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South River EMC might no longer be placing calls to members informing them of planned outages, pending disconnections, account balances, high use, right-of-way clearing or other important information. This potential change is the result of stringent rules under the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) that has resulted in litigation across the country.
“We realize that members depend on these calls to be informed about what is happening,” said Chris Spears, CEO, South River EMC. “We really don’t want to stop this outreach to our members, but in order to protect the Cooperative and its members from frivolous lawsuits the move might be necessary. “
The FCC adopted a significant Declaratory Ruling and Order on June 18 to clarify the use of auto dialers and/or artificial or prerecorded voice messages to send telemarketing and informational calls and texts to consumers. The Order took effect on July 10 and impacts all electric cooperatives that use automated technologies, including text messaging, to communicate with members.
The utility industry is waiting for the FCC to address a petition for a declaratory ruling that providing a telephone number to an energy utility constitutes “prior express consent” under the TCPA to receive informational calls and texts related to the customer’s utility service.
In the meantime we encourage you to complete an authorization form giving us permission to contact you using our automated system. Also, if you want to continue to receive notifications, please login to your account and sign up for e-mail notifications. Most importantly, we ask that you notify the office anytime you change phones numbers.
We will continue to monitor progress on this ruling and keep you posted. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office at 910-892-8071.