How Pre-Pay Energy Helps Millennials Pay Bills in an Uncertain Economy

By Shaun Jackson, Senior Vice President, Marketing, KUBRA –

The COVID-19 pandemic has created economic uncertainty for many customers today, leaving utilities looking for ways to help. Nearly six in 10 Americans say the pandemic has taken a heavy economic toll on their communities.

Younger generations have been hit hardest, with only 29% of surveyed millennials indicating they would be able to pay their utility bill from March through June 2020.

Introducing Pre-Pay Programs
Pre-pay energy programs provide answers for many utilities and consumers, especially millennials. The pre-pay energy “load and go” model lets customers add money to their utility account before energy is used. As power is consumed, the account is charged, and the pre-paid balance declines. This alternative payment method offers customers manageable payment sizes and increased transparency into their energy usage and account balance. With as many as 62% of millennials living paycheck to paycheck, pre-pay is an ideal payment option for those who can’t afford to make a large lump-sum payment once a month.

To learn more about pre-pay energy programs, register for the webinar “Pre-Pay Energy: Reliable Payments in Uncertain Times by KUBRA on October 27, 2020. Sign up by clicking here.

Pre-pay programs also help customers become more energy-efficient since consumers are more mindful of the energy they’re using. This is an especially important benefit to the millennial demographic, which uses 50% less energy on average than baby boomers.

Is Anyone Using Pre-Pay?
There are more than 336,000 utility customers on a voluntary pre-pay offering as of July 2020, according to PEWG (Pre-Pay Energy Working Group). As many as 29% of consumers would be extremely or very interested in a voluntary utility pre-paid option, and millennials are traditionally more willing than other generations to try new payment trends. Customers support pre-pay options because they gain more control over their energy usage and payment schedule. They also benefit from reduced or eliminated deposits and disconnect/reconnect fees.

Pre-Pay Programs Drive Results
Customers are not the only ones who benefit from pre-pay programs. Utilities reap financial benefits and see improvements in their customer satisfaction scores.

  • 74% of consumers that have used a pre-paid service were satisfied with the option.
  • Individuals enrolled in pre-pay solutions see an average reduction in energy usage of 11%.
  • Customer satisfaction scores increase 10+ points when customers use a pre-pay solution.

Surviving Economic Downturns
Many millennials who graduated from college at the height of the Great Recession from 2006-2010 could not find employment, leaving them with high levels of student loan debt. Now they’re being hit hard again by the pandemic. As of April 2020, 35% of Americans between ages 18 and 29, and 30% of those between ages 30 and 49 report that they, or someone in their household, has lost their job.

Pre-pay programs that target millennials or low-income individuals can help ensure fewer missed bill payments and reduced costs of energy shut-offs. For example, a North Carolina utility participated in a one-year pre-pay pilot program in which 594 customers enrolled. A staggering 82% of participants paid off their deferred balance during the pilot. This high percentage of paid accounts demonstrates the program’s success and customers’ ability to pay off their debts while remaining in service.

Pre-pay options not only help reduce costs and financial risks for utilities, but they help customers save money as well, especially during economic hardships.If you’d like to learn more about how pre-pay programs can help customers make payments in today’s economy, register for the webinar Pre-Pay Energy: Reliable Payments in Uncertain Times by KUBRA on Oct. 27, 2020. Sign up today by clicking here.

Sources:

US News. “Most Americans Still More Worried about Covid Spread Than the Economy.” June 2020.

Power Grid. “Customers are Financially Stressed Due to Covid 19 and Some are Struggling to Pay their Bills.” August 2020.

CNBC. “62% of Millennials Say They Are Living Paycheck to Paycheck. May 2019.

Global News. “Baby Boomers Use More Power Than Millennials. March 2019.

The Paypers. Popular Payment Methods for Millennial Customers. October 2019.

ACSI. “Energy Utilities Report 2019-2020.” March 2020.

UCRC. “Prepay Energy Landscape Review and Expert Panel.” July 2020.

EcoPinion Consumer Survey Report “pre-pay Energy: Past the Tipping Point and Scaling Up for Success.” January 2017.

DEFG. “NEUAC Panel Presentation: Overview of Prepay Energy.” June 2016.

PEW Social Trends. About Half of Lower-Income Americans Report Household Job or Wage Loss Due to COVID-19. May 2020.

Sowell Gray Robinson. Duke Energy Carolinas Prepaid Advantage Pilot Learnings Report. 2015.

Thanks for your interest!

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