Commercial Customers > Customer Service > Frequently Asked Questions


 


Below are some of the most commonly asked questions. If you have a question, please feel free to send it to tkearce@chelco.com. Click on each of the questions below to review the answers.



Energy Efficiency


Outages


Generator Safety


Service


School Programs


Other Questions

 


Billing

My bill is too high...can you help?

If you are concerned that your bill is too high, several factors should be taken into consideration.  Seasonal changes and daily temperatures, for example, could increase your electricity usage substantially within a short period of time.  When the seasons change from fall to winter or spring to summer, you can expect your electric consumption to peak.  Generally speaking your usage will be at its highest during the coldest month of winter and the hottest month of summer.  Pull your past bills and compare your current bill to those of the same month of years past.  It may seem that your bill is higher than it should be, but it still falls within the same range of bills for the same month of previous years.  Consider the temperature extremes of the season.  Was this a hotter summer or a colder winter than you can remember for years past?  Were any repairs made to any major appliances?  Was the heat pump or water heater repaired recently? If the answer to all of those questions was no, then start monitoring your usage.  Take readings off your meter at about the same time each day, and record your usage.  Compare the number of kilowatt-hours you use each day.  Record extreme changes in weather, so you can compare an extremely hot or cold day to one that was mild.  By doing this you can track the cost of each day’s usage.  We recommend that you monitor your usage for a couple of billing cycles.  If the usage drops back in line, there is not likely to be a problem.  If the usage stays the same or keeps increasing, then a problem could be causing the increase.  A hole in your ductwork, a malfunction with your heating or cooling system, or a malfunctioning water heater could cause an increase in your bill.  A routine inspection by your HVAC specialist would help in diagnosing most of these problems.  If it is determined that there is nothing wrong and your family is still using more electricity than you think they should, then consider a self-evaluation of ways to make your home more energy efficient.  CHELCO’s web site offers several energy conservation tips that will help save you money. If you would like personal assistance with your questions, feel free to contact our Marketing Department. 

Top of page



What are your rates?

CHELCO has some of the lowest rates, not just in the region, but in the country. This is even more astounding when you consider CHELCO’s number of customers per mile of line and environmental good stewardship. In the early years of electrification, citizens of rural communities found that electric service was not available to them. The citizens of these communities formed CHELCO to service those residents who would not have had power otherwise. Today, CHELCO has a mere 10 customers per mile of line compared to the 50+ serviced by the local investor owned utility. Yet, even with the higher cost of servicing its customers, the cooperative manages to stay competitive.

Residential Services  

Basic Service Charge

Single Phase - $26.00
Three Phase -  $37.50                   

Energy Charge

7.046¢ per kWh, + or – Wholesale
Power Adjustment



General Servic
e
Non-Demand

Basic Service Charge

Single Phase - $26.00 
Three Phase -  $37.50
    
   

Energy Charge

6.459¢ per kWh, + or – Wholesale
Power Adjustment



General Service
Demand  

Basic Service Charge

Single Phase - $37.90
Three Phase -  $43.35  

Energy Charge

4.265¢ per kWh,  + or – Wholesale
Power Adjustment
 

                  

Demand Charge

50-499 kW, $6.22 per kW 


Top of page


What is a wholesale power adjustment?

The Wholesale Power adjustment is a means to adjust utility bills to reflect changing wholesale power prices. This cost will vary and is driven by the cost of fuel used to produce electricity.

Top of page


Do you have any alternative methods of bill payment?

In addition to mailing in your payment or dropping it off at one of the six convenient bill payment locations, you also have the option of paying your power bill by bank draft. For information on how to set up this service, click here. 

Top of page


What is a basic service charge?
A monthly charge billed to each metered account to cover CHELCO’s operating costs. 

Top of page


Why aren’t operating costs included in the kilowatt hour charge?
A small portion is included in the per kilowatt hour charge, but is not our sole cost recovery source because energy usage is as unpredictable as the weather and operating costs are fairly consistent expenses that occur regularly. 

Your total per kilowatt hour rate of $0.0746 is made of up 2 figures: the major portion of this figure $0.05347 is passed directly to CHELCO’s Generation and Transmission supplier (AEC aka Power South Energy Cooperative). The balance $0.01699 is used to help offset operating expense. These costs are directly associated with energy consumption, which in turn is affected by the weather. During a warmer winter or cooler summer season not as many hours are used, so there are inconsistencies in the amount paid in to offset operating costs.

The wholesale power adjustment is passed directly to the generation and transmission supplier as well. It covers the fluctuating costs of fuels to generate the electricity used. CHELCO averages the actual charge from our generation and transmission supplier in an attempt to maintain a fairly stable rate for our members. 

Top of page


Why am I charged sales tax?
The Florida Department of Revenue requires us to charge Florida Sales tax on all of our services, unless the purpose of use is exempt by their regulations. 

Top of page


What qualifies for sales tax exemption?
The most common exemption is residential use of electricity. This exempts ONLY charges associated with energy consumed for residential use. Other charges on the bill related to leased equipment such as outdoor lights and surge units are still taxable.

Certified exemptions such as churches and non-profit organizations may be obtained an exemption certificate from the Florida Department of Revenue. These certificates are normally good for 5 years, and must be renewed regularly. The Florida Department of Revenue can provide more details at http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/.

Other exemptions allowed by the Florida Department of Revenue are geared for industrial and manufacturing plants, and energy used for agricultural purposes. Detailed qualification for these exemptions may be obtained at http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/.

Top of page




 

Energy Efficiency

My meter is running too fast...can you help?

Although it is possible that the electric meter is wrong, it is unlikely.  Less than 1/2 of 1 percent of meters go bad (reading either fast or slow).  99.9% of meters that go bad do so in the customer's favor by slowing down.  In a general sense, a meter works like a windmill. As a windmill turns only when wind is blowing through it, an electric meter turns only when electricity passes through it. A turning meter indicates that something is using electricity. If you turn your main breaker off, the meter should, within a few seconds, come to a complete stop. If it isn't apparent what appliance is running, then turn each of your circuit breakers off one by one to determine what appliance is pulling the load. It might be your water heater, well pump, refrigerator, freezer, your heating and cooling equipment. The refrigerator could be in the auto defrost mode, which consumes electricity. The electronic circuitry in your TV, VCR, and microwave continuously use electricity. Something else to consider is that your larger appliances (water heater, heating and cooling equipment, stove, etc.) require more electricity to operate; as a result, your meter dial will revolve more frequently as these 240 volt appliances are used.  

Top of page



How can I reduce my consumption?

Contact CHELCO’s Marketing Department for a free energy audit. The energy audit will help to reveal your home's base load.  Base load is made up of those appliances you use every month, such as your stove, washer/dryer or TV, which are not affected by temperature. Understanding your home's base load can help you reduce your consumption, by providing you knowledge of your appliances' operational costs. For example, if your home's base load equates to approximately $70 a month, and your current month's bill is  $120, the additional $50 most likely resulted from the use of an appliance which is temperature related such as a heater, air conditioner, or irrigation pump. It could also help you to determine if you have an appliance that is malfunctioning. For a list of energy conservation measures, please visit the energy efficiency tips of this web site or contact CHELCO’s Marketing Department at 1-800-342-0990.

Top of page


My water is extremely hot...what should I do?

To reduce the temperature of your water, you need to adjust the settings on your water heater. There are two types of electric water heaters. The first is a single element water heater. We recommend a temperature setting of 125°. The other type is a duel element water heater. On a duel element water heater, we recommend that the top element be set at 120° and the bottom element be set at 125°. Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions when adjusting the temperature on your water heater.

Top of page



Tell me about your Touchstone Energy ® Home.

CHELCO, as a Touchstone Energy® Cooperative, uses the Touchstone Energy® Home standards as the basis for its energy efficient home program. Building or remodeling to Touchstone Energy® Home standards ensures that a consumer will have one of the most energy efficient homes available. This translates to lower power bills, which are a benefit while living in a home, as well as when selling it. For more information about the Touchstone Energy® Home, click here.

Top of page






Outages
If my power goes out, what should I do?  
First check to see if your neighbors have power. If everyone around you has power, check your fuse or breaker box. If that doesn't seem to be the problem, call CHELCO at 892-2111 or 800-342-0990 and report the outage. 

Top of page


What should I do if I see a power line down?

Don't go near any downed line. It may be energized, even though your power may be off. Call CHELCO immediately to report the line's location. Also, remember that water conducts electricity. If the downed line is near water, keep your distance from the water.

Top of page





Generator Safety
I recently bought a generator. How can I make sure I use it safely? 
Always refer to the book that came with your generator and follow the manufacturer's recommendations. Unless your home has been wired for a generator, only use a generator that appliances can be plugged in to. You must not break the seal and remove your meter to connect a generator. Never plug a generator directly into a wall outlet. Instead, use an extension cord and plug an appliance into the generator. Rotate appliance usage. For example, keep the refrigerator or freezer plugged in long enough to keep food cold, then plug another appliance into the generator.

If generators are installed incorrectly, the result may be injury or even death for line crews who are trying to restore power. Line crews may believe a line is de-energized, but the line may have been energized by a portable generator. Current from a generator that is incorrectly hooked up can flow out of the home and into the transformers serving the home or business. Once the electricity goes into the transformer, it is stepped up to 13,000 volts and enters the local power distribution system.

Top of page







Service

What can I do to protect myself against lightning?

Home protection against "indirect lightning" can best be achieved through surge protection equipment.  A device installed on the outside meter service panel and a device plugged directly into an interior outlet are two examples.  The meter-based surge suppressor is designed to protect electro-mechanical appliances such as a washing machine, dryer, stove, refrigerator, freezer, water heater, etc.  A plug-in surge suppressor is designed to protect appliances with electronics such as televisions, VCRs, personal computers, cordless phones, microwave ovens, stereo components, etc.  Additionally, "single point" grounding will help prevent lightning damage.  This means that grounding for electricity, cable TV and phone service should be bonded at one point, creating a single path for a surge to travel.  CHELCO offers a surge protection lease program that includes an evaluation of your ground's integrity. For information about these products and the lease program, contact CHELCO's Marketing Department.

Top of page


Why are my lights blinking?

A light blink is a momentary power interruption that happens almost in the blink of an eye. It’s like flipping a switch off and then back on quickly. While some people mistakenly believe that an occasional blink means poor service from their power company, it actually indicates the opposite. Most blinks are the result of the local environment. Generally, when your lights blink, it is the result of a squirrel or other small animal getting onto a transformer or a tree limb falling into the lines. The blink you see actually means that CHELCO’s protective equipment is operating as it should and an outage has been avoided. If, however, the blink occurs frequently or consistently (same time every day), then there may be a problem requiring CHELCO to investigate. In this case, please call us and we will be glad to respond to your call.

Top of page


Where is your service territory?

CHELCO primarily services consumers in Walton and North Okaloosa counties and parts of Holmes and Santa Rosa counties. Currently, CHELCO has offices in DeFuniak Springs, Santa Rosa Beach, Freeport, Bluewater Bay/Seminole, Baker, and Auburn. These offices provide convenient bill payment locations for residents throughout the company’s territory.

Top of page






School Programs
Do you have a safety program for kids?
CHELCO’s Marketing Representatives routinely visit area schools to teach and promote safety around electricity. CHELCO representatives use both educational videos (cartoons) and Safety City, a model that demonstrates the dangers of electricity, to promote electric safety. If you would like to arrange a safety demonstration for your child’s class, please contact their teacher or principal. 

Top of page


Do you have literature that would help my child with his/her science project?

While it is impossible to help without knowing the specific nature of the science project, we can offer you some resources on the Internet which may help with your research. For a listing of educational sites that relate specifically to electricity, click here. 

Top of page






Other Questions
Do you sell A/C, washers and dryers, etc?
Currently, CHELCO does not sell any appliances. While we constantly evaluate value-added products and services to determine their value to our consumers, we continue to focus on bringing our members reliable power at reasonable rates. Our most recent research with relation to the retail sale of appliances indicated that offering appliances to consumers who are currently being served by their local retailers would not be the most efficient use of cooperative resources.

Top of page


I’m building a house. Can you help me with a code form for the building department?

CHELCO’s Marketing Department is always willing to help you with your code form. The cooperative offers code form preparation as a free service for members and builders who build in our area. If you would like to take advantage of this service, please drop off your house plans at the office nearest you. While dropping off the plans, please take a moment to thoroughly complete the Code Form Request the office staff will provide. The Marketing Representative who completes your code form will contact you when it is ready for you to pick up. When all of the proper information is included with the plans, most code forms can be completed and returned within 5-7 business days. 

Top of page


Do you give away water heaters or have a rebate program?

CHELCO is a cooperative and as such has an obligation to spend its member-owners' money as effectively as possible. Research recently performed by an independent agency determined that offering water heaters or rebates to consumers had no bearing on the consumer’s behavior. That being the case, the cooperative could not legitimately continue to devote funds to such a program.

Top of page



What is the difference between a cooperative such as CHELCO and a conventional, investor-owned electric utility?

CHELCO is a member-owned, not-for-profit utility, unlike other utilities that are investor-owned. Cooperatives are locally owned and operated, and the members have a say in the business. Members vote each year for directors and changes in the by-laws. CHELCO has approximately 44,000 services in place on almost 3,000 miles of line. CHELCO's average density is 9.8 customers per mile of line, while investor-owned utilities serve approximately 35 to 50 customers per mile of line. Cooperatives such as CHELCO are a part of the communities they serve. Employees (147 at CHELCO) and the business are active in a wide variety of community activities. Because the business is not-for-profit, margins go back into the company to fund upgrades and prepare for emergencies (repairs from hurricanes, for example). When sufficient credit accumulates, CHELCO may issue the equivalent of a stock dividend (capital credits) to members.

Top of page


What are CHELCO’s operating costs?
Operating costs include expenses of the company to keep the power flowing to each meter base and each outdoor light within our service area. Some expense examples are replacing damaged and/or deteriorating equipment such as transformers, poles, and power lines; and costs associated with billing and managing members’ accounts. 

Top of page


If you have a question you would like answered, please email us: tkearce@chelco.com

Top of page






                  Choctawhatchee Electric Cooperative Inc.
  
                1350 W. Baldwin Avenue/P.O. Box 512 |  DeFuniak Springs, Florida 32435 
               Toll Free: (800) 342-0990 |  Local: (850) 892-2111 
                Fax: (850) 892-9243

Copyright © 2009 Choctawhatchee Electric Cooperative Inc.   All Rights Reserved