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Member Rights

Your Rights as a Member of San Bernard Electric Cooperative, Inc.

I. Rate and Service Information

You may, either by phone, mail or personal visit to the Cooperative’s business office located in Bellville, Texas, request copies of any portion of the Cooperative’s rate and service tariff and rules as filed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas. A nominal reproduction charge will be made for each copy, and postage will be added if the copies are mailed.

II. Meter Testing

The Cooperative establishes the accuracy of all meters placed in service, and all meters removed from service are tested prior to reinstallation. You may request a test of your electric meter if you believe that the meter is not accurately reflecting your actual electric consumption.  This test will be made at no charge to you provided the meter has not been tested during the previous four years at your request.  In the event you request a test more often than once in four years and the meter is found to be within the accuracy standard of plus or minus 2 percent, a $60.00 fee will be charged.

III. Outstanding Bills

The due date of the bill for utility service shall be 16 days from the date of issuance. A bill for utility service is delinquent if payment is not received at the utility or at the utility’s authorized payment agency by the due date. If the due date falls on a holiday or weekend, the due date for payment purposes is the next work day after the due date. Bills are to be paid at any of the Cooperative offices listed in Section VII, or at:

- Columbus State Bank, Columbus
- First State Bank, Columbus
- Fayetteville Bank, Fayetteville
- Peoples State Bank, Hallettsville
- State Bank, Hempstead
- Wells Fargo Bank, Waller
- Hill Bank & Trust, Weimar

A night depository is located at the Cooperative offices in Bellville, Columbus, Fieldstore and Hallettsville to receive bill payments when the offices are closed.

The Cooperative will mail or personally deliver a written notice of termination at least 10 days prior to the date of disconnection. Disconnection will not occur on a day, or a day immediately preceding a day, when personnel of the Cooperative are not available to the public for the purpose of making collections and reconnecting service.

Bills not paid by the due date are delinquent and, upon proper notice, are subject to disconnection within 26 days of issuance. If the bill has not been paid, or a Deferred Payment Agreement entered into within 26 days from the date of issuance and proper notice has been given, Cooperative personnel will then be dispatched to either collect the bill or disconnect the electric service.

Unless a dangerous condition exists, or unless you request disconnection, service will not be disconnected on a day, or a day immediately preceding a day, when personnel of the Cooperative are not available to the public to make collections and reconnect service.

If you are seriously ill or will become seriously ill as a result of termination of service, you may have your physician call or contact the Cooperative within 16 days of the issuance of the bill to report your condition. The physician must provide a confirmation letter to the Cooperative within 26 days of the issuance of the bill and the Cooperative will refrain from terminating service for 63 days from the issuance of the bill unless a lesser period has been agreed upon. If you make a request to avoid termination under this provision, you must enter into a deferred payment arrangement.

If you have applied for and been granted energy assistance funds, the Cooperative will not terminate service if the agency for administration of these funds has notified the Cooperative prior to the date of disconnection, of the approval of an amount to cover the bill, or a portion of the bill so that you can enter into a deferred payment plan for the balance of the bill.

The Cooperative will not disconnect service on a day when the previous day’s highest temperature was below 32 degrees F. and the temperature is predicted to remain at or below that level for the next 24 hours. Service will not be disconnected where an Excessive heat alert is in effect as determined by the National Weather Service.

Your service may be disconnected after proper notice for any of the following reasons:

A. Failure to pay an outstanding bill within 26 days of issuance;

B. Failure to pay a delinquent account or failure to comply with the terms of the Deferred Payment Agreement;

C. Violation of the Cooperative’s rules for the use of service in such a manner that it interferes with the service of others or the operation of non-standard equipment, after the Cooperative has made every attempt to notify you of the problem and allow you to remedy the situation.

Your service may be disconnected at once and without notice for any of the following reasons:

A. Where a dangerous condition exists. Such disconnection shall remain in effect for as long as the condition exists.

B. For meter tampering, bypassing or diversion of service.

IV. Service and Billing Disputes

If you disagree with the Cooperative regarding any aspect of the Cooperative’s service, you may request a supervisory review. If you make such a request, you have 5 days to participate in the review before the Cooperative will terminate service, if the dispute is one in which the issue may result in termination and provided that notice has been given under standard disconnection procedures.

If the billing dispute is not resolved by such review, you may appeal to the Public Utility Commission of Texas, 1701 N. Congress Ave., P.O. Box 13326, Austin, Texas 78711-3326. Telephone: 1-888-782-8477.

While such appeal or other resolution of a dispute is pending, you may avoid termination of service by paying the average of your monthly bill for the past 12 months as determined by the Cooperative. In the event the dispute is not resolved within 60 days, you must keep all subsequent bills current.

You may call to discuss billing or service problems to the Bellville office at (979) 865-3171; to the Waller County Fieldstore office at (936) 372-9176; to the Columbus office at (979) 732-8346; or to the Hallettsville office at (361) 798-4493.

V. Alternate Payment Plans

As a customer you have the right to request alternate payment plans.

Deferred Payment Plan: If you have not been delinquent in paying your bill more than two times in the last 12 months and are unable to pay any or your entire bill, you are qualified for a deferred payment plan. This plan requires that you keep all subsequent bills current and pay monthly an amount not to exceed one-third of the outstanding amount. You may, but are not required to, sign this agreement and if you do not fulfill the terms of the agreement, your service may be terminated under standard termination procedures. Such breach of the agreement voids your right to a deferred payment plan or renegotiation to avoid termination. The Cooperative is not required to offer this arrangement if you have had service for less than three months.

Average Monthly Payment Program (AMP) AMP is offered to residential and smallgeneral service accounts with a 12 month billing history. AMP is not a reduced electric rate. Each month the member is billed for the actual kilowatt-hours used however, the monthly payment is an average based on the most current 12 months of billing history. The AMP payment changes slightly each month because the oldest history drops off while the newest history month is added, giving the Average Monthly Payment.
How do I sign up for the program ?
Contact a customer service representative at your local branch office.
What if I want to be removed from the program ?
When being removed from the program, the actual balance becomes due with the current due date.

Operation Roundup: A program designed for people to help people, inexpensively. Members have the choice of assisting the SBEC member that is elderly and disabled who live on a low fixed income. The member will permit SBEC to round off their bill to the nearest dollar and that change is put in the Operation Roundup Fund. Members that need assistance are interviewed for qualification purposes. If the member qualifies they are allowed up to $500.00 per year, up to $150.00 at one time. The participating member can call to withdraw from the program at any time.

VI. Service Reconnection

If your service is interrupted for any of the reasons listed under Section III of this Bill of Rights, you may re-establish service when all outstanding and delinquent bills are paid and when a deposit or other evidence of payment guarantee is provided to the Cooperative. Service connections are normally made during regular working hours.

VII. Cooperative Offices & Business Hours

Bellville Headquarters Office
309 West Main Street
P. O. Box 1208, Bellville, Texas 77418-1208
Phone: (979) 865-3171; (936) 372-5561; (979) 732-6077; 1-800-364-3171
Fax: (979) 865-9706
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Columbus Service Center
4285 Highway 71 South
P. O. Box 309, Columbus, Texas 78934-0309
Phone: (979) 732-8346
Fax: (979) 732-2458
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Hallettsville Service Center
1686 US Highway 90A East
P.O. Box 610, Hallettsville, Texas 77964-0610
Phone: (361) 798-4493
From Eagle Lake Exchange Phone: 1-800-874-3729
Fax: (361) 798-4393
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Fieldstore Service Center
29244 FM 1488
P.O. Box 1367, Magnolia, Texas 77353
Phone: (936) 372-9176
Fax: (936) 372-5476
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

VIII. Meter Reading

SBEC has approximately 25,000 meters spread over an eight county area. Some are in more populated urban areas, while the rest are in remote farming and ranching areas.

As the electricity passes through the electric meter it measures the kilowatt-hours you use. The six numerical figures on the face of your meter enable the cooperative to determine the amount of electricity you consumed and then determine your bill. All meters are read remotely on a monthly basis. Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) are types of meters that are read via electronic means. Readings are obtained electronically and posted to the members accounts monthly. Even though our meters are remotely read each month, we still require access to our meters and equipment. If you have a locked or electric gate, or dogs that will bite, please contact SBEC in our Bellville at (979) 865-3171 or 1-800-364-3171 so we can gain access safely.

SBEC manually reads each meter on its system on a rotating basis. The Co-op personnel record the readings and check for any signs of tampering, including broken meter seals, locking devices or any hazards. Hazards include (but not limited to) T.V. antennas, satellite dishes or a member installed security light. None of these items are allowed on SBEC poles. The reason for this restriction is the possibility of electrical contact by a member or the hazard being an obstruction should an SBEC employee need to climb the pole. Hazards may include any improper wiring that is not up to Texas State Wiring Codes, a meter that has been enclosed and is inaccessible to SBEC employees and right-of-way violations such as buildings or pools under an SBEC wire.

PLEASE REMEMBER If it is necessary to remove your meter, please contact your local Co-op office and arrangements will be made to assist you.

Unauthorized meter removal or meter tampering is unlawful and it is hazardous, possibly resulting in severe injury or possible death to anyone attempting to by-pass or alter the Co-op’s equipment.

IX. Deposit Policy

Each applicant for electric service shall satisfactorily establish credit. No deposit is required for residential service if you have not been delinquent in paying your bill for electric service from this or any other electric utility on more than two occasions in the last twelve months and have never had your service disconnected for nonpayment.

No deposit is required for residential service if you demonstrate a satisfactory credit rating by appropriate means such as letters of credit, references, etc. All applicants for permanent residential service who are 65 years of age or older will be considered as having established credit and no cash deposit will be required if such applicant does not have an outstanding account with this utility or another utility for the same utility service which accrued within the last two years.

The deposit is limited to one-sixth of your estimated annual electric bill for both residential and commercial service. Deposits accrue interest from date of deposit at a rate equal to 85% off the previous 12 month average Treasury bill interest but not less than 6% nor more than 12% per annum. The interest will either be paid to you when the deposit is returned or be credited to your account. If the deposit is retained for more than one year, the Cooperative may make a direct payment of the accrued interest to you.

If you have not been disconnected for nonpayment or delinquent more than two times after 12 consecutive residential billings, the Cooperative will automatically refund the deposit plus accrued interest either as cash or credit to your account, providing your account is current. A letter of guarantee will be voided and returned after 12 consecutive residential billings if your service has not been disconnected for nonpayment or if you have not been delinquent more than two times.

Additional deposit may be required when:
1. Actual billings of a commercial customer are at least twice the amount of the estimated billings and a suspension notice has been issued on a bill within the previous 12 month period.

2. Actual billings of a residential customer are at least twice the amount of the estimated billings after two billing periods and a suspension notice has been issued on a bill within the previous 12 month period.

X. Financial Assistance

The following governmental or social service agencies may be able to assist you if you are having trouble making your payment for electric service:

Brazos Valley Community Action Agency
(for Grimes and Waller Counties)
1500 University Drive, College Station, TX 77840
Phone: (979) 846-1100

Combined Community Action, Inc.
(for Austin and Colorado Counties)
165 West Austin, Giddings, TX 78942
Phone: (979) 540-2980, 1-800-688-9065

Montgomery County Emergency Assistance, Inc.
(for Montgomery County)
1022 McCall Avenue, Conroe, TX 77301
Phone: (936) 539-9211

Community Action Committee of Victoria
(for Lavaca County)
4007 Halsey Street
P.O. Box 3607, Victoria, TX 77903-3607
Phone: (361) 578-2989, 1-800-695-0314

United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast
(for Waller County)
531 - FM 359 South, Brookshire, TX 77423
Phone: (281) 822-4200, 1-800-366-3025

Society of Samaritans
(for Montgomery County)
31355 Industrial Lane, Suite 500
Magnolia, TX 77353
Phone: (281) 252-9647 or (281) 259-8452

SBEC Operation Roundup
(979) 865-3171, 1-800-364-3171

XI. Nondiscrimination

Your Cooperative is committed not to discriminate against any person on the grounds of race, color, marital status, religion, sex or national origin in its policies and practices including rates, extension of service, use of its facilities, attendance and participation in any meetings or beneficiaries and participants.

The Cooperative will apply credit history equally for a reasonable period of time to a spouse or former spouse who shared service. Credit history maintained by one will be applied equally to the other without modification and without additional qualifications not required of the other spouse or former spouse.

XII. Special Services

The telephone number for the teletypewriter for the deaf at the Public Utility Commission of Texas is:

(512) 936-7136 TTY

Public Utility Commission of Texas
1701 North Congress Ave., Austin, TX 78711
Phone: (512) 936-7000

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