“We are fortunate to have such a solid group of leaders representing the interests of the citizens of Horry County and the members of Horry Electric Cooperative in Columbia,” says James P. “Pat” Howle, executive vice president and CEO of Horry Electric Cooperative. “The members of the Horry County Delegation have their eyes and ears open, their hearts are in the right place and they’re helping move legislation that will truly help the people and communities they represent.”
H. 4448, which provides gas and electric service providers in South Carolina the ability to offer consumers the opportunity to pay for their service in advance, is the latest of two bills introduced this year that have the potential to make a significant impact on Horry Electric members. “The other legislation, which allows for on-bill financing, was signed by the Governor in March so it has already been enacted,” explains Howle. For details on that legislation, please refer to page 5 of the May edition of South Carolina Living Magazine.
H. 4448 has been a top priority for Horry Electric. “We have been aggressively working toward being able to offer members the opportunity to voluntarily take advantage of a prepayment option under the name of Advance Pay, a Pay-As-You-Go Plan, for several months,” explains Howle. Once it is enacted, the legislation will reinforce the consumer protections already in place in the design of the program, including the protections of Act 313 of 2006, which dealt with health and safety measures related to electricity disconnection, such as special needs accounts and extreme weather.
Advance Pay will be launched as a pilot program for new members in the next few weeks. The option will be opened up to existing members when the pilot program is complete. “Launching it as a pilot program to new members will give us the opportunity to make sure every aspect of the program works like it should before we introduce it to the entire membership,” says Howle.
“We’re excited about this program because research shows that, on average, people will use less energy if they can keep track of how much energy they’re using every day and paying for it in advance, as you do for gas at the gas pump, is an added benefit,” explains Howle.
Horry Electric is already offering members the ability to watch their use through MyUsage.com. “We’ve been encouraging members to take advantage of that aspect of the program for several weeks and nearly 100 are participating,” says Howle.
“Our sister cooperatives in South Carolina and in other parts of the country that have already launched pre-pay programs tell us their participating members are seeing an impact on the amount of energy they use and we want our members to benefit from that same experience,” says Howle. “As we shared with our representatives in Columbia when asking for their support of this legislation, we hope this will give members the added encouragement they might need to take advantage of the tools we offer to help them take control and be more conservative.”
The Horry County Delegation has been 100 percent supportive throughout the legislative process,” says Howle. “We’ve expressed appreciation on behalf of all of our members along the way, but we urge members to also make contact.”
For more information on this and other legislation in South Carolina, visit The South Carolina Legislature Online. Contact information for each of the members of the Horry County Delegation is also available online, as well as in local telephone directories.