DISCONNECT POSTPONEMENT BACKGROUND
Since March 17, 2020, to assist members during the pandemic’s financial crisis, WCEC temporarily postponed service disconnections for nonpayment of electric bills. We informed that this action was not a bill waiver, but a way to allow members more time to pay.
WCEC is a non-profit cooperative. The electricity delivered to members, based on their use, is purchased by the cooperative. The cooperative, in turn, must pay the generator of the electricity. All members of the cooperative have economic responsibilities to buffer against cost increases for everyone.
From the outset, we have asked every struggling member to contact WCEC to work out an arrangement to help them avoid a large financial hurdle when disconnects for non-payment resumed. If you are an affected member reading this, and have not done so, please call us. Phone lines are open weekdays at 903-763-2203 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The cooperative also published related details via the WCEC.org website, E-Newsletter, and on social media. We then followed up with phone calls and personal letters to every member affected. Additionally, pre-pay accounts receive daily email or text message notices of arrears, so these members are always aware of their account balance.
Starting on July 6, WCEC will resume disconnections for past due accounts that have not made arrangements or adopted debt management. It is our biggest desire to provide continuity of service to our members. We want to every member avoid disconnect and any additional hardship that comes from that.
ASSISTANCE IS AVAILABLE
We urge members with a financial hardship to also IMMEDIATELY apply for utility bill-pay assistance at https://get-cap.org/. Anyone with a reduction in income can apply to the Greater East Texas Community Action Program. They have received $5 million in funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help with electric bills. Waiting to apply may delay an relief. Energy assistance monies will only be considered when the payment is pledged.
WHAT HAPPENS UPON DISCONNECT
To reconnect as a conventional account, the full past due amount, along with a $55.00 re-connect fee must be paid. On the Thursday, following disconnect, if there has been no reconnection, any deposit on the account will applied to the arrears, the account will become inactive, and a final due bill will be sent to the member.
Following the above, if a member wants to reconnect, they will be required to pay the full balance on the account, a $55.00 reconnect fee, and a deposit, to reactivate the account.
If the member wants to reconnect, but cannot overcome any of the above, there is an option to move to a SmartPower Pre-paid account with debt management. Upfront cost is only $40.00 for that option it they reconnect before Thursday of that week. After Thursday, it’s $70.00, which is for $40.00 electricity credit and $30.00 service charge for reactivating the account. Debt will be paid out over time; .20 ¢ of every dollar of new purchases will automatically be applied to satisfy the debt until it is paid in full.
If the account is disconnected, the account must reach a minimum credit balance of $20.00. To do that, a credit in the sum of the total amount due, plus $20.00, must be applied to the pre-pay account. Of note, a Prepaid Account that has had electric service discontinued for a period of more than fifteen (15) days will be considered inactive. A final bill will be mailed to the last known address on file. To restore power, reconnection fees will apply.
After becoming inactive, the minimum credit balance to restore service is $70.00. That includes a $30.00 service charge, and $40.00 of electricity credit. Additionally, payment of any debt that was accrued by using electricity from the time credit ran out will be required.
- For accounts still active but have power cut off: If you used $200.50 worth of power, you must put $220.50 of credit on your account for power to restore. Within 15 minutes of meeting the $220.50 credit obligation, your power should restore.
- If your account has gone inactive, you must call the cooperative to have it activated. At that time, If you used $200.50 worth of power, you will be responsible for paying $270.50, which includes a $30.00 reconnection fee, and $40.00 electricity credit.
Prepay accounts that cannot overcome the debt, may call WCEC to enter into a debt management plan to pay off the outstanding debt. If that is done, .20 ¢ of every dollar of new credit purchase will automatically be applied to satisfy the debt. In this case, purchasers should consider buying an additional sum to ensure adequate electricity credit is being purchased.