South Plains EC News
Co-ops Keep the Lights on in Difficult Times
History of overcoming adversity informs response to COVID-19

IMAGE: South Plains Electric Cooperative

Electric Cooperatives have a long history of weathering adversity. In fact, they were born out of challenging times.

This resilience will help South Plains Electric Cooperative and our members overcome the hardships resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Electric co-ops formed after 1935 to relieve the hardship rural areas faced while their urban neighbors enjoyed the conveniences of electricity. The Rural Electrification Act made low-cost loans available to farmers and ranchers, who banded together to create not-for-profit co-ops to deliver electricity to rural America, including Texas.

Soon after, electric co-ops weathered World War II. Construction of rural distribution systems slowed during that period, but the model prevailed. Within four years after the war, the number of co-ops in the U.S. doubled, and the number of connections tripled, according to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

When many of our family members and neighbors were called to serve in other wars, including the Vietnam War, Korean War, and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, co-ops endured. We kept the lights on for them while they were away.

The economic recession of 2008 didn’t faze electric cooperatives. While many long-standing businesses thought to be too great to fail actually failed, electric co-ops persevered. We looked to our values—the Seven Cooperative Principles, which put members’ needs first—as a guiding light during the downturn.

Electric cooperatives have continually weathered storms at home. Forces of nature such as tornadoes, wildfires and ice storms threaten and sometimes damage our infrastructure, but our brave linemen battle the elements to keep the electricity flowing.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken extra precautions to keep employees and members safe. We aim to survive as an organization and to help our members make it through this hard time and recover.

We didn’t want you to worry about keeping the lights on when the pandemic began, so in March we suspended disconnecting services for nonpayment. Now that the economy is reopening, we don’t want you to worry about how to catch up on your bill, so we are offering you an option called Co-op Power PrePay. We haven’t determined exactly when we will resume disconnections, but we want to be proactive in offering our members this easy solution.

Co-op Power PrePay allows you to move your past-due amount to debt management, where it can’t trigger a disconnect. There isn’t a deadline to pay off your debt management balance, and we don’t charge interest or late fees. You’ll just keep chipping away at the balance with every payment.

For our members who like to pay with cash, we are introducing CheckOut at SPEC.coop. After downloading your account-specific barcode, you can make a cash payment on your SPEC account at Dollar General, Family Dollar or CVS Pharmacy. We can help you get your barcode, too. You can find more information on both programs at SPEC.coop or by calling member services.

TAGS: South Plains EC, Co-ops at Work

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