It’s Time to Leave Convenience Fees in the Dust

Convenience fees— no one likes them (including us), and now Pioneer Electric will have the ability to avoid those pesky fees when making payments on a residential account.

“You asked and we listened,” said Anita Wendt, vice president of energy services. “Members taking service under the Pioneer’s residential rate tariff now have the freedom to avoid convenience fees when making payments toward their residential accounts whether by credit/debit card, e-Check, through MoneyGram, by app or online. We hope this will encourage members to take advantage of our various payment options and find one that fits the needs of their lifestyles.”
Previously, members paid an additional $3.95 convenience fee when making payments involving e-Check or credit/debit cards. This was used to offset the transaction fees charged for e-Checks or by credit/debit card providers each time a member used these options to make a payment. When the convenience fee was initially implemented, Pioneer Electric could not rely on electric revenue to help offset the cost of members using these payment methods. However, member feedback and discounts provided by these credit card companies prompted Pioneer Electric to review this procedure.

“Many large stores and retail businesses embed the service charge for these payment transactions into the price of the goods, products and services they provide,” Wendt said. “However, utilities historically could not embed and recover the cost in an effective manner. But, with the declining transaction fees, we saw other utilities managing these costs and we looked to see how we could implement this at Pioneer Electric.”

Members under commercial (large and small) or irrigation classifications will also notice a change under the new payment procedure. These member rate classes will no longer be able to utilize payment methods involving credit/debit cards because these payment transactions produce a large charge (a percentage of the total bill) from these companies. The transaction cost would then be shared among the members of that rate class, potentially causing a noticeable increase in rates. However, members of these rate classes will be able to take advantage of e-Check, Auto-pay (ACH) or traditional check payment options.

“Managing rates is always a concern for us,” Wendt said. “We looked at various scenarios and we felt this gave the most flexibility to members and ensured a minimal impact on electric bills. We hope this will encourage members to try other payment options they may not have used in the past. Change comes from our members. We are more than a utility; we are a service company. We strive to give our members the best experience with their cooperative and that wouldn’t be possible without their input.”
Members with questions regarding these changes may call our office at 620-356-1211 for additional information and assistance.

USD 214 Receives Grants For Library Renovations

H.U.G.S. team presents check to USD 214 staff

Pioneer Electric makes the grade after presenting a $1,000 grant to the Sullivan Elementary and Ulysses High School libraries. The grants were awarded as part of Pioneer Electric’s Helping Us Give to Society or H.U.G.S. program and will be used to help renovate these spaces and make them more accommodating for students.

“The library is a major hub of the school and students and faculty come here for a variety of reasons,” said Jennifer Burns, Ulysses High School library media specialist.

“We want to update what we currently have and create a space that is more conducive to student learning. The funds will be used to purchase tables that can be easily moved around and provide flexible seating options for students.”

Form and function are also the hopes for the library staff at Sullivan Elementary School. The funds provided by H.U.G.S. will be used to help with the installation of new book shelves to update the space.

“Some of the shelves that we currently have don’t provide enough vertical space for new books,” said Tammi Mitchell, librarian for Sullivan Elementary School.

“By installing adjustable shelves, we can adjust accordingly to the size of the books. This will help maintain our current collection of books and hopefully cut down on the number of replacements. Hopefully this will allow us to be able to spend less on replacing and more on adding new titles to the library.”

In addition to the H.U.G.S. grant, Pioneer Electric was able to surprise the district with $2,000 courtesy of CoBank (a cooperative bank serving agribusinesses, rural infrastructure providers and Farm Credit associations throughout the United States and Pioneer Electric’s main lender). This grant was awarded through CoBank’s Sharing Success program. Members of the H.U.G.S. team were able to apply for the grant on the behalf of the district and were excited to pass along the news.

“We’re honored to be able to be a part of this great project,” said Anita Wendt, vice president of energy services and H.U.G.S. member.

“Community is important to us. After all, the cooperative is not just a ‘power company’, it is members and employees working together to serve southwest Kansas. Being able to pass along this opportunity is wonderful and we hope that these improvements will leave a lasting impact on these students.”

Rolla Skating Rink Receives H.U.G.S. and Sharing Success Grants

H.U.G.S. team presents check to representatives from the Rolla Skating Rink

The town of Rolla has the only known skating rink facility in southwest Kansas. For years, youth and adults have been making laps through the rink and now faces the need for some renovations. Pioneer Electric’s H.U.G.S. (Helping Us Give to Society) and CoBank’s Sharing Success programs awarded $2,000 in grants to help in ensuring this southwest Kansas staple keeps rolling.

“Our small community skating rink is used not only by local community members, but citizens from across southwest Kansas, eastern Colorado and the Oklahoma panhandle,” said Shelley Barrett Rolla city clerk.

“We hope that the renovations will increase participation during general operating business hours and also the hosting of private events.”

The rink hopes to add new carpet to the entryway and walls, increase the number of skates available and install an air cooling system for summertime use. The contributions made by Pioneer and CoBank (a cooperative bank serving agribusinesses, rural infrastructure providers and Farm Credit associations throughout the United States and Pioneer Electric’s main lender) will be used to assist in these projects but the rink is hoping to accumulate additional donations.

“This is an exciting opportunity and we’re honored to be a part of this project,” said Anita Wendt, vice president of Energy Services and H.U.G.S. member.

“We often overlook the reach that our communities have outside of southwest Kansas. This rink is a great example of community coming together to provide a space for families, friends and neighbors.”

Individuals wishing to learn more about the rink can contact the city of Rolla for additional information.

Headquartered in Ulysses, Kansas, Pioneer Electric is a distribution cooperative owned and controlled by its members. Pioneer Electric serves approximately 15,900 retail electric meters across 10 counties in southwestern Kansas. The system is made up of more than 117 miles of transmission line, 3,600 miles of distribution line and 21 substations. All of Pioneer Electric’s electricity is generated in Holcomb, Kansas by Sunflower Electric Power Corporation, which is owned by Pioneer Electric and five other Kansas electric co-ops. Pioneer Electric is a Touchstone Energy Cooperative. CoBank serves as Pioneer Electric’s services provider. For more information regarding the H.U.G.S. program and for information regarding applications, visit pioneerelectric.coop.