News

Carousel

Budget Billing Helps You Plan the Year

If there is one thing I’ve learned in 2020, it’s the fact that no one can foresee the future. A year ago, who could have imagined the effect COVID-19 would have on our nation and the world? While Peace River Electric can’t help you predict the future, we can help you predict your monthly power bills. How, you may ask? With our Budget Billing program, you can know the amount of your bill even before it prints.

Budget Billing takes the guesswork out of paying your electric bills by providing you with the same monthly bill amount for one year. The monthly budget amount, recalculated annually, is based on the average monthly energy use for your account during the previous 12 months. At the end of the 12-month period, your monthly amount recalculates, and any outstanding debit or credit reflects in your new budget amount.

Keep tabs on your actual use each month by looking at your account online, using our SmartHub mobile app, or reviewing your monthly billing statement. Throughout the year, primarily due to the weather’s effect on your heating and cooling system, your kilowatt-hour use fluctuates. But, even as your energy use rises and falls, you may rest assured that your monthly power bill will not change.

To be eligible for Budget Billing:

  • Your account must be current or paid in full
  • You must reside at the same service address for 12 continuous months for us to accurately calculate your average monthly use
  • You must have a residential account.  Solar accounts are not eligible

With Budget Billing, it is important to pay the exact budget amount each month on or before the due date. If the balance remains unpaid, your budget billing plan may be cancelled.

Are you ready to give your household budget a boost by signing up for Budget Billing? Enroll by calling us at 800-282-3824. The program is voluntary, and you can cancel at any time.

We are honored to be your electric service provider in 2021. I wish you a prosperous new year.

Randy Shaw
CEO/General Manager

Carousel

Maurice Henderson Retires from PRECO Board after 55 Years

Maurice Henderson has retired from Peace River Electric Cooperative’s Board of Directors after serving as the District 5 Director for 55 years.

Maurice, a Hardee County native, grew up in the Lemon Grove community, east of Wauchula. Growing up in a time when rural areas lagged behind the big cities in receiving electric service, he recalls the day his parents’ home was electrified.

“We got electricity around ’42 or ’43,” he adds. “I’ll never forget the first night we had electricity. We sat down for supper—we had probably a 60-watt bulb in the middle of the room.” Chuckling, he explains how his mother saw the room in the glow of the new light and exclaimed, “I didn’t know my house was so dirty!””

Retired Dir. Maurice Henderson sits in a rocking chair
Retired Dir. Maurice Henderson, after serving on PRECO’s Board for 55 years, reflects on his time spent with the Co-op

After finishing high school, Maurice joined the Marine Corps where he served for three years. Afterward, he chose a career and stuck with it. He decided on cattle ranching.

“After getting out of the military,” shares Maurice, “I knew what I wanted out of life: to have cows and land.” He wholeheartedly applied himself to his chosen career and has never looked back.

Maurice lives in Wauchula with Betty, his wife of 62 years. Together, they have two sons and five grandchildren. Looking back over the years he says he wouldn’t change anything and that “life’s been good to Betty and me.”

What caused Maurice to pursue a position on PRECO’s Board of Directors, you may ask?

“Betty used to work for the co-op,” explains Maurice. “She was hired before she finished high school in ’53 and worked there until ’65. After we were married, I would go with her to PRECO’s district meetings every year. It was at these meetings that I became interested in serving on the Board.”

In PRECO’s 80-year history, the co-op has only had four general managers and Maurice has worked with all of them.

“A few months after I came onto the board, Ivon Tilyou, PRECO’s first general manager, announced that he was ready to retire,” says Maurice. “We advertised the job, then hired Richard Maenpaa. Some years later, we hired Bill Mulcay, followed by Randy Shaw, who is the current manager.”

“We were fortunate to have Mr. Henderson on the board of directors for 55 years,” says Randy Shaw, PRECO General Manager/CEO. “A man of integrity, he is well-respected by the members of the board and has always made decisions based on the best interests of the cooperative and its members.”

Along with his duties as a member of PRECO’s board, Maurice also served on the board of Seminole Electric Cooperative, PRECO’s energy provider, for 14 years.

“The cooperative owes a debt of gratitude to Maurice for 55 years of selfless service,” adds Randy Shaw. “We wish him the best in retirement.”

Carousel

October is National Co-op Month

National Co-op Month PowerOn logoAs an electric cooperative, our mission is to serve our members and support our local community––an especially critical mission in recent months. One of the seven principles that guides all co-ops is “concern for community.” This principle is the essential DNA of Peace River Electric Cooperative and sets us apart from other electric utilities.

October is National Co-op Month, and electric cooperatives across the country are highlighting the many ways we “Power On.” Keeping this theme in mind, PRECO recognizes the essential role we play in serving a unique community like ours.

Who would have imagined in March that COVID-19 would amount to a test of our community and our nation? The changing circumstances due to the pandemic have challenged everyone to operate differently, and PRECO has stepped up to help our members.

As an essential service, and to ensure the reliability of your power supply, we modified our operations to safeguard business continuity. Our line crews and other employees began working on staggered schedules to maintain separation. Many of our staff started working from home. In the office, we observe social distancing and are modifying meetings to allow for safe separation. We also adjusted in-person service calls to help protect the health and safety of our employees and valued members alike.

For our members impacted by COVID-19 who needed help with their electric bills, we waived late fees and worked with them to make special payment arrangements. And, because we care about this community, our Operation Round Up charitable foundation has contributed over $60,000 in food assistance to local organizations.

We’ve seen other local businesses rising to meet similar challenges during this time because that’s what communities do. While COVID-19 has impacted every area of people’s lives, we’re encouraged to see how everyone is pulling together.

In 1940, PRECO was built by the community to serve the community, and that’s what we’ll continue to do – Power On.

Carousel

Auto Pay: Set It and Forget It

Daily life gets so hectic at times that it’s helpful to take a step back and look for ways to simplify things. In the digital age, we have more opportunities to streamline our lives than our parents or grandparents ever had.

At Peace River Electric Cooperative, our goal is to make every interaction with us as simple and easy as possible. If you’re someone who likes to set it and forget it, our Auto Pay option may be for you.

Auto Pay is the easy way to pay your electric bill. Auto Pay automatically pays your monthly bill directly from your checking/savings account or credit/debit card on your electric bill’s due date. With Auto Pay, you’ll never have to worry if you forgot to pay your bill.A hand holding a credit card reaches out of computer screen

To register for Auto Pay:

  • Log-in to your account at www.preco.coop or on our SmartHub mobile app
  • Click on Billing and Payments
  • Click Auto Pay Program
  • Submit your credit card, debit card or checking account information

Once Auto Pay is confirmed, your electric bills will include a “Paid by Auto Pay” message.

Carousel

See PRECO’s New EV Website

Electric vehicles (EV) are rapidly becoming a popular choice for new and used car buyers. Nearly every major vehicle manufacturer is offering electric options in 2020. Some models may not be available in all areas yet, but distribution continues to expand. To help you understand the key aspects of EV ownership, PRECO just added a suite of tools to our website.

Today’s electric vehicles typically come in two forms – all-electric vehicles (EVs), that run 100% on electricity, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), which run on electricity but also have a gas-powered engine for extended trips. On our new EV web pages, you’ll find a current directory of EV and PHEV models to help you review price, range-per-charge, efficiency, styles, available incentives, and public charging information. We’ve also included FAQs, information about the key benefits of EV ownership, and calculators that help you understand what kind of savings you can expect based on our local gas and electric rates.Visit our website for EV facts

Save money: in many cases, operating an electric vehicle costs considerably less than a gas-powered vehicle. Visit our website to see how much you might save if you switch your car to an EV.

Convenience: EVs can be charged at home; imagine never going to the gas station again. EVs that are all-electric do not require oil changes either!

Environmental: all-electric EVs have no tailpipe emissions! The fuel sources used to generate the electricity that goes into your EV may produce some emissions, but in most cases, EVs result in less CO2 emissions than gas-powered vehicles.

Performance: EVs have tremendous torque and acceleration. They typically have a very responsive feel, and owners report that they are fun to drive.

You’ll find a wide range of helpful EV information including:

EV Facts to help you decide if an EV is right for you

  • Savings calculators that estimate miles-per-gallon versus miles-per-kWh
  • A CO2 emissions calculator for your gas vehicles compared to the EV of your choice
  • Pricing and buying information on EVs and PHEVs
  • Tax incentives
  • Charging station locator map

Please visit our EV website to learn more.

Carousel

Help Your Community When You Shop AmazonSmile

Wouldn’t it be great if you could help your community whenever you purchase an item from Amazon? At no additional cost to you? Now, you can with Amazon Smile!

PRECO’s Operation Round Up non-profit, 501(c)3 charitable organization is now registered to receive donations from AmazonSmile.com. When you shop at AmazonSmile, you’ll find the exact same prices and selection as Amazon.com, with the added benefit that AmazonSmile will donate 0.5% of your eligible purchases to Operation Round Up.

It’s so simple to get started.Generate donations with AmazonSmile

On your computer

Visit https://smile.amazon.com, hover over Account & Lists, and then under Your Account click on Your Amazon Smile. You’ll be prompted to select the charity of your choice. Select Peace River Cooperative Charitable Foundation, and you’re done! Just remember, use the Smile.Amazon.com address when you shop.

On the Amazon mobile app

Open the app, tap the menu in the upper left corner, tap Settings, then select AmazonSmile. Choose Peace River Cooperative Charitable Foundation, and that’s it! Every time you use the Amazon app, Amazon will donate .05% of your purchase to PRECO’s Operation Round Up!

PRECO’s Operation Round Up program assists local families and organizations with food, shelter, medical, and clothing needs, plus provides college scholarships.

Carousel

Move Over for PRECO Crews

Give our linemen enough space to do their jobs safely

Most everyone is familiar with these rules of the road: don’t text, don’t drink and don’t speed. At PRECO, we want all drivers to learn about another law that isn’t as widely known. It’s named the Move Over Act. This law, passed to protect police and emergency workers on the side of the road, was amended in 2014 to include sanitation and utility workers.

“Florida’s Move Over Law helps keep our line workers and other field personnel safe and alive,” explains Daniel Moore, PRECO coordinator of loss control and facilities. “We want our employees to return unhurt to their homes and families each night.”

You’ll find PRECO linemen working day and night, regardless of weather conditions, practically 365 days a year. And, since utility poles are most often located on the roadside, line crews frequently are working within a few feet of city streets and rural roads.

“Many times, drivers approach too fast and too close to our workers,” explains Daniel. “Think about your own job. How secure would you feel if cars zoomed by within six feet of your desk or workstation throughout your workday?”

Just one driving mistake can lead to catastrophe. In 2018, this became a painful reality for the families of three linemen working to restore power in Chipley, Fla., in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. James Ussery, 60, of Chipley, was working alongside George Cecil, 52, and Ryan Barrett, 22, both from North Carolina, when they were struck and killed by a hit-and-run drunk driver.

“Ussery, a lineman for West Florida Electric Cooperative, was joined by two out-of-state workers who had answered the call to help rebuild after this terrific storm,” says Daniel. “Sadly, none of them returned home to their families.”

“We’re asking for your help. When you see crews on the side of the road, please move over if possible and give them extra room to work. If you can’t move over, slow down. Working on power lines can be dangerous, but we have practices in place to keep our guys safe.  When drivers don’t obey the Move Over Law they are adding an element that we can’t control and making a lineworker’s job even more dangerous.”

Please help keep our police, first responders and utility workers safe.

Move Over Law Requirements

Florida’s Move Over Law requires vehicles to change lanes or slow down when approaching police cars, ambulances, sanitation vehicles, tow trucks—and utility service trucks. Obeying the law protects our first responders and helps them return home safely to their families.

  • When approaching workers and vehicles, move over a lane to give them more room
  • If you can’t move over—such as on a two-lane road—slow to a speed that is 20 mph less than the posted speed limit
  • If the speed limit is 20 mph or less, slow down to 5 mph
Carousel

PRECO Announces $104,000 in College Scholarships

Two dozen students were awarded a total of $104,000 in scholarships by Operation Round Up, PRECO’s charitable foundation. Since PRECO formed Operation Round Up in 2005, nearly 200 students have shared in more than $900,000 in college scholarships granted.

“This year, considering the financial impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on families, we took measures to increase the number of students receiving scholarships,” states Ellen Hamel, Operation Round Up chair. “By granting more scholarships than ever before, we increased the number of recipients to an all-time yearly high of 24.”

Funding for Operation Round Up comes from the donations of PRECO’s member-consumers. Each member’s electric bill is “rounded up” to the next dollar to provide charitable funds in the areas of food, shelter, clothing, medical, the environment and education. Participation is voluntary; members may choose to participate or opt out at any time by signing up at www.preco.coop or by contacting Customer Care at 800-282-3824.

Scholarship winners by High School or College

Bradenton Christian School

Isabella Gonzalez                   $4,000

 

Braden River High School

Madigan Wilford                    $4,000

Tess Zambella                        $4,000

 

Florida Gulf Coast University

Alexis Whalen                        $4,000

 

Hardee County High School

Maria Deloera                         $4,000

Rachel Garland                       $4,000

Jesus Jurado                            $4,000

Kein Knight                            $4,000

 

Lakewood Ranch High School

Isabella Liberti                         $8,000

Andrew den Boggende           $8,000

Trevor Clark                            $4,000

Manoela Dos Santos               $4,000

Alexander Dubendorf              $4,000

Taylor Ferber                           $4,000

Amanda Hamende                  $4,000

Hudson Norman                     $4,000

Thomas Patten                       $4,000

 

New Gate School

Matthew Bogard                     $4,000

 

Out of Door Academy

Nina Dinh                               $4,000

 

Palmetto High School

Matthew Joseph                      $4,000

Makenna Simpson                  $4,000

 

Southeast High School

Ximena Chafloque                  $4,000

 

State College of Florida

Colton Ginter                          $4,000

Jocelyn Riley                          $4,000

Carousel

Group Distributes COVID-19 Masks for Community

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, PRECO was honored to receive 100 homemade masks donated by a special group of concerned women aiming to make a difference. Brookside Bluff Condominium Association, where this group resides, is located near Zolfo Springs in Hardee County, offering country-style living and an 18-hole golf course.

The employees of PRECO wish to express their gratitude to this group for their thoughtfulness and generosity.

In her own words

Sandy Hanson, a member of this mask-making group, shares the story in her own words:

At first, a group of women in the park started making masks to give out to our residents for their safety. Then, as COVID-19 spread throughout America, we realized the greater need outside our park.

At least 23 women participated by donating time and materials. They all helped wherever they could or were needed by cutting fabric, ironing and pinning straps, sewing the masks and taking items from house-to-house while we practiced our social distancing. The group made and donated over 4,400 masks.

We donated masks to:

PRECO

Florida postal workers

Hardee County Sheriff’s Office, Fire Department and Emergency Management

Drivers for UPS, FedEx and others

New York City hospitals

Cleveland Clinic

The Coast Guard in Hawaii

A Navy group in California

Texas Roadhouse in Indianapolis

Masks were mailed to family and friends in Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, England and Canada.

(front- from left) Mary Marr, Sue Loope, Ellie Miller, Sandy Hanson (back row) Nan Whitmore, Robin Schumaker, Lynne Wells, Charlene Letterman, Karen Cain, Jeanie Kiergaard, Jackie Vanderhorst. Other group members who were unavailable for the photo include: Debbie Buuck, Nancy Clough, Linda Cochrun, Donna Decker, Karen Denberger, Carolyn Drake, Tammi Ehmer, Kathy Finck, Yvonne Miller, Marie Nickle, Cathy Shearer, & Regina Vey

 

 

Carousel, News

PRECO Charity Continues Providing Food Funds as COVID-19 Relief

For the third time in four months, Peace River Electric Cooperative’s charitable foundation, Operation Round Up, has granted funds to community organizations serving food to families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The foundation’s board of directors is passionate when it comes to providing food to those most affected by this national crisis,” shares Ellen Hamel, Operation Round Up chair. “Having enough to eat is one of the most primal and basic of needs, and many homes are seeing their breadwinners suffer the loss of employment, underemployment or reduced work hours. We feel it is our duty and privilege to extend, not a handout, but a hand up to struggling families by supporting organizations which are distributing food and meals.”

Peace River Center in Bartow will receive $5,000, while Our Daily Bread of Bradenton and Feed My Sheep in Wauchula will receive $2,500 each. In March, Hardee Help Center in Wauchula, Our Daily Bread of Bradenton and Salvation Army of Sarasota received a total of $30,000, while in April, Woodland Community Church, Hope Family Services and Feeding Empty Little Tummies in Manatee County received a total of $21,000.

“This is only possible because many Peace River Electric Cooperative consumers allow their electric bills to be rounded up to the next dollar each month,” explains Hamel. “They can be proud of knowing it is their contributions providing $61,000 to help their friends and neighbors have enough to eat during this difficult time.

For more information about Operation Round Up, visit PRECO.coop online.