As a small church here in Brownwood there are always times when finances are stretched to make ends meet. I found when I reviewed our electric statements that something seemed very wrong! We normally only have three short services a week, keep all lights and other electrical items off, unless, we are actually there. When I reviewed the statements, the usage seemed low, but, there was another set of charges that were very high… something called TDU delivery charges. After attempts to find out what they are and how do I stop them, I found out they are for using the electric lines to bring the electric into our building, charged by another company (in our county — Oncor Electric Delivery Co. LLC). So how can they be many times more than what the company we use to purchase electric from cost? My previous utility company told me about an electric grid and being charged for the month based on the highest 15 minute increment for the month that is used for all the other minutes in each month.

I have been trying to research this matter and am finding out the sad truth, a business of any kind that uses only a few hours or days a week will be charged these rates. I spoke with 1 small business employer, she works 1-3 days a week, with a small office and her TDU charges were in the $300s with her electric usage billed under $50. She was concerned if she could stay in her new business due to this utility bill. I know with our church being small, this utility is keeping us wondering if we can stay open for much longer, especially with summer coming… for instance our latest statements show: February- TDU $307.96/UC-Utility Co. $43.26; January- TDU $308.06/UC-$59.51 (had a 1 night special singing); December- TDU $307.98/UC $46.11. You can see the issue.

I am, also, concerned about other small businesses, small nonprofits, and smaller churches! What can we do about it? SPEAK UP! Oncor is currently asking for an increase in their rates. Now is the time to contact state representatives and the Public Utility Commission of Texas (call-512-936-7120 or 888-782-8477) and ask for them to help your business. I have sent a certified mail to them expressing my concerns and saying I am not in favor of the increase… but, also added a proposal to help. I am asking them to allow small businesses, with lower usage, to be rated as Residential, a lower rate scale, for TDU charges. It will allow us to adjust to higher TDU when our businesses grow and more finances may be available. It is an idea, but, with others asking for some kind of help… it may be a good starting place! I will also recommend a letter to the Editor of the local newspaper! The more it is seen, the greater the chances are something can be found to help. God bless you all!  

Donna Hair

Co-Pastor, The Worship Center of Brownwood