News & Events

Are you or someone you know interested in a job with HomeWorks Connect, helping bring fiber-to-the-home to our electric customers throughout mid-Michigan? We currently have an opening in our Portland office for a Fiber Warehouse Clerk. This position is responsible for the fiber warehouse and fiber inventory for the HomeWorks Connect business. Qualifications include a high school diploma or equivalent; we prefer candidates who have OSHA forklift and skid steer certifcations, a Class A CDL, and previous experience in a warehouse or purchasing role. Previous experience with telecommunications and fiber inventories is also preferred. At HomeWorks, we constantly seek to bring energy, comfort, and communications solutions to our member-owners and customers, to enhance their quality of life. We develop and reward employees who help meet our goals, and we embody the cooperative principles as we work with our partners to fulfill our mission. To learn more about this job opening, visit our employment page. To apply, please send resume and cover letters by Wednesday, 2/21/2018 to: Angel McCliggott, Human Resource Specialist, amccliggott@homeworks.org.
This winter has been one of the coldest on record, even colder at times than 2014’s Polar Vortex. Extended cold weather mean we’re all using more energy to heat our homes, and spending more time indoors. This adds up to higher energy bills, especially since last winter was milder than normal. For instance, average temperatures were 13 degrees lower in January 2018 versus January 2017. Additional factors that could affect your bill include: The number of days between meter readings in a billing cycle. We try to keep the average number of days billed each month to 30, but a few days more or less could make your bill higher or lower than previous months. Having a new person living in your home. Remodeling or adding a new appliance. Anything that creates heat (tank heaters, heat tapes, portable space heaters, etc.) will use more power to maintain temperatures against the colder weather outside. We can help with payment arrangements, and we offer several payment options to save time, postage, and even the cost of checks. Assistance options are listed on our website here. If you're struggling to pay your bill, 2-1-1 will connect you with local helping agencies. Dial 2-1-1 or visit MI211.org.
by Missy Robson, Manager of Customer Service My team’s job at HomeWorks Tri-County is to help you get the most value for your energy dollars. We have a number of low or no-cost tools that can make a difference for you. Sign up for budget billing and minimize monthly bill spikes by averaging your payments over 12-months. You can start any time of year, once you have established 12 months of usage history in your own name. Pay As You Go prepaid electric service lets you make smaller, more manageable payments throughout the month, rather than one large payment on a predetermined due date. You’ll never pay late fees or reconnect charges, and prepaid service eliminates the need for a security deposit. People who use the service tell us they are more conscious of their energy use so they actually use less power, lowering their energy costs. Use SmartHub, online or with our free smartphone app, to keep an eye on your use. You can actually mark your account when something significant changes, such as family visits or new appliances, then compare use before and after. Or compare this month’s use to the same month last year, with weather information to put the use in context. SmartHub will help you understand your energy bill. Automatic bill payment through your bank or credit card, paying by phone or paying online, eliminates checks and stamps or a trip to the office! With paperless billing, you’ll receive an email alerting you to the bill amount, and you can see or download a copy of your bill at homeworks.org. If you’re ready to upgrade appliances, lights, or your heating system, our Energy Optimization rebates can lower your upfront costs so you’ll save even more over the life of the item. You can learn more at https://www.michigan-energy.org/utility/Homeworks. Finally, if your energy usage seems higher than usual and using SmartHub's tracking doesn't help you figure out the reasons, call us! Our customer service reps will work with you to review your account as energy advisors. Part of recognizing the value of electricity is being aware of just what work it’s doing for you. Whether we’re building stronger power lines, going out to make repairs at 2 am, answering your phone calls with a smile, or finding ways to use technology to keep our costs (and rates) stable, as the electric utility YOU own, we are always working for you. (February, 2018 issue of Michigan Country Lines)
How will the new federal tax changes affect HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative? They will have very little impact on us - because as a not-for-profit electric cooperative we do not pay federal taxes on electricity sales. For-profit investor-owned electric utilities (IOUs) pay federal taxes. Therefore, the federal corporate tax reduction will result in lower expenses and higher profits for them. That’s just one difference between the two business models. Another difference is what the companies do with their profits. IOUs pay their profits in the form of dividends to shareholders/investors, who may not even be their customers. Electric co-ops like HomeWorks, owned by the members we serve, don’t have shareholders or investors. Instead, we return profits to our member-owners in the form of capital credit refunds. We returned nearly $3 million in capital credit refunds to our members in May, 2017, and nearly $20 million since the mid-1980s. That’s the cooperative difference. 
Are you a customer of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric? Or are you a member-owner? If you purchase our electric service for your mid-Michigan home or business, you're BOTH! We are a member-owned and controlled electric distribution cooperative. As a member-owner-customer, you are invited to take part in the business of the cooperative in many ways, including board elections and district membership meetings. Each year at least two board seats come up for election. This year it's Districts 3 (Clinton County, except for Bingham, Duplain and Greenbush townships) and District 6 (Clare and Isabella counties). Learn more about the candidate nomination and election process here. In May of each year, we host a member-owner meeting in each district. We bring dinner, information and prizes to share with everyone who attends. Learn more about our district meetings - they're already scheduled for this coming May! - here.
The Tri-County Electric People Fund approved seven grants at their December 20 meeting, including: $2,100 to Gratiot County Commission on Aging, to provide mobile ramps for senior homes; $1,500 to Ionia County YMCA, to purchase water safety equipment for the 3rd grade, senior, and special needs water safety programs; $1,000 to Sunny Crest Youth Ranch in Sunfield as a matching grant toward a wood shop dust collection system; $2,500 to an Isabella County family, for housing expenses; $600 to an Isabella County family, to help with housing expenses; $2,500 to a Montcalm County family, to help put in a new well; and $1,787 to another Isabella County family, to assist with furnace repairs. How to Apply for a Tri-County Electric People Fund Grant The Tri-County Electric People Fund provides grants to individuals and organizations in the co-op's service area for food, shelter, clothing, health, and other humane needs, or for programs or services that benefit a significant segment of a community.  Write to 7973 E. Grand River Avenue, Portland, MI. 48875, for an application form and grant guidelines, or visit the People Fund tab at homeworks.org. Note: Applications must be received by Jan. 15 for the January board meeting, and by Feb. 26 for the March board meeting.
Right-of-way clearing is the SINGLE most important thing we can do to keep your electricity reliable. We've invested millions of dollars into keeping trees, branches, and brush away from power lines over the past 15 years, and we're seeing the difference. We've still got a long way to go. Trees keep growing across the 2,916 miles of overhead lines that we maintain. The eight-year clearing cycle we've worked up to is much better than we used to have but needs to be better. We contract with large companies like Asplundh or Wright Tree to do this work for us. It's hard, dangerous work, and requires a lot of training on trees and equipment to be done right. Nobody wants to do that kind of work for low pay, and with the economy improving, these crews have plenty of employment choices that are less dangerous and pay more. The bottom line is that the cost of accomplishing the tree-clearing for 2018 has nearly doubled. It's not going to cost less the year after, or the year after that. This is the new reality, and we hope that most of the money is going to the hard-working folks who do this job so well. With this big increase in a major budget item, among other reasons, we needed a small rate increase to keep your Cooperative financially stable. Your board of directors approved a 4.9 percent rate increase at the November board meeting. The monthly charge will go up by $7 a month for most of our residential and general service member-customers. This will cover the fixed costs for operating and maintaining the electric system, including buildings and trucks; repaying interest and debt on the capital costs of building and updating power lines with wire, poles, transformers, and meters; plus storm repairs and other maintenance. Meanwhile, the actual cost of your energy - the kilowatt-hour charge and the Power Supply Cost Recovery factor, will go down a little bit, as power supply costs are forecast to be stable for 2018. Read more about the board’s decision on page 13 this month, and watch for more information in the months to come.
Are you still looking for the perfect Christmas gift for that hard-to-buy-for loved one on your list? What about giving them the gift of energy? HomeWorks offers gift certificates, which can be used toward paying a Tri-County Electric or Tri-County Propane bill, at our Blanchard and Portland offices. Purchase one for a friend or family member in our service area to give them a gift that's guaranteed to be used and appreciated. Or, in the true Christmas spirit, you can purchase one to donate to our People Fund to help pay the bills and ease the load for a local family in need this season.  To buy a HomeWorks gift certificate, simply stop by our Blanchard or Portland office or call us at 800-562-8232. Happy shopping, and Merry Christmas from the HomeWorks family!
It's not that HomeWorks Administrative Assistant Denise Weeks has a retirement countdown going or anything, but in a recent discussion, she just happened to be able to rattle off the exact amount of time, down to the hour, between her and endless days of Florida sunshine. "I think it's down to 67 days and one hour," she said with a laugh. But who's counting, right? Her Dec. 1 retirement date looms even closer now, and despite her excitement for the freedom it will bring, she knows leaving the organization she has been with for more than 27 years will be bittersweet. "Through the years, the people here have become like family to me, so it's going to be tough," said Weeks. "I'll miss the people most of all." Those warm feelings extend, she says, to HomeWorks staff, the board of directors and the cooperative's members. In her position, the friendly and engaging Weeks has interacted on a personal level with all three groups. "Through the years, my position has grown and evolved, and there came to be two different aspects of it: working with the directors and working with the employees on the human resources side of the job," she said. "I enjoyed the personal relationships I was able to develop with the directors and the employees, and with our members. I've just enjoyed the human aspect more than anything." Weeks won't give up that human aspect when she retires; she'll just experience it in new ways. She and her husband, Pete, who is also recently retired, plan to travel and spend more time with their children and other extended family and friends. "We plan to spend six months of the year at Recreation Plantation RV Park in Florida, near the Villages, and five months in Ionia at Lakeside Resort," she said. "The other month, hopefully, we'll travel, which I'm really excited about. I have five sisters, and we love to take trips together." She's most excited, she says, about the chance retirement will afford to do what she wants to do when she wants to do it. "Where we'll be near the Villages, there are dances every night," she said. "There is lots of recreation, and a lot of opportunities to do anything you want to do." Don't think her retirement means you'll never see Weeks around HomeWorks functions again, though. "I'll still attend my district meeting and retiree lunches and other events, but instead of an event planner, I'll be a guest," she said. "I'm looking forward to joining that club." Still, it won't be the same at HomeWorks without the lovable Weeks. "Denise has been the Cooperative face to many of the members for the past twenty seven years," said HomeWorks General Manager Mark Kappler. "I know the members who have gotten to know her over the years will miss her sweet personality. Personally, I will miss Denise's positive outlook to work and life that she brought to the office every single day." November-December, 2017 Michigan Country Lines
Meeting October 4 and November 15, the Tri-County Electric People Fund made 15 grants totaling $18,254.57 $2,000 to Community Christian Action Group, Eaton Rapids, for food pantry items; $1,000 to Lakeview Ministerial Association, Lakeview, to restock their food pantry; $1,000 to Tri-County Office on Aging, Lansing, to support their Meals on Wheels program; $2,500 to Clinton-Gratiot Habitat for Humanity, Saint Johns, for the Critical Home Repair program; $325.29 to a Clinton County family for housing expenses; $300 to an Ingham County family to help with housing expenses; $2,486.69 to an Ionia County family to pay medical bills; $487.13 to a Mecosta County family to assist with medical bills and septic repairs; $1765 to another Mecosta County family to build an accessibility ramp; and $679.54 to a Montcalm County family for medical and housing expenses. $1,000 to Red-Line Paraclete Ministries, Saint Johns, to purchase items for their food pantry; $1,500 to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, Ionia, for their children's book program; $500 to Clinton County Senior Center to fund their nutritional bingo program; $1,200 to an Ionia County family, to assist with housing expenses; and $1,510.92 to an Ionia County family for housing expenses. How to Apply for a Tri-County Electric People Fund Grant The Tri-County Electric People Fund provides grants to individuals and organizations in the co-op's service area for food, shelter, clothing, health, and other humane needs, or for programs or services that benefit a significant segment of a community.  Write to 7973 E. Grand River Avenue, Portland, MI. 48875, for an application form and grant guidelines, or visit the People Fund tab at homeworks.org. Note: Applications must be received by Jan. 15 for the January board meeting, and by Feb. 26 for the March board meeting.  

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