Alabama Power manager gives energy-saving tips at Valley Lions Club

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, January 8, 2020

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VALLEY — Karen Bennett, manager of the Alabama Power office in Valley, was the guest speaker at Monday’s meeting of the Valley Lions Club. She discussed ways Alabama Power customers could save on their power bills and a variety of methods they could pay their bills.

One sure way to save is to watch your thermostat.

“Keep it at 78 degrees or above in the summer months and 68 degrees or below in the winter months,” she said. “Use ceiling fans. Have them going clockwise in the winter and counterclockwise in the summer. It’s also a good idea to use fluorescent lighting instead of incandescent lighting. It will produce five times more lighting with the same amount of energy and will last 15 times longer. It’s also a good idea to use LED bulbs when possible.”

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Alabama Power customers have a variety of options when it comes to paying their bills. There’s budget billing, flat billing, autopay/electronic funds transfer, VRU check pay, paperless billing and SSI/MLIF discount billing.

Bennett explained that budget billing is a free service that averages highs and lows of electric bills. The customer pays an average price each month. This could change throughout time if the average use goes up or down.

The flat billing option offers the customer a monthly fixed electricity bill for 12 months, regardless of how much electricity the customer uses.

“On this rate, the customer will know exactly how much they owe each month,” Bennett said. “They are protected from increased bills due to unpredicted changes in the weather, increases in fuel prices, or rate increases.”

With autopay/electronic funds transfer, the customer doesn’t have to write checks, pay postage or mail in a monthly power bill.

“The payment is automatically deducted from your bank account about 10 days after you receive your bill from Alabama Power,” Bennett said. “You must register to use.”

With VRU check pay, payments can be made free of charge by calling a customer service number. It can be done from either a checking or savings account.

Paperless billing sends you email reminders and lets you view copies of your bill online. “Paperless billing gives you email notifications when your bill has been sent,” Bennett said. “It provides you immediate payment confirmation, for record-keeping purposes, you can save or print it.

“Some Alabama Power customers are eligible for $14.50 off their monthly electric bill,” Bennett said. “This service is available to residential customers who receive federally funded Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments or Medicaid for Low-Income Families (MLIF) payments. A state agency verifies that applicants are SSI or MLIF recipients. Customers need to sign up for this discount through Alabama Power.”

Alabama Power has been selling merchandise from its offices since 1922.

“We currently operate 42 merchandise retail centers in communities throughout Alabama, including Valley,” Bennett said. “In addition to selling quality, name-brand major appliances and electronics, even smart products. We sell Ashley furniture, grills and much more. With approved credit, one, two and three-month options are available with no finance charges. We accept cash, checks and credit cards. Today just as in 1922, Alabama Power appliance centers are committed to providing quality, energy-efficient appliances and electronics to save you money and energy.”

Alabama Power has a bill extender program. This is for seniors and low-income customers whose primary source of income is a monthly government check. If you qualify, you can delay payment of your electric bill until the fifth of the month. Contact Alabama Power for more information.

Alabama Power has contracted with BillMatrix Corporation, a third-party vendor, to accept payments by telephone and on the internet using the following cards: Discover, MasterCard, Visa, Visa Debit and some ATM cards. In most local offices, there’s a kiosk machine that will take cash, checks, credit or debit cards, MasterCard, Visa and Discover.

The company also has a third-party notification. A copy of each disconnect notice is sent to a relative, friend, agent or agency.

Bennett discussed Alabama Power’s grant programs.

“The Alabama Power Foundation awards grants for educational advancement, civic and community development, arts and cultural enrichment, health and human services and environmental stewardship,” she said.

“During the May-August time frame, we award Good Roots grants. These grants allow for trees to be planted in public places such as parks and walking trails. There are two types of Power to Play grants, one for athletic extracurricular activity and another for extracurricular artistic activity. Both aim to increase participation in their respective programs. The Students to Stewards grant program seeks to enhance learning through Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education and environmental field trips. Some grants are only applicable for schools with free or reduced lunch programs.”

Bennett said that Alabama Power gets its electricity from a variety of sources, including coal, natural gas, solar, hydropower and nuclear energy. The company has a nuclear plant on the Chattahoochee River in Houston County, not far from Dothan.

A member of the club asked Bennett if she knew anything about the low-head dams on the river between Langdale and River View being removed. She said she didn’t have any direct knowledge since this was a Georgia Power issue and did not involve Alabama Power. Both companies are entities of the Southern Company. She said it was her understanding that there would be some property owner meetings and public meetings to discuss this. These dams being removed would restore the natural flow of the river. “It’s my understanding these meetings will be taking place in February or March,” she said.