MyPower Can Help You Manage Energy, Costs
Pete Albert of O’Fallon has found a new way to save energy. He hasn’t purchased a fancy space heater or spent a dime on an energy saving gadget. He signed up for Cuivre River’s MyPower program and found a personal energy management strategy that works for him better than anything else he has tried. His strategy: pay close attention to how you use energy every day, and pay as you go.
Q. What is MyPower?
A. It's an electricity pre-pay program that lets you monitor daily energy use and cost, set your payment schedule, set energy use and account balance alerts (by phone, e-mail or text), and forego paying a deposit if one is required. Pete is one of 140 Cuivre River members now using MyPower.
“I’m not the world’s best money manager, and you don’t have to be,” says Pete. “You can learn to work with what you have. Paying attention to what I use on a day-by-day basis has helped me reduce my bill by about 40%.” For Pete, this means no kilowatt-hour (kWh) is wasted or used without a purpose.
Reports indicate most people who use pre-pay programs reduce energy use by 10-12%. How? Energy charges are calculated and available daily. If you're trying to use less energy, it's much easier to see how daily activities and weather impact your use and costs. You can make changes that make a difference right away.
There are several ways to monitor kWh use and account information. Many use a computer, but Pete doesn't have one. He chooses phone alerts to help keep him from falling behind before the amount he needs to pay is excessive.
“I like having the ability to pay a small amount as often as needed,” says Pete. “MyPower is ideal for someone like me. I can come up with $10 every few days. With a traditional payment schedule you can be $250 or more behind without knowing what you did to use the electricity. Now I’m very conscious of controlling the thermostat and have learned how much [electricity] I’ll need on a normal day. If something changes, I can find out what happened the next day — not four weeks later when the bill comes in the mail.”
Pete doesn't receive a paper bill, and says he doesn’t need one. He prefers a phone call alert when his account balance gets down to $20, and sets the call parameters to suit his schedule. “I don’t get that bill anymore. I get something that works better for me - a MyPower phone call. It’s a lot better than a call from a bill collector.” Pete says every household is different, and can learn what works for them.
"The key requirement to keep service 'on' is to have a credit on your account," says Cuivre River's Doug Hutton, who oversees the program. “This can be as small or as large as you feel comfortable,” he adds. “If you need to make a payment of $5.00 each day to keep the power on, or you prefer to keep a credit balance of $200 for peace of mind, you do what works for you. That’s the beauty of the program. You are in control.”
Q. How does MyPower work?
A. A brand-new member pays $70 up front; $50 is the minimum MyPower starting balance, and all new accounts have a $20 setup fee. No deposit is required.
Startup costs vary for current members, since all accounts must be paid up to date to begin MyPower. Each account may be different, depending on how much energy was used since the last payment. “In most instances, a member who has paid a deposit can apply it to a MyPower account, needing little or no extra funds to get started,” Hutton says.
Q. How do I access my account information and alert settings?
A. A user-friendly web portal (www.myusage.com) available through www.cuivre.com and a toll-free number help you monitor your account and settings, daily energy use, charges and payments. The site also works as a stand-alone energy monitor for energy-only information.
“The site allows us to help members set up their initial alerts using text messages, phone calls and/or e-mail," says Hutton. "Alerts notify you about a Daily Balance, Low Balance, Pending Disconnect, Disconnect and Recharge. You can change your settings as often as you like.”
Effective alerts can provide numerous notifications before your account is at risk of "going negative" and being disconnected. The Low Balance Alert you set indicates how many days advance notice you want, based on your average daily cost. If you use $5/day and want 7 days notice, you set the Low Balance Alert at $35.
In extreme circumstances when your account balance may hit “0,” you get a Pending Disconnect order. You need only restore a minimal credit back on your account to forestall disconnection.
In contrast, when you receive a traditional bill disconnect notice, a payment of several hundred dollars may be required — money for energy already used a month ago, and collect/reconnect fees.
The biggest disadvantage according to Pete, “If you want to switch back to traditional billing, you may have to pay a deposit and start over. That’s the only downside.”
“With MyPower, the pros outweigh the cons for most people,” says Hutton. To review your MyPower options and get a startup quote for your account, call 800.392.3709, ext. 393.