Bill pay to return to PEC lobbies in February
The lobby of the Pedernales Electric Cooperative’s Marble Falls office, 4302 U.S. 281, in August 2022, when it was closed to walk-in members wanting to pay their bills in person by cash or check. In-lobby payments will be reinstated by the end of February after new kiosks designed to take cash and checks are installed in all seven of PEC’s district offices. Staff will be available to help when needed. Staff photo by Suzanne Freeman
By the end of February, Pedernales Electric Cooperative members once again will be able to pay their electricity bills inside office lobbies by cash or check. PEC Director James Oakley asked staff to look into the issue at the December board meeting after talking to members unhappy with changes in how PEC’s district offices operate.
“You gave us great direction, and we are implementing your suggestions,” CEO Julie Parsley told board members at their regular meeting Jan. 20. “It provides members options to pay without staff having to handle checks or cash.”
Payment kiosks designed to take cash and checks will be installed in each of PEC’s seven district offices. A staff member will be on hand to help with the process in case a member has trouble with the machine.
Offices were closed to one-on-one member-to-staff contact by a unanimous vote of the board in August. Beginning Nov. 1, 2022, meetings with PEC staff had to be scheduled in advance.
Since then, cash and check options have been available only through Western Union, which can be found at H-E-B and Dollar General stores, with a $1.50 service fee attached. Payments also can be made at Walmart and CVS stores via MoneyGram, also with a $1.50 service fee.
After hearing complaints from members, Oakley spent an afternoon in the Marble Falls office. He reported his findings at the December board meeting.
“I went to the Marble Falls office and had two people come in within 10 minutes to pay their bills because the kiosk wasn’t working right,” Oakley said in December about the outdoor, drive-through kiosks. “I think it’s important we focus on the members. This is a member-owned co-op. I think members ought to be able to come in and pay bills like they have in the past.”
After a lengthy discussion, the board voted 5-2 against a motion to reinstate the cash and check option but instructed staff to take another look at how PEC was reorganizing district offices. Oakley and District 4 Director Travis Cox both voted for Oakley’s motion.
The answer is an indoor pay station that will take a variety of payments, including cash and checks.
The new arrangement is completely set up in the Cedar Park office, with Marble Falls, Bertram, and other district offices in the process. Each will have member seating areas, a pay station, a staff person to assist if needed, iPads for those who want to sign up for automatic withdrawals or other types of electronic payment, and prepaid envelopes for mailing.
Other physical changes to the buildings will affect planning and engineering employees, who will have offices inside.
“That won’t be done in February,” Parsley told the board. “What affects the members, we are going to have that done by the end of February.”
IN OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS
Parsley noted that the co-op held its first-ever human resources recruiting event, hiring nine new apprentices for this year’s class, which is now underway.
Also, the window to apply for scholarships for high school seniors and adults returning to school opens Feb. 1 and closes March 21. Applications will be available online. Learn more on the PEC website.
In board election news, each director was asked to name a person from their district to serve on the Qualifications Election Committee, which will meet from April 5-6 to review candidate applicants. This year, districts 2 and 3 are up for election. Those seats are currently held by Emily Pataki and board President Mark Ekrut, respectively.
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