Summer – National Standard for cooling is 78-80 degrees. Operating costs increase 6-8% per degree for every degree below the 80 degrees.
Winter – National Standard for heating is 68-70 degrees. Add 3-5% per degree for every degree above the 70 degrees. When adjusting temperatures on a heat pump, raise slowly (no more than 2 degrees) to prevent using auxiliary/emergency heat.
Away – When home is unoccupied four hours or more, set the thermostat up to 83 in the summer; down to 55 in winter.
Humidistats work in conjunction with the thermostat to prevent humidity levels from getting too high in the house while you are away. Ultimately, it helps by keeping the a/c from running as much, as long as the relative humidity has not increased over 60-65% which is the recommended setting.
Typically a dehumidifier will add additional heat to the home, which will cause the air conditioner to run more often thus increasing electric consumption.
Use fans in conjunction with your air conditioner to feel cooler with the thermostat set higher. Using fans you’ll feel 3-5 degrees cooler than the actual air temperature. Only use fans in occupied rooms. Fans that operate 24 hours a day for a full month will cost approximately $3-6 per month per fan.
The Florida Solar Energy Center suggests running the pool pump 6-8 hours per day in the summer and 3-4 hours per day in the winter.
It is recommended to run a hot tub pump approximately 15 minutes every hour for a total of 3-4 hours per day.
SECO Energy will test the meter to be sure it is working correctly. We do not change out meters, unless there is a problem with the meter.
I have medical equipment that I can't be without, so I can’t have the power out. Do I need to purchase a generator?
SECO Energy, and all other electric utilities, always recommend that individuals who are dependent on essential medical equipment have some sort of back up power supply just in case there is an outage. And, this is a good idea for any other type of equipment that you feel is critical and, in your opinion, must never be without power. Contact a qualified electrician for information on generators.
Although we do have several different types of meters in our system, at this time SECO Energy does not have any “Smart Meters” on our lines.
There are many variables that can cause a rise in your energy bill such as a longer billing period, more sunshine, warmer or colder weather, guests in the home, etc. It is always good to look at everything that went on during the month to determine if there is an obvious reason for the increase.
Trees that are in contact with a power line can affect service reliability. Fallen trees can interrupt power to many members by tearing down lines and breaking poles. High growing bushes, shrubs, vines and trees may cause electrical blinks and flickers.
Serious injuries or death may occur if energized power lines are touched. Main lines are not insulated; they are bare wires, when trees grow near lines there’s a possibility of someone climbing a tree that is in contact with an energized line. Energized lines are as dangerous in a tree as they would be if touched by someone standing on the ground.
Yes. Door hangers are left on each member’s door before crews arrive for routine maintenance work that is prescheduled for the area. Automated calls are also sent to members in areas where prescheduled tree work is planned. Contact us today to update your phone number and other account information to stay informed about work scheduled in your area.
No. SECO is only concerned with the maintenance and removal of trees and vegetation that may endanger the public or the safe and reliable operation of poles and lines.
Service lines are more resistant to tree contact and the member or property owner is responsible for trimming trees away from their service line. However, SECO will trim branches that are heavily pushing on the service line or pulling on the service line and poles.
SECO employs a systematic approach to maintaining thousands of miles of overhead power lines. In areas where more trees are encountering the lines, SECO will maintain the trees in that area more often. If a particular line is not currently scheduled for maintenance, but begins to show an unacceptable number of power outages caused by trees, it will be trimmed sooner.
Yes. Each crew has at least one person who is a certified arborist or has completed an advanced course in arboricultural training. Many of our contract Foresters and SECO vegetation staff are certified arborists with extensive practical experience.
Trained professionals are the only people who should attempt to prune or remove trees near power lines. There are many government requirements that pruners must follow. Serious injuries and fatalities have occurred when untrained individuals do this work without the assistance of qualified professionals. Please contact SECO before trimming or removing trees near power lines.
The majority of SECO’s pruning and cutting occurs during routine line maintenance cycles. Our policy is to dispose of any small limbs and brush in landscaped settings. When an “Act of God” such as lightning, high winds, hurricanes, or tornadoes cause trees to fall across power lines and create outages, SECO cuts the trees to restore members’ power safely. Disposal of any wood or debris is the responsibility of the member or property owner.
No, unless there is a gate that needs to be unlocked or to control pets.
No. Phone companies and cable utilities are responsible for clearing vegetation around their lines.
Underground systems and equipment are significantly more expensive than overhead installations. Restoration time for underground outages is also longer than overhead repairs. Underground utility installation is more complex and expensive when working near the root systems of trees, which makes overhead installations a more economical approach.
Sumter Electric, aka SECO Energy, is a not-for-profit member-owned corporation. Sound financial practices and legal requirements are such that each year we must have an excess of revenues over expenses. This excess is referred to as margins, and by law, must be allocated to each of the members who paid electric bills during the year. This is done by dividing the Cooperative’s total margins by total revenue, and multiplying the resulting percentage by each member’s payments for SECO service for the year. Each member’s portion is referred to as his/her capital credits, also called patronage capital, for the year.
Capital Credits may be returned by general or estate retirements as approved by our Board of Trustees, based on the financial condition of the Cooperative. General retirements are normally made on an annual basis to current and former members. Current members receive the refund as a credit on their electric bill usually in November of each year. Former members receive a check. Heirs or estates of current or former members may file a claim for assignment of accumulated capital credits. Payments are made as part of the general retirement process.
Capital credits are allocated to businesses in the same manner as they are to residential members. These monies are returned to businesses when the Board of Trustees makes a general retirement.
Since the Cooperative is operated on a user-owned, non-profit basis, you do not receive interest or dividends on your Capital credits. To pay interest, electric rates would have to be increased.
Capital credits are a refund of prior years’ electric costs and need not be reported as taxable income to holders of residential accounts. Holders of business accounts should discuss any refund with their tax preparer/advisor.
If you move from our service area, the capital credits accumulated in your account will remain in your name. It is important that you keep the Co-op informed of your current address so that we can send you a refund when a general retirement is made. By keeping SECO informed of your current address you will avoid a monthly service charge assessed on accounts with unclaimed refunds.
The SURGE MITIGATOR™
The Surge MitiGator™ will protect large motor appliances such as the air conditioner, washer, dryer, refrigerator, stove and garbage disposal.
Unfortunately, there is nothing on the market that can protect your home from a direct lightning strike.
In addition to the Surge MitiGator™ installed at your electric meter, SECO Energy recommends point-of-use devices for sensitive electronics. Although many different types are available at most major home improvement stores, it is important to match the device or suppressor to the item you are trying to protect. For example a surge suppressor designed to protect your TV will include a cable and/or satellite hookup. A phone protector will connect to the phone line and to the electric.
Installation of the Surge MitiGator™ does not require an appointment. As a courtesy, SECO Energy’s certified electrician will knock on the door to advise that the power will be off for a few minutes during installation. If no one is home, the installation will be completed.
The Surge MitiGator™ is equipped with two red lights that stay on continuously which indicate the arrester is working properly.
Well pumps, gates, alarm systems, sprinkler systems, and most pool and spa pumps in addition to sensitive electronics are not covered.
The Surge MitiGator™ is not a source of energy and has no effect on the normal flow of electricity into your home. It will not prevent clocks from blinking.
SECO recommends you check with your insurance carrier for your particular coverage.
The Surge MitiGator™ is available for a lease fee of $5.95 per month, plus tax. If you prefer you may purchase, prices range from $349.00 to $399.00 plus tax. Installation for standard residential service is only $25.00. For residential services greater than 200 amps, installation is $100.00.
· Our Member Service Centers accept cash, check, money orders or cashier’s checks.
· Our kiosks accept cash, check or credit/debit cards (Visa, Discover or Mastercard only).
· Paynow – accessible through secoenergy.com or 1-877-371-9382 accepts checks and credit/debit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover).
· Smarthub – accessible through secoenergy.com or by downloading the Smarthub application on smartphones and tablets accepts checks and credit cards.
· Bankdraft – sign up through secoenergy.com (Smarthub) or by contacting Customer Service (not available on Prepaid accounts) accepts checking accounts only.
· Fidelity Express Pay Stations – various authorized pay stations located throughout SECO’s territory – accepts checks and cash. (not recommended for Prepaid accounts due to posting delay).
The customer charge recovers the costs associated with maintenance of the lines, poles, transformers, conductor, meters and other electric infrastructure supporting the delivery of power. The customer charge also recovers costs associated with customer service, billing services, insurance, tree trimming, storm hardening activities and a variety of other expenses associated with the delivery of power. The customer charge is a represented as a line item on the monthly bill (and is subject to change based on Board Approval). The practice of collecting this fee is an industry standard for electric companies. SECO Energy’s tariff and associated customer charges are approved by the Florida Public Service Commission.
As of September 1, 2018, the customer charge is calculated on a daily basis rather than monthly. This calculation will more accurately reflect the cost of providing service based on the number of days in your billing cycle. At the new rate of $.83 per day, the customer charge equates to $24.90 for a 30-day billing cycle. The September 1 increase averages 18 cents a day. Before September 2018, the customer charge for residential service was a flat $20 monthly fee.
Wholesale costs have remained stable but costs associated with maintaining our distribution infrastructure and actual power delivery continue to rise. Following the principles of prudent financial management, SECO conducts period cost studies to ensure proper alignment with our rates. Per our recent cost-of-service study, there are a variety of factors leading to the shift in greater reliance on the customer charge component of our overall rate. These factors include a $10 million vegetation management program investment, storm hardening activities and costs associated with maintaining a local workforce to offer SECO members top-notch customer service and outage response times.
The Power Cost Adjustment (PCA) provides SECO with a factor to accurately bill the member for the fluctuating cost of wholesale power. When power costs are high, the PCA is typically a charge. When power costs are low, the PCA is typically a credit and appears as a line item on the monthly bill labeled “Hot Bucks.” Since power costs (also known as fuel charges) fluctuate, industry regulators allow power costs to be passed through to the customer. SECO does not retain the revenue from the PCA when it is a charge on the bill. The money generated goes directly back to Seminole Electric to pay expenses related to the cost of purchasing fuels like coal and natural gas. SECO members share in this adjustment, whether it is a credit or an expense, as they do the other benefits and costs associated with providing electric service. The PCA is calculated per kilowatt hour used.
The PCA and customer charge represent distinct financial components and, as such, are listed as separate line items on your bill. The PCA, currently a credit (which lowers your bill), enables SECO to accurately bill members based on the fluctuating cost of wholesale power. The customer charge reflects a members’ portion of SECO expenses incurred to deliver affordable, safe, reliable power to over 200,000 Central Florida families and businesses. The timing of these changes is driven by our most recent cost-of-service study, the cost of wholesale power and future cost projections.
Storm hardening includes SECO’s pole inspection and replacement program and equipment upgrades/replacements in aging areas. The 2018 budget for upgrading existing infrastructure and constructing new facilities to meet growing power demand reached $45 million. In addition, SECO’s annual tree trimming costs have risen from $8 million to $10 million. The investment, in turn, has paid off by reducing tree-related outages by 50 percent over the last decade.
The billing date is based on the area for which the service is located. The area is assigned by cycle and the entire cycle is read at the same general time each month. This determines the billing date as well as the due date. Unfortunately, the cycle is not adjustable for one service location without adjusting the cycle for the entire area.
In order to keep members using this service from having to pay a convenience fee and not passing the cost to our entire membership we put a maximum amount per payment. This is due to the fees we are charged for this service by the banking facility.
We treat all our members the same since they all use the same product; therefore, the rates are the same for all.
Because we have the same expenses and still read and maintain our equipment to your service location; therefore, we do not offer a seasonal rate.
The deposit is based on two times the average bill at the service location. For brand new construction and in some existing services where there has been little usage, the deposit is figured by multiplying 20 cents per square foot.
There is no interest on deposits. The Cooperative shall at all times be operated on a Cooperative non-profit basis for the mutual benefit of its patrons. If we charged interest it would be rolled into the rate and we would collect it back at a little higher amount when account goes through the billing process.
There are a lot of security rules, regulations and equipment that is required for individuals at our service centers to take credit cards. We are PCI DSS compliant (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) for taking credit cards. The PCI Standard is mandated by the card brands and administered by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. This standard was created to increase controls around cardholder data to reduce credit card fraud. Validation of compliance is performed annually which we do adhere to. For this security reason we currently do not take credit card payments at our service centers.
There is only one way your bill can be drafted automatically and that is by going to our SmartHub program. You can sign up through secoenergy.com (Smarthub) or by contacting Customer Service by using your checking account information. This is not available for prepaid accounts.
Since we cannot limit credit card payments for auto drafts and we do not want to pass on the charges to our entire membership we choose to not use credit cards for this service.
For security measures and privacy issues we do not store credit card or checking information when you use PayNow. We do store credit/debit card and checking information in SmartHub aka EBill.
A gross receipts tax is a tax paid when purchases are made on a specific good. It is similar to a sales tax, but it is levied on the seller of goods or service consumers.
The rate per kilowatt hour for Residential accounts is a tiered rate. The energy charge for the 1st 1000 kWh is currently 0.1106 and any usage over 1000 kWh is currently 0.13060. These are subject for change. Commercial account rates vary. For any rates you can contact our office for more information by phone or email.
Yes. SECO remains fiscally sound and healthy. SECO operates responsibly in the interest of high-quality service. Growth in our service area continues at a manageable pace, SECO’s equity position remains in line with loan covenants and we continue to retire Capital Credits to members annually. Peruse SECO Energy’s 2017 Annual Report to find a testament to the financial health of the Cooperative.