Pay-as-you-go power months away

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Want to REALLY put your electric bill on a budget?

Pay-as-you-go consumption is in the foreseeable future, Covington Electric Cooperative general manager Ed Short said.

In his speech to CEC members at their annual meeting Thursday, Short said a new meter-reading system currently being installed save operating costs and provide members with information they’ll need to manage energy costs in the future.

Monday, he elaborated on how that might happen.

“AMI and related equipment, functions and programs will be very positive for us as rate payers and us as Covington Electric,” Short said. “When it is all complete, you the member will have the ability to pre-pay for a selected amount of kWh, preventing the need for credit checks and deposits.”

More importantly, customers will be able to access compete histories of their accounts online, which will help them determine how to make changes in the time some equipment is used to make more efficient use of all the power supply system.

“Some of us feel time of day pricing will be here in the not too distant future,” Short said. “If we make more efficient use of the power generation system, it will be very beneficial to all rate payers.”

Short explained that if energy companies begin charging more for peak use, consumers may elect to use their washers, dryers and dishwashers in off-peak hours to save money.

“If it’s 30 cents a kilowatt hour from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., and 10 cents a kilowatt hour late at night, you might decide to not wash and dry clothes in the daytime,” he said.

Prepaying for electricity also will save people hundreds of dollars in deposits, he said.

“If we have a customer who’s run up an electric bill and left because he couldn’t pay it, when he comes back, he might have to make a $1,000 deposit to get power restored,” he said. “With this system, a customer could buy a Moneygram in the middle of the night, have it forwarded to their account, and have the power automatically turned back on.”

Customers also will be able to pay by phone or computer, he said.

Installation of the automated system will be completed by the last quarter of 2011 or the first quarter of 2012. Use will be phased in as the meters are installed to handle issues such as outages, connect and disconnect. Meter reading will begin when the entire system is completed.

Andalusia is “real close” to having its AMI system fully installed an operational, Mayor Earl Johnson said. “This will be a giant step forward for Andy Utilities and our customers.”