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Low January temperatures probably mean higher electric bills - NOVEC offers help

January 29, 2014

Contact: NOVEC Public Relations, 1-888-335-0500, customerservice@novec.com

MANASSAS, Va. – Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative anticipates that low frigid temperatures in January will be reflected in customers’ bills that arrive in February. NOVEC offers customers suggestions on how to make bills more temperate.

“Electric bills are high in winter because people use power for home heating, holiday celebrations, and lighting on the shortest days of the year,” explains Bob Cornwell, NOVEC energy services specialist. “But bills this year will no doubt be higher because of extremely frigid weather. We anticipate receiving a lot of calls from customers in February when bills arrive. They’ll ask us how they can lower and manage their bills. We’re here to help.”

Cornwell anticipates that homeowners with heat pumps will notice a particular hike in bills: “Heat pumps save money and work efficiently when winter temperatures are moderate. But when outdoor temperatures drop below freezing, as they have frequently done this winter, more expensive backup electric-resistance heating usually kicks on automatically – depending on how efficient the heat pump is and how well a house is insulated.”

Larry Shaffer, NOVEC vice president of System Operations, says consumers used so much extra power to keep warm in January that NOVEC and other electric utilities in the region had to implement load-management measures to handle demand, especially during the polar vortex on Jan. 7-9, and the cold snaps on Jan. 21-24, and Jan.28-29.

“We thank customers who voluntarily helped out by using their washing machines, dryers, ovens, and dishwashers in the afternoons and after 9 p.m. on those cold days,” says Shaffer. “They helped us manage the power load during peak-demand hours, which saves Co-op members money in the long run.”  

NOVEC took over its power purchasing in 2009. Since then, Co-op customers have been paying almost 15 percent less for electricity than they were before 2009.

“As a not-for-profit cooperative, our customers — the members — own NOVEC,” explains Mike Curtis, NOVEC vice president, public relations. “Therefore, we do everything we can to keep costs and rates down. By finding favorable prices on the energy market, we’ve been able to lower costs. Nevertheless, no one likes big bills. That’s why we offer levelized billing and provide energy-conservation tips.”

Customers may sign up for levelized billing, which takes an average of a customer’s power use for the last year and allows him or her to pay approximately the same amount each month. Cornwell says, “Levelized billing helps customers budget more effectively. It’s a good idea, especially when credit card bills for holiday shopping come in just when heating bills are at their highest.”  

To participate in levelized billing, customers may call the Customer Service Center at 703-335-0500 or 1-888-335-0500, or visit www.novec.com and click on Billing and Payment Options.  

Curtis says customers concerned about high bills should go to www.novec.com/useitwisely to find helpful energy-saving information: “We have all kinds of information on our website about saving energy. Anyone can take an online energy audit specific to his or her home with NOVEC’s Home Energy Suite. Alternatively, customers concerned about their bills may call NOVEC’s Customer Service Center and ask to speak to someone in Energy Services.”

NOVEC, headquartered in Manassas, Virginia, is a not-for-profit electric utility corporation that supplies and distributes electricity and energy-related services to approximately 160,000 metered customers in Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William, Stafford, and Clarke counties, the Town of Clifton, and the City of Manassas Park. It is one of the largest electric companies of its kind in the nation.  For more information, visit www.novec.com or call 703-335-0500 or 1-888-335-0500.

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