We are all familiar with the process of paying UBT for essential services. Then at the end of each month, we get a bill that has to be paid and if we do not pay, there are tough consequences.

But that process is about to change. Get ready for pre-pay as an option for electricity, water, sewage and garbage payments. This means banking money ahead of time with UBT. You would then decide how much utility service to use based on the funds you have available.

It's the opposite of what we are accustomed to doing, which is consuming as much as we need and paying for it later based on the bill the mailman delivers.

With pre-pay, you do not receive a monthly bill. Just like pre-paying for cell phone service, you purchase a certain amount of service up front.

And there are some built-in features to help you keep track of your balance. If you start getting low, you can purchase more on your pre-pay plan. You choose how you want to be notified when your pre-paid account starts dwindling by text message, phone call or email.

Whether you are a renter or homeowner, pre-paying has its merits. It eliminates the possibility of a surprise bill at the end of the month that is higher than you expected. Once you pre-pay, you can relax knowing that your utilities are taken care of until the funds are exhausted.

Pre-paying can change our habits, making us more conscientious about our usage as we develop a sense of how often we need to reload our pre-pay accounts.

With prepaid, you do not have to pay a high deposit or wait for installation. In this digital age, where we are using our smart phones, tablets and computers to manage our lives, pre-pay fits into this routine.

You can increase your pre-pay funds whenever and wherever it is convenient for you — at home or on the go. Let’s think about how this could affect students attending Tuskegee University. When they leave for Spring Break, holidays or for other extended periods, they can anticipate usage and therefore put less money on their pre-pay account.

This is a trend throughout this country and around the world and in case you are curious about how it’s working in other places consider the findings of a recent study.  

About 1,400 customers enrolled in the pre-pay program in the U.S. Northwest said their usage dropped by between 5.5 percent and 14 percent. In Arizona, one of the nation's oldest and largest pre-pay plans, customers experienced an average 12 percent savings in energy costs.

UBT General Manager, Gerald Long says, “We strive every day to be a better utility system. So, we look internally at our operations and also assess ways we can positively impact customers. This pre-pay program is a response to concerns about utility costs.”

There are a few rules that dictate pre-pay eligibility. Businesses cannot participate. Pre-pay is only for residential customers. Also, you must have a zero balance, meaning no delinquent UBT debt and no payment arrangements in effect.

To enroll, customers must go into the UBT office at the Tuskegee Municipal Complex on Fonville Street and sign up for pre-pay. But you have to wait a few more months. Prepay will be available as of Oct. 1, 2017.

Karin Hopkins is a public relations consultant to UBT. She formerly worked on staff as UBT Communications Director. Contact her at ubtworks2@gmail.com.


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