The COVID-19 pandemic brings a flurry of changes and challenges to our daily lives. In the midst of this stressful time, please know we are here to help. As the situation progresses, the dedicated team at LPEA is constantly evaluating and adjusting our practices and procedures to ensure we continue to deliver the essential services on which you rely.
We are also identifying ways we can give back. LPEA employees and board members are a part of the communities we serve, we feel and experience the same disruptions, and we want to do our part to get through this crisis together.
Here are five measures we’re taking to support you:
- Delay of rate increase: We delayed the effective date of the 2020 rate increase from April 1st to July 1st. It’s important to note that while we can delay the increase, we cannot cancel it all together. The increase was examined and discussed in detail at a public Finance and Audit Committee meeting and unanimously approved by the board to generate the funds needed to update LPEA’s electric infrastructure and keep up with the costs of inflation. This remains true. Delaying the increase will cost roughly $1 million, but luckily, we are able to pull this from LPEA’s emergency rate stabilization fund, which was created – fortuitously – in 2019 to safeguard business operations in emergency situations.
- Suspension of disconnects for non-payment: LPEA has suspended all disconnects for non-payment until further notice. While no residential or small-commercial utility services will be disconnected during the suspension, this is not a debt forgiveness program. LPEA members are still expected to pay their bill when they are able, either through a flexible payment plan or funding assistance. Call us or visit lpea.coop/billing-payment-options for more details.
- Allocation of $90,000 in special funds: LPEA has assigned $90,000 in unclaimed capital credits to assist members. $50,000 will be used to assist LPEA residential members who cannot pay their electric bill due to job loss, $25,000 has been allocated to the Community Emergency Response Fund, and $7,500 each was provided to the Community Emergency Action Coalition and the Pagosa Outreach Coalition. These organizations have a proven track-record of effectively mobilizing funds to support our communities during times of crisis.
- Office closures: To support Colorado’s social distancing efforts, LPEA’s offices in Durango and Pagosa Springs are closed to the public until further notice, including public event spaces. Drive through options are available at each office, online services continue uninterrupted at lpea.coop, and our phones remain open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at (970) 247-5786. We will reopen our offices as soon as it is safe to do so.
- Virtual team: LPEA will remain operational throughout the pandemic. As a critical business, we are required to work and maintain services despite the Colorado stay-at-home order. We cancelled all travel, conduct meetings virtually, work from home when possible, and stagger shifts for essential personnel to maximize social distancing. Board meetings are now held virtually via video conference until further notice, and are still open to all members. Visit lpea.coop/board-directors for access details. LPEA will also hold a portion of its Annual Meeting virtually on May 16th. For more details visit: https://lpea.coop/annual-meeting.
Here’s three things YOU can do to help:
- Round up: Have some cents to spare? Elect to “Round up” your electric bill each month to the next highest dollar. That pocket change adds up, helping fund hundreds of organizations in Archuleta and La Plata counties. You can also elect to donate more. Call (970) 247-5786 to sign up.
- SmartHub: Social distancing is pushing us to find new ways to manage our daily tasks remotely. Why not manage your LPEA account remotely too? Chart your usage, pay your bill, and report issues - all from wherever you are via LPEA’s SmartHub app.
- Update your contact details: This will help us notify you of any service interruptions or other information impacting your account. Call us or update your details on SmartHub.
We will continue to evaluate and adjust our business practices during this unprecedented time to maintain service to our communities and members.
Thank you for your patience and support. We will get through this together.
Chief Executive Officer of LPEA