Frequently Asked Questions

Find quick answers to frequently asked questions about your Cooperative.

  1. What is the Facility Charge?
  2. What is Operation Round Up®?
  3. How PCS electric rates compare with other utilities?
  4. Why is the facility charge so much more than other utilities?
  5. What can the member do to minimize electric bills?
  6. Why is my bill sometimes estimated?
  7. Why doesn't my payment show up on my bill?
  8. Why is my bill so different than my neighbor's bill?
  9. I was on vacation last month so why isn't my bill less this month?
  10. Why do my bills fluctuate?
  11. What is a Cooperative?
  12. What should I do if I can't pay my bill?
  13. Can I pay my bill online?
  14. What other payment options does People's Cooperative Services offer?



What is the Facility Charge?

The facility charge that appears on your billing statement is a monthly fee that recovers a portion of People’s Energy Cooperative local cost to deliver electricity to members. It accounts for the cooperative’s investment in poles, wires, transformers and equipment to provide members with electric service. It supports fleet, facility and customer service functions, such as outage response, line maintenance, right-of-way clearing, member services support and administrative responsibilities. It’s similar to monthly fees that other utilities charge (such as telephone service providers). A portion of these local costs are also collected through the kilowatt-hour charge instead of the facility charge. Rates are set with an eye toward fairness for all members to recover costs as fairly as possible regardless of monthly energy use. For example, if one member uses only one kilowatt-hour of electricity and another member uses 100 kWh, the cooperative still incurs about the same cost to build the line, maintain the distribution system and deliver electricity to both members.


What is Operation Round Up®?

Operation Round Up® is People’s Energy Cooperative community service assistance program. The concept behind the program is to extend the principle on which electric cooperatives were built over 60 years ago - neighbor helping neighbor - and as a Touchstone Energy® Cooperative to follow one of the core principles which is concern for community. “Small change that changes lives,” is the foundation upon which Operation Round Up® is built.

 

People’s Energy Cooperative adopted this simple and rewarding way to enable members to raise money for local charities, needy individuals and service organizations. This community support program allows the cooperative to simply “round up” electric bills to the next highest dollar. The difference between the actual bill and the next highest dollar is the amount of the contribution. The monthly contribution could be as little as a penny, but never more than ninety-nine cents.

 

All Operation Round Up® contributions are placed in a trust and administrated by an independent Board of Directors. The Operation Round Up® Trust Board of Directors consists of seven cooperative members. Serving on the Board is voluntary. These board members meet four times a year and it is their responsibility to evaluate all requests and decide how to distribute the funds.


How do People’s Energy Cooperative electric rates compare with other utilities?

Electric co-ops were formed years ago because there was not enough return on the investment for other utilities to serve rural areas with electricity. That’s why cooperatives were formed … and that’s why we’re still here today.  Our job is to provide safe, reliable and affordable service on an at-cost basis in areas that don’t provide the return that other utilities, like investor-owned energy providers, prefer.

Co-ops, like People’s Energy Cooperative, are cost-based electric utilities and our charges to you are only for the costs of providing the electric service to your residence (or business). After expenses for providing your electricity are paid, the money left over (the margin) is set aside for all members who purchased electricity during the year as Capital Credits.


Why is the facility charge so much more than other utilities?

The facility charge covers a portion of the local cost to deliver electricity to members. People's Energy Cooperative has very few members per mile of line which means it costs more to bring electricity to rural areas. Thus, the facility charge may be higher than other utilities.


What can members do to minimize electric bills?

People’s Energy Cooperative offers a number of options to help you manage your power bill.

  • rebates for energy efficient appliances
  • budget billing, which evens out your payments year-round and provides a way to manage your monthly bill and your monthly budget
  • automatic payment options – with ACH Easy Pay, an automatic monthly bank drafting option 
  • reduced rates for Dual Fuel and Off Peak heating


Why is my bill sometimes estimated?

Cooperative members have or soon will have automated meters, but your bill could be estimated because:

  • The electronic “noise” and interference within your home can prevent your automated meter from being read.
  • There may be a large industrial site nearby, which causes interference with automated readings occasionally.
  • A storm or lightning may have caused interference People’s Energy Cooperative electrical system before the automated meter reading would have been taken.
  • If meter readings are estimated for two consecutive months, People’s Energy Cooperative personnel will be scheduled to read your meter, except in cases where the member has turned off power to the meter or the meter is seasonally inaccessible. You will be charged a meter reading fee for this service. You are welcome to read your meter(s) and report them directly to our office.  Readings may be reported by calling  the office or e-mail.


Why doesn’t my payment show up on my bill?
If a payment is received after the due date, it may not have been credited to your account before the bill was processed, printed and mailed. If this occurs, please call the billing department to ensure payment was received and ask for the actual balance.


Why is my bill so different than my neighbor’s bill?
Your energy bill is a direct reflection of your usage. Your neighbor has a completely different set of circumstances—a different home, different types of electrical appliances, and contrasting electric usage patterns.


I was on vacation last month so why isn’t my bill less this month?
Even when you’re away from home, appliances continue to use energy—the water heater maintains water temperature, refrigerators and freezers keep food cold, clocks keep time, ventilators circulate the air, heating and air conditioning equipment maintain house temperature. Periods directly before and after a vacation often include intense energy use through clothes washing and drying, water use, etc.

 
Why do my bills fluctuate?
Bills often fluctuate because your utility use more than likely varies from month to month. Factors that affect utility use include the number of people in the household, new or additional appliances. 

 

Bills also fluctuate with the weather. When the weather is hot and humid, consumers tend to use more energy and require additional power for air conditioning, fans and refrigeration equipment. The same concept applies in cold weather. We use additional energy to heat our homes and operate heating appliances. The spring and fall months are traditionally lower energy use for most homes. 

 
What is a Cooperative
A Cooperative is member owned and governed by its members. A cooperative operates for the benefit of its members, rather than investors. Electric cooperative employees and board members are a part of the community the cooperative serves. Historically, people formed cooperatives for electrical and telephone service, farming, banking, housing, childcare, health care, food retailing and other goods and services, trusting cooperatives to help them find solutions. The nation's 47,000 cooperatives are found in every state and serve approximately 120 million people, or half the population of the United States. The nation has about 1,000 electric cooperatives, which serve 31 million people in 46 states.


What should I do if I can’t pay my bill?
If you can’t pay your bill in full, you can request a payment arrangement to fulfill your obligation over an extended period of time. This arrangement must be mutually agreeable. Contact the cooperative office and someone can help you get started.

 

If your income is limited, we have a list of energy assistance providers that may have resources available if you meet the qualifications. 

 

Can I pay my bill online? 
Yes. Members need only register through our website to gain access to their account. Payment by check, debit or credit card is accepted.

 

What other payment options does People’s Cooperative Services offer?
Two payment options can be set up: ACH or Budget Billing.

ACH is a free electronic funds transfer program that can help simplify your life and save you a stamp each month. Payments are automatically deducted from your checking or savings account on the due date each month.

Budget billing can be used to level out your power bill over the course of a year. Monthly bills are based on your energy usage for the previous year and averaged out so you pay the same amount each month. To qualify for the Budget billing program you must have been a member of People's Cooperative Services for one year and have an account(s) in good standing.

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Office Hours:

7:30am - 4:00pm

Monday - Friday

People's Energy Cooperative

1775 Lake Shady Avenue South

Oronoco MN 55960