Powering our community during COVID-19: An update from Polk-Burnett General Manager Steve Stroshane
The employees of Polk-Burnett Electric Cooperative remain committed to serving our members and community as we face the COVID-19 public health emergency. Polk-Burnett has taken steps to keep your power on and our employees and community safe. Below is an update on Polk-Burnett actions in response to COVID-19.
Our top priority is to provide reliable power and propane. We want to assure you that Polk-Burnett has plans in place for the continued delivery of reliable service to your families, homes, farms and businesses.
Keeping Our Community Safe
Polk-Burnett is following CDC guidelines and Wisconsin’s Safer at Home orders for physical distancing to protect our community and keep our employees safe, healthy and on the job. Polk-Burnett Electric Cooperative and Polk-Burnett Propane Services are essential services because of the critical need for power and propane in our community.
We’re Here for You
Polk-Burnett lobbies closed March 16, but our drive-thru, phone lines and website remain open! We are fully staffed to continue normal operations. We encourage members to use electronic options for payments and transactions, including SmartHub, website, auto pay and phone. We also have a secure drop box at both Centuria and Siren office locations. We are here to assist.
1. Drive-thru service is available Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Lobbies are closed.
2. Pay electric bill, report outages and track electric use on SmartHub app.
3. Auto pay by credit card and bank account.
4. Pay by phone, website, mail and secure drop box.
5. Polk-Burnett member service representatives are here to help you during business hours, 800-421-0283.
6. Our outage line is available 24/7. REPORT OUTAGES to 800-421-0283, and see our online Outage Center for outage map and enroll to receive outage text alerts.
Farmers: Apply for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), NEW UPDATE, MAY 22, 2020
We’re passing forward this document that summarizes the USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). This is an assistance program that many farmers in our service territories might be eligible for. The application period opens May 26. This document does a nice job of summarizing the program and is valuable to share with our local farmer-members. It includes contact information for the Farm Service Agency. As your local electric cooperative, we hope to be your source for reliable power and trusted energy information. Please let us know if we can assist you with anything. Be well.
Energy Savers for Families at Home
As families spend more time at home (using the computer, watching TV, cooking, turning on lights...), they may see an increase in home energy use – and upcoming electric bills. Simple energy-saving steps can help lower monthly electric bills without jeopardizing safety or comfort.
1. Program your thermostat to maximize energy savings. Setting your thermostat one degree lower when heating or one degree higher when cooling can reduce energy use by up to 5 percent.
2. Do full loads of laundry and wash with cold water. Using warm water instead of hot can cut a load's energy use in half, and using cold water will save even more.
3. Air dry dishes. This step can cut your dishwasher's energy use by up to 50 percent.
Also note that off-peak water heaters are on winter control through the end of May for members who participate in our off-peak program. Contact us if hot water supply is low with your family home.
Use SmartHub App for Safety and Convenience from Home
Members of Polk-Burnett Electric Cooperative can track electricity use, and view and pay electric bills from the safety and convenience of home on our SmartHub app.
Co-op members can also access their account, and view and report power outages on SmartHub from computers or mobile devices.
“SmartHub is especially helpful now for keeping you connected while physical distancing,” said Todd Schulte, member services manager. “We love to see our co-op members, but want everyone to stay healthy. We encourage you to download the free SmartHub app from your app store or our website.”
Watch Out for Scams
The sad reality is that some scammers will use the COVID-19 crisis to take advantage of people looking for help. Protect yourselves and your family against phone and email fraud.
If you receive an unexpected call or email demanding money or offering a deal from the co-op, hang up the phone or delete the email. Then, call us directly, 800-421-0283.
To help our members and community identify possible scams, below is a list of phishing emails and scams:
1. Phishing emails designed to look like they are from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
2. Emails that offer medical advice, treatments and tests to help protect you against the coronavirus.
3. Emails with official government announcements.
4. Links to a map of confirmed Coronavirus cases.
5. Ads and emails requesting help and donations to fraudulent charities or causes.
If you receive a suspicious or threatening email or phone call, hang up and verify the identity of the emailer or caller by direct contact (do not reply to the communication). Do not click on links in email, rather go directly to known websites for all financial transactions, including donations.
Call Before You Dig
April is Safe Digging Month!
With our community staying at home and studying and working from home, it is more important than ever to call before you dig, so you do not disrupt essential services like electricity and internet. Doctors and hospitals also need reliable power.
Contact diggers hotline to have underground utilities located and marked before you dig.
Call/dial 811 or visit our diggers hotline webpage.
Propane Contracts End Early, Check Tanks Often
GOOD NEWS for propane customers: The price of propane has dropped lower than the 2019-2020 prebuy contract price. Effective March 31, Polk-Burnett Propane Services canceled all prebuy contracts early! The current Polk-Burnett propane price is $1.14, with a 10-cent discount if paid in 10 days. Prebuy customers will receive a credit balance on their account for unused gallons.
Please remember to check your tanks and let us know if below 20%. As we practice physical distancing, we want to avoid emergency fills and don’t want anyone to run out of propane!
“Polk-Burnett Propane Services has taken steps to ensure we have a steady supply of propane gas onsite and can continue to provide reliable propane delivery for our customer homes and families during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Polk-Burnett Propane Services Manager Todd Miller.Please call 800-421-0283, ext. 411 or 378 for answers to your propane questions. We’re happy to assist!
Co-op Event Changes
April 28 Geothermal seminar: Canceled
May 5 Solar seminar: Canceled.
June 5 Annual meeting and member appreciation day: Watch for updates.
Support Local Business
We continue to encourage everyone to support local businesses and families during COVID restrictions. Many small businesses and restaurants are still open, especially for takeout and delivery. Visit their websites and Facebook pages to see how you can support them. When our local economy and business are strong, we’re all strong.
Updates and communication
As part of our commitment, we pledge to keep you informed about our COVID-19 response and how we’re working to keep your power on and our community safe.
Please check our website and Facebook page for updates or call us at 800-421-0283 for assistance. We're here for you!