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Plunging Temps Cause High Usage Record setting cold in December prompts numerous calls to CEC


emperatures in December put the freeze on Oklahoma, causing home heating units to work overtime. Meanwhile, families rang in the holidays with blinking lights, nonstop cooking, and kids on vacation in front of the TV. The result: Higher than normal electric bills.


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Choctaw Electric’s system-wide usage spiked at 35.3 million kilowatt-hours (kwh)—over XX million kilowatts higher than December 2012. For some co-op members electric bills doubled that of the previous year.


Oklahoma Mesonet ranked the last month of 2013 as the 17th coolest December on record, with the statewide average temperature at 35.2°F. That's still no match for 1983's record cold of 25.8°F., but it is far cooler than 2012's 42.1°F.


In the CEC billing department, the phones began ringing soon after members received their bill for December usage. “A lot of people said they didn't understand it because they never touched their thermostat,” said Hilary Pound, who handled many of the member inquiries. “They may not have done anything different, but the weather sure did.”


Members who lost power during the ice storm were equally surprised. “They forget about the usage that took place before and after the storm,” Pound explained. In these situations, co-op billing clerks are able to go over daily and even hourly usage with a member. This helps them track usage changes with activities taking place in the home and changes in weather.


Frigid temperatures force heating units to cycle “on” more frequently—even if the thermostat is set at 68°F. To take the chill off, members often rely on space heaters to heat bedrooms, prevent pipes from freezing or warm the garage for a pet. “Space heaters use a tremendous amount of energy,” Pound


noted. “When we see high usage, that's one of the first things we ask about.”


Heat pumps with emergency heat strips can also contribute to higher usage. “When the temperature dips below freezing, the heat strips will kick on,” she explained. "If they get stuck in the "on" position, it’s going to use a lot of kilowatts.”


With single digit temperatures kicking off the month of January, Pound worries that members could see another round of high bills.


She encourages members who are struggling with higher costs to contact the co-op as soon as possible. “We understand their situation and will gladly work with them if they communicate with us,” she said.


CEC billing programs offer another alternative. The average monthly payment plan averages usage over the year, and is an excellent solution to seasonal high bills, Pound pointed out.


Another option is prepaid billing. Prepaid members pay in advance for their electricity. Because they are more aware of their usage, they tend to use less. They also avoid fees associated with late payments and disconnects.


Members are encouraged to contact CEC to discuss payment options, or to schedule a free energy audit. Find more details at www.choctawelectric. coop, or call 800-780-6486.


Bill Payment Options


There’s more than one way to pay your electric bill


Choctaw Electric Cooperative (CEC) provides several convenient bill payment options and payment plans. For more details on any of our payment options, please contact your CEC billing representative at 800-780-6486, or visit www.choctawelectric.coop.


Pay online at www.choctawelectric.coop. Using our secure payment site you can also view your account history, check your account balance, energy usage and more.


Budget Billing. With this option your energy usage is averaged over 12 months, helping you avoid seasonal high bills .


Automatic Payment Plan. Monthly bill payments are automatically withdrawn from your checking, savings, or credit card account.


Prepaid Billing. This plan lets you pay ahead for your electricity. Requires an energy purchase of $50 to begin. No late penalties or disconnect/reconnect fees.


After Hours Payments. Choctaw Electric offers a drive through window and/or payment drop box at CEC office locations in Hugo, Idabel and Antlers.


Authorized Payment Locations. Pay your bill at any of the following locations Monday through Friday during regular office hours.


• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


First Bank & Trust, Idabel


McCurtain Co. National Bank, Idabel Choctaw Electric Cooperative, Idabel Idabel National Bank, Idabel First Bank, Antlers


Ameri State Bank, Antlers


Choctaw Electric Cooperative, Antlers First National Bank, Broken Bow First Bank and Trust, Broken Bow McCurtain Co. National Bank, Broken Bow Shamrock Bank, Clayton


Choctaw Electric Cooperative, Hugo First Bank, Hugo


First Bank and Trust, Hochatown First State Bank, Valliant


McCurtain Co. National Bank, Valliant First Bank and Trust, Wright City


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