become necessary and the Internal Revenue Service requires specific information for capital credit records.

Why is my stock pump and/or fence charger taxed, but my house isn't?

The State of Colorado, counties, etc. determine what is charged sales tax and what is taxed may vary between the two. Residential services are currently exempt from State sales tax but other services are not.

What are demand, demand charge and demand meters and why do you have a demand charge?

Demand is the amount of electricity drawn from an electric system at a given time, measured in kilowatts.

Demand charge is a charge for electricity based on the maximum amount of a system's electricity a customer demands.

Demand meter measures and records the maximum demand of electric usage over a specified period of time. Normally demand meters are installed on services such as Large Power.

Demand charges are necessary as we are billed demand charges from our power supplier along with energy charges. We try to recover these costs from the consumers who create the demand.

Why are our rates higher than neighboring utilities?

The main reason is because of density. Southeast only has 1.7 customers per mile of line, whereas investor owned utilities have approximately 35 and municipals around 45.

Why can't a neighboring utility serve us instead of Southeast Colorado Power Association?

The areas served by each utility have been determined and certificated by the Public Utilities Commission. With Southeast's low density we do not want to lose customers because that places a heavier burden on the rest of our consumers.

Why do I have to pay more per kWh than someone on irrigation or another rate? Isn't a kWh a kWh no matter what it is used for?

Rates are based on a Cost of Service Study. Costs and size of facilities can vary between rate classes and the rates cover costs other than just energy costs from our power supplier. Rate design can also be a factor. Access charges, HP charges, etc. affect the ultimate kWh charge.

Why is my bill so high?

There can be any number of reasons. Incorrect meter readings, the number of days of usage, additional equipment, faulty wiring, etc. just to name a few.

Why do I have to sign a retirement authorization to keep from being billed the minimum if I disconnect the service?

Our consumer density is so low, the majority of our transformers serve only one meter. If the service is not being used we must bill the minimum to keep service there or retire the service to eliminate line loss, property taxes on unused facilities, etc. If the service is in a town, one transformer may serve 5 or 6 houses so this policy does not pertain to those services.

Why do you add access charge every month to my energy cost?

Each month residential customers are billed an access charge. The access charges insure that each member help pay the fixed costs involved in providing electrical service. If the access charge were not required, those consumers using greater amounts of energy would supplement those using less.

Where does my power come from?

Looking at a light bulb and attempting to guess where the energy that makes it glow is generated can be difficult. To ensure reliable service a grid system is used throughout the western United States. Energy is placed on the system at many different generating stations and may be taken off at any point. This makes identification of the energy origination almost impossible. However, the cost of energy is determined by many factors of which the most significant is the cost of generation. Southeast Colorado Power Association. purchases power from Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.

Why do my lights blink?

When a tree limb brushes against a high-voltage line or a foreign object makes contact with energized parts, energy is diverted from the planned path. To disconnect this flow of energy, the current must be interrupted. This is accomplished by an instantaneous interruption (blink).

Another major cause is lightning. The lightning strike could occur several miles away but if a recloser is operated it could cause your lights to blink.

A few years ago, before the arrival of LED clocks and computers, these interruptions went unnoticed; today these interruptions are inconvenient. Most new appliances are constructed with small batteries that provide energy for these short periods of time. Computer operators who use critical data are advised to purchase a U.P.S. (uninterrupted power supply) system to insure that no data is lost. We also recommend consumers purchase a surge protector to protect their equipment. "Always notify Southeast Colorado Power of excessive blinks so it can be checked out."

I need a new service built. Who do I need to talk to?

Call your local office of Southeast Colorado Power Association and ask to talk to the Staking Engineer.

What do I need to do to get a service put into my name?

Call one of our offices and they will send you the proper paper work or stop in our nearest office.

Why do I need a State Inspection before you can put a meter in?

It is a State law that new meter loops be inspected prior to connecting a meter. More important though, it is for everyone's safety and protection.

Why can't meter loops be installed on transformer poles?

Again, it is mainly for safety and liability reasons. Also, the meter loop would be too close to our primary voltage line.

Why does it take so long for power to be restored?

Distance to travel is the single most cause of delay in power restoration; however, weather conditions also govern the time it takes to respond to an outage.

Why won't you do any work on my side of the meter?

The Colorado State Electrical Board requires a licensed electrician and our employees are not licensed electricians.

Why does my yard light hum?

It is usually the ballast in the light, but sometimes it is a vibration.

What is the difference between single (1) phase and three (3) phase power?

Single phase is an electric circuit that consists of one alternating current. Three phase is an electric circuit that consists of three alternating currents (used for larger services).

How can I know my electric meter is accurate?

Electric meters are more accurate than a watch or clock. The cooperative and the Public Utilities Commission consider them to be accurate if they are within 2% plus or minus when tested.

Must I notify the cooperative when I move?

Call one of our offices and they will send you the proper paper work or stop in our nearest office.

Whenever a change of occupancy or of legal responsibility takes place on any premises, notice of such change must be given to the office within a reasonable time prior to the date of change, or the outgoing member will be held responsible for all services supplied until such notice has been received by the cooperative office so that arrangements can be made.

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