Frequently Asked Questions

If you do not see the answer to your question listed below, feel free to pass on your question to Southern's knowledgeable staff.

Billing, Residential Service, Irrigation Service, Energy Efficiency, Marathon Water Heaters, Power Outages

BILLING:
Q: How can I avoid dramatic changes to my bill from winter to summer?
A: Residential customers may apply for Southern's Budget Billing Program, which is established based upon 12 months of consumption plus future expectations for consumption, divided by 11. Contact our Customer Services Department if you would like to learn more!

Q:What is the "Electric System Lease" charge that appears on my bill?
A: Customers who live in or near villages will find this charge on their bill. This charge amounts to 15 percent, and is the amount of money Southern is required to pay to the village for utilizing their electric distribution system. The villages own the poles, wires, transformers and streetlights, but Southern maintains the system for the village, sends bills to customers, and receives payment from customers. In 1999, Southern took over the operation of many village electric systems from Nebraska Public Power District, and this is when the 15% rate agreement was made.

Q: What is the "Utility Tax" charge that appears on my bill?
A:This charge is a state-mandated gross revenue tax assessed on all electric sales within the corporate limits of villages and towns below a certain population. Southern is required to collect the five percent tax and turn the money over to county governments. The counties generally distribute the money to the school district where it was collected.

Q: What are the locations where I can drop off my utility bill payment?
A: You may drop off a payment at any of Southern's Service Center locations (Central City, Franklin, Grand Island, Hastings or Holdrege), or at any of these area banks.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICE:
Q: I have recently noticed a significant increase in my electric bill. What could be the cause?
A:
There are a number of possibilities for a notable increase in your electric bill. If a rate increase has recently been implemented, this could be a factor (The most recent increase was implemented in 2008, at 12 percent). You may also experience a rise in your bill if you add to your electrical load. Have you recently acquired new electrical appliances or equipment (refrigerator, freezers, medical equipment, etc)? If so these additions make a difference. Perhaps you have an older appliance that is not working as efficiently as it should. The possibilities for changes to your bill are numerous. If you would like to visit with Southern's Energy Specialist, you may find answers that explain your individual situation.

IRRIGATION SERVICE:
Q: Is Southern still accepting applications for the 2010 irrigation season?
A:
Southern is currently accepting applications for new irrigation service.The deadline is subject to close at any time. Contact the District immediately if you would like to submit an application for 2010.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY:
Q: What can you tell me about compact fluorescent lamps?
A:
Visit the ENERGY STAR website. You will likely find just what you are looking for. If not--contact us with your question.

MARATHON WATER HEATERS:
Q: Am I eligible for the Marathon Water Heater Program if I already have an electric water heater?
A:You are only eligible for the program if you are replacing a water heater from another fuel source to electric. More information on the program.

Q: If I choose the Marathon Water Heater that comes equipped with a load management time clock, will I have enough hot water?
A:
The time clock is only offered on the 85 or 105 gallon model, which should provide you with more than enough hot water to carry you through the brief load management time period. Visit the Marathon Water Heater program page for more information and for a list of fees.

POWER OUTAGES:
Q: Who answers my outage calls after hours?
Your calls during weekends or after hours during the week are handled by an answering service. The company that provides this service to us is equipped with multiple lines to handle a large volume of calls. When you call after hours, we recommend that you be prepared to provide information that will help to identify your location, including your name and address, as well as a legal description or well number if you are reporting an interruption in service to an irrigation well. This can help to expedite your phone call. Otherwise, if you call during regular business hours, Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m., you will speak with our local staff.

Q: How do you determine who will be restored first in an outage?
A:
With any outage situation, our approach is to begin repairs in the area where we will have the most impact, or where the efforts would restore power to the largest number of customers. For instance, if damages have occurred to transmission lines and distribution lines, we will work first on the transmission lines. These lines are ultimately connected to far more customers than a distribution line that may only be connected to a few customers. As soon as the larger issues are fixed, we then move on to the distribution lines. Click this link for a diagram of the restoration process.