How low can you go?

Published 6:17 pm Tuesday, August 20, 2019

AHOSKIE – At no time over the course of the 81-year history of Roanoke Electric Cooperative (REC) has there been so many different ways to save on the cost of electricity.

Thanks to the ever-changing face of technology and even some good, old-fashioned common-sense measures, REC member-owners can choose between a wide variety of measures to lower the costs of heating and cooling their homes and businesses.

That message served as the theme of REC’s 81st annual member-owner meeting held here Saturday at Hertford County High School. And that message served as a more powerful tool coming from the personal testimonies of the electric co-op’s cliental.

While Curtis Wynn, President and CEO of the company, outlined the majority of the cost-saving measures, two REC member-owners shared their stories of ways to cut their electric bills.

In his presentation, Wynn touted the strength of the Time-of-Day Rate, a cost saving measure that rewards member-owners when they avoid using power during “on peak” hours. Those peak hours (all on weekdays) are 2-6 p.m. in the summer and 6-9 a.m. in the winter. Wynn said the co-op pays 48 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity during peak hours, compared to only 8 cents per hour at other times.

“There are things we can’t control and one of them is the price we pay for electricity when the demand is high….those weekday afternoons in the summer and those weekday mornings in the winter months,” Wynn said. “What we can control is the amount of electricity we purchase during peak hours. Our member-owners can help us lower our costs at that peak times by signing up for the Time-of-Day rate and we can pass those savings along to them.”

Standing with her husband, Joseph, Wanda Flythe explains the advantages of the Time-of-Day Rate, a cost saving measure that rewards REC member-owners when they avoid using electricity during “on peak” hours. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

Based on 1,000 to 1,500 kilowatt per hour consumption, a member-owner can save as much as $33 to $49 per month respectively, Wynn noted.

He then introduced Wanda and Joseph Flythe of Northampton County to share their first-hand experience of having a lower monthly electric bill thanks to this cost-saving measure. Their savings, he said, were even higher thanks to some other things they did within their home; leading to saving $67.50 during the June billing cycle and even higher ($82.50) in July.

“We signed up for the Time-of-Day program and immediately realized significant savings,” said Mrs. Flythe. “Our savings are due to three different actions on our part: being mindful of cutting off lights when we’re not in a room; making some modifications to our home; and utilizing the time of day rates and other money saving incentives offered by REC.”

She added they have installed timers on appliances, which turns them off at 2 p.m. and back on four hours later. They have also better insulated their home, to include sealing openings around windows and under sinks, as well as using a blanket on their hot water heater. Additionally, they have made the switch to LED lighting inside their home.

“We had REC install a free Ecobee thermostat so we can program and remotely control our air conditioner and heat,” she said. “We love it, plus REC gives us a $4 credit on our monthly bill for having that thermostat.”

Another member-owner, William C. Askew, said he signed up for REC’s Upgrade to Save program and had realized huge savings.

“They (REC) did some great things; you need to sign up for this program,” Askew stressed.

Returning to his presentation, Wynn said REC is embarking on another major upgrade….smart meters. He noted this new technology is able to better monitor electrical usage and make the entire system more reliable.

“We’re now installing them throughout our service territory,” Wynn said.

Member-owners in Gates County will be the first to see these new meters, followed by Halifax County and the start-up of Northampton County later this year; Hertford County by the second quarter of 2020, and Bertie County by the third and fourth quarters of 2020.

Wynn also briefly updated the crowd with other technological advances made by REC, to include downloading a mobile app that allows member-owners to control their account from their smart phone. This app also sends text alerts when a member’s electrical usage exceeds a certain level.

The Roanoke Connect program – bringing high-speed broadband internet to REC’s service area – is still ongoing, Wynn said, adding that 377 member-owners are now enjoying that connection en route to a total of 7,000 two years from now.

REC employee Brittany Tann addressed the crowd in reference to another cost-saving attribute of Roanoke Connect….the ability to “stream” TV channels at a lower price as compared to subscribing to cable or satellite TV.

Roanoke Electric President and CEO Curtis Wynn shares the latest cost-saving measures implemented by the co-op. His presentation came Saturday, Aug. 17 at REC’s 81st annual member-owner meeting, held at Hertford County High School. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

“I spend about $60 less per month by streaming TV channels through my internet connection,” she said.

That internet connection brings an added bonus in the field of healthcare. Wynn said REC is currently working with Vidant Health on a program that brings tele-medicine from the doctor’s office to your home.

Wynn closed by informing the audience about the benefits of electric vehicles. He said making the switch from a gas-powered vehicle to one that operates on powerful, rechargeable batteries can result in an annual savings of nearly $1,800.

Delores Amason, secretary/treasurer of the REC Board of Directors, presented the co-op’s annual financial report. In 2018, Amason said REC had a value of $99.34 million in assets.

“Your cooperative experienced a very strong operating year in 2018,” Amason said, “with over $38.6 million in revenue and $38 million in operating expenses, leaving $600,663 in operating margin.”

The margins, she said, are assigned to the member-owners as capital credits.

“Hopefully you just recently received a check from REC as your capital credit for 2018,” Amason remarked.

Purchasing electricity ($21.3 million) was the leading expense incurred by the co-op. Nearly $3.8 million was spent to maintain REC’s transmission lines, substations and its office.

The meeting also served as a way to recognize several students from the REC service territory whose parents/guardians are members-owners:

REC Scholarship – Jetta K. Cameron-Paz of Gates County High School;

Roy Williams Basketball Camp attendee – Jadon Simmons of Conway Middle School;

Wolfpack Basketball Camp attendee – London Barber of Gatesville Elementary School;

Youth Tour Delegates – Faith Ashley of Gates County High School and Jamiqua Heckstall of Bertie Early College High School; and

Cooperative Leadership Camp attendee – Tyler Gupton of Halifax Academy.

A trio of District Directors were reelected during the meeting: Carolyn Bradley of Jackson (District 3), Nat Riddick of Ahoskie (District 4), and Darnell E. Lee of Bertie County (District 7).

Founded in 1938, REC now serves more than 14,500 member-owners in Bertie, Halifax, Hertford, Northampton, Gates, Perquimans and Chowan counties.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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