News & Events

In celebrating our 75th anniversary this year, it’s been interesting to see how so many things have changed outwardly, yet remained essentially the same. Our distribution system has been expanded, upgraded and rebuilt, yet Pole #1 still stands on Kinneville Road, a working piece of the system that brings you reliable electricity. Our Portland office building is still in the same place as it has been since the 1940s – with some facelifts and modernization and repurposing. The card on the opposite page (click here to view) is another great example. Kenneth Graham said his Uncle Carl kept that card posted next to the fuse box in the pump house as a reminder. The card includes meter reading and billing rules, and also gives specific instructions on who to contact in case of a power outage, based on where the member lived. These days we have one central number for you to call, but we still need you to call in and report your outage. Truth is, we’ve always expected our member-owners to take an active role in their own electric utility. We don’t send you a list quite like this one, to post next to your fuse box or meter, but through Country Lines and other communications we do ask you to take part in electing and guiding the cooperative’s leadership. This is important because as a cooperative, we are operated by and for our member-owners – you. Next month we’ll ask you to attend your district’s annual membership meeting for updates, and in Districts 3 and 6, to elect the neighbor who will represent you on your board of directors. We have 75 years of good leadership, thanks to participation from members like you. It’s a tradition that you can help continue. Have a comment for General Manager Mark Kappler? Visit our Facebook page.
Congratulations to Hanna Meads of Big Rapids, Morgan Koziarz of Mt. Pleasant, Becca Kirby of Edmore, and Blake Warchuck of Six Lakes, who were selected to attend this year's Youth Leadership Summit April 18-20 at the Kettunen Center near Cadillac. A total of 31 students will participate, representing the state's electric cooperatives from the Upper Peninsula to the Indiana border. Learn more at miYLS.com.
Our offices will be closed Friday, May 4, for all-employee training. We will re-open at 8 a.m. Monday, May 7. For emergencies, call 800-848-9333. To pay your bill by phone, call 877-999-3395
Whether you care about living green or saving green, an electric heat pump system provides the comfort and economy you’re looking for. Join HomeWorks at one of our Geothermal Seminars to learn more. The next seminars will be held April 19 at Portland, and April 26 at Blanchard. Register using the form here, or call 800-562-8232 to sign up for one of the events.
Applications are due March 15 for HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative's youth programs - the Touchstone Energy scholarships and the Youth Leadership Summit/National Youth Tour. Find scholarship application forms and more information here. Learn more about the Youth Leadership Summit (April 18-20 at the Kettunen Center near Cadillac) and National Rural Electric Youth Tour (June 16-21 in Washington, D.C.) or call Jayne Graham at 517-647-1252 (jayne @ homeworks.org).
HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative was formed March 26, 1937, when our Articles of Incorporation were filed with the State of Michigan. Join us on March 26 at our offices in Blanchard or Portland for a 75th Anniversary cupcake! You'll also be able to register for door prizes and learn more about your co-op. See you there!
The Board of Directors has set the first 15 minutes of their regular meetings as a time when members may address the board on any cooperative-related subject. The next two meetings on the schedule are Monday, March 26, at Portland, and Monday, April 23, at Blanchard. Members who wish to have their item considered as part of the meeting agenda should call the office at 517-647-7554 to make their request.
Notice to Members of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative A Special Member Meeting is set for 9 a.m. April 23, at the cooperative’s Blanchard office The board of directors will consider several changes to the cooperative’s rates and tariffs at its meeting on April 23, 2012, to be held at the cooperative office at 3681 Costabella Avenue, Blanchard, MI. The meeting will start at 9 a.m. and is open to all members of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative. The session will begin with an opportunity for members to provide direct input to the board of directors, without filing a formal request under cooperative policy. Members are asked to come to the lobby by 9 a.m. and request to speak to the board; staff will direct interested members to the meeting room. Time constraints on each member’s comments will be at the discretion of the board president, but members are asked to keep comments to less than five minutes. The following items will be considered. Members will have an opportunity to address the board on the proposed changes prior to board action. 1)   Reconcile the 2011 Power Supply Cost Recovery Factor collections. The Power Supply Cost Recovery Factor is applied to Tri-County Electric Cooperative’s retail member-customers’ monthly kilowatt-hour use. It represents the power supply costs as established by the cooperative in conjunction with Wolverine Power Cooperative. The factor is established annually, and reviewed monthly. 2)   Reconcile the 2011 Energy Optimization collections. The Energy Optimization tariff is authorized by the State of Michigan under P.A. 295, and is used to fund required energy use reduction measures. The tariff was established in 2009 for the 2009-2011 program years. 3)   Consider revisions to the cooperative’s billing rules. Notice of changes or additions to the cooperative’s rates or service rules shall be sent to all members, as required by P.A. 167, by publication in Michigan Country Lines at least 30 days prior to their effective date. Participation: Any interested member may attend and participate. The location of the board meeting site is accessible, including handicapped parking. Persons needing any accommodation to participate should contact HomeWorks Tri-County Electric at 800-562-8232 a week in advance to request mobility, visual, hearing or other assistance. Comments may also be made before the meeting date by calling General Manager Mark Kappler at 517-647-1281, or by email at mkappler @ homeworks.org. Notice of the board meeting shall be sent to all members, as required by P.A. 167, by publication in Michigan Country Lines. (as published in March, 2012, edition of Country Lines magazine)
If you have trouble paying energy bills during the winter months, use this Be WinterWise information to look for assistance that meets your situation and needs. Home Heating Assistance Programs 2011-2012 Earned Income Credit Contact: U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service 800-829-3676 (for tax forms) Contact: Michigan Department of Treasury. The Earned Income Credit (EIC) is a refundable federal income tax credit for low-income working individuals and families who meet certain requirements and file a tax return. Those who qualify will owe less in taxes and may get a refund. Even a person who does not generally owe income tax may qualify for the EIC, but must file a tax return to do so. If married, you must file jointly to qualify. File Form 1040 or 1040A and attach the EIC. You may claim a Michigan earned income tax credit for tax year 2011 equal to a percentage of the federal earned income tax credit for which you are eligible. See the 2011 Michigan tax booklet. Home Heating Credit* Contact: Michigan Department of Treasury, toll-free phone 800-367-6263, or www.michigan.gov/treasury You can apply for a Home Heating Credit for the 2011 tax year if you: meet the income guidelines (see below) you own or rent the home in Michigan where you maintain a permanent residence, or you qualify based on alternate guidelines including household income, exemptions, and heating costs. If you qualify, you may receive assistance to help pay for your winter heating bills. Forms are available in mid- to late-January wherever tax forms are provided, or from the Michigan Department of Treasury (800-367-6263, or www.michigan.gov/treasury.) The Home Heating Credit claim form must be filed with the Michigan Department of Treasury by September 30, 2012. Exemptions Minimum Income 1 $11,986 2 $16,186 3 $20,387 4 $24,587 5 $28,815 6 $33,014 add $4,200 for each additional family member Crisis Assistance Program Contact: Local Michigan Department of Human Services (county offices are listed in your local telephone book) State Emergency Relief Program (SER) You do not have to be a client of the Department of Human Services to apply. This program is available year-round, subject to the availability of funds, to assist low-income households that have a heat or electric shut-off notice or a need for deliverable fuel. However, if you receive a DHS cash grant, you may vendor part of that grant towards heat and electric bills. Contact your DHS caseworker or call the Home Heating Hotline, 800-292-5650. Low-Income Home Weatherization Contact: Local Community Action Agency You may be able to receive help with weatherizing your home to reduce energy use if you meet low-income eligibility guidelines (see income guidelines above) and funding is available. Weatherization may include caulking, weather-stripping, and insulating. Contact your local Community Action Agency for more information. Medical Emergency Protection Contact: HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative at 800-562-8232 You are protected from service shut-off for non-payment of your electric bill for up to 21 days, possibly extended to 63 days, if you have a proven medical emergency. You must provide written proof from a doctor, public health or social services official that a medical emergency exists. Shut-off Protection for Military Active Duty Contact: HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative at 800-562-8232 If you or your spouse has been called into active military duty, you may apply for shut-off protection from your electric service for up to 90 days. You may request extensions. You will still be required to pay, but we will help you set up a payment plan. Winter Protection Plan Contact: HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative at 800-562-8232 The Winter Protection Plan protects eligible senior and low-income customers from service shut-offs and high utility bill payments during the winter months (November 1 – March 31). You may enroll between November 1 and March 31. If you are an eligible low-income customer, your utility service will remain on from November 1-March 31, if you: pay at least 7% of your estimated annual bill each month, and regular payments of 1/12 of any past due bills. When the protection period ends (March 31), from April 1 through October 31, you must begin to pay the full monthly bill, plus part of the amount you owe from the winter months when you did not pay the full bill. Participation does not relieve customers from the responsibility of paying for electricity use, but does prevent shut-off during winter months. You qualify for the plan if you meet at least one of the following requirements: you are age 65 or older, you receive Department of Human Services cash assistance, including SSI, you receive Food Stamps, you receive Medicaid, or your household income is at or below the 150% of poverty level shown in the Income Guidelines chart below. Senior citizen customers (65 or older) who participate in the Winter Protection Plan are not required to make specific payments to ensure that your service will not be shut off between November 1 and March 31. However, you are encouraged to pay whatever you can during the winter so you will not have large, unmanageable bills when the protection period ends. Number In Household 150% Poverty Guide Maximum Income 1 $16,335 2 $22,065 3 $27,795 4 $33,525 5 $39,255 6 $44,985 7 $50,715 8 $56,445 Add $5,730 for each additional member. Note: All senior citizens 65+ are eligible regardless of income. Customers are responsible for all electricity used. At the end of the protection period, participants in the plan must make arrangements with HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative to pay off any money owed before the start of the next protection period.  
Just in time for the warmer weather, we’ve got new offers available with the Co-op Connections Card that will interest everyone at your co-op. Want to save up to 30% on baseball, concert or movie tickets? Our TicketMonster.com deal has you covered. Want to get the perfect technology gift for your upcoming graduate headed off to college? Cardholders get big discounts on laptops, tablets and more through the Dell Member Exclusive Store. Want to bring a smile to Mom’s face this Mother’s Day? Save 20% off flowers and other unique gifts with our new deal from 1-800Flowers.com. Encourage your members to visit www.connections.coop and find all the ways to save with The One Card That Does It All®.

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