Planning to launch a prepay power program? Join the crowd.
Less than half of Ruralite members offer a prepay electricity program, but according to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, prepayment programs have grown by more than 55% since 2012.
Utility software tools such as SmartHub and MyUsage.com include prepay options, and more utilities are looking at prepay as a way to help consumers who cannot afford high deposits.
Prepay programs—and the energy awareness the programs build—drive consumers to use less energy. Nationally, NRECA claims the average consumer enrolled in a prepay program uses 10 to 12% less energy.
In Oregon, the average Midstate Electric prepay member reduced his monthly bills by 17 percent. Peninsula Light Co. prepay members average about 5 percent energy savings due to coastal Washington’s milder marine temperatures.
Use these best practices to energize your prepay program marketing efforts.
Some utilities keep the program name simple. Others develop special names to brand the program. Here are program name examples from public power utilities:
- Pay Your Way
- PrePaid Electric
- PrePaid Advantage
One of the first things to compile for any new program is a list of frequently asked questions. It is handy both for consumers and staff education. Here are a few examples:
- PrePay, Consumers Power, Oregon
- PowerPay, Midstate Electric Cooperative, Oregon
- FlexPay, Blachly-Lane Electric Cooperative, Oregon
- PrePay, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, Virginia
- SmartPAY, Cullman Electric Cooperative, Alabama
Encourage One-on-One Marketing
The most powerful marketing tool could be your staff. Flint Energies in Reynolds, Georgia, launched a prepay program dubbed, “Pay Your Way,” in 2012. More than 7,000 members enrolled. The utility designed print ads and program brochures, but after a few years it stopped advertising the program.
“Our only marketing is our member service representative’s personal one-on-one with our member,” says Jimmy Autry, Flint Energies’ senior vice president of member and community relations. “We find members receptive to the discussion at three times: initial sign-up, requests for late payment arrangements and when they have financial issues.”
Brochures, Local Page Stories
Want to see how other utilities write about the program? Your Ruralite team did the research for you. Review these example brochures and local page stories.
This is an excerpt for the Winter 2017 issue of OnLine, our quarterly newsletter. Get more great ideas here.