TVEPA Billing

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 6, 2010

Until now, few knew of billing plan at TVEPA

By Billy Davis

More than 26,000 customers in nine Mississippi counties, including Panola, open a bill every month from Tallahatchie Valley Electric Power Association.

Those electric bills, already growing from the dog days of summer, will most certainly swell next month, when this week’s 100-plus degree temperatures show up in the mail.

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Pope resident Jenn Respess opened her latest TVEPA bill, this one totaling $437, Monday. The previous month’s bill totaled $350, which alarmed her, so the family switched off lights and turned the central air to 75 degrees.

“I watched it close. We took extreme measures,” she said. “But the bill was still a hundred dollars more.”

A level bill

There is help, for Respess and others, to lower that monthly electric bill. TVEPA offers customers “Levelized Billing,” a payment plan that averages the previous 12 months of service.  

Levelized Billing, because it averages a year of bills, is open only to customers with a previous year of TVEPA service.

Respess and other TVEPA customers are probably unaware that the electricity provider offers the Levelized Billing. That’s because only 118 customers are using the program, said a TVEPA spokesman.

Another 107 customers use a similar payment program, “Budget Billing,” which is no longer offered, said communications manager Marlin Williams.

Williams explained that TVEPA dropped Budget Billing because it includes a “settle up” payment at the end of 12 months.  That stipulation surprised some customers with a large bill and hence proved unpopular, he said.

TVEPA considers Levilized Billing, now in a place for about a year, a more “member friendly” service that helps lower monthly costs, Williams said.

The Budget Billing program is still advertised on the TVEPA Web site but Levelized Billing is not.

The payment plan at TVEPA mirrors fellow utility provider Entergy, which similarly offers Level Billing and Equal Pay.

Equal Pay also has a “settle up” requirement while Level Billing maintains a 12-month average, said George Cossar III, customer service manager for Entergy.

Cossar said Level Billing averages each monthly bill by adding the current month and dropping the eleventh month. Williams described a similar calculation for Levelized Billing.

“I use the Level Billing and my bill stays within a five-dollar range,” Cossar said.

Megawatts peak

The 100-plus temps experienced this week in the Mid-South have ramped up demand on energy providers.

“I think the peak will be today,” Jim Allen, spokesman for Tennessee Valley Authority, said Wednesday, when the daytime high was expected to reach 101 degrees.

TVEPA buys its electricity from TVA, headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn.

Allen said TVA was forecasting a summer peak of 31,500 megawatts this week, with the number expected to drop to 28,200 by Friday, when daytime temps drop to double digits.

 TVA’s all-time high of 33,482 megawatts came in 2007, he said.   

A megawatt is a unit of power that is equal to one million watts. The utility industry also measures kilowatts, a measure of 1,000 watts of power.

Entergy reached a yearly peak of 3,180 megawatts in June and was expecting to top that output this week.

“There is a good chance this week’s electricity demand may come close to exceeding our all-time peak,” which was 3,356 watts in the summer of 2007, said Cossar.

Entergy supplies energy in four states, including 4,207 customers in Panola County, according to Cossar.