The Benefits of LEC’s Pay-As-You Go Program

Dear Lane Electric Community:

Our Pay-As-You-Go payment option is a pre-pay program that allows you to avoid a deposit and late fees by maintaining a credit balance on your account. About 1 out of every 10 Lane Electric Co-op members is using our Pay-As-You-Go program to manage their electricity budget. That’s a remarkable level of participation! This program puts them in control of their energy usage by giving them their energy consumption information and giving them the ability to tailor payments that fit their budget.

And here’s another remarkable number I want to share with you: $172,500. That’s the estimated amount in 2015 of deposits saved, refunded, or returned to members—new and existing—who chose to use Pay-As-You-Go. This money stayed in our members’ hands because they voluntarily chose to avoid a deposit and take control of their budget. Year after year, over a third of all new members elect to use Pay-As-You-Go.

What’s it like using Pay-As-You-Go? You’re in control of your energy budget and we’ll help you with historical usage so you can decide how you want to manage your credit balance. You deposit the amount that works for you into your account and your usage is then charged daily. When your balance reaches $25 we alert you in the way you choose: by phone, text or email. If you decide to add money to your account, you can do so by phone or online 24/7, and you instantly have access to your electricity with a push of a button on your meter. No additional transaction fees. No disconnects on weekends, national holidays, or in extreme weather conditions. The same cost for power as traditional monthly billing. You may even decide to let your credit remain at zero to keep your electricity off while you’re away for a period of time. The key point here is: You’re in control.

Why does Pay-As-You-Go make sense for some people? If you’re concerned about your household spending, it’s an option to consider. My first cell phone decades ago was a prepaid phone because I was in school, newly married, and I needed to watch every penny. I got the convenience I needed and I managed my minutes according to what I needed month in and month out. Plus, no late fees. It just made sense. Likewise, at one of last year’s district meetings, two members stood up and thanked Lane Electric for having Pay-As-You-Go because it helped them manage their money in tight times.

I’ve also heard members say that using Pay-As-You-Go on their workshop meter helps manage usage by the season or by the year. Several members call us to switch to Pay-As-You-Go after they hear about it from a neighbor or friend. And this is important: The program doesn’t just help low-income households. It helps almost any household wanting to take control of their energy budget. However, the program may not be a good fit for those members with medical needs requiring electricity. You can decide for yourself if it makes sense for you. It’s a voluntary program available to all Lane Electric members.

I’m letting you know about our Pay-As-You-Go program because we’ve heard that an Oregon consumer advocate group that doesn’t like pre-pay programs has an upcoming meeting with Governor Brown. We think—we know—our program empowers members, and if this group had reached out to us in doing their homework they would have heard how wrong-headed they are about their misconceptions. We hope we can count on you to add your voice in support of pre-pay programs. Give our own Dave D’Avanzo a call here at 541-484-1151 and let us know you stand with your Co-op!

Matt Michel, General Manager