“Who do I contact for a new service?”
Any of our customer service representatives can help begin the processes for connecting a new service. Call 509-928-4540.
“How do I know if I live in MEWCo’s service area?”
Click here for a map of MEWCo’s service area. You can zoom in and scroll around to find your specific street. If you have any further questions, you can call us at 509-928-4540.
“Why do I pay a basic customer charge (or basic charge) each month?”
This is a fixed charge that covers a portion of MEWCo’s costs occurring regardless of energy use. These costs are shared by all customers and include a portion of the cost of providing power (from the substation to the meter), meter reading, billing, communications, and general administrative costs.
“What is the kWh Usage Charge?”
This is MEWCo’s actual cost to purchase power from BPA as well as the actual cost of delivering power to your home. This includes the cost of maintenance on power lines and substations, tree trimming and other necessary expenses.
“If I have been disconnected for non-payment, what will be required to have my power turned back on?”
You will need to either come into our office or call MEWCo at 509-928-4540 to discuss the amount and form of payment required. A reconnection fee of $25 will be charged if your power is restored during our regular business hours or $165 if your power is restored outside our normal business hours.
“What are MEWCo’s normal business hours?”
MEWCo’s normal business hours are 7:30 to 4:30 Monday thru Friday. Note that MEWCo is closed for observation of the following holidays: New Year’s Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
“How can I pay my bill?”
MEWCo offers several payment options for your convenience. You can make a payment in the office, over the phone, and at payment drop off stations available at multiple locations (Rosauers at U-City, Yokes at Argonne Village, and Yokes at Sprague and McDonald) including our main office at the end of the drive-thru lane. We also have an Automatic Payment Program (withdrawals occur 14 days after your bill is generated and may vary slightly per month), and an online payment option. Please watch the following video for help on paying multiple accounts online.
“Where can I find my account and statement number?”
Your account and statement numbers can be found on your monthly bill. Or you can simply call our office and ask one of our customer service representatives and they can tell you your account and statement numbers. Please use your statement number as a reference when paying your bill.
“Why is MEWCo spending all of this money on conservation?”
As most of our customers know, MEWCo is a full requirements customer of The Bonneville Power Administration (The BPA). The BPA is responsible for managing the entire federal based hydroelectric system on the Columbia River Basin. The federal based hydro system is capable of generating a lot of electricity, but because no new dams are being built to meet the load growth of The BPA’s customers, other more expensive sources of electricity were acquired by The BPA to meet this need.
The BPA realized that giving customers an incentive to conserve electricity was less expensive than purchasing additional electricity capacity. So in an effort to keep the cost of electricity down, every month, The BPA gives all of its customers, including MEWCo, a conservation rate credit on its monthly power bill based on our individual load size. MEWCo is required to use this money to reduce its load or it must return the money to be used by other utilities that The BPA serves.
MEWCo has decided that the best way to use that rate credit is to offer rebates to our customers to help pay for making their existing homes and businesses more energy efficient.
“What conservation rebates is MEWCo currently offering?”
Modern uses Efficiency Services Group to manage its energy efficiency program. For information about rebates please call 1-888-883-9879 or visit our Conservation Rebates and Information page. Rebate offers may be changed or discontinued at any time.
“How do I report a power outage?”
Call MEWCo at 509-928-4540 anytime day or night, to report a power outage. We do our best to ensure you have as few service interruptions as possible, but sometimes weather conditions, car accidents, or wild life cause the power to go out.
“What things should I check if my power goes out?”
Check your fuses and circuit breakers. Make sure that everyone in your family knows where the breaker box is located and how to handle fuses and breakers. If this isn’t the source of the problem, CALL MEWCo at 509-928-4540. Turn on your porch light or other outside light so that when our crews are in the area they can more easily see which houses have power and which don’t. It also helps them know when and where the power is back on.
“If there is a power outage, what does MEWCo do to restore our electric service in the most efficient manner?”
In order to restore your electric service in the most efficient manner, we have to repair our lines “by the numbers.” Here is how we do it:
1. Transmission lines. These are high voltage lines that serve MEWCo’s substations. These lines are the first priority for restoring electricity.
2. Substations. MEWCO has three different substations that become the next priority, because they step down the voltage from the higher transmission voltage to a lower distribution voltage which we use to serve our customers.
3. Main distribution lines (feeders). These lines branch out from our substations and distribute power throughout MEWCo’s of service territory.
4. Tap lines. These lines branch off of the distribution feeders and supply smaller pockets of homes and businesses with electricity.
5. Individual services. Generally these lines serve only one home or business, and move energy from a transformer to a customer’s meter.
“Is there anything I should know before using my portable generator during an outage?”
Don’t connect your generator directly to your home’s wiring. Connecting a portable electric generator directly to your household wiring can be deadly to you and others. A generator that is directly connected to your home’s wiring can ‘backfeed’ onto the power lines connected to your home.
Utility transformers can then “step-up” or increase this backfeed to thousands of volts—enough to kill a utility lineman making outage repairs a long way from your house. You could also cause expensive damage to utility equipment and your generator.
The only safe way to connect a portable electric generator to your existing wiring is to have a licensed electrical contractor install a transfer switch. The transfer switch transfers power from the utility power lines to the power coming from your generator.
“Is there anything MEWCo does to increase system reliability?”
Tree trimming is necessary even though it is not always the most popular form of maintenance. We trim trees throughout our entire service territory every winter. This benefits us the most in the spring when foilage is growing rapidly and in the winter when weight of a heavy snow can cause limbs to sag into power lines. This is not an exact science and we are still dealing with Mother Nature’s different elements, but without proper annual maintenance on our system, we would not have as reliable of a system as we do.
“Why is it necessary to trim my trees?”
Many trees have grown up into or were planted too close to power lines. Outages and safety hazards can occur when trees are too near overhead conductors. Service interruptions caused by trees are serious and may affect many customers and cause damage to the electrical infrastructure.
“Do I have to give permission to trim my trees?”
Once we have identified that your trees need trimmed, you will be notified with a door hanger that tree trimming has been scheduled. Your permission is not required, because state law mandates that we maintain clearance and keep the power lines safe and hazard free.
The utility is legally required to maintain its facilities. Utility easements and rights of ways are often conveyed in the deed to a property. In addition, as a condition of electric service to your home, you must allow MEWCo access for maintenance.
“How far from the power lines will my trees be trimmed?”
Many factors help determine the distance from the lines your trees will be trimmed.
Growth rate of tree species
Voltage level of power line
Current distance of line to tree
(The minimum distance for most distribution voltage within MEWCo’s system is 10’ tree-to conductor clearance.)
MEWCo crews take care of trimming trees in our service area. MEWCo crews will trim trees according to American National Standards Institute A300 (ANSI) Pruning Standards. This trimming technique uses natural lateral or directional pruning methods which direct growth of the tree away from overhead conductors. This allows the tree to retain much of its natural form while requiring less trimming in the future.
MEWCo does not charge ratepayers for this service. We provide the tree trimming service to ensure that power is delivered safely, reliably and at less cost to our ratepayers.
MEWCo will remove trees that are interfering with overhead conductors or underground transformers. Since there are many factors that will determine whether or not a tree qualifies for removal, a site specific determination will be made by a MEWCo representative.
The best way to avoid conflicts is to never plant trees underneath power lines. If you choose to plant trees near power lines, select trees with slow growth rates that have a short mature height and spread that will not interfere with nearby power lines
“Can I request trimming if my trees are too close to power lines?”
Yes, if you feel your trees are too close to power lines, contact MEWCo and we will inspect the site to determine if the trees should be trimmed immediately or when periodic maintenance is scheduled for your area.
NO! Serious injury or death can result when untrained homeowners attempt to trim trees around power lines. Only MEWCo linemen are allowed to trim trees interfering with the power lines.
Your new AMR meter
NOTE: The meters installed by MEWCo do not use radio frequency (RF) to send information to MEWCo – the information is carried through the power lines.
“How does Automated Meter Reading (AMR) Work?”
Using a combination of power line carrier and Internet communications, MEWCo can bring meter reading information and other electronic data back from the customer’s location to the company almost instantly.
“Now that the smart meter is installed, can MEWCo tell which appliances are operating in my home?”
No, MEWCo cannot tell whether you are watching television, cooking, washing clothes or any other activity you might do in your home. The meter is set up primarily to read your overall consumption in order to determine how much electricity you are using so that your bill will be accurate. Also, if you have a question about how much electricity you are using, a MEWCo customer service rep can help you determine how much power you use daily. But the meter is not set up to determine what appliances you are using.
“Will my electricity usage information be shared with the government or other organizations?”
No. MEWCo has a responsibility to each of our customers to keep information regarding your account confidential. Your consumption data is not shared with any other organization. MEWCo did not use any government grants to install or purchase the smart meters.
“Does MEWCo care what appliances I am using in my home?”
No. What happens inside your home is your business, not MEWCo’s. It is our belief that you, the customer, are the best person to determine how and when you use electricity. Customers should be able to use as much power as they are able to pay for. MEWCo’s job is to deliver that power to your home or business.
“Why did MEWCo change to the AMR system?”
The AMR system provides MEWCO customers with numerous customer service and cost saving benefits including:
- Saving the company expense in meter reading costs which include travel and transportation costs
- Improving billing accuracy, enhance customer service on billing and service issues and eliminate misreads or inaccurate readings
- Quick notification of outages and ability to pinpoint exact location of outages through technology instead of manually trying to locate outages. This means that outage problems can be solved much more quickly
- Availability for fully automated, daily meter readings on all meters
- Save customers time in meter reading, bill calculations and submissions
- Offer improved electric service reliability
- Will help secure the overall safety of the company employee team
- Will give MEWCO the ability to provide customers with more detailed information such as power consumption patterns, outage and blink count history and voltage information, reducing usage questions
“Will meter readers ever need to come to read the meter manually again once the new meter is in place?”
Yes & No. Meter readers will no longer regularly need to spend valuable time traveling to every meter for a monthly read. All meter reads will be sent over power lines, to a substation and then digitally transmitted back to the MEWCO office. But, periodic maintenance is not only necessary, but considered good utility practice.
“Do customers have a choice in getting an AMR meter?
No. New AMR meters have been installed on all MEWCo accounts. The company embarked on a system-wide AMR program that changed 100 percent of existing residential and commercial meters to AMR, in order to acquire more accurate information, without the need to enter a customer’s property.
AMR will give the company daily meter readings, instead of monthly readings. AMR will allow us to give customers much better customer service, incorporating the latest technology, to give MEWCo significant benefits in regards to customer service, reliability and cost savings.
“What’s the difference between the new smart meters and the old meter?”
The new meters are digital electronic devices while the old meters were an electro-mechanical device. The new meters will continue to display the meter reading, but it will be in a digital LED format. The biggest difference is that the new meters will have an electronic circuit board module installed. The module receives and stores the kilo-watt-hour (kWh) and demand consumption recorded by the electronics in the meter, and is able to transmit this and other data over the power lines to equipment located in its substation. From the substation, the data is communicated digitally back to the company’s computers.
“What information does the new meter record?”
The new meter records an electronic kWh reading, the date and time of energy usage, the overall peak demand of the electric account, if the meter has rotated backwards, and the number of times the meter has experienced a loss of power for any reason. In fact, the meter will record the date and time of light blinks and the length of the power outage.
The new meters, like the old meters, convey the total amount of energy used. It cannot determine how you are using energy – for example, it doesn’t know which appliances you are using or know if you are using your dryer. Some consumers mistakenly think that MEWCo will use the device to monitor what electric devices they are using in their home – this is not the case.
“What day of the month will the meters be read?”
All of MEWCo’s new meters can be read at a variety of times to obtain a history of account information. However, for billing purposes customer bills will be read on monthly schedules.
“Once MEWCo employees no longer need to read the meter, can obstacles be constructed that may make the meter inaccessible?”
No. Reasonable access to equipment still must be maintained. This allows for company personnel to either read or maintain the meter if necessary at reasonable times.
“How will MEWCo read the meters?”
The company’s computers will communicate with the substation installed equipment via the power lines and signal this equipment to request one or more meter readings. A reading request signal is sent over the power lines, and the AMR meter responds back with the meter reading(s). The meters do not convey meter readings wirelessly.
“Will someone other than MEWCo be able to read the new meter?”
No. The AMR computer software is especially written for the MEWCo system. The substation communications equipment must be set-up by meter model and serial number and each meter must be added to the computer by its serial number and substation location. Someone using a home computer will not be able to read this electric meter. All meter data is secure and stored at the meter, then downloaded to the computers at MEWCo’s headquarters. Additionally, other electric companies’ similar software systems will not be able to read the company’s meters. Customers can still see their meter read outside via the LCD readout on the meter face. All bill calculations will be done at the MEWCo’s headquarters’ office.
“Will MEWCo continue to do service inspections?”
Yes. Routine inspections of all meters and services will continue in order to look for safety hazards, theft or other problems.
“How secure will the MEWCo meters be?”
The MEWCo meter display is visible for customers to be able to check their consumption. All other information and data stored in the meter is secure and the meter is locked and sealed.
“Can the company disconnect electric service using the new MEWCo meters?”
Yes. The AMR meters can have remote disconnect capabilities.
“Will the new meter notify MEWCO when the power goes out?”
The meters will be able to record outages allowing the company to verify whether the outage is either on the customer’s side of the meter or MEWCO’s. We still, however, request that customers continue to call in outages at 1-509-928-4540 – the more information you can provide about the outage, the more quickly MEWCo can help correct the problem. It is also important for customers to report outages after office hours.
“What if my bill reports more kWh usage than normal or I think my meter is not working correctly?”
Contact MEWCO right away to discuss your billing concerns. Electronic meters are more accurate than analog or mechanical meters. The new meters installed have been tested and meet American National Standards Institute (ANSI) regulations.
The new meters allow for more accurate reads. In some cases, customers have not had accurate bill reads from the older meters. The new meters will show more accurate reads and eliminate human error. If you feel there are discrepancies in the meter reads, please contact MEWCo.
“Does MEWCo have any holiday safety tips?”
Electric cords: Be sure your holiday lighting is installed with safety in mind. Make sure your extension cords are in good condition, with no damage to the cord or plug-ins. Light strands that have damaged or broken bulbs should be replaced, or discarded if the wiring appears to be damaged.
Overloading your cords by using multiple outlet units on the same cord could cause damage to your equipment, or even worse, a fire. Be sure to follow manufacturer directions.
Use the correct outlet: Connect outdoor lighting to a “ground fault circuit interrupter” (GFCI) outlet. These outlets are designed to break the electrical current in the event of a short circuit. Most new homes have these devices installed in the garage or patio-any place where electricity and water can be in close proximity. That said, GFCI outlets should not be considered as a substitute for good safety habits. If you don’t have one of these outlets in your home, consider having an electrician install one for you.
Always look up: We always want you to report any down or extremely low power lines. DO NOT TOUCH THEM! Keep others away and call us immediately. Only our employees have the equipment and knowledge required to correct the problem.
“Why can’t I hang signs on MEWCo’s poles?”
Working on power poles can be a dangerous job. To ensure reliable service, line crews must climb up and down poles in all kinds of weather, day and night. The job is made even more hazardous if people put nails or heavy staples on power poles to attach signs and posters. This may seem harmless but can become a nightmare for line crews. Nails and staples can increase the danger of electrocution if they come in contact with live wires.
Line crews wear protective clothing and gloves to prevent electric shocks. Sharp, protruding nails can tear this protective equipment, and result in injury. They also have special boots and climbing hooks to allow them to get up the pole to inspect or make repairs to lines. If these hooks hit metal, they may be deflected, causing the line crewmember to fall.
MEWCo’s line crews are on the job to assure you quality, efficient, dependable electric service. Show them you care by not using power poles to post signs or posters.
“I want to do some landscaping near the transformer on my property. Are there any guidelines I need to follow?”
When you make plans to landscape or make other changes in your yard, please remember these important points regarding MEWCo equipment.
- Obstructing airflow can affect equipment cooling and cause damage.
- Obstructions can cause delays when restoring electric service.
- Do not paint MEWCo equipment.
- Do not fence, landscape, or build any structures within 10 feet of the front and 3 feet from sides and back of MEWCo equipment that would restrict access.
- MEWCo will remove obstructions that impede work access.
If you are unsure if your landscaping plans will interfere with our equipment, give us a call at 509-928-4540.
“I want to do some digging. Who do I call for a locate?”
If you are planning to do any digging the first thing you want to do is make a phone call… For your safety, state law requires that your call the local “Call before you dig” underground utility locating center at least two working days prior to beginning any digging.
A national service has been established to handle “Call before you dig” requests. Dialing 811 will automatically route your call the locating service for your area.