FAQs - Rates Payment & Billing

How does Heartland decide when to declare a Peak Day?

Here are a few questions we ask ourselves when deciding whether to declare a Peak Day for the following day:

  • Is tomorrow likely to be the hottest day of the month? Higher temperatures mean air conditioners work harder and longer, meaning more strain on the system.
  • Are we expected to have several days of high temperatures in a row? If so, it's likely that the Peak Day will occur after a few days of high temperatures rather than right away.
  • What does the electrical load on the system look like? Is it reasonable to expect that it might reach the highest point of the month tomorrow?
  • Has KEPCo (our power supplier) declared a Peak Day? Just because KEPCo declares a Peak Day doesn't mean we will—sometimes our interpretation of the data is a little different—but their forecast does inform our decision-making process.

When examining weather and load data, we have to consider areas beyond just Heartland's system, because KEPCo's Peak Days are based on usage throughout all of the areas served by KEPCo including parts of western Kansas.

Why doesn’t the Peak Charge on my bill match up with what I see in SmartHub?

If your monthly peak hour occurred from 4 to 5 p.m., your bill will list 5 p.m. as the basis for your Peak Charge. This reflects the way our behind-the-scenes metering system measures usage.

SmartHub looks at the same data a little differently. If you want to see the same time period in SmartHub, you would need to look at the 15-minute interval data from 4:00, 4:15, 4:30 and 4:45. Add up those kW readings and you should have something very close to what is shown on your bill, although there will be small differences due to rounding as SmartHub uses two decimal places while our metering system uses three.

How much does it cost to start new service?

The process of establishing electrical service at a new location starts with filling out an Application for Service form and paying a $250 engineering deposit that will be applied to your project if you decide to move forward. (See our Connect New Service page for more details.) The engineering deposit ensures we can pay our stakers for their time visiting your location and planning the construction.

The total cost of construction depends greatly on many factors, including:

  1. How Far You Are: If your property is far from where the electricity is already set up, it might cost more. This is because we might need to put in more poles, wires and other equipment to reach you.
  2. The Land: If your land is tricky to work with (for instance, rocky or hilly), it could make things more complicated and expensive to set up the service.
  3. Service Requirements: Sometimes, the cooperative might need to upgrade infrastructure like transformers or even the number of phases on the lines running to your location to ensure we can provide the power you need.
  4. Getting Access: If we need to get permission to set up things on someone else's land to be able to reach you, there might be costs involved with obtaining easements.
  5. Local Rules: The area you're in might have special rules or fees that can affect the cost of setting up the new service.

Please call us at (800) 835-9586 if you have additional questions.

Why do I have to pay an electrician to fix a line that’s down between the meter pole and my building?

For liability and insurance reasons, we do not work on members' equipment. Per Heartland's Rules and Regulations (PDF), Heartland's obligation to supply electric service is completed by supplying electric service at the member's point of delivery (i.e., the meter), and the cooperative "will not be liable for any loss, damage, or injury whatsoever caused by leakage, escape, or loss of electric energy after it has passed the point of delivery, nor for defects in the Member's wiring, appliances, or equipment" (pages 22-23, section 7.C).

Why can’t I give my credit card information to Heartland staff over the phone?

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance is a set of rules and guidelines that businesses (including Heartland) that handle credit card information are required to follow as part of their agreements with card processing companies. Think of it as a security checklist to make sure that credit card data is kept safe and protected from hackers and thieves. We follow these rules so that the cooperative and our members are protected from things like hacking and stealing of your information.

PCI compliance requires Heartland to use safe ways to handle your credit card info. The fewer people who have access to your info, the better. Sharing credit card information from person to person over the phone just isn't as safe as other methods. We strongly recommend using SmartHub on the web or app, but other good alternatives include using our automated payment phone line or paying in person. We have a wealth of resources to help you get started on our SmartHub Member Portal Guide, and you are always welcome to call us at (800) 835-9586 for assistance.

What is the Peak Charge?

Our default Peak Savers rate includes a Peak Charge, which only occurs in the summer months of June, July, August, and September. The purpose of the Peak Charge is to better align what Heartland charges its members with the true cost of energy, which is higher during peak times.

The Peak Charge is calculated at $2 per kW used during the member’s one hour of highest electric usage during the month – but that one hour can only occur between 3 and 8 p.m. on Peak Days that we declare in advance. We do not declare Peak Days on weekends or holidays.

You can find more information on our Peak Savers page.

What is the Power Cost Adjustment and why does it change from month to month?

Heartland is an electric distribution cooperative. That means we buy wholesale power and deliver it to our members over our poles and wires.

We try to provide stable pricing for our members, but the reality is the cost of wholesale electricity is different from month to month, day to day, even moment to moment. Factors that affect cost include overall demand on the grid and the price of the fuels used to generate electricity during that time. We don’t know how much we will have to pay for power until we receive our monthly bill from our power supplier, KEPCo.

The Power Cost Adjustment helps us account for that variability and gives us a way to make sure we’re collecting enough revenue to cover our costs from month to month. Some months it might be a credit, and other months it might be a charge. It all just depends on what the wholesale electric market was like during the billing period.

How does Heartland decide how much to charge for electric service?

Every few years, Heartland works with an outside consultant to conduct a cost-of-service study to determine the true cost of providing electricity to our members. These studies are essential for us to set rates that are fair and equitable for all members.

The cost-of-service study helps us identify the various costs associated with distributing electricity to members, taking into account factors such as the cost of fuel, the cost of system construction and maintenance, and the cost of providing customer service. It also examines the cost of providing power to different types of members, such as residential, small commercial, and large industrial, so we can set appropriate rates that accurately reflect the cost of serving each.

I mailed my check before the due date but was charged a late penalty. Why?

As a member, it is your responsibility to ensure your payment is received at the office on or before the due date – regardless of when you mailed your check. Slowdowns in the mail service over the last few years have resulted in more members struggling to get their payments to us in time. For that reason, we highly recommend using another form of payment if possible. See our Payment Options page for more information.

Why is Heartland’s Service Availability Charge higher than similar charges from investor-owned or municipal energy providers?

Heartland works hard to keep costs low while ensuring reliable service, but compared to investor-owned or municipal energy providers, we have a bigger electric system to maintain with fewer members to share the cost. A mile of line in a city might serve dozens or even hundreds of meters, but Heartland averages just three meters per mile of line. We also have many miles of line to maintain – around 3,800 miles, in fact – because our members are spread out over a large area.