Monthly Archives: April 2016

//April

How to Pay Your Bill Online Without Being Duped by a Third Party Payment Processor

By | 2017-01-05T19:11:50+00:00 April 25th, 2016|News|

Ravalli Electric Co-op (REC) offers members the convenience of an on-line bill payment feature accessible from our website at www.ravallielectric.com. Users may click on “Login to SmartHub” or “Pay My Bill” to use this feature. New users will need to register the first time they visit by entering their account number, last name, and email address. It’s a simple way for members to pay their bills and track their energy usage.

Over the past several months REC has heard from members who thought they were paying their electric bills through our website, but were confused about being charged a service fee. One member was even charged a late fee on her next bill because REC received payment after the due date, even though she submitted it well ahead of the deadline.

It turns out, if you “Google” Ravalli Electric Co-op to find our website, there are several third party payment companies that will also come up in your search. These payment processors will gladly process your payment if you click on them.

The most prominent Google result, doxo.com, comes up number two under ravallielectric.com. The payment page even displays the Ravalli Electric Co-op logo, so it can be a source of confusion for someone paying online for the first time. Doxo, and others are legitimate payment processors (Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, is an investor) and allow you to pay multiple bills on the same website. But they do make their money by charging an additional fee for the convenience.

If you deliberately choose to utilize a third party payment processor, remember, they will likely charge you an additional fee and you will have little control over when the payment is delivered to us.
To avoid using third party payment processors by mistake, keep the following in mind when paying your bill online:

  • Type ravallielectric.com directly into your browser window rather than using Google to find the website. (if you do use Google, be sure to click on the first result and note the website address is www.ravallielectric.com)
  • Visit ravallielectric.com prior to paying your bill to familiarize yourself with the look and feel of the website. This will make it easier for you to recognize when you are on our site vs. a lookalike.
  • Remember, if you are being charged a service charge, you are on a third party site. Ravalli Electric will not charge you an additional fee to pay your bill online through our SmartHub payment processor.

If you have questions about online bill pay, don’t hesitate to call the REC office at 961-3001. We would be glad to help walk you through the process.

Understanding Demand

By | 2017-01-19T18:44:27+00:00 April 19th, 2016|News|

If you were one of the three hundred Ravalli Electric Co-op members who attended our 81st Annual Meeting on March 19th, you will likely recall a video and brief mention about a “demand” line item that will soon be appearing on your bill. In fact, you may have already seen this calculation on the last bill you received.

But what is it?

Basically, demand equates to the load that is put on the system at a given time. For example, peak demand for Ravalli Electric Co-op generally occurs in the cold winter morning hours when members are getting ready for work. The system has to work harder at that time to accommodate so many members using a large amount of electricity (electric heaters, water heaters, and appliances) at the same time. Although this level of demand is not sustained around the clock throughout the day or the year, the system has to be able to accommodate this when it does occur.

There is a cost associated with the system’s ability to handle this demand in the form of reserves that can be called upon whenever the demand on the system reaches above anticipated capacity. These reserves ensure that even when there is a tremendous load placed upon the system, it has the means to continue delivering electricity to our members’ homes.

There are several ways we can compare demand on the electrical grid to other more familiar scenarios. For instance, I drive a pickup with a turbo diesel engine. Most of the time, I don’t need the additional power that my truck affords me because I am simply driving it back and forth to work.

So why have it? For the security of knowing that when I hook up to my horse trailer containing nearly 5,000 pounds of horse flesh, my truck can pull it. That is the peak demand for my pickup.

Why is demand showing up on your bill?Demand water image

Although you are currently seeing a 0.00 charge line item on your bill, there will likely be a charge associated with demand at some point in the future.  The tiered billing approach REC currently employs does have a demand component to it.  Simply put, the more electricity you use, the higher kWh rate you pay for it.

The drawback of the current tiered approach to billing is that it allows some users to pay a lower kWh rate even though their demand, at certain times, is high. This might apply to residents who frequently travel, distributive generators, members who use a variety of heating sources, those who run a business out of their home (commercial accounts are already charged for demand), and any number of scenarios where overall usage is relatively low, but at certain times demand is very high. The current rate structure allows for a cost shift to occur, meaning certain users pay more than their fair share for those reserves mentioned earlier, even though some of those members at a lower rate tier are still utilizing those same reserves.

The separate demand charge would eliminate this cost shift and allow all members to pay their fair share for additional power generating resources.

Seeing demand on the bill now will allow users to get acquainted with the concept of demand and how they use energy long before a charge is ever associated with it.

If you have questions about demand and what you can do to decrease it, contact Member Services at 961-3001.