News & Events

Our offices will be closed Friday, May 4, for all-employee training. We will re-open at 8 a.m. Monday, May 7. For emergencies, call 800-848-9333. To pay your bill by phone, call 877-999-3395
Whether you care about living green or saving green, an electric heat pump system provides the comfort and economy you’re looking for. Join HomeWorks at one of our Geothermal Seminars to learn more. The next seminars will be held April 19 at Portland, and April 26 at Blanchard. Register using the form here, or call 800-562-8232 to sign up for one of the events.
Applications are due March 15 for HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative's youth programs - the Touchstone Energy scholarships and the Youth Leadership Summit/National Youth Tour. Find scholarship application forms and more information here. Learn more about the Youth Leadership Summit (April 18-20 at the Kettunen Center near Cadillac) and National Rural Electric Youth Tour (June 16-21 in Washington, D.C.) or call Jayne Graham at 517-647-1252 (jayne @ homeworks.org).
HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative was formed March 26, 1937, when our Articles of Incorporation were filed with the State of Michigan. Join us on March 26 at our offices in Blanchard or Portland for a 75th Anniversary cupcake! You'll also be able to register for door prizes and learn more about your co-op. See you there!
The Board of Directors has set the first 15 minutes of their regular meetings as a time when members may address the board on any cooperative-related subject. The next two meetings on the schedule are Monday, March 26, at Portland, and Monday, April 23, at Blanchard. Members who wish to have their item considered as part of the meeting agenda should call the office at 517-647-7554 to make their request.
Notice to Members of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative A Special Member Meeting is set for 9 a.m. April 23, at the cooperative’s Blanchard office The board of directors will consider several changes to the cooperative’s rates and tariffs at its meeting on April 23, 2012, to be held at the cooperative office at 3681 Costabella Avenue, Blanchard, MI. The meeting will start at 9 a.m. and is open to all members of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative. The session will begin with an opportunity for members to provide direct input to the board of directors, without filing a formal request under cooperative policy. Members are asked to come to the lobby by 9 a.m. and request to speak to the board; staff will direct interested members to the meeting room. Time constraints on each member’s comments will be at the discretion of the board president, but members are asked to keep comments to less than five minutes. The following items will be considered. Members will have an opportunity to address the board on the proposed changes prior to board action. 1)   Reconcile the 2011 Power Supply Cost Recovery Factor collections. The Power Supply Cost Recovery Factor is applied to Tri-County Electric Cooperative’s retail member-customers’ monthly kilowatt-hour use. It represents the power supply costs as established by the cooperative in conjunction with Wolverine Power Cooperative. The factor is established annually, and reviewed monthly. 2)   Reconcile the 2011 Energy Optimization collections. The Energy Optimization tariff is authorized by the State of Michigan under P.A. 295, and is used to fund required energy use reduction measures. The tariff was established in 2009 for the 2009-2011 program years. 3)   Consider revisions to the cooperative’s billing rules. Notice of changes or additions to the cooperative’s rates or service rules shall be sent to all members, as required by P.A. 167, by publication in Michigan Country Lines at least 30 days prior to their effective date. Participation: Any interested member may attend and participate. The location of the board meeting site is accessible, including handicapped parking. Persons needing any accommodation to participate should contact HomeWorks Tri-County Electric at 800-562-8232 a week in advance to request mobility, visual, hearing or other assistance. Comments may also be made before the meeting date by calling General Manager Mark Kappler at 517-647-1281, or by email at mkappler @ homeworks.org. Notice of the board meeting shall be sent to all members, as required by P.A. 167, by publication in Michigan Country Lines. (as published in March, 2012, edition of Country Lines magazine)
If you have trouble paying energy bills during the winter months, use this Be WinterWise information to look for assistance that meets your situation and needs. Home Heating Assistance Programs 2011-2012 Earned Income Credit Contact: U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service 800-829-3676 (for tax forms) Contact: Michigan Department of Treasury. The Earned Income Credit (EIC) is a refundable federal income tax credit for low-income working individuals and families who meet certain requirements and file a tax return. Those who qualify will owe less in taxes and may get a refund. Even a person who does not generally owe income tax may qualify for the EIC, but must file a tax return to do so. If married, you must file jointly to qualify. File Form 1040 or 1040A and attach the EIC. You may claim a Michigan earned income tax credit for tax year 2011 equal to a percentage of the federal earned income tax credit for which you are eligible. See the 2011 Michigan tax booklet. Home Heating Credit* Contact: Michigan Department of Treasury, toll-free phone 800-367-6263, or www.michigan.gov/treasury You can apply for a Home Heating Credit for the 2011 tax year if you: meet the income guidelines (see below) you own or rent the home in Michigan where you maintain a permanent residence, or you qualify based on alternate guidelines including household income, exemptions, and heating costs. If you qualify, you may receive assistance to help pay for your winter heating bills. Forms are available in mid- to late-January wherever tax forms are provided, or from the Michigan Department of Treasury (800-367-6263, or www.michigan.gov/treasury.) The Home Heating Credit claim form must be filed with the Michigan Department of Treasury by September 30, 2012. Exemptions Minimum Income 1 $11,986 2 $16,186 3 $20,387 4 $24,587 5 $28,815 6 $33,014 add $4,200 for each additional family member Crisis Assistance Program Contact: Local Michigan Department of Human Services (county offices are listed in your local telephone book) State Emergency Relief Program (SER) You do not have to be a client of the Department of Human Services to apply. This program is available year-round, subject to the availability of funds, to assist low-income households that have a heat or electric shut-off notice or a need for deliverable fuel. However, if you receive a DHS cash grant, you may vendor part of that grant towards heat and electric bills. Contact your DHS caseworker or call the Home Heating Hotline, 800-292-5650. Low-Income Home Weatherization Contact: Local Community Action Agency You may be able to receive help with weatherizing your home to reduce energy use if you meet low-income eligibility guidelines (see income guidelines above) and funding is available. Weatherization may include caulking, weather-stripping, and insulating. Contact your local Community Action Agency for more information. Medical Emergency Protection Contact: HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative at 800-562-8232 You are protected from service shut-off for non-payment of your electric bill for up to 21 days, possibly extended to 63 days, if you have a proven medical emergency. You must provide written proof from a doctor, public health or social services official that a medical emergency exists. Shut-off Protection for Military Active Duty Contact: HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative at 800-562-8232 If you or your spouse has been called into active military duty, you may apply for shut-off protection from your electric service for up to 90 days. You may request extensions. You will still be required to pay, but we will help you set up a payment plan. Winter Protection Plan Contact: HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative at 800-562-8232 The Winter Protection Plan protects eligible senior and low-income customers from service shut-offs and high utility bill payments during the winter months (November 1 – March 31). You may enroll between November 1 and March 31. If you are an eligible low-income customer, your utility service will remain on from November 1-March 31, if you: pay at least 7% of your estimated annual bill each month, and regular payments of 1/12 of any past due bills. When the protection period ends (March 31), from April 1 through October 31, you must begin to pay the full monthly bill, plus part of the amount you owe from the winter months when you did not pay the full bill. Participation does not relieve customers from the responsibility of paying for electricity use, but does prevent shut-off during winter months. You qualify for the plan if you meet at least one of the following requirements: you are age 65 or older, you receive Department of Human Services cash assistance, including SSI, you receive Food Stamps, you receive Medicaid, or your household income is at or below the 150% of poverty level shown in the Income Guidelines chart below. Senior citizen customers (65 or older) who participate in the Winter Protection Plan are not required to make specific payments to ensure that your service will not be shut off between November 1 and March 31. However, you are encouraged to pay whatever you can during the winter so you will not have large, unmanageable bills when the protection period ends. Number In Household 150% Poverty Guide Maximum Income 1 $16,335 2 $22,065 3 $27,795 4 $33,525 5 $39,255 6 $44,985 7 $50,715 8 $56,445 Add $5,730 for each additional member. Note: All senior citizens 65+ are eligible regardless of income. Customers are responsible for all electricity used. At the end of the protection period, participants in the plan must make arrangements with HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative to pay off any money owed before the start of the next protection period.  
Just in time for the warmer weather, we’ve got new offers available with the Co-op Connections Card that will interest everyone at your co-op. Want to save up to 30% on baseball, concert or movie tickets? Our TicketMonster.com deal has you covered. Want to get the perfect technology gift for your upcoming graduate headed off to college? Cardholders get big discounts on laptops, tablets and more through the Dell Member Exclusive Store. Want to bring a smile to Mom’s face this Mother’s Day? Save 20% off flowers and other unique gifts with our new deal from 1-800Flowers.com. Encourage your members to visit www.connections.coop and find all the ways to save with The One Card That Does It All®.
On May 11, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) announced, “Energy utilities face serious challenges as customer satisfaction drops 3.2 percent.” With an ACSI score of 71.9 on a scale of 0 to 100, the energy utilities sector dropped again for the third straight year. On a positive note that speaks to the cooperative difference and value of membership, Touchstone Energy Cooperatives remain the highest rated utility group. The ACSI highlights in their latest report that, as a group, cooperatives “still do better than investor-owned and municipal utilities. Touchstone Energy Cooperatives stays ahead of the smaller electric utility cooperatives despite slipping 4 percent to 77. The gap between Touchstone and the competition widens as all other smaller cooperatives plunge 8 percent to 72.” In comparison, municipal utilities declined 6.8 percent overall to an ACSI score of 68 and large investor-owned utilities fell 2.7 percent as a group to 72 (see chart below). When asked about the utility sector decline, ACSI Founder and Chairman Claes Fornell said, “Utilities customers are sensitive to two things: price and disruption. Demand for energy is inelastic and nondiscretionary, meaning consumers have little choice but to pay regardless of price. While energy prices have been stable and have not increased dramatically, wages remain stagnant and monthly energy bills are a constant drain on disposable income. Consumers expect the lights to turn on and the A/C to work when they flip the switch. ACSI data suggests that consumers have reduced confidence in utilities’ ability to respond and recover from outages.” Here is the full press release, and you can download the full report and learn more about ACSI scores by visiting www.theacsi.org. If you are interested in taking a deeper dive into the drivers of cooperative member satisfaction and engagement, visit the Touchstone Energy interest area of cooperative.com to review the National Survey on the Cooperative Difference and the case studies featured in the Best Practices Knowledgebase.
Touchstone Energy is looking for people interested in joining one of our advisory committees that are directly responsible for both program development, as well as making recommendations to the Touchstone Energy board of directors. By joining one of our committees you will have a great opportunity to have a direct influence in providing resources, expertise  and high-quality content to co-ops all over the United States. If you are interested in being a part of any of our advisory committees and are looking for a way to get more involved with Touchstone Energy, please click here to begin your application today. You can also learn more about each of our different committees and also what joining a committee can offer you below! Brand Strategy: Responsible for providing direction of all external communication efforts with a focus on market research, message development, promotional and public relations activities and much more. Business Development: Responsible for  developing and overseeing initiatives that enhance partnerships between cooperatives and national, regional and local businesses. The Business Development team works on constantly improving the value of cooperative membership. Cooperative Relations: Responsible for encouraging the use of  network tools and resources to demonstrate the cooperative advantage, as well as helping members realize the full value of their membership.. Energy Solutions:  Responsible for encouraging member systems to identify residential energy programs which provide value to member-consumers and educating and member-consumers in managing energy use.  Standards & Best Practices: Responsible for helping cooperatives build a member-focused culture that provides ways to measure, understand and improve satisfaction and loyalty. Top 5 Reasons to Join a Committee: Experience: By joining a committee you will be able to work first-hand on the programs and policies that will benefit Touchstone Energy members around the nation. Development: The work that you do by participating in a committee will directly help co-ops and end-of-the-line co-op members all around the country. Plus you’ll be one of the first to learn about new offerings for members. Brand Building: Committees members are advocates for Touchstone Energy and work hard to capture and promote the value of co-op membership. Leadership Opportunities: By joining a committee you will have the chance to have your co-op members’ voices heard on a national level. Community: By joining a committee, you can help create a strong community for co-ops and promote the cooperative advantage.

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