News & Events

Notice to Members of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative A Special Member Meeting is set for Sept. 23, 9 a.m., 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 September 23, 2013, 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: 1) Establish the 2014 Power Supply Cost Recovery Factor, to be applied to the cooperative’s retail member-customers’ monthly kilowatt-hour use. The Power Supply Cost Recovery Factor represents the power supply costs as established by the cooperative in conjunction with Wolverine Power Cooperative. The factor is established annually, and reviewed monthly. 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.  
To honor American workers, we're taking Monday off! Yes, our offices will be closed for Labor Day on Monday, September 2. We'll still have crews on call in case of emergencies - just call 1-800-848-9333. You can also make payments by using SmartHub or the Pay Bill Now button on our website at homeworks.org, or pay by phone by calling 1-877-999-3395. Otherwise, enjoy yourself and have a safe, happy weekend! Our offices will reopen at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, September 3.
Grand River Avenue in front of our Portland office is being ground down and repaved this week. Please be prepared for delays as it's down to one lane as far as Friend Road. Getting in (and back out) of our office is not quick or easy! Now's a good time to log into SmartHub, our on-line account access site. Apps are also available for iOS and Android tablets or phones. Not only can you pay your bill or contact us via the app, you can also check out your energy use, look up past bills and payments, link to our Facebook page, and more. We also have a Pay Now button on our website for those who don't want to sign in. It's a streamlined version of SmartHub that lets you make a payment in just a few moments. We look forward to seeing you once the traffic clears!
We actually have two large projects planned for TOMORROW MORNING, Tuesday, July 30 that will require planned power outages affecting some members. First is replacing some lightning-damaged wire on the Greenbush 1 circuit. We’ll start at 10 am and should be done in about two hours. This will affect members in parts of these townships: Clinton County – Duplain and Greenbush; Gratiot County – Elba, Washington, and Hamilton; and Saginaw County – Chapin. We also have a contract crew rebuilding a section of the main Martiny 4 line. They plan to cut power at 11 am Tuesday, July 30, for about 90 minutes. This will affect 86 members in Chippewa Township in Mecosta County. Postcards have been mailed to members who will be affected (rain date is Wednesday, July 31). Thanks for your patience while our line crews work safely to keep your electric system in top condition. And if you can, please share this notice with your neighbors to remind them!
Both the Blanchard and Portland offices of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative will be closed to observe Independence Day on July 4. We will re-open at 8 am on Friday, July 5. In case of a power outage or other service emergency, please call 1-800-848-9333. Our after-hours answering service can dispatch an on-call line crew if needed. Enjoy a safe holiday!
The 2012 Annual Report for HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative was mailed to all members as an insert in the July-August issue of Michigan Country Lines. If you'd prefer an electronic copy, visit About My Co-op under the Electric tab (http://www.homeworks.org/content/about-my-co-op) and download a pdf from the link. Besides detailed financial reports, the Annual Report includes information about the co-op's member-elected board of directors, a brief list of operating highlights from the past year, and a page of photos showing members' generous response to local food pantries at this spring's District Member Meetings.
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, July 22, at our Blanchard office, and Monday, August 19, at Portland. (In the July-August issue of Michigan Country Lines, the July 22 meeting was listed as being held at Canadian Lakes; the meeting has been moved to Blanchard.) Members who wish to have their item considered as part of the meeting agenda, or who need directions, should call the office at 517-647-7554 to make their request.
Guest column by Missy Robson, manager of customer service Our offices and call center are designed to make it easy for you, our members, to ask questions and do business with us. We frequently train and cross-train and look for best practices to be efficient. We think it’s important to eliminate as much paperwork as possible so we can take time with each of you when you need it.  We still end up asking YOU some questions, though. If you’ve ever wondered why we ask for phone numbers and passwords and other information, here’s why: Why do we ask you: • if your phone number has changed? If you call to report an outage, particularly after hours, our outage management system can recognize your account if the number you’re calling from matches the primary phone number listed on your account. We also use your phone number to confirm your power has been restored, to notify you of a planned outage, or to contact you in case of some other service need. • to set up an authorized user password on your account? To help maintain your privacy (and to meet federal and state consumer protection rules) we will only give out information to the member or joint member listed on the account. If you would like someone else to have access to your information, whether they’re just checking on energy use or want to make a payment on your behalf, they will need to give us the password that you set up beforehand. • to pay your energy bills automatically through your bank? We accept payments in many different ways, from cash at the front counters at Blanchard and Portland, to checks in the mail, to credit/debit cards via computer. One of the most cost-effective ways to receive and process your payment is by having your bank set up to pay for you every month. When we send your bill to you, we also send an electronic instruction to your bank with the amount and due date.  In turn, on the due date, they electronically transfer your payment to our bank. You benefit because there’s no chance of misplacing the bill, no need to write a check or find a stamp, and no worries about paying a late fee. You also benefit because each member who uses Autopay helps control the cooperative’s costs, keeping your rates stable. • to stop getting a paper bill each month? We calculate it costs about $1.00 per month to print and mail a paper bill to you each month, since we include a return envelope. Now that SmartHub, our new online account access program, gives direct access to a pdf file of members’ energy bills, many people are choosing to get their bill electronically instead. You still have a file with an exact copy of the printed bill – you just don’t have to deal with the stacks of paper or filing, and it helps your cooperative control costs. That’s good for everyone! We look forward to talking with you, whether you’re one of the hundreds who stop by our offices each month, or one of the many thousands who call us. (We record over 20,000 calls every month.) Each of those calls is an opportunity to assist a member-owner of HomeWorks Tri-County, no matter who’s asking the questions.
By the time you read this, our annual round of district membership meetings will be complete. We will have served thousands of hot dogs and renewed friendships with thousands of the co-op’s member-owners. But even though we will appreciate every one of the members who comes out to their neighborhood meeting, the bottom line is that only about 2 or 3% of the total membership is involved with running their co-op. At each district, the members who attended elected delegates, who will each represent 100 of their neighbors. From those delegates, the district officers are elected. These people have an important job: every three years they serve as a nominating committee for the board of directors’ seat in your district. And that’s important because the directors, as a group, set the policies that guide how your co-op is operated. You can see how having only 2 or 3% of the members involved in the process might affect your experience with HomeWorks Tri-County Electric. What about the other 97%? Some are happy with their service and don’t see a need to get involved, since everything seems to be running well. Some don’t realize they have a say in their electric utility. And some just don’t make it a priority in their already-busy lives. “Somebody else” will do it. It’s the same with local, state and national elections. The turnout is higher, true, but in most cases a minority of people are making the decisions that affect every one of us. And it’s not just elections that work better with grassroots participation. Your opinions and comments are needed at every level of government, from legislators to rulemakers, to make sure leaders know what you want and expect, and how you feel services could be improved. We work with our statewide and national associations to speak on your behalf in Lansing and Washington. Once in a while, as with the “Our Energy, Our Future” campaigns of a few years ago, we’ve asked you to participate directly. The time is coming when more voices will be needed. Legislators tell us they pay more attention when one member, one citizen speaks up, than when an organization talks for them. We hope you’ll speak up when you’re asked – when it’s time to run your co-op, to run your state government, or to run your country. These issues are too important to leave for “somebody else” to take care of. - June, 2013 Country Lines
HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative member-owners will see the benefits of cooperative principle #3 (Members’ Economic Participation) on May energy bills. The board of directors authorized an allocation and retirement of capital credits after the audit was approved in March. First, because we are operated on a not-for-profit basis, margins will be allocated back to members based on your purchases of energy during 2012. This includes the cooperative’s margins of $357,599; a $500,000 dividend paid to the cooperative by its subsidiary, Tri-Co Services; and $2,302,114, representing HomeWorks Tri-County’s share of Wolverine Power Cooperative’s 2012 margins. These allocations are NOT cash, only an accounting of your share of ownership in the cooperative. The amounts allocated to your membership for 2012 will be printed in the top right message area of your May energy bill. Your bill will also show your total unretired capital credits, which will be retired at a future date as determined by your board of directors. Retiring Capital Credits Retiring capital credits is a way of ensuring each generation of members provides its own equity. The board’s philosophy is to pay most of a retirement from the oldest capital credits on account, and a smaller percentage from the most recent year. We believe this achieves the purpose of recycling the cooperative’s capital, while also giving our newest members a chance to see one of the most fundamental cooperative principles in action. This year’s general retirement totals $1,630,000, of which $1,210,000 retires capital credits allocated by Tri-County Electric in 1985, 1986 and 2012. Also being retired are $420,000 in power supply capital credits from 1988, 1989, and 2012. Your retirement will be paid as a credit applied to your May energy bill. It will show as a line item under “Other Charges and Credits.” The board also set aside funds for retiring capital credits to members’ estates, on a first-come, first-served basis. Estate retirements will include both Tri-County Electric and Wolverine Power capital credits. For more information about estate retirements, call Member Services at 1-800-562-8232. (from the May, 2013, edition of Michigan Country Lines)

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