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News & Updates

My lights are out! Now what?


Electricity powers our lives. We depend on it for nearly everything we do. So we understand how frustrating it can be when you’re left in the dark.

Power outages are never convenient. It takes a lot of hands to keep your power on, and even more hands to get it up and running when an outage occurs. Claiborne Electric Cooperative works hard to restore your electric service when outages occur, but there are necessary steps to take to ensure that power is restored to the majority of members as quickly, and as safely, as possible.

After a major storm, our line crews must identify which infrastructure has incurred damage. Sometimes, transmission towers and lines can be damaged. Transmission lines deliver power to substations. Most of the transmission lines delivering power to Claiborne Electric’s substations are owned by a separate transmission company. We pay this company a fee to deliver power from our power supplier near Baton Rouge to our substations along their transmission lines. If there is damage along these transmission lines, there is no power being delivered to our substations. Repairing damage to transmission lines is the first necessity when it comes to restoring power.

Next, damage must be assessed and repaired at Claiborne Electric’s substations. These substations serve thousands of members each. If the issue is isolated and can be resolved at the substation level, great! That means thousands of people can get their power restored at once.

At times, the issue cannot be isolated to one of our distribution substations. If that is the case, crews inspect supply lines between the substations and the meters they serve. If the supply lines can be repaired, power can be restored to the towns and homes those lines serve, as long as there is no damage to the tap lines.

Tap lines carry power to the transformers outside homes and other buildings. Line crews identify which damaged lines to work on first based on which lines can receive power, and which ones will restore power to the greatest number of members.

Sometimes, the service line between a member’s meter and the transformer is damaged. Have you ever lost power only to look next door and see the lights still blazing from your neighbor’s window? This is what we refer to as an individual or single outage. If this happens, report it so we know we have individual damage in the area that will require the attention of a line crew.

Power restoration can be a tricky business, so if you lose service in your home or neighborhood please remember the following:

  • Stay clear of downed power lines. Contact with these lines could be life threatening.
  • Report the outage to by using our free SmartHub app or calling 800-900-9406 as soon as possible.

Click here for a model of the power restoration process: Power Restoration handout

Thank You


Thank you.

Those two words don’t seem adequate. In the wake of Hurricane Laura, most parts of our service territory were left sitting in destruction we haven’t seen in decades. On August 27, when the storm left our area after four hours of sustained 70-90 MPH winds, 98% of our meters had no electric service.

Restoration efforts began immediately, and we have many to thank for their help in that tremendous task. First, we would like to thank our employees for their unending loyalty and dedication to our cooperative and its members. They worked from before sunrise to well after dark for ten days, away from their families, and we are proud they wear a uniform with our logo on the chest. We would also like to thank our members for their help, their patience, and their support and provision during the outages and clean-up left by the storm.

We have so many others to thank. Local organizations stepped up to help provide services and supplies for us to do our jobs well. Contractors and crews from our sister cooperatives came from across the state and from other states to bring extra hands and a lot of equipment in order to help restore power to our members. The following is a list of the organizations, cooperatives, and contractors we would like to thank for their help:

Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives
Jeff Arnold and staff at ALEC
Aaron Graham, ALEC
Oklahoma Electric Cooperatives
Choctaw Electric Cooperative
Cotton Electric Cooperative
East Central Electric Cooperative
Rural Electric Cooperative
Arkansas Electric Cooperatives
ECHO Powerline, LLC
RAMCO, LLC
VOLT Power
Sparks Energy, Inc.
Town of Farmerville – Works Department
Randy Wright – Fast Pak Catering
Claiborne Parish Schools
Claiborne Parish Police Jury
Union Parish Police Jury
Webster Parish Police Jury
Lincoln Parish Police Jury
Alpha Energy Services
Red Rock Rentals
Homer Seafood
Bernice Pharmacy
Ol’ West Barbeque
Lee Baby’s
Dwayne and Kyle Woodard

Claiborne Parish Sheriff Sam Dowies & Deputies
Lake D’Arbonne State Park
Shaun Kafka and Harris Baptist Camp
Coca-Cola Bottling Company
Rolling Hills Ministries
Louisiana Bridge, Inc.
Ridge Rentals, LLC
Mamoo’s Catering
Big Star – Terry Morris
Dear Hometown Donuts
Homer McDonalds
Piggly Wiggly
Homer Motor Supply
Marsalis Crossroads
RelaDyne
Paron Baptist Church
FBC Farmerville
Read’s Lumber
Tidy Bubbles
Crump Oil
Ronnie McKenzie
Tommy Sanders
Dennis Butcher
Tommy Sevin
Keith Cook
Mary Jane Pace
Lynn Ramsey
Jeanette Zachry

A message from the Manager, in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura


A message from the Manager, in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura

Friends,

First and foremost, I would like to thank you for the overwhelming support we have been shown in the last three days in the wake of Hurricane Laura. I am astounded by our members, and I want you to know we appreciate you.

I also understand the complaints that have come in about being without electricity. It is hot and humid. Members are uncomfortable and greatly inconvenienced by the lack of electric service. Some believe there are no clear answers to questions related to restoration, adding to the frustration. I do understand. Let me take a moment of your time, not to make excuses but, to explain our dilemma.

In our current situation, we are unable to predict with any degree of accuracy exactly when most of our members will see their service restored. There are numerous reasons why. I’d like to share two.

Despite the fact that even before the storm hit, we brought in more assistance to help us in our restoration efforts, this storm is like no other we have experienced in the history of our cooperative. At no time have we ever suffered Category 1 hurricane force winds for four hours within our cooperative’s territory. At no time in our past have we experienced a storm that so completely covered our territory that, at one point in time, we had more than 98% of our meters without power.

We did plan ahead for this event. We knew the storm was coming and staged 12 full construction line crews here at the cooperative in advance of the storm. We also brought in 4 damage assessment crews to assist. We even brought in additional right-of-way crews to help us deal with clearing fallen trees and limbs. Once the storm was upon us, we made the decision to bring in even more crews to assist. In addition to our own personnel, we now have 20 full line construction crews on the job and another 3 right-of-way crews complete with bucket trucks working in this effort.

Even with the extra help, the going is slow. The damage is widespread and varied. In places it is mostly downed trees with power lines pinned under them. In others, poles and crossarms have been broken and must be replaced. We are making significant progress in bringing lights back to our members. As I write this note to you, we have fewer than 10,000 meters without power. That’s down from more than 23,000 initially. This is an unprecedented event for us.

We are faced with another problem in our restoration efforts, one in which we have absolutely no control. That is, we currently have no transmission service into 5 of our distribution substations. These substations represent more than 8,000 of the meters still without power. Without transmission service into a substation, there is no electricity to distribute to our members.

Entergy controls much of the transmission line in Louisiana, including the transmission lines that deliver power to our substations currently without service. We recognize Entergy was stricken with the same catastrophic weather event the entire state endured. We understand that maintaining and repairing these transmission lines is a monumental task. We still feel we are entitled to ask for these lines to receive priority treatment given the number of families and businesses affected, but we have absolutely no control of how they choose to prioritize their restoration efforts with regard to these lines they own.

We are not alone in our problems in receiving transmission service. They provide this service to most of the utilities affected by Hurricane Laura. We have complained to Entergy. We have filed complaints with our power supplier CLECO Cajun. We have even spoken with state officials regarding our problems. Entergy has been slow to respond, but they are beginning to make some progress.

Under normal circumstances, we would not mention problems we are experiencing with a neighboring utility. However, our members deserve answers to questions as to why it is taking so long to restore our members’ power. The two primary drivers of the time requirement are the unprecedented, damaging nature of the event and delays in receiving transmission service to many of our substations.

The combination of the two factors has made it difficult, if not impossible, to accurately predict when an individual member might receive service. This is the reason we have been reluctant to speculate estimated restoration times when members have called or messaged.

Please know that we are doing everything in our power to restore power to our members as safely and as quickly as possible. Our crews in the field and in the office are working from before 6 a.m. until after dark. Many of them are sleeping in homes that do not have power. They are getting the job done, and we are so appreciative of the patience and understanding of our members.

 

Thank you,

Mark Brown

General Manager & CEO

Co-op preps for Hurricane Laura – Manager’s Message


A MESSAGE FROM OUR GENERAL MANAGER

Friends,

Here’s a quick update on our preparations for Hurricane Laura. We currently have four extra crews here onsite from ECHO. We also have four more crews on the way. There has been a steady stream of delivery trucks arriving over the last few days bringing us an extra supply of poles and pole-line materials. We should be ready when this storm arrives.

I should also offer a few words regarding how the repairs will be handled as a reminder of our procedures. These kinds of situations are the most dangerous for our co-workers and for our contractors. Safety comes first. As the storm approaches, we will stage materials and supplies in our warehouses and on each truck involved in the restoration effort. While the storm is actually underway in our area, our employees and co-workers will be located safely out of harm’s way. We will be assessing the extent of our outages during this time to better allocate resources across the system. When the storm passes, the restoration effort will begin in earnest.

You should be aware of the priorities used in this effort. Transmission lines must be restored first. Any required substation work comes after that. Next, we focus on main three-phase feeders. We then begin working on large single-phase feeders. Finally, we commit effort to restoring smaller single-phase taps and individual outages. We often receive complaints from members telling us that we drove right by their house without stopping. It will likely happen again over the next few days. We must follow the proper power restoration process. For example, if a substation is without power, we must make those repairs before homes served by that substation can receive power. We will focus our efforts where they can make the most impact in the shortest amount of time.

Please pray for our Cooperative, for our employees and for those individuals who have come to our area to help us with these restoration efforts.

Mark Brown
General Manager & CEO

Claiborne Electric refunds nearly $700,000 in account deposits


Claiborne electric members who have paid their monthly electric bill on time for the past 36 months will receive a credit on their August or September bill in the amount of the deposit they paid when connecting their account.

“At a time when many of our members are wondering how they will pay monthly expenses, our Board of Directors made the decision to refund deposits on accounts with a demonstrated on-time payment history,” Claiborne Electric General Manager and CEO Mark Brown said. “These members have shown that they are unlikely to disconnect and leave the Co-op with unpaid debt, which is the reason we keep a deposit on file. For many of these members, a deposit refund will mean one to two months without owing an electric bill.”

Brown said refunding deposits after 36 months of on-time payments will continue.

“This is not a one-time refund,” he said. “Any member, no matter how long they have been connected, will receive their deposit back at the point they have paid on or before the due date for 36 months.”

Claiborne Electric names 2020 college scholarship recipients


Congratulations to Claiborne Electric’s 2020 college scholarship winners! Due to the cancellation of our Annual Meeting, winners were drawn in our office.

Each student will receive a $2,000 scholarship.

 

Elise Perritt (parents: Wayne & Monique Perritt)

Kathlyn Redman (Parent: Michael Redman)

Bethany Morris (Parents: Terry & Stacey Morris)

Evangeline Brasher (Parents: Ryan & Leslie Brasher)

Mihir Patel (Parent: Kamlesh Patel)

Janae Battle (Parent: Jacqueline Battle)

Allyson Martin (Parent: Megan Martin)

Daisy Verdin (Parents: Chad & Amanda Verdin)

Kaleb Armstrong (Parent: Kevin Armstrong)

Kyleigh Bass (Parents: Charles & Dwala Bass)

Claiborne Electric offers payment arrangements for delinquent accounts


During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Louisiana Public Service Commission issued an order to suspend disconnection of electric services due to non-pay. As that order expires, Claiborne Electric General Manager & CEO Mark Brown wants Co-op members to know they have payment options to clear delinquent debt.

“We understand that this pandemic has caused financial hardship for some of our members, and we want to help them clear that debt so that it doesn’t grow to an unmanageable amount,” Brown said.

Electricity used during the order will still have to be paid for. Members who feel they will be unable to pay balances should contact the Co-op for possible payment arrangements. Brown said members have multiple options to clear debt over time instead of paying an entire accrued balance at once.

12-month payment plan:

For members who want to pay debt on a traditional monthly billing cycle, the Co-op offers a 12-month payment plan. With this plan, all debt owed by the member to the Cooperative is divided by 12. The member pays one portion of the debt each month by the due date, along with their current monthly bill, until all debt is paid in full.

This plan allows members to bring their current balance out of a negative state and pay a small portion of the debt each month for 12 months, at which point the debt is cleared.

EZPay:

Members with an outstanding debt may opt to use Claiborne Electric’s EZPay program. EZPay allows members to pay for electricity in advance instead of receiving a traditional bill. The program allows members to purchase electricity before it is used, giving them the flexibility to add credit to their electric account as their budget allows. It also eliminates deposits, due dates, late fees, and fees associated with disconnection or re-connection.

EZPay also has a mechanism that helps members pay off accumulated debt. When a member who owes debt to the cooperative makes an EZPay payment, 80% of the payment purchases electricity for future use and 20% of the payment is applied to outstanding debt. This allows a member to pay the debt over time without facing disconnection. This would be a good option for members who have accumulated debt during the pandemic that they are unable to pay in full. If a member is on traditional billing and would prefer changing to EZPay, we can also apply the account’s deposit to help lower the debt.

“The people we serve are our friends and neighbors, and we want to help them during this difficult time,” Brown said. “I would ask members not to wait until they owe an amount that makes them overwhelmed. Call us. We will be glad to help find the payment option that fits their needs.”

To discuss payment options, please call our Farmerville office at 368-3011 or our Homer office at 927-3504.

2020 Annual Meeting Canceled


Claiborne Electric General Manager and CEO Mark Brown has announced that the 2020 Annual Meeting has been canceled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The meeting had previously been postponed from April to July. Brown said as the July date drew near, the decision was made to cancel the meeting and not reschedule later in the year. At the July 1 meeting of Claiborne Electric’s Board of Directors, the official decision was made to cancel the meeting.

“We hoped that everything would line up, the virus would dissipate, and we would get to hold our meeting,” Brown said. “This is the biggest day of our annual work schedule. It’s the day we get to see so many members face-to-face and take care of important business. Currently, however, it just isn’t prudent to host an event of this size.”

Brown said that in discussions with officials at Louisiana Tech University’s Thomas Assembly Center, rescheduling the meeting for later in 2020 was not possible.

“We appreciate our friends at LA Tech and how hard they work for us every year. This is the perfect venue for our meeting, and we look forward to being back there in 2021,” Brown said.

At the 2020 meeting, members would have voted on important amendments to the Co-op’s bylaws. According to Brown, those amendments would increase transparency and participation in Board elections while simultaneously streamlining the process. He said those amendments will be presented at the 2021 Annual Meeting.

Although Brown said the decision to cancel the meeting was disheartening, he believes it is simply the best thing to do in the interest of the Co-op’s employees and members.

“This is the day where we traditionally try to show our members how much we appreciate them,” Brown said. “This year, we will demonstrate that above all, we value the health and safety of our members and employees. They are our friends and neighbors, and we want them safe and well.”

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