SECO Energy has allocated additional funding from the Pennies from Heaven program for bill payment assistance. The funds are administered through Florida 211 and local service agencies via the cooperative’s agreements with local United Way organizations.
SECO’s Pennies from Heaven program funds bill payment assistance for members each quarter. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 economic shutdown, SECO released funds for quarters two, three and four ahead of schedule so that local social service agencies can assist as many members in need as possible right now. More than $40,000 has been released for bill payment assistance and distributed to local social service agencies across the counties SECO serves.
It’s easy to apply for assistance. Social service agencies typically request a copy of a disconnect notice to provide bill payment assistance but SECO has asked the agencies who receive Pennies from Heaven funding to waive the requirement and allow the member to email, text or mail a screenshot from their online account in SmartHub on SECOEnergy.com. The screenshot must show the account number, service address and past due balance. Residential assistance is limited to $250 per member.
Members who need bill payment assistance can contact Florida 211 by calling or texting or by visiting 211.org to generate a request. To meet the demand from the thousands of members seeking bill payment assistance during the COVID-19 economic shutdown, SECO created an interactive map with an expanded list of local social service agencies that provide different types of assistance. Visit our Angel Funds page to find the map. To find an agency, insert the service address. Click on the nearby map pins in that county to view the types of assistance available, phone numbers and website addresses.
SECO responded with understanding and flexibility for members who have been affected by the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The cooperative proactively waived late fees and extended payment arrangement timeframes for all members. Since early March, no SECO member has been disconnected for nonpayment, no SECO member has been charged a late fee and no SECO member has been denied a payment extension. It is time, however, to return to more normal operations and to require members who have accrued high balances to seek bill payment assistance.
Contactless employee engagement remains available through SECO’s Member Service Center drive-thrus, by email or phone or through social media. Employees in the field will continue to insist that members maintain social distance according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. As part of the transition, the cooperative’s Member Service Centers reopen for walk-in business on June 1.
CEO Jim Duncan stated, “Cooperatives are founded on the principles of member ownership and a strong sense of community. Funding bill payment assistance through Florida 211, United Way organizations and our local service agencies will provide help to members who need it now. Electricity is an essential service, and we are thankful that SECO can provide financial relief to members in need through Pennies from Heaven funding during the aftereffects of the COVID-19 shutdown. The advancement of funding for bill payment assistance will help SECO return to normal billing and payment processes.”
Senior Consultant for Civic, Charitable and Government Affairs Kathy Judkins is grateful to the members who have enrolled in Pennies from Heaven. Judkins stated, “Thank you to our charitable members who contribute monthly to Pennies from Heaven. Now more than ever during this time of need, fostering a spirit of giving is so important. The Pennies from Heaven yearly contribution averages only $6 per member, which is a very small amount but goes a long way in the communities SECO serves. Please consider joining your fellow cooperative Pennies from Heaven donors.”
Members who would like to contribute to Pennies from Heaven can join SECO’s corporate citizenship initiative that rounds up members’ bills to the nearest dollar. The extra pennies are donated to Pennies from Heaven. Through the round up program and additional internal fundraising efforts, many SECO employees including CEO Jim Duncan also support the program to aid the communities served by SECO.
Pennies from Heaven makes a difference in the communities SECO serves one penny at a time. The funds are used for local worthy causes such as donating funds to local food banks and helping members with bill payment assistance. To enroll, visit our Pennies from Heaven page. Members can also make a one-time donation to the program – contact SECO Energy for more information.