Where does Tri-County EMC get electric power?
Tri-County EMC obtains electric energy through a combination of joint-ownership of generation facilities and contracts with other producers. Currently, Tri-County jointly owns sufficient generation to supply approximately sixty percent of our member's power requirements. This joint ownership is accomplished through membership in Oglethorpe Power Corporation, a cooperative established in 1974 by Tri-County EMC and 38 other Georgia electric cooperatives. Oglethorpe Power houses and operates the assets for all 39 members. The remaining 40 % of power requirements for Tri-County's customers is provided through a contact with Southern Power Corporation, part of the Southern Company.
Electricity in Georgia is transported through a network jointly owned by all of Georgia's electric utilities called the Integrated Transmission System (ITS). Georgia Transmission Corporation, another cooperative, owns and maintains the percentage share of transmission lines needed to deliver wholesale power to 39 member EMCs, which includes Tri-County EMC.
What is included in the "Energy and Distribution" amount on my bill?
All of the costs associated with purchasing power, delivering it to your home, and maintaining data and billing for your account are included in the "Energy and Distribution" amount. One of the components is for monthly energy usage, charged on a per kWh basis. The remaining portion is a "minimum bill" charge, which covers reoccurring costs associated with providing electrical service, regardless of energy usage.
Why do I experience power outages in which the power goes off and right back on?
Power interruptions, regardless of the duration or frequency are the result of many variables. The two most common causes are right-of-way issues and wildlife. Other factors can be lightning strikes, automobile or equipment accidents involving power lines, or utility equipment failure. When something comes in contact with a power line and creates a fault, an automatic breaker, called a recloser, often disconnects power to the line to prevent further damage to the line, other utility equipment, and the object making contact. Within a few seconds the recloser automatically re-energizes the line. In most cases, the object in contact with the line will have fallen off or burned away. If the object is still causing a fault, this cycle is repeated twice until either the fault is cleared or the recloser disables power to the circuit until utility personnel clear the fault and manually reenergize the line. While faults and the actions of the recloser can be annoying, particularly for alarm clocks and VCRs flashing 12:00, the end result is drastically shorter outages because of the automated equipment and reduced maintenance costs associated with dispatching line crews.
Why don't I ever see a meter reader? How is my meter read?
Tri-County EMC uses state-of-the-art "smart" meters for all residential and almost all commercial meters. The system allows two-way communication, through the cooperative's power lines, of meter reading, detailed usage and power quality data. Visit our "Your Meter" page for more information.
I received a very high bill. What could have caused it?
Sometimes energy bills do fluctuate unexpectedly, with kWh usage either higher or lower than average. Your Tri-County EMC bill (see Your Bill) provides historical usage information, including a graph of your last twelve months' usage. You can easily verify that you have been billed for the correct number of kilowatt-hours by comparing the meter reading listed on your bill with the odometer-like dial found on the front of your electric meter. Some customers who receive a high bill question the accuracy of their meter. However, electric meters are very accurate devices, which are carefully calibrated to very tight tolerances before they are installed on Tri-County EMC's system. Additionally, our meters are read electronically, eliminating the possibility of human error causing an incorrect bill. We encourage our customers who experience a fluctuation in the amount of their bill to examine the electricity-consuming appliances within their home and factors such as weather that influence energy usage.
Certainly, weather has the greatest influence on energy usage in a residence. Triple-digit summer days or frigid winter nights mean longer run-times on heating and cooling systems. If your HVAC system is older or is perhaps experiencing a malfunction, temperature extremes can result in high energy use. Having lower than the recommended levels of insulation and ventilation can magnify the effects of weather on your bills. How you use your appliances can also have a big impact on your energy consumption. For example, in the average home, raising or lowering the thermostat one degree will change the energy used for heating or cooling by about 3%. So setting your thermostat during the summer at 72 degrees, rather than the recommended 78 degrees, could cost you 18% or more on the air-conditioning portion of your bill.
I was away on vacation, and my bill didn't go down.
Most of the major contributors to residential energy bills are operated by thermostat. Your heating and cooling system, water heater, refrigerator, and freezer all run as necessary to satisfy a thermostat unless you turn them off. Even when turned up to 85 degrees, a central air-conditioner may run as much as three or four hours out of a twenty-four hour period on a really hot day.
In the case of many appliances, even when switched off, they consume energy. For example, your television has a power supply and considerable circuitry designed to receive a remote control signal and quickly power up. The only way to stop this usage is to unplug it. There are dozens of devices in your home, like VCRs, cordless telephones, microwave ovens, alarm clocks, automatic sprinkler systems, and satellite receivers or cable boxes that continuously consume energy, whether you're home or not. So remember, just because you're not there does not mean the appliance is not running and just because it is switched off does not mean it is really off.
Can you tell me why my bills are so high?
Maybe. Maybe not. Substantiating your home's energy bills is much like asking the owner of the gas station why your car only gets 18 miles per gallon when you have not told him the make, model, or year of automobile, let alone where or how fast you drive. How could he know? Based on the appliances in your home and how you use them, your bills may be right in line or you could have significant problems. Routinely high bills or a sudden increase in usage could indicate a need for a visit from a mechanic, perhaps a heating and air contractor, an insulation contractor, or even an appliance repair technician.
What Tri-County EMC can do is offer information about typical appliance usage and practical advice for making your home as energy efficient as possible and getting the most from your home's appliances. A number of free Energy Facts Sheets are available for download here on our website. We also offer free onsite residential energy audits. We encourage you to explore the information available on this website and feel free to call a Tri-County representative if you have efficiency questions.
What is the Wholesale Power Cost Adjustment (WPCA)?
For more than three decades the Wholesale Power Cost Adjustment (WPCA) has been used by Tri-County and most Georgia utilities to recover temporary fuel cost fluctuations, primarily with coal and natural gas. Due to a volatile generation fuels market, the unpredictable WPCA can be a positive or negative amount on your bill. Wholesale power accounts for 66% of your energy dollar compared with only 16% to pay for operating costs.