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  • Member Update Regarding COVID-19: September 18, 2020

Member Update Regarding COVID-19: September 18, 2020

  Member Update Regarding COVID-19: September 18, 2020

To help Sam Houston Electric Cooperative consumer-members, the Co-op voluntarily suspended disconnecting members for nonpayment for six months, beginning March 16, through the end of September. Late charges were suspended through the end of August.

Since the start of the pandemic, Sam Houston Electric Cooperative has increased our support of East Texans. The Co-op has grown its Helping Hands program, which provides bill assistance to Co-op members through local assistance agencies. Many consumer-members, employees and directors of the Co-op have responded beyond their normal monthly contribution to Helping Hands, generously donating over $20,000 in 2020.

Cooperative employees have also contacted many members with large past due balances to provide options and offer assistance, such as creating extended payment arrangements, moving to myPrePay prepaid billing, and connecting these members with local assistance agencies that can provide support.

Co-op members received additional help in September, when Sam Houston EC retired $2.8 million in capital credits that were applied to members’ electric bills.

Sam Houston EC has continued to support our local communities during this time by awarding over $84,000 in scholarships, providing grants to non-profit organizations through Operation Round Up and donating to volunteer fire departments, food pantries and local community groups.

We recognize the significant economic fallout from COVID-19 on local families and businesses. The economic health of Sam Houston EC is directly tied to the wellbeing of our local community. Our goal is to reduce stress on our members, and support local families and businesses with a bit of certainty during this uncertain time.

As a not-for-profit electric cooperative, Sam Houston EC has no shareholders, and routinely returns excess revenues (capital credits) to our members, as was done in September. Because of this not-for-profit business model, and the desire to keep energy costs as low as possible for our members, the Cooperative must balance being healthy financially with helping our consumer-members.

As our area continues to recover from the pandemic, reopen and return to normal, disconnections for nonpayment will resume as of October 1.

We understand some are still struggling to pay their normal bills. Co-op members in need of assistance are encouraged to call Sam Houston EC at 800-458-0381 to discuss payment options and extensions. Representatives can also connect those in need with assistance agencies that may be able to offer additional help.

As Co-op consumer-members spend more time at home, they may see a surge in home energy use. Some steps members can take to help control their energy bills include:

  • Program your thermostat to maximize energy savings. Setting your thermostat one degree lower when heating or one degree higher when cooling can reduce energy use by up to 5 percent.
  • Do full loads of laundry and wash with cold water. Using warm water instead of hot can cut a load's energy use in half, and using cold water will save even more.
  • Air dry dishes. This step can cut your dishwasher's energy use by up to 50 percent.
  • Substitute LEDs for conventional light bulbs. Lighting can amount to up to 12 percent of monthly energy use. LED bulbs can cut lighting costs by 75 percent.
  • Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use. Small appliances and electronics use energy even when not in use. When powered on, game consoles, televisions and similar electronics are responsible for up to 12 percent of energy use.

Every Sam Houston Electric Cooperative consumer-member has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sam Houston EC was built by the communities we serve, and our region’s concerns have driven the Cooperative’s response to the ongoing challenges during this unprecedented time.