BEMC makes change in pay-as-you-go service

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By Rachel Johnson, Staff Writer

Recent changes to Brunswick Electric Membership Corporations’ PowerStat Prepaid Power had many customers concerned when a misconception circulated.

On Monday, March 4, BEMC’s pay-as-you-go metering program implemented a change at its payment terminals.

The machines no longer accept $1 bills.

The change is intended to allow the PowerStat program to operate more efficiently for customers and BEMC, officials said.

“The machines no longer accept $1 bills,” BEMC Vice President of Customer Services Judy Gore said. “The machines were filling up every few days.”

She explained the machines only hold a certain number of bills and once full will no longer accept payments until the machines are serviced.

“We discontinued accepting $1 bills. The minimum bill payment is $5,” Gore said. “The maintenance expenses were large. We encourage $20 purchases. When BEMC started prepaid, the intent was for people to purchase power weekly.”

She said the recent change was made “in order to maintain the program and keep the machines available to folks.”

BEMC’s goal is not to implement a charge for purchasing power on the machines again. Everyone is encouraged to use the largest bill possible to purchase the quantity of power as fits their budget.

Prior to the change, a notice was placed on each of BEMC’s eight machines in Brunswick and Columbus counties.

BEMC was the second power company in the nation to implement a prepaid program.

“So many of our members love prepaid and it works for them,” Gore said. “It enables them to control their own purchases and the amount they want at the time they want it. It is really good for our customers and we want to continue providing it.”

The prepaid power program began as a pilot project in 1989, and by the mid-1990s BEMC’s customer base began to grow.

“It has been a very poplar program since its inception period,” Gore said. “Members have a choice.”

With the PowerStat program there is no monthly bill and no deposit. Customers purchase power using a PowerStat card at a bill payment terminal or at the BEMC office. The purchase is automatically transferred to a home display unit. As electricity is used, the amount is automatically deducted from the display unit. When it gets low (starting at four days’ worth remaining), a warning signal is given.

While the company prefers a $20 minimum purchased with a $20 bill, it isn’t mandatory. The machine still accepts $5 and $10 bills. The only change is that $1 bills are no longer accepted.

For more information about the PowerStat program contact BEMC at 754-4391 or visit online at www.bemc.org.


Rachel Johnson is a staff writer at The Brunswick Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or rjohnson@brunswickbeacon.com.