August 4, 2020 – Just because it’s hot, hot, hot outside doesn’t mean your electric bill has to make you feel any hotter! In fact, simple efforts can leave you feeling like a cool energy saver. LCEC reminds customers to do the following to keep electric costs as low as possible during the sweltering SWFL summer:
• When cooling your home, set the thermostat at 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Each degree below adds 8 to 12
• While away from home for more than two hours, set the thermostat at 83 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Install a programmable thermostat that will automatically raise and lower the temperature at certain times of the day.
• Be sure your thermostat fan switch is set on the “auto” setting. This is more economical for temperature and humidity control.
• Do not close A/C vents or interior doors when A/C is running.
• Service your air conditioning system annually.
• Change or clean filters monthly.
• Keep windows and exterior doors closed when running your air conditioner. Also, use caulk and weather strip around windows and doors.
• Replace standard light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), which use 75% less energy, or LED lamps (light emitting diode), which use 85% less energy with a life expectancy of 30,000 to 50,000 hours of run time.
• Turn off fans when the room is not occupied. Each continuously running fan costs approximately $7 per month on your electric bill.
• Install reflective window tint/film that will reflect 65 percent or better on windows facing east, west or south. LCEC also recommends installing awnings, storm shutters and planting shade trees.
Here’s to using these cool tips during this hot summer to keep electric costs low and your spirits high as we weather all that 2020 continues to bring our way!
July 28, 2020 – COVID-19 has forced the world to limit outings and stay at home. Many people are embracing the outdoors as a means of getting sunshine, exercise and shaking off cabin fever. No one loves the outdoors and summertime like kids! As kids explore the outdoors, it is imperative for parents to remind kiddos of the following outdoor electric safety rules:
Visit lcec.net for more information on electrical safety and more! LCEC wishes all kids a happy and safe end of summer!
July 21, 2020 – Storm season is in full swing so if your home is not storm-ready, now is the time to prepare! The most important precaution you can take to reduce damage to your home and property is to protect the areas where wind can enter. Below are tips to help you storm-harden your home:
• Protect your windows with hurricane shutters or plywood.
• Trim dead branches from trees and shrubs around your home, avoiding those close to power lines.
• Clear your patio and yard of furniture, potted plants, toys and other debris.
• Anchor items that cannot be taken inside.
• Turn off and unplug the TV before lowering an antenna or satellite dish.
• Protect your electronics with surge protection devices.
• Reinforce your garage door at its weakest points.
• Inspect doors and add extra locks or slide bolts.
• Inspect and secure mobile home tie downs.
In addition to preparing your home for a storm, it is essential to have your family’s disaster plan and kit ready. For all you need to know about before, during and after a storm, download the LCEC Hurricane Guide from lcec.net.
July 14, 2020 – ‘Tis the season…storm season that is! If you plan on using a generator in the event of a power outage, it is essential to know and follow these safety tips:
• Don’t connect your generator directly to your home’s wiring at the breaker panel or meter.
Connecting a portable electric generator directly to your household wiring can be deadly to you and others. A generator that is directly connected to your home’s wiring can ‘backfeed’ onto the power lines connected to your home. Utility transformers can then “step-up” or increase this backfeed to thousands of volts—enough to kill a utility lineman making outage repairs a long way from your house. You could also cause expensive damage to utility equipment and your generator.
• The only safe way to connect a portable electric generator to your existing wiring is to have a licensed electrical contractor install a transfer switch. The transfer switch transfers power from the utility power lines to the power coming from your generator.
• Never plug a portable electric generator into a regular household outlet. Plugging a generator into a regular household outlet can energize “dead” power lines and injure neighbors or utility workers. Connect individual appliances that have their outdoor-rated power cords directly to the receptacle outlet of the generator, or connect these cord-connected appliances to the generator with the appropriate outdoor-rated power cord having a sufficient wire gauge to handle the electrical load.
• Don’t overload the generator. Do not operate more appliances and equipment than the output rating of the generator. Overloading your generator can seriously damage your valuable appliances and electronics. Prioritize your needs. A portable electric generator should be used only when necessary,
• Never use a generator indoors or in an attached garage. Just like your automobile, a portable generator uses an internal combustion engine that emits deadly carbon monoxide. Be sure to place the generator where exhaust fumes will not enter the house. Only operate it outdoors in a well-ventilated, dry area, away from air intakes to the home, and protected from direct exposure to rain and snow, preferably under a canopy, open shed or carport.
• Use the proper power cords. Plug individual appliances into the generator using heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords with a wire gauge adequate for the appliance load. Overloaded cords can cause fires or equipment damage. Don’t use extension cords with exposed wires or worn shielding. Make sure the cords from the generator don’t present a tripping hazard. Don’t run cords under rugs where heat might build up or cord damage may go unnoticed.
• Read and adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation. Don’t cut corners when it comes to safety. Carefully read and observe all instructions in your portable electric generator’s owner manual.
• To prevent electrical shock, make sure your generator is properly grounded. Consult your manufacturer’s manual for correct grounding procedures.
• Do not store fuel indoors or try to refuel a generator while it’s running. Gasoline (and other flammable liquids) should be stored outside of living areas in properly labeled, non-glass safety containers. They should not be stored in a garage if a fuel-burning appliance is in the garage. The vapor from gasoline can travel invisibly along the ground and be ignited by pilot lights or electric arcs caused by turning on the lights. Avoid spilling fuel on hot components. Put out all flames or cigarettes when handling gasoline. Always have a fully charged, approved fire extinguisher located near the generator. Never attempt to refuel a portable generator while it’s running.
• Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting down your generator.
• Avoid getting burned. Many generator parts are hot enough to burn you during operation.
• Keep children away from portable electric generators at all times.
Visit lcec.net for more helpful hints on storm preparation and much more.
July 7, 2020 – LCEC was recognized as both the top electric cooperative and the top in functionality in the 16th Annual Energy Utility Benchmark Report on Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems, released today by IVR Doctors. The 2020 Report compares 100 energy utility automated telephone systems in the U.S. and Canada.
The “Gold Stethoscope” recognition was awarded to winners in 12 categories and LCEC is honored to take home two of the top honors.
“The Report looks at the IVR experience from two-perspectives – callers using it and those who manage it. It also highlights common design mistakes and demonstrates clearly how those errors can have a negative impact on a company and its customers’ experience,” said Mark Camack, IVR Doctors’ co-founder.
The Report identifies automated telephone systems that successfully balance company objectives and customer preferences in three key rating categories: functionality, usability, and aesthetics, the major drivers of customer satisfaction and system utilization.
“No other benchmark report with such a consistent set of design principles has been in place and proven effective in the utility industry over the 16 years of this Benchmark,” said Peter Brandt, IVR Doctors co-founder. “Correlation between top-performance in this Report and a utility’s own internal performance measures is very high.”
IVR Doctors has more than 30 years of market research, usability consulting, marketing, and call center management experience, specializing in automated phone system diagnostics and optimization. Their practice, with an energy utility specialty, is not limited to a single industry and covers companies large and small.
July 2, 2020 – Clark Hawkins was recently promoted to the top leadership position in the LCEC Electric Operations division. Hawkins has 38 years of experience in the electric utility industry including 23 years at LCEC with supervisory and managerial responsibility of various work groups and departments within the Electric Operations Division. His new responsibilities include directing the planning, design, construction, operations, and maintenance of the transmission, substation, and distribution facilities. In addition, Hawkins plays a key role in the development of corporate strategic and vision planning, and the policy and procedure decision-making processes, including labor relations and bargaining unit negotiations.
July 1, 2020 – Scammers are busy targeting utility customers today. Residents and businesses are encouraged to remain aware, know the facts and safeguard personal information. Utilities will not call and request personal or financial information over the phone, send an email, or show up and request payment at the door. If something does not feel right, customers should contact LCEC immediately at 239-656-2300.
• Pretend to be an LCEC representative to get into your home.
All LCEC employees and contractors carry a photo identification badge and can provide work documents with corporate contact information. Ask to see proof and call LCEC to verify, if you are in doubt.
• Solicit personal information over the telephone or through the mail on behalf of LCEC.
DO NOT share personal or financial information unless you initiated the call.
• Request immediate cash, “gift card”, or debit card payment in person.
DO NOT purchase a debit card under threat of service disconnection and NEVER meet someone demanding in-person bill payment.
Reported Phone Scam
Scammers are using false phone numbers that appear to originate from LCEC on caller ID. They may also use a recording of LCEC customer care phone messages to sound authentic. The dishonest caller is threatening to disconnect power unless a payment is made immediately with a Green Dot MoneyPak card. LCEC will never call and demand credit card information or accept Green Dot MoneyPak cards as payment. This scam has impacted utility customers across the nation for several years now.
Report fraud or scams
Victims of a scam can contact the local law enforcement fraud unit or the authorities listed below:
• Financial Crimes Enforcement Network
• Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force
• Federal Trade Commission (File a complaint online)
If you have been a victim of fraud or identity theft, it is critical that you take the following actions:
• 1. Call your financial institutions and credit card companies to inform them
• 2. File a police report and get a copy of it for your records
• 3. Call one of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax or TransUnion) to report it and place an alert on your account. The agency you contact will notify the other two bureaus
• 4. If your Social Security card or number is stolen, call the Social Security Administration
• 5. Change the PIN (personal identification number) and password to all of your online accounts
• 6. File a complaint and an Identify Theft Affidavit with the Federal Trade Commission
• 7. Make a record of the situation and the actions that you took to resolve the issue
June 30, 2020 – LCEC welcomed Eric Scott as its new Director of Governance Risk and Compliance Chief Risk/Compliance Officer. In this role, Scott will serve as a strategic partner and advisor to the CEO, Senior Leadership Team, and the LCEC Board of Directors on matters pertaining to governance, risk, and compliance for the cooperative. Additionally, Scott will provide leadership in key fundamental areas such as regulatory; policy development, management, and administration; business continuity in all industry and environmental conditions; compliance and controls; insurance programs and claims; internal audit; and power supply. Scott’s 21 years of utility experience include working for the Ameren Corporation as the as the Director of Reliability Standards and Compliance Oversight since 2008. Prior to that, Scott worked for nine years with Associated Electric Cooperative. Scott has a Bachelor of Science degree in both Finance and Accounting and a Master of Business Administration degree in Computer Information Systems from Missouri State University.
LCEC knows COVID-19 has been difficult for many customers and we want to help. Funds are currently available for those in need. A past due notice is not required to be eligible. Register at www.Leeflcares.com to see if you qualify.
LCEC is also working with customers to ensure uninterrupted power. You can request a payment arrangement or make a payment extension through SmartHub.
We urge customers with past due accounts to pay by the due date to avoid a large balance due, or reach out for help. LCEC will resume the collection process in July including late fees and disconnection for non-payment. For additional assistance contact us at www.lcec.net or 239-656-2300.
June 24, 2020 – LCEC will begin normal collection activities in July. When COVID-19 reared its ugly head, LCEC took measures to try to ease the financial burden on customers by suspending disconnection for non-payment, waiving late fees, returning $12 million in equity to active and inactive members, and contributing funds to the Power to Share Program for energy assistance. Many utilities throughout the state of Florida have already resumed the collection process or will restart disconnection protocol in July. “This decision is tough and does not come lightly. It is based on helping customers avoid building up a large balance and having an impact on all customers through accumulated bad debt for the cooperative,” said CEO Denise Vidal. Close to $1 million in LCEC late fees have been waived since the pandemic impacted SWFL.
LCEC customers are encouraged to enroll in SmartHub now to request payment extensions, or call the contact center at 239-656-2300 for assistance or to set up payment arrangements. Customers are also urged to seek financial assistance while it’s still available through State and local financial assistance programs. “Customers should know that we will find solutions to help them meet their personal responsibility to LCEC so that we can fulfill our financial requirements with our power supplier and lenders,” said Public Relations Manager Karen Ryan.
LCEC takes great pride in helping those in need throughout the communities it serves. Corporate stewardship has been part of the not-for-profit electric cooperative culture since establishment in 1940. LCEC is only in business to serve its members daily, and in times of crisis. “We sincerely thank our customers for their continued support, understanding and patience as we navigate through these uncertain times together,” Vidal said.
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