Southwestern Electrical Cooperative, which has served as a rural community partner for more than 80 years in Illinois, provides power to more than 24,000 members through nearly 3,500 miles of power lines.
As part of providing exceptional service and value to their members, Southwestern is part of the Touchstone Energy alliance, compromised of more than 750 cooperatives maintaining more than 2.5 million miles of power lines, in largely rural areas, in 46 states. Through their cooperation, these co-operatives provide services that would ordinarily require the resources of a large corporation spanning the nation.
Touchstone Energy also connects cooperatives with third-party providers like HomeServe, a proud Touchstone Energy corporate service provider and leading home repair company. HomeServe partners with more than 1,100 utilities and municipalities throughout North America to educate homeowners about their service line responsibilities. HomeServe also provides optional plans that allow homeowners to proactively address needed repairs, including to their exterior electrical service connection and interior electrical systems.
“We wanted to supply our members with a good option for coverage of the exterior electric lines not owned and maintained by Southwestern Electric Cooperative,” said Julie Lowe, Energy Manager. “In the past, when we were called out and determined that the problem or outage was due to problems on the member’s side, all we could do was inform them of the problem and let them know that they would have to hire an electrician.”
These proactive programs allow your members to actively address issues that can impact health, safety and energy efficiency, without putting off repairs because they are unable to afford them or uncertain how to navigate finding a reliable, qualified electrician.
“A lot of the repair issues that come about are after hours or weekends, and the members aren’t always able to reach an electrician right away,” Lowe said. “A plus side for us is that we require our members to purchase our meter loops, so, if that is the problem, we can get them back in power quickly and they can submit the claim after the work has been completed.”
HomeServe works with its partners to help educate homeowners about their responsibilities for the repair of utility service lines. Many homeowners are unaware they are responsible for the portion of the service line between the utility’s transmission lines and their home.
“This (program) has helped our members understand what parts of their service they are responsible for and what parts are covered by us as their utility,” Lowe said.
Southwestern staff knew that working with a company that had been approved and vetted by Touchstone Energy was a safe bet, but they also wanted a partner that shared their values in prioritizing member satisfaction.
“Although we have not had a lot of claims processed, the (members) who have (had claims), were taken care of in a timely manner and to the satisfaction of our members,” Lowe said. “We have also had a member benefit from the HomeServe Cares program, and he was extremely grateful for the help.”
The HomeServe Cares program offers pro bono repairs to qualifying homeowners who have an emergency repair that impacts safety, health, sanitation or quality of life.
There is no cost to an electrical cooperative to participate in HomeServe’s programs – HomeServe funds the administration and all promotional materials. Southwestern Electrical Cooperative can provide members with a program that costs the cooperative nothing and all member Service Representatives need relay to the members is a phone number. A benefit to this program is having a program without having to manage a program, and as part of HomeServe’s partnership with co-operatives throughout the country, HomeServe had paid more than $100,000 to cover the Touchstone Energy dues of partner co-ops.
HomeServe serves more than 4.8 million customers and has partnerships with more than 1,100 municipalities, utilities and associations, providing electric, water, sewer and HVAC service through local contractors.
“It’s a valuable program for many of our members,” Lowe said. “It provides them with peace of mind.”
To learn more about how you can partner with HomeServe to bring peace of mind to your members, contact us.