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Ringing in the New Year
By: Chris Reese, President & CEO
It may have seemed like a year that would never end but, remarkably, 2020 has drawn to a close. This feels like a cause for celebration, even if we can’t celebrate it like we would on any other New Year. I am sure we are all hoping that with this New Year will come better things.
While we’re all glad to be through 2020, we must remember that the circumstances that made this past year difficult are still with us as we cross into 2021. The coronavirus is still a factor that will continue to have a major impact on our lives. Until the vast majority of us here in the United States are able to get access to a vaccine, masks and social distancing will continue to be necessary parts of our everyday lives. While the New Year may seem to be the “light at the end of the tunnel,” we can’t let our hope for a better year come with a drop in diligence and responsibility.
The financial aftershocks of the pandemic continue to affect some of our members. This will likely be the case well into 2021. This has been a difficult time for us all, but many families and businesses were hit harder by COVID-19’s economic impact than others. This is part of the reason that we are not implementing any rate increase for 2021. While some indicators tell us there is a need for a small increase, like a high power cost next year, we feel it would be inappropriate to implement an increase to your monthly electric bill at a time when so many people are struggling. Everyone has enough on their plates right now.
If you have recently been faced with financial hardships and you are struggling to pay your bill, Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative offers options that can help. Our office is willing to work with you. If you call our office with just some simple details of your situation, we can set up a payment arrangement or enroll you in levelized billing, both options which can keep monthly payments affordable for members who qualify. You can find more details on these options, as well as information on assistance programs that SREC members may be eligible for, at sussexrec.com/assistance.
Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative has been closed to the public since March, when the coronavirus pandemic hit full swing. Employees were able to work remotely for a period of time until we felt conditions were safe enough for everyone to return to the office. While we have now crossed the threshold into 2021, we still do not plan to reopen to the public for the foreseeable future. We miss seeing many of you in our office each day, but we feel that this is our best option to ensure the health and safety of our employees, our members, and the community as a whole.
Many members still drop by to pay their monthly bills in-person. While we can’t accept your payment face-to-face, members can take advantage of a dropbox for bill payments at their convenience. When you pull into our parking lot, you can find it on the left side of the office. Otherwise, we encourage members to take advantage of paying their bills online via www.srecbillpay.com. This website lets you take care of your payment from the comfort of your home and offers options for recurring bank drafts that automatically pay your bill each month.
Most New Year’s messages in Currents are a little more cheerful than this one. While I wanted to offer a reminder that our current circumstances are not yet over, don’t get me wrong – as long as you remain safe and are mindful of your impact on others, there is no reason for you to let the state of the world get you down or hold you back. We may still be in the midst of a global pandemic, but the New Year remains a juncture for growth, change, and seizing new opportunities.
Make the most of this New Year while continuing to make smart and safe choices. If you’re one for New Year’s resolutions, there’s plenty of ways you can strive to improve your lifestyle and outlook, even when the world isn’t yet back to status quo. If adhering to a resolution may be too much pressure in this tumultuous time, practicing self-care and focusing on your immediate needs can help keep you from becoming overwhelmed. These options are both great ways to ring in the New Year and keep yourself focused on the coming bright spots of 2021. Remaining positive and hopeful for the future can help us all carry on until COVID-19 becomes a thing we look back on instead of something we have to live with.
Have a happy, safe, and healthy New Year, everyone!