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.
June 10, 2020 – LCEC is ready to fight back if a hurricane heads to Southwest Florida. To ensure that we are ready for restoration, LCEC cultivates relationships with power line and tree-trimming contractors, fuel companies, material vendors, food service vendors, other cooperatives and local agencies for mutual aid. You name the resource and LCEC has a relationship in place should the situation call for it.
In addition, the 375 LCEC employees play a critical role in the restoration plan. Employees put their typical job responsibilities on hold to pitch in during restoration. From assessing damage to leading out-of-state crews, and even doing laundry for linemen, each and every employee has an important role.
We understand the importance that electricity plays in our customers’ lives, especially during this pandemic. We understand that for many, the home has become the workplace in addition to the place where loved ones reside. Please remember that LCEC has a proven track record when it comes to storm restoration, and we ask that customers be patient. We know how frustrating it is to be without power. Customers can rest assured knowing that we work around the clock during restoration situations to ensure the lights are back on as quickly as possible. We won’t rest until all of our 220,000+ customers have power.
LCEC has a thorough restoration plan that outlines priorities of electric restoration during large power outages. The LCEC plan first calls for restoration of critical circuits that power essential services such as hospitals, traffic signals, shelters, law enforcement. Next, power is restored to the largest number of customers possible. The last to be restored are individual services in small pockets or services that need to be reconnected after repair to their home electrical system.
Please note that LCEC does not disconnect power before a storm. We let Mother Nature run her course, and begin to restore power to impacted areas once winds are at a safe level to work.
How customers should prepare for outages
• Ensure a back-up telephone other than a cordless or telephone that is dependent on electricity.
• Have a battery-powered radio on hand and a supply of fresh batteries to stay aware of news and other information.
• Keep a flashlight and extra batteries handy.
What to do when the lights go out
• Help keep the LCEC telephone lines clear for emergency calls. Only call LCEC at 656-2300 to report downed power lines.
• Visually check the weather-head (on the roof where your service drop connects to the pole) and the meter box to make sure it is not damaged.
• Any damage to the home’s electric system must be repaired by a licensed electrician and inspected by a designated agency before power can be restored.
• Turn off appliances. This will protect them when service is restored, prevent electrical fires and lessen the chances of circuit overload when service is restored. Leave one light on to serve as a visual signal that power has been restored.
Storm Safety Tips
• Stay clear of downed power lines. They may still be energized and dangerous. Puddles of water contacting downed lines are just as dangerous.
• Don’t trim trees or remove debris located near downed power lines. If you must remove debris from your home, don’t pile it under or near electrical lines or equipment.
• Residents on life support must have an alternate plan in place to ensure the continuity of life-support needs. This may include making special arrangements to spend time with a friend or relative during an outage or using a back-up generator.
• If operating a portable generator, keep it outside and in an open area. Carbon monoxide emissions can be harmful. Follow all instructions regarding safe operation. Do not connect the generator directly to the main electrical panel. If installed incorrectly, power could flow into outside lines and cause injury to the owner, neighbors or utility crews working in the area.
• Please do not detain LCEC employees or contractors while they are working to restore power. This can be distracting, can cause an accident and impedes the process.
May 20, 2020 – With LCEC SmartHub you can manage your electric account safely and securely online or from your mobile device. SmartHub is LCEC’s Bill Pay and Customer Service tool which you can access at lcec.net or through the mobile app.
There are a variety of ways to utilize SmartHub to make your life easier and even decrease your electric bill! With SmartHub you are able to:
• View payment history
• Pay your bill
• Request a payment extension
• Receive bill reminders
• Set usage alerts
• Monitor energy usage
• Report an outage
During this unprecedented time when people are encouraged to stay home for safety reasons, using SmartHub to set usage alerts and monitor electric usage can make a huge difference in your electric bill.
It is simple to create your SmartHub account or download the free SmartHub app. If you haven’t enrolled yet, be sure to have your account information and an email address and register as a New User. For FAQs or to enroll in SmartHub, visit lcec.net now. Also available on our website are easy tips and tools for conserving electricity.
April 22, 2020 – As we all navigate the reality of staying home to help slow the spread of COVID-19, it is more important than ever to conserve electricity. Not only does conserving energy reduce your carbon footprint, but it can make a big difference in your electric bill. You are home more and LCEC reminds customers to follow these recommendations to avoid using more energy than you absolutely need during this trying time:
• When cooling your home, set the thermostat at 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Each degree below adds 8 to 12 percent to the cooling costs.
• 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.
• Check the attic for areas where insulation is missing or may have been moved during repairs or cable installation.
• Change or clean filters monthly.
• Keep windows and exterior doors closed when running your air conditioner or heater. 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. You can buy this at your local home improvement store and install yourself!
Visit the Energy Efficiency pages of lcec.net for more tips and tools to help you save electricity. Keeping your family, yourself and your community well is your number one priority. We hope to help you consume wisely while we weather this COVID storm. We are all in this fight together, and we ALL have the power to make a difference! LCEC thanks everyone for doing their part during this unprecedented time. #wepoweron
April 17, 2020 – National Lineman Appreciation Day is April 18. On this powerful day, LCEC honors and thanks not just our dedicated linemen, but linemen and women around the world, for the hard work they do. These dedicated, highly skilled workers put their lives on the line daily to keep the lights on. They work in the most dangerous conditions faced with challenging elements and situations. National Lineman Appreciation Day is a day to #thankalineman for their work which goes largely unnoticed until you are without power.
At LCEC, we pride ourselves on the extremely talented, brave and passionate linemen we have on our team who keep the lights on for our more than 220,000 customers. The type of passion demonstrated by LCEC linemen was featured in 2015 when retired LCEC lineman Les Walton was inducted into the International Lineman Museum Hall of Fame!
Should you see a lineman on National Lineman Appreciation Day, or any day for that matter, please give them a wave (from six feet away). LCEC extends a huge thank you to all the brave line heroes across the nation! During the COVID-19 pandemic, linemen and women are working hard around the world to ensure that no one has to worry about having power. It is the goal of line workers to provide peace of mind during this unprecedented time.
Powerful facts about the lineman trade
The power lineman trade began: 1879
First lineman in the United States: Ezra Cornell (who built the Morse telegraph line and founded Cornell University)
Founder and first president of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers: Henry Miller
Number of line workers in the United States: More than 115,000
Number of wood poles in United Sates: 170+ million
Approximate weight of lineman tools and equipment: 30 pounds
Miles of wire service in United States: 9 million+
Number of transmission towers in service in United States: 2.7 million+
Number of wood poles in service in United States: 170 million+
Number of years of training to become lineman: 4 years
April 3, 2020 – The decisions of the LCEC Board of Trustees to retire up to $12 million in member equity and return it to past and current customers could not have come at a better time amidst the COVID19 financial impact on customers.
Equity is the ownership interest of LCEC members’ in the total assets of the electric cooperative. As a not-for-profit electric cooperative, assets are funded by margins and debt. Net margins are allocated to members annually in the form of a credit to their equity account. “Net margins are not profit and do not benefit anyone other than members – they do not benefit LCEC management, employees, or Trustees in their management and oversight of the cooperative,” explained LCEC Chief Executive Officer Denise Vidal. When possible, a portion of equity can be converted to cash, retired, and returned to members.
The retirement will provide some relief for customers feeling the economic strain of COVID19 and unable to pay their electric bill. In April and May, inactive customers will receive a check for their portion of the equity return and active customers will receive a credit on their May or June bill, or a check if the amount is more than $250. The amounts will vary based on the members’ contribution to revenues.
In addition to the $12 million equity return, LCEC continues to encourage customers having difficulty making a payment to call for assistance. If already past due, customers are able to request an extension through the LCEC SmartHub app or online at LCEC.net. “We remain committed to delivering reliable power and quality service at the lowest rate possible and will maneuver through these uncertain times with all of our customers’ best interest in mind,” said Vidal. As a not-for-profit cooperative, LCEC relies on revenue to maintain the grid, purchase power, repay lenders, pay taxes, and hire skilled workers. Revenue is earned strictly by billing and collecting for the electricity already used by customers.
LCEC also contributes funds to a short-term energy assistance fund, the LCEC Power to Share program, in partnership with the United Way. Employees and customers help fund the program which provides bill payment for customers experiencing hardship. Donations to the fund can be made at https://www.unitedwaylee.org/donate/.
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