Cedar Creek Lake

Because Life is Better at the Lake

Electric Bills Are Surging Right Now

by

My name is Nicole Sprabary and I am a mom, first and foremost. I raise my children in the small community of Peeltown, Tx, about ten miles West of the closest point of the beautiful Cedar Creek lake. My aspirations are to contribute my writing abilities to a great cause in the future, in hopes that somewhere along the way, I will make a difference in this world.




With temperatures plunging below freezing recently, most members of Trinity Valley Electric Co-op (and others around the state, are seeing record setting electric bills that are hitting most where it hurts. The pocket book. Worse, having a fixed income left many without power for lack of funds to pay for the monthly bill. Most of those were elderly, disabled and children.


Trinity Valley Electric Cooperative covers Cedar Creek Lake, Henderson County and a lot of Kaufman County. There are just under 60 Coop’s in Texas that serves a combined 2 million members all across the state.


A co-op or cooperative, according to TVEC (also expressed by the Texas Electric Coop organization) have a few principles they follow when conducting business.
Co-op Principles


“Cooperative businesses are unique because they are owned by the consumers they serve. More than 100 million people are members of 47,000 U.S. cooperatives, enabling consumers to secure a wide array of goods and services such as health care, insurance, housing, food, heating fuel, hardware, credit unions, childcare or utility service."


All cooperative businesses adhere to and are guided by seven principles that reflect the best interests of their consumers:


Voluntary and Open Membership — Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.


Democratic Member Control — Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. The elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and cooperatives at other levels are organized in a democratic manner.


Members’ Economic Participation — Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing the cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.


Autonomy and Independence — Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.


Education, Training and Information — Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the public, particularly young people and opinion leaders, about the nature and benefits of cooperation.


Cooperation among Cooperatives — Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.


Concern for Community — while focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members


(These 7 principles can be found online at TVEC's website)


When it comes to the service itself that is provided, TVEC cannot be beat but that is only from my own personal experience. We get what we pay for. Since coop members pay a high, per KWH rate, I would say members have earned the right to deserve the services given. 3 am outage in the middle of a storm? No problem, TVEC WILL be there to fix it ASAP.


However, many other things TVEC board members are voting for, do not help the members themselves.


TVEC has in place a donation of program in the form of an extra charge on our bills each month. “On average, participating members will contribute 50 cents each month. The most a member would ever contribute in a single month would be 99 cents per account. The possibilities of this program are huge. In fact, over the past three years the Operation Round Up funds donated by TVEC members have been used to provide grants totaling over $1,000,000 to more than 150 local agencies. Agencies supported have included fire departments, senior citizens centers, education foundations, food banks, children's advocacy groups, animal shelters, libraries and many more”


While I can certainly say, donating to funds such as the local fire departments, senior citizen centers and other like organizations, is a commendable thing. I also feel we should be free to make our own wishes as to where our money is being donated. TVEC offers an option to opt out of the operation round up and all it takes is a phone call to any member service representative.


For the last few years, a Facebook page named Fight against TVEC has proved the power of social media and the spreading of words between communities that are found in close proximity. A few local members chose to stand up and start the petition process to have the elected board members hear the community. Monthly board meetings are closed to the public according to a TVEC customer service representative in Kaufman. Member meetings with the board are held once a year in October.


The board needs to know if members are unhappy and especially in record numbers. The past and current outcry, is showing that is the case. 


Several items of discussion are brought to the forefront of attention by members, Texas as of 2012, is a deregulated state. According to Texas Power to Choose, “Deregulation split up the regional monopolies held by the major energy companies. Now, power generation, transmission and distribution, and sales are all handled by different companies.” This makes the market competitive so that the consumer can have affordable and the best rates to be found.


However, if you live inside a Coop service range, you will not have the option of another service provider or billing company. Not mentioning the fact there is no control over the actual rate coop members pay, which thankfully has not gone up in a long time but is still on the higher end of the price rates here in Texas.


On powertochoose.com, a Kaufman zip code gives options for just under .03 per kilowatt-hour or KWH. TVEC members are paying an average of .105. When the 2 to 4 bills per year that are in the extreme heat and cold come, the usage will of course spike leading to the simple math adding up to the over $1000 MONTHLY bills some are seeing at the higher rate set forth by the Elected Board members. Here is an example of the difference in a small rate decrease.


Let us say you use 2000 kWh per month on average. Usage at the .109 with TVEC that most members are currently paying shows a $218 electric bill. Several offers on powertochoose.com show a lower rate. One offer that can be found is for a 5-month contract with Texas Choice Savings (an electric billing company), that has a 6.4-fixed rate (with a 2000kwh usage bracket), that also has a 14% renewable in the total use. The same usage at a lower rate is $128. That is a $90 savings, which goes in the pocket of the consumer on a small usage month! Now imagine that same difference, in the months where some are seeing in the upwards of 4, 5, 6 and 7,000 KWH usage! I also wonder what economic impacts TVEC is making now, to ensure a healthy and stable future for our future generations.


Another topic brought up is the smart meters, how they are impactful on health, are not as accurate as the older models as well as the capital credits to members.


A petition has started to breathe new life into this issue that will forever affect each coop member as long as the coop exists. We can engage by the yearly member meeting or, by vote when it comes time for election of board members.


If you live in the Cedar Creek Lake area, outside the City Limits, speculation says, you probably have TVEC and understand all of what is happening. Especially when the bill comes in the mail.


If you want more information as to how you can get involved and to sign the petition, head to the established Facebook page. 


https://www.facebook.com/groups/FightAgainstTVEC/
https://www.tvec.net/
https://www.choosetexaspower.org/deregulation.html
http://www.energyderegulationtexas.com/
https://quickelectricity.com/texas-energy-deregulation-map/
http://www.texas-ec.org/about/member-directory#6
http://powertochoose.com/en-us/Plan/Results




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Cedar Creek Lake Fishing Report from TPWD (May 16)

Water stained to lightly stained; 73–77 degrees; 0.01 high. Black bass are slow on Texas rigged craws, spinnerbaits, shallow crankbaits and buzzbaits. Crappie are fair on minnows. Catfish are good on trotlines. White bass are good on slabs and minnows. Hybrid striper are good on slabs and minnows