Is it possible for me to have a light installed on the pole at my gate as this area is very dark at night?
Members who wish to have an outdoor area light on their property call and make a request for a light to be installed. Personnel in the Call Center will forward your request to the appropriate person in our Engineering department and a technician will contact you to discuss lighting, placement, rental fees and additional costs (if necessary).
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What are Capital Credits?
Sumter Electric, aka SECO Energy, is a not-for-profit member-owned corporation. Sound financial practices and legal requirements are such that each year we must have an excess of revenues over expenses. This excess is referred to as margins, and by law, must be allocated to each of the members who paid electric bills during the year. This is done by dividing the Cooperative’s total margins by total revenue, and multiplying the resulting percentage by each member’s payments for SECO service for the year. Each member’s portion is referred to as his/her capital credits, also called patronage capital, for the year.
Are Capital Credits returned to Members?
Capital Credits may be returned by general or estate retirements as approved by our Board of Trustees, based on the financial condition of the Cooperative. General retirements are normally made on an annual basis to current and former members. Current members receive the refund as a credit on their electric bill usually in November of each year. Former members receive a check. Heirs or estates of current or former members may file a claim for assignment of accumulated capital credits. Payments are made as part of the general retirement process.
Are Capital Credits returned to Businesses?
Capital credits are allocated to businesses in the same manner as they are to residential members. These monies are returned to businesses when the Board of Trustees makes a general retirement.
Do I earn interest on Capital Credits?
Since the Cooperative is operated on a user-owned, non-profit basis, you do not receive interest or dividends on your Capital credits. To pay interest, electric rates would have to be increased.
Do I have to report Capital Credits on my Tax Return as Taxable Income?
Capital credits are a refund of prior years electric costs and need not be reported as taxable income to holders of residential accounts. Holders of business accounts should discuss any refund with their tax preparer/advisor.
What if I move away?
If you move from our service area, the capital credits accumulated in your account will remain in your name. It is important that you keep the Co-op informed of your current address so that we can send you a refund when a general retirement is made. By keeping SECO informed of your current address you will avoid a monthly service charge assessed on accounts with unclaimed refunds.
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Co-op Owners for Political Action:
What is Co-op Owners for Political Action and why should I join?
The Co-op Owners for Political Action program was developed specifically so that co-op members could join co-op employees to have a stronger voice in legislative arenas with regard to member-owned cooperatives, electric service and the possible impacts on members following any deregulation of the electric industry. Employees in electric co-ops have had a voice through their own ACRE program, but that program is limited to co-op employees. The PAC’s concern is to insure that our elected representatives do not enact legislation or facilitate regulation that would be harmful to electric cooperatives and, by extension, cooperative customers who are also member/owners of their Co-ops. An incumbent’s record related to his or her actions on co-op related issues (which are also consumer issues) is carefully reviewed and new candidates are interviewed to determine how they feel about items of importance to co-ops. This is the sole criteria for support and no other issues come into play whatsoever.
How do you select candidates to sponsor?
It’s important to understand that this political action committee is bipartisan in nature. Whether a candidate is a Democrat or a Republican does not matter. An overview of candidates receiving ACRE contributions over the years indicates the contributions have, as it happens, been pretty evenly split between the two major parties. The reason for that is because party affiliation is simply not a concern for electric cooperatives. We have one concern and one concern only.
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Customer Care/Customer Service:
How do I change my mailing address?
You can call or stop by any one of our offices, or just send an email to our Customer Care/Customer Service Center.
Energy Usage & Equipment:
Is better to leave the AC on if I'm going out for seven hours, or so, or to shut if off and turn it back on when I return. Which method uses more energy?
Statistics show it is more costly to turn the ac unit completely off when the home is unoccupied for several hours at a time. If the home heats up significantly, the heat is absorbed in the furniture, drapes, etc. thus causing your ac unit to work harder in the long run. Instead we recommend at SECO you set your thermostat between 80–84 if you’re away during the hottest part of the day. Then, while at home set the thermostat between 78-80 and use ceiling fans in occupied rooms only.
What is the best setting for my AC thermostat?
Note: Setting your AC thermostat at 74-75 will cause your unit to operate as much as 60% more than it would if the thermostat is set at 80 degrees.
How much electricity does my computer use?
Over a month's time, a CPU, (desktop computer) in the awake mode will use about 120 KWH and cost about $7.00 per month. A monitor that is awake will use 150 KWH and cost approximately $9.00 per month. In the sleep mode a monitor and CPU will use 30 KWH or less and cost about $1.00 per month. A Laptop costs about $3.00 per month to leave on 24 hrs.
Should I buy a generator for use during storms?
Power reliability in Florida is exceptionally good, even with the number of thunderstorms, hurricanes, weather-related, or other events that can impact service. If you do decide to buy a generator, for whatever reason, please read and carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety recommendations. If a generator is improperly connected to your household wiring, it can cause electricity to flow backwards into the power lines, posing a serious hazard to SECO personnel working on the line. Please read Important Information on Generators BEFORE you buy or install one.
I have medical equipment that I can't be without, so I can’t have the power out. Do I need to purchase a generator?
Sumter Electric, and all other electric utilities, always recommend that individuals who are dependent on essential medical equipment have some sort of back up power supply just in case there is an outage. And, this is a good idea for any other type of equipment that you feel is critical and, in your opinion, must never be without power. If you have, or plan on purchasing, a generator please be aware of the fact that it must be used safely. Any equipment you wish to operate off the generator should be plugged directly into the generator. Never tie your generator into your home's electric system. If you do, and there is a power outage, you could cause an electrical back feed that could kill, or seriously injure, SECO personnel working to repair the lines and restore power in your neighborhood. Please read Important Information on Generators BEFORE you buy or install one.
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Power Outages and Service Interruptions:
What causes my lights to blink, or go dim?
Consumers will occasionally notice momentary interruptions in their power, blinks and dimming lights. There are typically two distinct reasons for these occurrences. The blinks result from protective equipment on SECO Energy ’s lines isolating a temporary problem and then restoring the system to normal. This operation, in most cases, prevents a sustained outage. Additionally, consumers may notice their lights dim in portions of their home for a few seconds when a motor, such as a refrigerator or air conditioning compressor, cycles on. This is due to the electrical load the motor places on the home’s electrical wiring when starting up. The electricity required to start a motor can be 6 or 7 times as much as it takes to run the motor once it is up to speed. This is similar to the water pressure drop you'll notice when a sprinkler or the washing machine starts. While this occurrence is fairly typical, if the condition is severe, or lasts longer than a few seconds, it could indicate a house wiring or appliance problem. Investigation of the actual cause should be determined by a knowledgeable professional. It is also possible under some conditions that SECO Energy’s facilities outside of the home would need to be checked as well. If you believe this is the case, call SECO Energy and report the situation.
What can I do about blinking clocks?
The causes of these “blinks”could be:
While we agree that it is irritating to come home and find several clocks blinking, it should also reassuring to know that this means the electrical system is working as it should. Before electronic digital clocks and home computers, a short blink of electrical power was hardly noticed. When appliances with electronic digital clocks first came on the market, their sensitivity meant even a second’s loss of power caused a loss of accurate time and required resetting the clock -- an irritating task homeowners often came home to find waiting for them. Today, newer electronic digital clocks often come with a battery backup system that prevents the need to reset after a momentary loss of power. These clocks usually reset to a predetermined time each time. When purchasing clocks or appliances with electronic digital clocks, ask if it comes with a battery back-up, or memory, which maintains the time during short power losses. Then, when the lights blink momentarily, you’ll know that it’s an indication that the electrical equipment is operating properly. Blinking lights reflect the operation of equipment that protects the lines and often keeps the power from going off altogether. Most often, these blinks are a result of momentary outages that occur when some type of disturbance exists on the line.
- A downed line caused a fuse to blow and isolated the problem restoring your power within seconds
- Animals, such as squirrels, momentarily short circuited an energized line
- Equipment failure which caused an outage and has since been restored or isolated by the system
- Lightning striking on, or near the line
- Tree limbs falling, or contacting the line
- Underground cable cuts
- Vehicles striking poles or guy wires
To prevent these occurrences from causing outages for a long duration, an electric system is designed with automatic resetting circuit breakers called reclosers. These devices stop the flow of power momentarily to allow the problem to correct itself or additional devices to isolate the problem area from the rest of the system. The number of these occurrences depend on many factors, including weather conditions. According to a recent study, Florida has the highest levels of lightning strikes in the USA. Also, if you are in an area of heavy development, it is much more likely that underground cables may be cut due to installation of other new underground utilities.
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Is a Security deposit required on all residential services?
A Security Deposit is required on each residential service. Since we no longer accept letters of credit from other utilities, members must either pay the full deposit or have an acceptable Equifax check performed in order to waive the deposit requirement.
How long do you keep a deposit before it is refunded?
Residential deposits are refunded if an excellent credit standing has been maintained by the member for 24 months. An Equifax credit check is also performed to determine satisfactory credit history prior to refunding the security deposit.
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Do I have to come into your office to request service?
If there is an existing electrical service at the location you want connected, you can make all the arrangements by telephone or via email to Customer Service. The Membership Application is available online (in PDF format) in English and en Español. There is a $5.00 membership fee required for each new member, a service connection charge and a security deposit may be required. Both the service charge and membership fee can be billed on the account.
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Lightning & Surge Protection:
Is there any other lightning protection used in Florida for houses other than an indoor surge protection system, like lightning rods or ground rods?
Lightning rods, more correctly called air terminals (or Franklin rods after the inventor), are used in Florida. There are several companies located in Lake and Marion counties in the telephone directory listed under "Lightning Protection Equipment." Most electrical contractors should also be able to make a recommendation. SECO does not recommend any specific provider or vendor. Correct installation is the key and it is expensive. Lightning rods are by design a device that attracts lightning. When installed correctly to code, they divert the stroke to ground. The problem is that many people do not want to spend the money necessary to make secure connections from the rod to a sufficient size down lead cable to a proper ground with proper connection, or to pay to have them routinely inspected. Therefore what happens is the rod attracts lightning, and it sees the internal house systems as a better "route to ground" and ends up dissipating throughout the home causing major damage.
Securing a good, low resistance ground rod connection in Florida is hard to do and requires professional assistance to achieve using precision ground measuring equipment. Typically at SECO we will often drive 70 foot, or multiple rods, in a grid configuration and in a few places 90 feet of rod with connections cad-welded to the rod in order to achieve a ground below 30 ohms. Therefore the single 6-8 foot rod purchased at a hardware/electronic type store is virtually useless with undersized and poorly clamped wire tied to it and it can cause more problems than without. Most communications towers (cellular, broadcast stations and virtually all government complexes) at major locations utilize a device called a dissipation array which deters lightning from wanting to strike a structure in the first place. This technology also requires a good ground grid around the complex and proper low resistance grounding. Normally this would not be seen utilized on a residential home. If you look at a broadcast tower and see a circular device on top with many little wire brush like spikes coming out of it, that is a dissipation array. For more information and practical solutions, contact Customer Service to schedule a visit to discuss things that you, as a homeowner, can do to enhance your in-home protection system, such as our surge protection program, common point grounding and insuring that outlets are properly wired with a ground attached to the proper terminal in electrical sockets.
Another thing to keep in mind when trying to compare Florida weather to that of the northern states is that we live in the highest lightning strike region of the nation, the actual center of which is located near Lakeland, Florida. Only one place in the world, a section of Africa, is higher. Therefore, you will find the lightning strike activity in our area more vicious and more frequent than experienced anywhere else in the U.S. This means that what might work in other areas may not be sufficient or work here at all.
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Do you have information on radiant barriers and payback time frames?
Radiant Barriers, if applied to the plywood rafters and roof panels, are reported to reduce the temperature in the attic 25-30 degrees. According to the Florida Solar Energy Center, you could save about 20%.
Page last updated: October 29, 2012