Southern Pioneer Electric: Empowering Lives

At Southern Pioneer Electric, we truly care about our consumers and want to meet all of your needs and expectations. So the question is, are you getting the service you expect and deserve?

We would like to provide you with some highlights of being a Southern Pioneer Electric consumer with information such as average rates, outage times and where your money goes when you pay your electric bill.

What follows are just some of the ways Southern Pioneer Electric tries to empower your life.

Rates are necessary to ensure Southern Pioneer Electric’s ability to provide our consumers with the highest level of safe and reliable service. As part of our goal to empower our consumers, we hope to provide a crash course in navigating and comprehending your electric rates.

Southern Pioneer Electric’s rates for 2015 averaged at $0.11 a kilowatt hour, compared to the national average of almost $0.13. In the state of Kansas, the average cost was $0.12 per kilowatt hour according to the U.S Energy Information Administration. Our consumers have the benefit of paying some of the lowest rates in the state!

When designing rates, Southern Pioneer Electric considers numerous factors that affect our total cost to deliver electricity, or the cost-of-service (COS), to our consumers. This COS includes construction and maintenance of our distribution poles and 1,120 miles of line, distribution of electricity to our 16,971 meters and our total utility plant expenses– employees, building, maintenance, fleet vehicles and equipment – the things that make sure we can provide you with the reliable service you deserve.

While Southern Pioneer Electric’s distribution expenses play a role in determining the overall rate, the majority of the retail rate charged is dictated by the current cost of wholesale energy. Wholesale energy is the energy Southern Pioneer Electric purchases for consumers. This wholesale power cost can contribute up to 75 percent of the total retail rate.

At Southern Pioneer Electric we strive to provide you with the best and most reliable utility service possible. We understand that when the lights go out, it can make your daily life difficult.

With the use of advanced metering technology, better communication and quicker response times, Southern Pioneer Electric prides itself on reliable utility service.  From 2010-16, our consumers were without electricity for only an average of five hours per year.

At Southern Pioneer Electric, we know that when you are paying a bill and see that $3.95 fee for using a credit or debit card, it can be a bother.

When an individual uses a credit card as a means of payment for merchandise at a retail store or online, the retailer is assessed a transaction fee by VISA, MasterCard, Discover or American Express, etc.  This fee varies by credit card company and is normally equivalent to approximately three or four percent of the sales transaction value.  Contractually, unless the fee assessed is a fixed amount known as a “convenience fee”, the retailer is prohibited from directly passing this fee onto you, the buyer.

So the retailer, rather than absorbing the transaction fee in their sales margins, they mark up all of their merchandise costs to include and recover this anticipated fee, therefore in the event it is bought and paid for with a credit card, the retailer is made whole.  Unfortunately, consumers who pay with cash or check pay this embedded fee too.

For Southern Pioneer Electric it is different as we cannot simply mark up our merchandise (the sale of electricity) to recover the anticipated fees assessed by credit card companies, plus the Kansas Corporation Commission, absent approving otherwise, presently requires the utility to recover the fee from the consumer causing the cost or using a credit card.  Currently, if you pay your electric bill using a credit card, you are charged a fixed $3.95 convenience fee for transactions up to $500 to cover the cost of that transaction.

If your electric bill was the full $500, this fee is equal to less than one percent, which is well under the three percent charged by the credit card company to the Southern Pioneer Electric’s bill payment processor.  We understand this is a source of frustration, as one believes this convenience fee is itemized as part of the bill payment process and the utility is the only one charging this fee when other retailers do not.  We are in the process of working with the Kansas Corporation Commission staff in an attempt to seek a waiver of the requirement to charge the convenience fee to the consumer but recover this credit card transaction charge through our base electric rates paid by all consumers, etc.

One line item on your bill is the Energy Cost Adjustment (ECA).  The ECA reflects the increases/decreases in the cost of wholesale energy purchased. The fluctuation in the ECA is largely caused by changes in the cost of generating the power.

The ECA reflects the difference between actual costs for energy and the energy costs that were built into base rates. This charge changes monthly to accommodate fluctuations in wholesale power costs.

Southern Pioneer Electric’s cost of wholesale power is now more than 75 percent of total expenses, so it’s critical that the Southern Pioneer Electric makes sure that it recovers all of its wholesale power costs in its retail sales. The cost is collected from consumers through the energy charge and the ECA.

The ECA gives Southern Pioneer Electric the ability to manage ongoing energy cost changes without having to make frequent changes to the base rate structure. It also ensures that Southern Pioneer Electric collects no more and no less than the actual cost of wholesale power.

Important Information for Advanced Metering Infrastructure Customers

Effective October 1, 2017, Southern Pioneer Electric Company (“Southern Pioneer”) is participating in a three-year Pilot Program, approved by the Kansas Corporation Commission (“Commission” or “KCC”) in Docket No. 15-GIMX-344-GIV, as a temporary waiver of certain Commission-required “knock and collect” requirements. The Pilot Program is applicable only to those electric customers with Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meters installed, also known as digital meters, which allow the utility company the capability to connect and disconnect service remotely without physically dispatching service personnel to the customer’s location. Further explanation can be found by clicking here.

Understanding Planned Outages

At Southern Pioneer Electric, we strive to provide our consumers we serve the highest quality of service. This sometimes requires us to schedule outages to make improvements to our electrical infrastructure. These outages help ensure that our crews can work safely and efficiently by minimizing the risk for accidental contact with energized equipment.

No matter the repair, each begins with a plan of action. We must look at the number of meters affected by the damaged equipment, where these meters are located, the projected length of the restoration and whether crews can make the repairs while equipment is “hot” (energized). If power must be turned off, a planned outage will be scheduled outside of peak energy usage times. A scheduled power outage may be needed for new construction, maintenance and other reliability projects.

How will I know about a planned outage?

If a project requires the use of a scheduled outage, we will try to provide consumers with information before the projected outage time. Notifications will be shared through Southern Pioneer Electric’s Facebook page. Updates and restoration notices will also be posted to the page during the course of the restoration.

How long does a scheduled outage last?

The length of a scheduled outage will depend on the restoration required for the project. While we can’t give an exact length for the outage, we can often times give a predicted time for the repairs. If a scheduled outage does last longer than anticipated, we will provide notification to our consumers. This information will be posted on Southern Pioneer’s Facebook page.

What can I do to prepare for a planned outage?

Residential Consumers:

  • If you have any medical equipment that relies on electricity, be sure to follow any instructions outlined by your medical professional.
  • Ensure that all cellphones and mobile devices are fully charged BEFORE the outage.
  • Unplug sensitive electronics like computers, monitors, televisions and video game consoles.
  • Minimize fire hazards by taking time to turn off/unplug all heat producing appliances (stoves, space heaters, microwaves, toaster ovens, hair curlers, hot plates and scent diffusers.)
  • Avoid using a generator, unless absolutely necessary. Generators that are not properly installed can cause backfeeding and harm crews working on the line.
  • Keep opening refrigerator and freezer doors to a minimum.

Business Consumers:

  • Notify Southern Pioneer Electric if you plan on using a backup generator during the outage.
  • Notify employees and customers of your outage safety policies.
  • Unplug sensitive electrical equipment.
  • Once power is restored, turn on equipment in stages to avoid overloading circuits.