ENERGY SOLUTIONS

What should I set my thermostat at?

Summer – National Standard for cooling is 78-80 degrees.   Operating costs increase 6-8% per degree for every degree below the 80 degrees.

 

Winter – National Standard for heating is 68-70 degrees. Add 3-5% per degree for every degree above the 70 degrees. When adjusting temperatures on a heat pump, raise slowly (no more than 2 degrees) to prevent using auxiliary/emergency heat.

 

Away – When home is unoccupied four hours or more, set the thermostat up to 83 in the summer; down to 55 in winter.

What is a humidistat and do I need one?

Humidistats work in conjunction with the thermostat to prevent humidity levels from getting too high in the house while you are away. Ultimately, it helps by keeping the a/c from running as much, as long as the relative humidity has not increased over 60-65% which is the recommended setting.

Should I run a dehumidifier?

Typically a dehumidifier will add additional heat to the home, which will cause the air conditioner to run more often thus increasing electric consumption.

Should I run my fans all day to keep the house cooler?

Use fans in conjunction with your air conditioner to feel cooler with the thermostat set higher. Using fans you’ll feel 3-5 degrees cooler than the actual air temperature. Only use fans in occupied rooms. Fans that operate 24 hours a day for a full month will cost approximately $3-6 per month per fan.

How many hours do I need to run my pool pump or hot tub pump?

The Florida Solar Energy Center suggests running the pool pump 6-8 hours per day in the summer and 3-4 hours per day in the winter.

It is recommended to run a hot tub pump approximately 15 minutes every hour for a total of 3-4 hours per day.

I think my meter is wrong, can I get it changed out?

SECO Energy will test the meter to be sure it is working correctly. We do not change out meters, unless there is a problem with the meter.

Does SECO Energy allow customer to put solar panels up?

Yes, contact the Engineering department of SECO Energy at the following email for more information: customergeneration@secoenergy.com

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?

SECO Energy, 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. Contact a qualified electrician for information on generators.

I don’t want a Smart Meter on my house. Does SECO Energy have Smart meters?

Although we do have several different types of meters in our system, at this time SECO Energy does not have any “Smart Meters” on our lines.

Why is my bill higher this year than last year?

There are many variables that can cause a rise in your energy bill such as a longer billing period, more sunshine, warmer or colder weather, guests in the home, etc. It is always good to look at everything that went on during the month to determine if there is an obvious reason for the increase.

SOLAR POWER

Is there a service charge to change out my meter or connect to the power grid?

No, SECO does not charge a service charge for changing out the meter or connecting to the grid.

Why am I not receiving a credit on my power bill?

Your home is using all the energy that your system generates.  There is no flow back to the grid.

Why am I receiving a credit on my power bill?

A system may generate more power than the home requires when we have mild temperatures with long hours of daylight. During these times, most members are not using their heating or A/C systems which is usually the largest energy user in the home.

Does SECO connect the wire (via conduit) from the inverter to the meter? If so, what does SECO charge to do this?

SECO only replaces or reprograms the meter at no cost to you.  All connections are made on the member’s load side and is the responsibility of the member.  A lockable manual disconnect is required within five (5) feet of the meter.

 

The use of micro‐inverter systems eliminates the possibility of an inverter failure disabling the entire photo‐voltaic system.  A micro inverter system still requires a lockable manual disconnect between the array and AC power supply located within five feet of the meter.  This complies with SECO safe work practices that protect our employees working on the grid as well as providing first responders a visible, lockable, disconnect in the case of emergencies such as fires.

Who do I contact when I have a question about my billing?

Contact the SECO’s Billing department.

Does SECO offer any “cash back” or incentives for installing a Solar Power System or a Solar Water Heater?

No, SECO does not offer any incentives or rebates to a member installing a Solar Power System or a Solar Water Heater.

Where do I go to learn more about additional tax credits or rebates?

For up-to-date information visit: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Energy

For more information regarding Florida rebates visit:
http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/

For up-to-date information for U.S. Federal Tax Rebate (Residential Solar and Fuel Cell Tax Credit) visit: http://www.energy.gov/

Why does the meter on the Solar Power System inverter not read the same as the RES2 credit on my power bill?

The net meter only registers the energy generated back on to the electric grid; this is the excess power that the member does not consume.

How do I know when the Solar Power System is generating back to the grid?

On the meter display below the kWh reading are segment bars (dashes), called the disk emulator. The disk emulator displays how much electricity is being used at that current time by how fast it moves across the display screen.

 

A bi-directional meter is able to calculate the amount of energy being used by the consumer, or being put back on the grid by the member. This is indicated by the disk emulator and the direction at which it travels across the screen. If the disk emulator is moving to the left across the display screen, it means you are producing more energy than your house needs to operate by at that time and the excess is being fed back to SECO Energy. If the disk emulator is moving to the right across the display screen, it means that you are using more energy than the solar PV system is producing at that time.

My meter has eights (8) on the display. Is there something wrong with my meter?

No, display of eights (8) is the segment test.  The meter is using all pixels so the screen does not burn out between readings.

What are the insurance requirements for systems 10kW or less and systems over 10kW?

None, for systems rated 10kW or less.

 

General liability insurance policy that covers personal and property damage would meet the requirements of Rule 25‐6.065, Florida Administrative Code. The minimum amount required by SECO Energy is $1 Million.

Can a homeowner do their own electrical work and get it inspected? Is that acceptable to SECO?

Yes, you can find a check list of requirements on our web site, secoenergy.com.  Select the energy tab, and then select “member generation” from the drop down tab.

Do I need approval from SECO to install addition solar panels to my home?

You do not need our approval to install more solar panels, but you do need a new agreement to be executed with the new kW size.  There are restrictions on the total capacity allowed to be installed per location.

How does SECO de‐rate the DC input of the power to the inverter to the AC output to the grid?

In recent years the State of Florida, trying to be fair to all parties, has recognized 85% as a generic multiplier for determining AC output.  This can be found in the State of FL Net Metering Rule. 25‐6.065 Interconnection and Net Metering of Member‐Owned Renewable Generation.  Therefore, SECO takes the reported DC kW of the system and multiplies it by 0.85 to determine the AC kW of the system being connected to the grid.

I am going to a pre‐paid meter. Can I be on solar?

No, the meter does not allow for you to be on solar. Our present metering cannot accommodate both programs (pre‐paid and net‐metering).

My solar system utilizes micro‐inverters and not a central inverter. Does this eliminate the need for a single disconnect near the meter?

The use of micro‐inverter systems minimizes the possibility of a single inverter failure disabling the entire photo‐voltaic system.  A micro inverter system still requires a lockable manual disconnect between the array and AC power supply located within five feet of the meter.  This complies with SECO safe work practices that protect our employees working on the grid as well as providing first responders a visible, lockable, disconnect in the case of emergencies such as fires.

Does SECO provide their members with solar equipment?

No, SECO does not provide solar equipment to our members.

SOLAR LIFE PROGRAM

Why is Solar Life the right choice for me?

SECO’s Solar Life program is perfect for members who want to live a greener lifestyle without the upfront investment and restrictions of rooftop solar. There are no roof holes, no extra insurance to buy, no county inspections and no maintenance fees.

Who is eligible for Solar Life?

Solar Life is open to residential and commercial SECO accounts, except: MyWay PrePay accounts and area light only accounts.

How much money will I save with SECO’s Solar Life program?

You may not save money, but you will offset your utility-supplied power with solar power. The subscription fee for the Solar Life program is $32 per month. The solar energy output of the four panels reduces – or off-sets – the utility-supplied energy needed. Members will have a special dashboard set-up online to view the amount of solar energy the panels are producing on a daily basis.

I changed my mind and would no longer want to participate in SECO’s Solar Life program. Can I cancel and will I pay a cancellation fee?

Yes, members can cancel their subscription in Solar Life at anytime with no cancellation fee or penalty.

How will the look of my bill change?

Click here to see an example of your bill.

Am I eligible for a tax credit if I subscribe to the program?

The beneficiary of tax credits on solar installations is the company that constructed the solar array. Subscribers do not own the four panels – rather, they are paying a fixed cost in exchange for the value of the output of the four panels.

Will I receive RECs (Renewable Energy Credits) for the power generated from my panels and can I resell the RECs?

The entity that owns the array is entitled to the RECs – not a subscriber to a community solar project or other type of leased solar system.

When can I subscribe to more than one block?

At this time because inventory is limited to the number of panels initially allocated to SECO by Seminole, members are limited to one block of four panels.  If the program expands, SECO will communicate changes on our website and in SECO News.

What are the future plans for program expansion?

If all of the four-panel bundles become fully subscribed, SECO will manage a waiting list for interested members.  At that point, SECO will also begin to assess its option for future community solar farms either through Seminole Electric, our wholesale power provider, or through another party with whom SECO can contract through to purchase the output of an additional large-scale solar installation.

What kind of panels are used in the array?

The new facility features more than 8,040 single-axis tracking solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, which rotate to follow the movement of the sun throughout the day. This rotation will allow for approximately 20 percent more output, compared with fixed solar arrays, or panels that do not move. The panels are composed of numerous PV cells made of silicon and other semiconducting materials that convert energy from sunlight into electricity.

Does Seminole generate power using other renewable sources?

Seminole currently provides renewable energy generated from a variety of sources, including waste-to-energy, landfill gas-to-energy, and biomass facilities. Seminole’s cooperative solar project will add to this diverse energy mix.

CAPITAL CREDITS

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.

TREE TRIMMING

How can trees affect my power?

Trees that are in contact with a power line can affect service reliability. Fallen trees can interrupt power to many members by tearing down lines and breaking poles. High growing bushes, shrubs, vines and trees may cause electrical blinks and flickers.

Are there safety issues surrounding trees and power lines?

Serious injuries or death may occur if energized power lines are touched. Main lines are not insulated; they are bare wires, when trees grow near lines there’s a possibility of someone climbing a tree that is in contact with an energized line. Energized lines are as dangerous in a tree as they would be if touched by someone standing on the ground.

Will I be notified before a tree crew comes to prune trees in my yard or neighborhood?

Yes. Door hangers are left on each member’s door before crews arrive for routine maintenance work that is prescheduled for the area. Automated calls are also sent to members in areas where prescheduled tree work is planned. Contact us today to update your phone number and other account information to stay informed about work scheduled in your area.

Does SECO prune or remove trees that are not close to power lines?

No. SECO is only concerned with the maintenance and removal of trees and vegetation that may endanger the public or the safe and reliable operation of poles and lines.

Will SECO trim or remove trees near my service line?

Service lines are more resistant to tree contact and the member or property owner is responsible for trimming trees away from their service line. However, SECO will trim branches that are heavily pushing on the service line or pulling on the service line and poles.

How does SECO decide when to prune, or is this done at random?

SECO employs a systematic approach to maintaining thousands of miles of overhead power lines. In areas where more trees are encountering the lines, SECO will maintain the trees in that area more often. If a particular line is not currently scheduled for maintenance, but begins to show an unacceptable number of power outages caused by trees, it will be trimmed sooner.

Are the tree pruners trained professionals?

Yes. Each crew has at least one person who is a certified arborist or has completed an advanced course in arboricultural training. Many of our contract Foresters and SECO vegetation staff are certified arborists with extensive practical experience.

Can I prune or remove trees myself or hire a pruning service other than SECO?

Trained professionals are the only people who should attempt to prune or remove trees near power lines. There are many government requirements that pruners must follow. Serious injuries and fatalities have occurred when untrained individuals do this work without the assistance of qualified professionals. Please contact SECO before trimming or removing trees near power lines.

Is SECO responsible for clean-up after pruning trees?

The majority of SECO’s pruning and cutting occurs during routine line maintenance cycles. Our policy is to dispose of any small limbs and brush in landscaped settings. When an “Act of God” such as lightning, high winds, hurricanes, or tornadoes cause trees to fall across power lines and create outages, SECO cuts the trees to restore members’ power safely. Disposal of any wood or debris is the responsibility of the member or property owner.

Do members need to be present for tree work?

No, unless there is a gate that needs to be unlocked or to control pets.

Does SECO clear branches from telecommunication and cable TV lines?

No. Phone companies and cable utilities are responsible for clearing vegetation around their lines.

Why doesn’t SECO relocate its overhead lines to underground?

Underground systems and equipment are significantly more expensive than overhead installations. Restoration time for underground outages is also longer than overhead repairs. Underground utility installation is more complex and expensive when working near the root systems of trees, which makes overhead installations a more economical approach.

SURGE PROTECTION

Will the surge arrester behind the meter protect my entire home?

The surge arrester will protect large motor appliances such as the air conditioner, washer, dryer, refrigerator, stove and garbage disposal.

Will the surge arrester protect my home from a direct lightning strike?

Unfortunately, there is nothing on the market that can protect your home from a direct lightning strike.

How should I protect my computer and other sensitive electronics?

In addition to the surge arrester installed behind your electric meter, SECO Energy recommends point-of-use devices for sensitive electronics. Although many different types are available at most major home improvement stores, it is important to match the device or suppressor to the item you are trying to protect. For example a surge suppressor designed to protect your TV will include a cable and/or satellite hookup. A phone protector will connect to the phone line and to the electric.

Do I have to be home for the installation of the surge arrester behind my electric meter?

Installation of surge protection does not require an appointment. As a courtesy, SECO Energy’s certified electrician will knock on the door to advise that the power will be off for a few minutes during installation. If no one is home, the installation will be completed.

Is there a warranty if damage occurs as a result of a surge?

Yes, there is a warranty of $5,000 per appliance, per occurrence, with a lifetime maximum of $500,000.

How do I know the surge protection is working?

The surge protection arrester is equipped with two red lights that stay on continuously which indicate the device is working properly.

What is not covered by SECO Energy’s surge protection offering?

Well pumps, gates, alarm systems, sprinkler systems, and most pool and spa pumps are not covered in addition to sensitive electronics that do not have a properly connected point-of-use suppressor.

Is there a difference in the warranty if I purchase or lease?

The surge protection warranty is the same regardless of whether you choose to purchase or lease the product.

Will the surge protection ring keep my clocks from blinking?

The surge protection ring is not a source of energy and has no affect on the normal flow of electricity into your home. It will not prevent clocks from blinking.

Can I get a discount on my homeowners insurance?

SECO recommends you check with your insurance carrier for your particular coverage.

What is the cost for surge protection from SECO Energy?

Surge protection is available for a lease of $5.95 per month, plus tax, with a $25.00 installation fee. If you prefer you may purchase for $349.00 plus tax, with installation included.

 

** For residential services greater than 200 amps, surge protection is available “for purchase only” at a cost of $399.00 plus tax with installation included.

BILLING

What forms of payments are accepted?

· Our Member Service Centers accept cash, check, money orders or cashier’s checks.

· Our kiosks accept cash, check or credit/debit cards (Visa, Discover or Mastercard only).

· Paynow – accessible through secoenergy.com or 1-877-371-9382 accepts checks and credit/debit cards (Visa, Mastercard or Discover).

· Smarthub – accessible through secoenergy.com or by downloading the Smarthub application on smartphones and tablets accepts checks and credit cards.

· Bankdraft – sign up through secoenergy.com (Smarthub) or by contacting Customer Service (not available on Prepaid accounts) accepts checking accounts only.

· Fidelity Express Pay Stations – various authorized pay stations located throughout SECO’s territory – accepts checks and cash. (not recommended for Prepaid accounts due to posting delay).

What is a customer charge and what are the monies collected used for?

The Customer Charge is designated to cover the costs associated with maintenance of the lines and the meter, providing customer service, billing services and insurance. This is a fixed rate on the customer’s monthly bill (the rate is subject to change based on Board Approval). The practice of collecting this fee is an industry standard for electric companies and our tariffs are approved by the Public Service Commission with whom we are in voluntary compliance.

Can you change my billing date? Why not?

The billing date is based on the area for which the service is located. The area is assigned by cycle and the entire cycle is read at the same general time each month. This determines the billing date as well as the due date. Unfortunately, the cycle is not adjustable for one service location without adjusting the cycle for the entire area.

Why is the credit card payment amount limited to $600 per payment?

In order to keep members using this service from having to pay a convenience fee and not passing the cost to our entire membership we put a maximum amount per payment. This is due to the fees we are charged for this service by the banking facility.

Why don’t we have cheaper rates for senior citizens, disabled people or veterans?

We treat all our members the same since they all use the same product; therefore, the rates are the same for all.

Why don’t we offer a seasonal rate?

Because we have the same expenses and still read and maintain our equipment to your service location; therefore, we do not offer a seasonal rate.

What are hotbucks, PCA?

The PCA provides SECO with a factor to accurately bill the member for fluctuating cost of wholesale power. When power costs are high, the PCA is typically a charge. When power costs are low, the PCA is typically a credit. Since fuel charges can fluctuate greatly, industry regulators allow the power costs to be passed through to the customer. SECO does not keep the revenue from the PCA when it is a charge on the bill. The money generated from it goes directly back to Seminole Electric to pay for things relating to the cost of purchasing fuels like coal and natural gas. SECO members share in this adjustment, whether it is a credit or an expense, as they do the other benefits and costs associated with providing electric service. The PCA is calculated per kilowatt hour used.

How do you determine the deposit when applying for service?

The deposit is based on two times the average bill at the service location. For brand new construction and in some existing services where there has been little usage, the deposit is figured by multiplying 20 cents per square foot.

Do I earn interest on deposits? Why Not?

There is no interest on deposits. The Cooperative shall at all times be operated on a Cooperative non-profit basis for the mutual benefit of its patrons. If we charged interest it would be rolled into the rate and we would collect it back at a little higher amount when account goes through the billing process.

Why can’t credit and debit cards be used at the member service center or drive-thru?

There are a lot of security rules, regulations and equipment that is required for individuals at our service centers to take credit cards. We are PCI DSS compliant (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) for taking credit cards. The PCI Standard is mandated by the card brands and administered by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. This standard was created to increase controls around cardholder data to reduce credit card fraud. Validation of compliance is performed annually which we do adhere to. For this security reason we currently do not take credit card payments at our service centers.

What ways can your bill be drafted automatically?

There is only one way your bill can be drafted automatically and that is by going to our SmartHub program. You can sign up through secoenergy.com (Smarthub) or by contacting Customer Service by using your checking account information. This is not available for prepaid accounts.

Why can’t SECO auto draft on a credit card?

Since we cannot limit credit card payments for auto drafts and we do not want to pass on the charges to our entire membership we choose to not use credit cards for this service.

Why doesn’t SECO store credit card information when I pay online?

For security measures and privacy issues we do not store credit card or checking information when you use PayNow. We do store credit/debit card and checking information in SmartHub aka EBill.

What is GRT?

A gross receipts tax is a tax paid when purchases are made on a specific good. It is similar to a sales tax, but it is levied on the seller of goods or service consumers.

What is your rate per kilowatt hour?

The rate per kilowatt hour for Residential accounts is a tiered rate. The energy charge for the 1st 1000 kWh is currently 0.1106 and any usage over 1000 kWh is currently 0.13060. These are subject for change. Commercial account rates vary. For any rates you can contact our office for more information by phone or email.