As community-based electricity providers, North Carolina’s 26 electric cooperatives are working to support members, protect employees and communities, and continue their mission of providing exceptional service throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
To support local communities, electric cooperatives are working with members, employees and local helping groups to assist those in need. These measures include applying donations from Operation Round Up programs to fund emergency equipment, supporting mobile COVID-19 testing facilities and food banks, and providing financial relief to members. Cooperatives have also established local Wi-Fi hot spots in their communities for members without reliable internet access to use for remote learning, among other measures.
All cooperatives have suspended residential disconnections for non-payment and will not charge late fees or interest to members in accordance with Gov. Cooper’s Executive Order 124. The majority of cooperatives halted disconnections prior to the March 31 order.
Cooperatives are also working one-on-one with members who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. Members experiencing hardship are encouraged to contact their local cooperative so they can work together to find the best solution for their individual situations. These measures can be tailored to meet individual circumstances and can include payment plans, special billing programs, and other measures, with the goal of helping members manage their payments and energy use.
As members are spending more time at home, cooperative members are encouraged to take advantage of tools to monitor their energy use and increase energy efficiency. Contact your local cooperative and connect on social media for information, tips and tools for convenient energy management from home.
By closing offices to walk-in traffic, co-ops are doing their part to protect their communities, while also making sure that key personnel are in place to seamlessly continue operations and provide members with high-quality service. Member service representatives are available over the phone, and online payment options make it more convenient than ever to conduct business without leaving the house.
Co-op field personnel have implemented new scheduling and physical distancing practices as they maintain our critical infrastructure. Equally as important, co-ops have coordinated with suppliers and partners to safeguard access to necessary components, materials and support resources. To ensure the power you need is always available, cooperatives are in constant coordination with their power suppliers and partners to keep the grid secure and efficient.
Cooperative members are reminded to be vigilant against scams, when can increase during uncertain times. Remember that your cooperative will never threaten immediate disconnection or ask for payment using a pre-paid debit card or cryptocurrency. If you receive a visit or call from someone claiming to represent your electric cooperative, hang up and call the cooperative directly using a verified number before providing any information regarding your account.
As local power providers for 2.5 million residents in 93 counties across the state, North Carolina’s 26 electric cooperatives are committed to providing the high-quality electric service and support that their members depend on. Cooperatives will continue to take proactive action to support members, communities and local organizations in response to impacts from the coronavirus.