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Ask Bob

Bob Pierce, Manager of Member Services, welcomes questions regarding: electricity, efficiency, rebates, rates, co-op programs, safety and just about anything else you can think of! Ask Bob a question or read some of the questions others have asked.

Q: Why is my bill so high when I wasn’t even home last month? (March, 2014)

We get this question a lot regarding unoccupied homes in the winter time If you are keeping the heat on low in your home or cabin to keep the pipes from freezing when you are gone, be aware of the cost. Most thermostats only go down to about 55 degrees. That will save you about 10% compared to an occupied temperature of 70, but that means that your power bill will reflect the remaining 90% of the heating cost. 

Q: Will Clearwater Power Company be investing in large scale wind power? (December, 2014)

A: At this time, CPC does not plan to build or invest in large scale wind power.  Since Initiative 937 was passed in 2006, we have all seen hundreds of wind turbines cropping up around us. This is because  I-937 requires utilities that have more than 25,000 customers in Washington State to have a renewable portfolio standard. This standard requires those utilities to obtain a certain percentage of their generation from renewables like wind power by a certain date. Unfortunately, wind power is significantly more expensive than other regionally common sources like large hydropower.

Q: I stay with friends in town on the rare occasion that the power is out. What is the best way to get notified that an outage is over so I can go back home? (November, 2014)

A: If you are in an area with an internet connection via cell service or wifi, you can use the SmartHub app on your smartphone or tablet. Any updates or power restoration alerts regarding your particular account will appear as notifications on your phone after the first time you log into the app. The app also allows you to report an outage. With the push of button, the app instantly reports all the information we need to know where the power is out. This works 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Q: Is your website smart phone friendly? (October, 2014)

Yes! In fact there are two ways to interact with CPC with your smart phone or tablet device.

Our website now automatically senses whether you are on a mobile device like a smart phone or a computer. If you are on a phone it automatically loads a mobile version of the site that loads quickly and has easy access to the most used sections of website. Right on top is a search features that will quickly take you to whatever information you need from rebates to 4-H sponsorships to renewable energy or anything else you might be looking for.

Q: I’ve heard that LEDs and CFLs use about the same amount of power. Why should I pay more for LEDs? (September, 2014)

In residential screw-in applications, LED (Light Emitting Diode) and CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) do have about the same efficacy as measured in: lumens of light produced divided by watts of electricity consumed.  Some advantages of the LED that might justify the extra cost are longer life,  better color and no mercury.

Q: I received a letter entitled, “Capital Credit Allocation Notice”. I don’t understand what capital credits are. Can you explain? (August, 2014)

Capital Credits are one of the benefits of being a member of a non-profit cooperative like Clearwater Power Company.

Basically, we take the money left over at the end of the year that would be profit in an investor-owned utility (IOU) and we divide it among the members according to how much electricity they purchased from us last year. The letter you mentioned lets you know how much your allocation was for the previous year. Your allocation total is then held in an account in your name. It is your equity in the cooperative (because remember, you are an owner).

Q: I am considering signing up for Exede. How does it compare to other internet providers? (July, 2014)

Most Clearwater Power members do not have access to any high-speed internet service except by satellite at this time. For these people, I honestly believe Exede is the best product out there. That’s why I have it at my home.

Q: If I install solar panels at my house, how long will it take for them to pay for themselves?

A:  To narrow down this discussion I am going to make a couple of assumptions. Number one, I think you are talking about the type of solar panels that generate electricity. We call these photovoltaics or PV for short. Number two, I am going to assume that when you say pay back, that you are referring strictly to a simple financial payback. I won’t attempt to add any environmental benefits into the equation.


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