Winter precipitation may cause problems over the next 24 hours. if you experience an outage lasting longer than five minutes, please call us at 580-875-3351 or z800-522-3520.
Cotton Electric employees put a lot of time and effort into improving the quality of service provided to members of the cooperative. We are always looking for ways to streamline in order to keep power affordable.
Providing service is more than stringing wire between poles so the lights will come on when a person flips a switch. Take bill paying, for example.
Probably a least favorite topic, but the cooperative is open to all people willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, which includes paying for the power consumed.
Cotton Electric offers a variety of ways to make payments, and we have recently improved one of those methods. Members wishing to pay by phone have a new toll-free number to call and a new cheerful voice to guide them through the process.
Jeff Simpson, vice president of finance, said the integrated voice-recognition (IVR) system provides a convenient yet safe environment for members to make payments over the phone.
“We are using this automated system to comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. These worldwide requirements are designed to help companies prevent credit card and bank account fraud through increased data controls.
“Moving to this system ensures our continued ability to offer our members the convenience of making debit or credit card payments and check payments over the phone.”
Before making the call, members will need to have some information ready. He or she will need a Cotton Electric account number and the credit card or banking account numbers from which the payment will be made. Callers should also know how much they plan to pay.
Members calling 1-855-730-8711 will be greeted with a recorded voice saying, “Welcome to Cotton Electric’s pay-by-phone system.”
After that, it is all a matter of pressing numbers on the phone’s keypad. It wouldn’t hurt to have pencil and paper handy, to jot down menu choices.
At the first menu, callers will be asked if they want to:
1. Check account status or make a payment;
2. Update phone number; or
3. Create or update PIN number.
Didn’t quite catch the choices? Press 9 and the menu will be repeated. This is true every time a list of options is given.
A few things members should know:
• The system will always provide the account’s balance, past due amount and due date. Cotton Electric members using MyChoice, our pre-paid billing option, should disregard the balance mentioned by the IVR system. An accurate balance can be found at MyUsage.com.
• When entering the amount to be paid, enter enough digits to account for dollars and cents without a decimal. For example, enter 15003 followed by the pound sign (#) to make a payment of $150.03.
• The key to successfully making a payment is to go slowly and to listen carefully to each menu of options. For a repeat of options, simply press 9.
• Hanging up before completing the transaction will stop the process.
Phone payments can be made anytime, any day. The IVR system bypasses the phone system at the Walters headquarters and Duncan office, which means that phone payments will not be delayed by other issues such as widespread outages.
Aside from the IVR system for phone payments, Cotton Electric offers a variety of other payment methods:
• By mail: Use the return envelope that comes with a power bill. Enclose a check and the bottom portion of the bill. Remember that stamps are now $0.49 each.
• In person: We accept cash, checks and money orders at our headquarters, 226 N. Broadway in Walters, and at our Duncan office, 1101 W. Oak. Business hours at both offices are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except holidays. Cash payments are also accepted at Liberty National Bank’s branches in Lawton, Medicine Park and Elgin.
• Online electronic check: Members with computers can visit CottonElectric.com and click on the Online Bill Pay button. The View/Pay My Bill page will offer a Pay By Check or Pay By Credit/Debit Card link to E-bill Consumer Self Service. Members can sign up for online account access and pay by this method any time of day. Payments made after 2 p.m. will be credited to Cotton Electric accounts at the open of the next business day.
• Monthly bank draft: This method requires an Authorization Agreement for Automatic Debit form and a voided, unsigned check. The forms are available at either office or can be downloaded at the Payment Options page of our website. We can also mail the form to you. Once it is filled out and returned, it takes a few days to arrange for your checking account to be drafted 15 days after your billing date each month.
• Moneygram: These transactions are handled at Walmart and CVS stores anywhere in the United States. There is a fee for this transaction that requires cash or a debit card. Use billing code 7933.
• Average Monthly Payment: Members needing help budgeting for electric bills may want to enroll in our Average Monthly Payment (AMP) plan. Qualifying members will have a 12-month billing history and the account should be in current status. This means that the current billing should not be past due, no unpaid balance should exist on the account and that previous credit history has been good.
The average of the previous 12 months is reflected in a monthly bill. The amount of each month’s bill will vary some due to fluctuations in fuel costs, variations in usage and rate changes. With AMP, instead of high and low bills as the seasons change, bill amounts will tend to flatten and be close to the same amount each month. Any of the payment methods listed above can be used when paying on accounts using the Average Monthly Payment plan.
Please contact our billing department at (580) 875-3351 to make sure that you qualify for this plan.
Cotton Electric members and customers of other utilities across southwest Oklahoma have been surprised by their power bills recently. Energy consumption in every form has increased lately.
For the most part, it is because of very cold weather the area has experienced over the past two months. This means home heating systems have been working a lot harder and using a lot more energy.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a heating and air conditioning system accounts for 54 percent of a home’s energy consumption. The DOE also states that every degree the system has to achieve adds about 3 percent to its daily energy use and, in turn, the power bill.
There are a lot of other reasons a power bill will be higher in the winter time. Increased hot water use, space heaters and heat lamps all contribute to energy consumption.
There has been NO increase in Cotton Electric rates.
Newer meters installed during 2013 are operating as they should. Our field meter technicians have tested an average of 10 per week at the request of our members and have yet to find an inaccuracy. Cotton Electric has a cycled billing system for its 23,000-plus meters, sending out an average of 5,000 bills each week.
We offer several tools for our members to monitor energy consumption. They can see daily readings at www.MyUsage.com. They can access their billing history through www.CottonElectric.com/residential/view-pay-bill.
If there are still questions, we encourage members to contact our Energy Use Advisors to schedule a free home energy audit.
By Trent Marlett -- I wanted to shed some light on a costly misunderstanding when it comes to operating our thermostats in heating mode.
The last several weeks have been a very high energy use time for most of us. My most recent power bill was the highest it’s ever been. In most cases, the reason is the very cold December.
There may be another reason for members who don’t know what a little button on the thermostat really does.
On almost all thermostats, there are three options or modes to select for heating and cooling. Most are labeled Cool, Heat, Off, and EM Heat or E Heat.
So what does that EM or E Heat mean? Well, it stands for emergency heat and selecting that setting means very high energy use.
All electric heating equipment has heat strips in the air handler. These heat strips most always use 5,000 watts each and, depending on the size of your heating equipment, there could be as much as 25,000 watts worth of heating strips.
When we switch our thermostats to EM Heat, we are using every heat strip available in the air handler and disabling the normal, more efficient, heating mode of operation.
When a unit is in the Heat mode, the thermostat and air handler have different stages. Depending on how cold it is outside and whether the heating equipment can satisfy the temperature setting, the thermostat will determine what stage and how many heat strips to use.
Sometimes it will need only one heat strip to raise temperature of the house enough to satisfy the thermostat setting. Sometimes, it will need everything it has. But the thermostat will decide that.
Switching over to EM Heat mode bypasses the more efficient Heat mode and uses all heat strips in the unit every time it comes on.
I have been called to homes with very high energy use and the first thing I looked at was the thermostat. Sure enough, the mode was set on EM Heat.
I asked the member to switch the thermostat to Heat and we have watched a meter showing consumption of 20,000 watts drop down to 5,000 watts right before our eyes.
A common misunderstanding is that we should switch over to EM Heat when the temperature outside gets below freezing. This is not true. It is fine to let the thermostat decide if the unit can achieve the desired temperature in the house by using one or every heat strip available.
Freezing rain or ice accumulating on the outdoor unit are the only conditions to manually switch to EM Heat. This prevents the outdoor fan or motor from being damaged by trying to work when it is freezing up.
Keep in mind what EM Heat mode really means. Remember this simple tip to save a lot of energy when it comes to heating your home.
Cotton Electric members were recognized for their generosity during the Beacon Awards event July 11 at the Skirvin Hotel in Oklahoma City.
Presented by The Journal Record, this was the sixth year of the event that recognizes and honors businesses that play instrumental roles in supporting nonprofit programs that help Oklahomans in need.
Twenty-five honorees in six categories were recognized, with an overall winner named in each category. Cotton Electric was named the overall winner in the Philanthropic Impact of a Medium-sized Business for the financial support the co-op members provide for organizations and individuals in southwest Oklahoma through the Operation Round Up (ORU) program.
“We are honored to accept this award on behalf of the members of Cotton Electric. The Operation Round Up program is successful because of their kindness and generosity and is a true testament to the power of cooperation,” said Jennifer Meason, Cotton Electric vice president of marketing.
ORU is a program designed to provide financial assistance to worthwhile individuals and organizations. Under the program, voluntary contributions from nearly 13,000 co-op members are collected when their monthly bills are "rounded up" to the next highest dollar. The funds collected through ORU are administered by the Cotton Electric Charitable Foundation and its five directors
The foundation has issued more than 280 grants since its inception in 2004. Grant recipients are local people and community organizations spread throughout the eight-county territory served by Cotton Electric Cooperative.
“Grant amounts have ranged from $100 to organizations for event and school supplies to $10,000 for building improvements,” Meason said, pointing out that the average grant is $2,300.
“While 19 grants have gone to individuals and their families who were struggling with overwhelming medical expenses,” Meason said “all other grants have helped a variety of organizations that serve large segments of communities in categories that include schools and youth programs, community services and public safety, senior citizens and volunteer fire departments. Some grants were used to purchase first-time or replacement equipment.”
Most grants are used to purchase durable goods that will benefit those served by an organization for many years.
Co-op members contributed more than $44,000 through the program during the 2012-‘13 fiscal year and have contributed more than $680,800 since the program began nine years ago.
“The program provides a relatively simple way for the members of the cooperative to contribute to projects and causes within the area,” Meason said. “Often, those who benefit from the grants are the very people who contribute to Operation Round Up. Their small contributions, pooled with small contributions from many others, add up to significant and powerful amounts. Funds are returned to members and their community through the grants.”
The Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives has created a “Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Oklahoma Relief Fund” to assist individuals in electric cooperative service areas who were affected by the May 17-20 tornadoes. To make a donation or contributions, please use one of the methods below:
By mail: Make checks payable to TEC Oklahoma Relief Fund, P.O. Box 54309, Oklahoma City, OK 73154-1309.
Wired funds: Routing number 103-900-036 (Bank of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, OK 73124) Credit to: OKRET Credit Union, account number 198895, final account number 240.
Credit card payments can be made online by visiting http://tinyurl.com/kyzn8j7.
Please note that this is not a 501(c)(3) account, so tax deduction may not apply.
Warren Langford, chief executive officer of Cotton Electric Cooperative, has been elected to a second term on the Touchstone Energy Cooperative board of directors. Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (WFEC), the generation and transmission cooperative owned by Cotton Electric and 21 other Oklahoma and New Mexico cooperatives, nominated Langford for this position.
The Touchstone Energy brand represents a nationwide alliance made of more than 740 local, consumer-owned electric cooperatives in 46 states. Touchstone Energy cooperatives collectively deliver power and energy solutions to more than 40 million members every day.
Cotton Electric, headquartered in Walters, has been active in effectively promoting the Touchstone Energy brand since its inception in 1999. Under Langford’s leadership, Cotton Electric’s employees and board of trustees use the brand’s programs to improve member communication and educate members about energy efficiency and emphasize the importance of business integrity and accountability.
“Price, power quality, the environment, and business ethics are no longer local issues,” said Langford. “Recent events have made it imperative that rural electric cooperatives expand upon the relationship between cooperatives and their members. Touchstone Energy is an avenue by which rural America has a united voice concerning the problems and solutions that impact our daily lives.”
He believes that through coordinated advertising, marketing and communication activities, Touchstone Energy has brought a level of positive recognition that rural electric cooperatives have never seen. And, he recognizes the need for the continuance of these programs in the future.
Langford brings over 38 years of industry experience to this board of directors, which consists of 14 cooperative professionals from across the nation. Langford retains his seat on this board for a second consecutive three-year term.
Pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters – set enough of them aside on a regular basis, and the coins add up to dollars. That’s how Operation Round Up works.
Most Cotton Electric members participate in ORU, in which power bills are rounded up to the nearest dollar. The amount rounded up can be as little as 1 cent and is never more than 99 cents. On average, each participating member contributes about $6 each year.
The funds are pooled and administered by the Cotton Electric Charitable Foundation, a board of directors that meets quarterly to consider grant applications. The board consists of Warren Langford, the co-op’s CEO; Charles Spencer, president of the co-op’s board of trustees; and three representatives from the Cotton Electric service area: Carly Douglass, CECF president; Keith Hooker, CECF vice president; and Carter Waid, CECF secretary and treasurer.
The board met Dec. 6 to review 22 grant applications. Grants totaling $17,800 will be distributed to 12 of the applicants.
Four volunteer fire departments in the Cotton Electric service area were awarded grants of $2,300 each. Each has a different project it will use the grant for:
• Devol VFD will purchase wildland gear;
• Hulen VFD will complete the interior of an addition to its building;
• Meers VFD will begin a building addition project; and
• Randlett VFD will purchase hoses and nozzles for fire trucks.
Other fourth-quarter CECF grant recipients include:
• Chisholm Trail Heritage Center, which will use a $500 CECF grant for educational outreach.
• Friends of Elgin Community Library, which will use a $1,000 CECF grant to purchase tables.
• Indiahoma Elementary School, which will purchase incentives for the Accelerated Reader program with a $600 CECF grant.
• Power Shop, Inc., which will purchase an automated external defibrillator and accessories with a $1,500 CECF grant.
• Sterling Elementary School, which will use a $1,000 CECF grant to purchase reading instructional materials.
• Temple Area Food Pantry, which will purchase food for needy families with a $1,000 CECF grant.
• Velma Community Outreach Center, which will use a $2,000 CECF grant to purchase hams and children’s gifts.
• Cotton County Sheriff’s Department, which will use a $1,000 CECF grant for vehicle repair and maintenance.
CECF has awarded grants totaling $637,000 since the foundation was established in 2004.
Applications for first-quarter grants are due by March 1, 2013. Downloadable applications are available at CottonElectric.com.
Remember the days when people kept in touch with far-flung family and friends by writing letters? I’m talking about tangible, handwritten notes on stationery, sent via the U.S. Postal Service with a stamp.
Today, thanks to laptops, smartphones and tablet devices, email, texting, and social media have changed the way we talk to each other. And, while these advances can make us feel like we’re “wired to the world” at all times, they can help us save energy, too.
As a member of a Touchstone Energy® Cooperative, the branding program of the nation’s electric cooperatives, we are proud to offer two mobile apps: Together We Save.com — Save Energy, Save Money, and one for our popular Co-op Connections® Card.
The TogetherWeSave.com — Save Energy, Save Money app, the newest addition to our Together We Save energy efficiency campaign portfolio, lets you see how much money you could pocket each month by switching from traditional incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps or light-emitting diodes. In addition, you can use the app to evaluate energy guzzlers in your home — for example, what does it cost to run a dishwasher for an hour?
Kilowatt-hour rates specific to Cotton Electric Cooperative needed for the calculations are available in the app by entering your ZIP code and selecting our name.
In addition, the app delivers handy pop-up “Tip of the Day” reminders on ways to make your home more energy efficient. The free app is available for Apple iPhones and iPads at the iTunes store and for Android smartphones at Play.Google.com. Search for: Together We Save.
Your Co-op Connections Card connects you to savings on prescriptions, restaurants, hotels, groceries and lots of other services from national and local retailers. The free Co-op Connections Card app uses GPS technology to help you quickly locate stores and businesses offering discounts and — better yet — share your favorite deals! Android and Apple iPhone versions of the app are available at www.Connections.Coop.
At Cotton Electric Cooperative, we take pride in our promise of providing you with safe, reliable and affordable electric service. But our promise goes beyond that. We are also dedicated to improving the quality of life in the communities we serve. These two money-saving apps are one more way we’re looking out for you! Find more ways to save at CottonElectric.com.