DADE CITY — If you are reading this, chances are you’ve received a letter or email from the Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative announcing it is exploring the viability of offering whole-house gas generators to WREC customers.
Those letters weren’t out much more than a week, but the response has been so positive it appears the program “will be happening,” according David Lambert, WREC manager of member relations.
For those not aware of the proposal, info is online at https://wrec.net/generator-program. It involves WREC selling, installing and servicing Generac propane or natural gas home generators capable of running the average home’s electrical devices up to seven days in the event of an extended power outage. Such an outage could be the case following a hurricane, said Lambert.
Founded in 1959, Generac Power Systems is based in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Its parent company, Generac Holdings, is publicly traded.
It was after power line damage caused by Hurricane Irma, in 2017, that WREC members began inquiring about backup power systems, Lambert said. After exploring feasibility with Generac and independent contractors who would install and maintain them for WREC, the cooperative decided to test interest.
In the first week of January, some 2,000 WREC member-consumers showed interest, asked for more details or stated they would buy the generators if offered, said Lambert.
“Based on that, it looks like we are moving forward right now,” he said.
Lambert said the contract with Generac would ensure the units could be obtained at a lower cost than individuals would otherwise be able to get. That was confirmed by some of the feedback received from WREC members who had already explored the cost of buying a system from a retailer, he said.
“People who got quotes before said it was extremely competitive or in most cases less,” Lambert said, referring to the cost of the proposal the co-op is offering.
The price of the 22KW generators with installation is projected to be between $6,500 and $7,500. An exact price would be determined after coming to terms with installers, said Lambert.
According the WREC website, in addition to the initial cost, there is s $300 annual fee to service and maintain the units. Homeowners without natural gas plumbed to their house also would have to cover the cost of having a 250-galon propane tank installed by a gas company, which WREC research showed might cost between $500 and $2,000, depending on the number of gas appliances in the home.
WREC plans to offer financing of units based on the buyer’s credit score. The generators would be covered under a seven-year parts and labor warranty.
Lambert said the generators would provide security and peace of mind for many who worry about losing power for extended periods after storms. The advantage of having backup power was all too clear to WREC crews that helped in recovery in the Florida panhandle following Hurricane Michael last year.
Lambert said the five to seven days of power the generator systems would provide is enough to keep homeowners powered through anything but the aftermath of a direct hit from a very powerful hurricane.
“By then we have power usually restored,” he said.