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Sam Houston EC Implements Changes

To improve efficiencies and reduce operating costs, Sam Houston Electric Cooperative recently converted from four billing cycles each month to eight. Additionally, the Cooperative installed new billing and financial software from Applied Technology Solutions (ATS).

In the past, the Cooperative billed 68,000 accounts spread over four cycles each month. This created extremely heavy transaction traffic on certain days each month.

“By going to eight billing cycles, transactions are more evenly spread throughout the month, which allows us to serve our members more efficiently and helps keep our rates among the lowest around,” said Sam Houston Electric Cooperative chief communications officer Keith Stapleton.

Another factor contributing to high traffic days was the fact that nearly eight percent of the Cooperative’s accounts were not billed until two or three weeks after the meters were read, due to preferred due dates or special bill cycles. These accounts will now be billed with the other accounts in their normal cycle, and their bill may arrive earlier in the month.

Rather than a set due date, such as the 15th or 25th, bills will be due 16 days after bill issuance according to Public Utility Commission of Texas guidelines.

Unfortunately, 100 degree temperatures arrived early this summer, which causes electric bills to be higher during the June transition month.

“We understand the challenges of balancing a family budget, and we are working with consumers to make the transition easier for them,” said Stapleton. “For those who are coming off a preferred due date or special bill cycle, we will make payment arrangements to spread their June bill over several months.”

The Cooperative also offers the convenience of automatic credit card drafts, so the payment can be automatically drafted on the member’s credit card.

The Cooperative’s new ATS software replaced an older program, which had been in place for more than 20 years. According to Stapleton, the company that provided the original software is no longer in business.

“We are excited about the functionality the new ATS software provides,” said Stapleton. “We now have an enhanced online bill view and payment application, as well as group billing. And we are well-positioned to implement other convenient services for our members over the coming months.”

“We appreciate members’ patience, and we will continue to work with them to ease the transition.”