Peace Treaty Receives $4,000 CoBank Sharing Success Grant

Representatives of Southern Pioneer Electric, on behalf of CoBank, presented members of the Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty board with $4,000 in grants courtesy of CoBank’s Sharing Success program.

“Supporting our communities is an integral part of Southern Pioneer’s mission,” said Anita Wendt, Vice President of Energy Services at Southern Pioneer Electric. “We’re honored to be a sponsor and contribute to the success of The Peace Treaty.”

The Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty is scheduled for September 27, 28, and 29, 2024. More information regarding the event may be found at

Guard against utility service scams, fraud and identity theft

It is the world we live in today — the necessity to pause and consider before we click, answer or respond to someone seeking information. No industry, person or business is off limits to scammers, who even try to con their way into the utility industry.

The Better Business Scam Tracker reports that victims usually lose $274 in all types of scams and $500 in a utility scam.

When it comes to power bills, scammers make threatening phone calls to consumers to demand immediate payment, or else their service will be shut off, they threaten. This deceiving claim is often made during the height of summer or winter, when people want to stay comfortable during the extreme heat or cold.

However, utilities typically send initial disconnection notices in writing.

Utility Scams: How They Get You

Scammers request that immediate payment be wired, loaded on a reloadable gift card or debit card or sent using cryptocurrency (a digital money system that does not rely on banks for verification). Only scammers request this type of payment and threaten immediate service disconnection. Do not provide any information (including your utility account number) or agree to immediate payment. Instead, hang up and check with your utility by using the phone number listed on your power bill. Fake numbers and links can appear in emails and texts.

Utility bills that double the amount typically due may be a utility scam. Utilities are closely regulated and may not have the right to raise prices substantially without previous notice. Consumers should trust their gut reaction; if it seems like a fraud, it probably is.

Protect Personal Info

When supplying your utility (or any business or person) with sensitive information such as a social security number, proof of address or death certificate, do not email the information. Additionally, do not give out sensitive information to anyone who calls you. Verify the phone number and call the utility directly to discuss any matter that would involve providing personal information. In general, some companies do have password-protected, secure methods to obtain personal information via an app or portal, but always verify this before using.

At Your Door

The famous song by Paul McCartney, titled “Let ‘Em In,” features the artist’s welcoming plea, “Someone’s knockin’ at the door; Someone’s ringin’ the bell … Do me a favor; Open the door and let ‘em in,” but that is not great advice these days.

Door-to-door scams may involve impersonators of utility workers saying the meter is broken or offering to perform repairs or an energy audit — all at the consumer’s cost. Your utility will contact you in advance, prior to arriving at your home for service or for any other reason. Do not let someone in the house without a pre-approved appointment.

Scams in General

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) warns that phishing emails and texts may attempt to convince individuals to make payments or provide personal information. Thieves use this stolen information to open accounts and pass charges on to the victim.

Caller ID Can Fib

Over the phone, calls appearing to be local are not always an accurate assessment of who is calling. AARP has a fraud watch network that provides alerts of new frauds; do an internet search for the fraud watch network to learn more.

Scams are Everywhere

Non-utility-related scams may include the announcement of an inheritance or pop-ups on a computer warning that technical support is needed. There are even puppy purchase cons when cute and often sought-after breeds are offered in all their puppy cuteness, but scammers take your money and run. There are student loan forgiveness scams and one-time password bot scams.

Hackers even prey on the many smartphone users who have cracked screens. It is called the “chip in the middle attack,” and scammers get ahold of a screen replacement and install it on your phone with a spyware chip. Always verify a screen-fix-it phone number or take your phone to a store/servicer you trust. If the company cannot be verified by a search engine, do not trust it.

No matter the scam, the goal of the scammer is to gather personal information. Stay safe: Do not share Social Security numbers, account details, credit card numbers, bank information, death certificates or birth dates. Thieves can use this information to steal their victim’s identity.

If you become a victim of a scam, report it to the local police and your bank. Consumers can protect themselves by blocking unknown callers and keeping software updated on phones and computers.

Campbell selected to serve as Southern Pioneer Electric interim CEO

Ulysses, Kan.—July 20, 2023— The Pioneer Electric Board of Trustees voted to instate Lindsay Campbell, Executive Vice President – Assistant Chief Executive Officer and General Counsel, as interim CEO for Southern Pioneer and Pioneer Electric. Steve Epperson, Southern Pioneer Electric & Pioneer Electric CEO, has been appointed to serve as interim president and CEO of Sunflower Electric Power Corp. Chantry Scott, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, was appointed to serve as the company’s interim Assistant CEO.

Campbell has served as the company’s General Counsel since her hire in 2014. In 2020, Campbell assumed the role of Assistant CEO.

Scott has served the company since 2011 as CFO. Scott was promoted to Executive Vice President in 2020.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to lead Pioneer Electric and Southern Pioneer during this transition,” Campbell said. “ Southern Pioneer will remain customer-focused, continuing forward with the progress Steve has made and our mission of providing safe and reliable electricity to the customers we serve.”

Epperson will replace Todd Hillman, who served as Sunflower’s president and CEO since January. Sunflower will begin a search for a new permanent successor as soon as possible.

Epperson has served as the CEO of Pioneer Electric Cooperative and Southern Pioneer Electric Company since 2011.

“I am honored to be chosen by my fellow Sunflower board members to lead Sunflower during this transition period,” Epperson said. “As always, our focus will be on taking care of our members and those they serve by supplying reliable energy at the lowest possible cost. The Sunflower board and staff remain committed to delivering excellent service and innovation our members and communities have come to expect from us.”

Southern Pioneer is a not-for-profit electric public utility and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pioneer Electric Cooperative, Inc. Southern Pioneer is headquartered in Ulysses, Kansas and has local offices in Liberal and Medicine Lodge, Kansas. Southern Pioneer Electric Company serves approximately 17,200 customers and operates in 10 counties and 34 communities. Southern Pioneer’s service territory stretches east from Liberal to Medicine Lodge and north to Kingman and back west to Greensburg, Kansas. Southern Pioneer is dedicated to providing customers with safe and reliable electric service.