In an age of social distancing due to COVID -19, many of us are scrambling to respond to our new normal. As a member-owned cooperative, Midstate Electric Cooperative has always been driven to provide low cost reliable power and to be there for our community—no matter what challenges come our way. With this new challenge before us, we are determined to get through it together.
We are monitoring and following the advice from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and our state and local governments. MEC is committed to keep the lights on by taking several steps to preserve staff and community health and safety.
Lobby Closed to Public
In response to the Governor’s actions to contain the spread of COVID-19, we made the tough decision to close our office lobby to the public, but rest assured we are not closed for business. You can reach us during regular business hours at 541-536-2126.
Your account can be managed from the safety of your home via SmartHub (standard billing) or MyUsage (prepaid billing). These programs are on our website, www.midstateelectric.coop. If you need help setting this up, give us a call and our member service representatives will be happy to walk you through it.
Other payment options are available such as the payment drop box to the west of our office building, the payment kiosk at the front entrance of the office, and our automated phone payment system at 541-536-2126 option 2.
Disconnects and Payment Assistance
Many members have lost their employment and are suffering a drastic drop in income. There are enough things to worry about right now without having to worry about losing their electricity. MEC has suspended late fees and disconnection of service for both our standard and prepaid member accounts.
Members will still be responsible for paying for the energy used but will have time to work with us during this difficult time. If you are having trouble paying your bill as a result of COVID-19, please call us at 541-536-2126 to learn about available options including community assistance programs.
In the spirit of the community working together, members that want to help their neighbors affected financially by the COVID-19, can contribute to MEC’s Relief Fund. These funds help members that are having trouble paying their power bills. If you want to contribute, please give us a call.
Keeping the Lights On
As always, our line crews are ready to respond in case of outages. We will still be responding to service calls and the majority of our normal daily operations.
The key to keeping the lights on is healthy employees. We are providing separation of our line crews to reduce risk. Crews are reporting to separate locations within the facility grounds and have been assigned to permanent crews. While we have always valued member engagement, we are asking that our linemen be given at least six feet of social space if a need arises to approach them.
We are also limiting other staff’s exposure to each other by having employees work from home when possible. In addition, MEC is providing safe working distances (set by CDC) for employees that are still working from the office.
Field Energy Audits Suspended
In addition to closing the lobby doors to the public, we have also suspended field visits for free home energy audits; however, our staff is still available to assist you with energy efficiency tips.
As more people spend long days inside and transition to working from home, we expect many homes will use more energy than usual. This, of course, will lead to higher energy bills. Our energy efficiency specialists can be reached at 541-536-2126 option 5 to provide you with ideas to help reduce energy usage.
Home inspections for energy conservation rebates are also suspended. The program will resume once it is safe to do so.
I am not sure what life will look like in the next month, two months, or even a year down the road, but we know our community. We are resilient. We will adapt. We will get through this. Thank you for you continued support through this difficult time. We will keep your lights on.
Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives is a national network of electric cooperatives across 46 states that provides resources and leverages partnerships to help member cooperatives and their employees better engage and serve their members. By working together, Touchstone Energy cooperatives stand as a source of power and information to their 32 million member-owners every day.