News and Events

Coal Needed to Keep Lights On

July 15, 2014

IEA Chief: Coal Needed to ‘Keep Lights On’

By Michael W. Kahn | ECT Staff WriterPublished: July 15th, 2014

Cautioning that “energy security really requires diversity,” the head of the International Energy Agency urged against overdependence on natural gas.

 

International Energy Agency Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven urged against overdependence on natural gas and said coal must be part of the energy mix. (Photo By: Michael W. Kahn)

International Energy Agency Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven urged against overdependence on natural gas and said coal must be part of the energy mix. (Photo By: Michael W. Kahn)

 

“Coal, nuclear and wind are all essential for keeping the lights on,” said Maria van der Hoeven, IEA executive director.

“You don’t want too many eggs in one basket.”

Opening the 2014 Energy Information Administration Energy Conference, July 14, van der Hoeven noted that the United States just endured “one of the most brutal winters in recent memory.”

“I was in Boston in February—I can still feel the chill in my bones,” van der Hoeven joked before turning serious.

“If your energy system had relied only on gas at the time of the polar vortex, the additional heating demand would have meant there was not enough gas” for other needs, van der Hoeven said.

Diversity of power sources “guarantees your short-term energy security,” she said.

“There are other reasons we’re very much relying too much on gas,” van der Hoeven continued. “At IEA our definition of energy security has evolved to encompass sustainability, and an energy system that is not sustainable is, by definition, not secure.”

Comprising 29 member countries, including the United States, the Paris-based IEA is an autonomous organization that works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its membership. Addressing that third component, van der Hoeven noted that “many would say more gas is good for the climate—especially when it pushes out coal.” However, she added, “Gas may be the cleanest of fossil fuels, but it’s still a fossil.”

Van der Hoeven urged caution against being too hasty when looking at future fuel sources.

“Renewables and energy efficiency—yes, they may well take center stage. But real action is required on [carbon capture and storage] and other low-carbon technologies to pave the way for oil, gas and coal to play the full role in secure global energy systems for decades to come.”

In 2014, the U.S. finds itself “in an enviable position, given your oil and gas situation,” van der Hoeven said—urging that it be looked upon as an opportunity.

“It’s in times of abundance that we must challenge ourselves to think differently and tackle the tough questions.”

 

EPA Rules Concern Co-ops

May 27, 2014

Co-ops Concerned About EPA Cooling Water Rule

By Cathy Cash | ECT Staff WriterPublished: May 27th, 2014

The Environmental Protection Agency was correct not to mandate expensive closed-cycle systems at all existing power plants under its new cooling water rule, NRECA said, but its required permitting process could still spell trouble for energy providers.

EPA’s final rule for 544 power plants that draw cooling water from lakes and rivers contains a permitting process that could prove costly. (Photo By: Getty Images)

EPA’s final rule for 544 power plants that draw cooling water from lakes and rivers contains a permitting process that could prove costly. (Photo By: Getty Images)

“Cooperatives are also concerned that compliance with this rule, one of many new regulations being layered on electric utilities, could lead to higher electricity prices,” said NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson.

EPA on May 19 released its long-awaited final rule to govern the 544 power plants that draw cooling water from lakes, rivers and other water bodies. The rule was written to protect fish and other aquatic species. It targets electric generating and industrials facilities that withdraw more than 2 million gallons of water daily and use at least a quarter of that water for cooling purposes.

The rule does allow the owner or operator of a facility to choose one of seven options, including traveling screens, to fulfill its “best technology available requirements” for protecting fish and aquatic life.

“Electric cooperatives support clean water requirements that are based on sound science and which can be met in a cost-effective manner. We agree with EPA’s decision not to require costly closed-cycle cooling systems at all existing sites,” said Emerson.

“We remain concerned, however, that the new requirement for biological studies and federal consultations as part of the state permitting process sets a precedent that will be costly and, potentially, unworkable.”

Owners or operators of existing power plants that withdraw at least 125 million gallons a day also must conduct studies for permitting authorities to use in determining what site-specific controls, if any, should be required. The process would be subject to public comment.

Developed under The Clean Water Act Section 316(b), the rule is expected to carry significant impacts on electric generation that rely on U.S. waters for cooling.

 

New Board Members Elected During Annual Meeting

April 23, 2014

LJEC would like to welcome two new board members to the LJEC Board of Trustees. Two new board members and one incumbent were elected durig the LJEC Annual Meeting that was held on Tuesday, April 22, 2014.

This year, Trustees were elected by those in attendance during the Annual Meeting, combined the almost 1,000 votes that were cast by LJEC members via mail.

RESULTS:
District 2 - Mark Gratny
District 5 - Larry Stevens (incumbent)
District 7 - Nancy Reed

While Gratny is considered a "new" board member this year, he has previously served on the LJEC Board of Trustees. During the Annual Meeting he said he wanted the opportunity to once again, serve the LJEC membership, as he now has more time available to dedicate to serving. All three board members are excited to get to work, serving the members of their district to the best of their ability.

Also during the meeting, numerous bylaw changes were approved. Some changes were simple cleanup and other changes were made to allow for electronic voting in the future. This year was the first year LJEC offere mail ballots and almost 1,000 LJEC members participated in the process submitting their ballot via mail. We are always looking for ways to easily engage the members of the cooperative and offering mail ballots is just one way to accomplish that.

General Manager, Steve Foss, covered may other topics pertinent to the cooperative including EPA regulations, new programs and services, and our ever increasing costs. He assured the membership that everyone at the coop is working diligently to keep costs down.

As always, members were (and are) encouraged to contact LJEC if they ever have any questions about their coop (888-796-6111).

Annual Meeting Documents

April 3, 2014

The 70th Annual Meeting of Leavenworth Jefferson Electric Cooperative will be held on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. We will gather at the McLouth School Gymnasium at 217 Summit Street in McLouth. Registration will begin at 6:00pm and the meeting will begin promptly at 7:00pm. Below are the documents that are associated with the meeting.

 

 

Call the LJEC office with any questions you may have. 888-796-6111.

Annual Meeting April 22

March 5, 2014

LJEC ANNUAL MEETING - TUESDAY, APRIL 22nd
7pm @ McLouth School Purple Gymnasium

The 70th Annual Meeting of Leavenworth Jefferson Electric Cooperative will be held on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. We will gather at the McLouth School Gymnasium at 217 Summit Street in McLouth. Registration will begin at 6:00pm and the meeting will begin promptly at 7:00pm.

During this year's Annual Meeting, our members will be voting on proposed by-law changes (click here to view). Members will also elect 3 board members (one from each District 2, 5 and 7).

Names that will appear on the ballot include:

District 2:
Mark Gratny
Randy Herrman

District 5:
Larry Stevens
Mike Tullis

District 7:
Armin Landis
Nancy Reed

A summary of candidates can be viewed by clicking here

A new service LJEC is offering for this year's election is mail ballots. Every LJEC member will receive a mail ballot during the latter part of March. To vote on the issues presented, you can either complete the ballot and return it in the postage-paid envelope by the specified deadline or you can come to the Annual Meeting to cast your vote. You cannot vote by mail and at the Annual Meeting.

We encourage ALL LJEC members to attend the Annual Meeting. Not only will we be covering bylaw and election topics, we'll be covering the business of the cooperative and introducing new programs and services available to our members. If you choose to vote by mail, you're missing out on the extra information presented at the Annual Meeting!

As always, any questions about the Annual Meeting or any of LJEC's programs and services can be directed to the office at 888-796-6111.

 

Grid Reliability

February 12, 2014

Murkowski Seeks Sound Approach to Grid

By Steven Johnson | ECT Staff WriterPublished: February 12th, 2014

Sen. Lisa Murkowski said policymakers should place grid reliability front and center in their debates about energy policy, an approach electric cooperatives say is essential to the future of the nation’s bulk electric system.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski

Sen. Lisa Murkowski

In a white paper issued Feb. 11, Murkowski warned that grid stability is complicated by coal plant retirements, a morass of environmental regulations and the integration of renewable energy resources.

“For the electric grid, reliability and affordability must remain the core considerations, and no electric generation resource should be the victim or the beneficiary of undue discrimination,” she said in the study.

Murkowski presented the 16-page analysis, entitled “Powering the Future: Ensuring that Federal Policy Fully Supports Electric Reliability,” at the winter meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners in Washington.

NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson praised the document and said it represents a sensible approach to the critical issue of electric system reliability.

“Senator Murkowski’s paper is spot-on in its call for a more reliable and affordable electricity grid. Her assessment of the factors influencing the electric grid brings to light the importance of honest dialogue, and co-ops look forward to being part of that conversation,’ Emerson said.

“Regulations cannot occur in a vacuum. They must be deliberate and thoughtful. Folks in Washington often forget about the impact at the end of the line, but electric co-ops know first-hand the effect even a small price increase can have. That’s why we stand strong in supporting a true all-of-the-above energy policy that helps keep electricity affordable,” she added.

Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, is the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and a past recipient of NRECA’s Distinguished Service Award.

She said the white paper presents the case for greater awareness and engagement on reliability issues, and asks the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to be “the unambiguous champion” for reliability in energy policy.

While no network in the world provides as much reliable and affordable power as the U.S. grid, Murkowski said careless federal policies could undermine that standing.

For example, during the polar vortex that froze the country in January, 89 percent of coal capacity slated for retirement next year was used to meet the increased demand, Murkowski said.

Given that 10 to 20 percent of existing coal capacity could be idled by the middle of the next decade, Murkowski said EPA must consider reliability in its existing or planned regulations on coal ash, greenhouse gases and hazardous air pollutants.

The agency “should not pursue an industrial planning agenda to drive technology through regulation and should be required to take carefully into account the views of reliability regulators,” she said.

In addition to greater coordination between EPA and FERC, Murkowski called for more congressional oversight and a greater role for electric reliability professionals in evaluating environmental rules.

She said industry, regulators, and other leaders need to more vigorously share their views on the challenges facing today’s grid.

“The reliability of electric service, along with its affordability and environmental performance, must be continuously maintained and improved,” Murkowski said.

 

New Email Scam

January 28, 2014

National Email Scam Hitting Inboxes

By Victoria A. Rocha | ECT Staff WriterPublished: January 28th, 2014

A nationwide email scam is targeting utility customers, including electric cooperative members, by sending bogus invoices directing them to a virus-infected site.

Fake electric utility invoices with malware links are hitting customers’ inboxes. (Photo By: iStock Photo)

Fake electric utility invoices with malware links are hitting customers’ inboxes. (Photo By: iStock Photo)

 

No co-op members appear to have been bilked, but members and employees of Hancock-Wood Electric Co-op in North Baltimore, Ohio, have reported receiving emails followed by phone calls.

The scam emails claimed to be from PG&E Energy, an electric and gas utility in San Francisco. News reports from several states also cited Atmos Energy, a natural gas utility in Dallas, as the supposed source.

The fraudulent billing message tells customers that their Atmos or PG&E bill is ready and provides a hyperlink to view it. And that’s where the trouble begins.

“Reports say the link takes a person to a site that infects their device with malware. The malware could go after banking information or attempt to steal usernames and passwords,” said Diana Hersch, director of marketing and communications at Hancock-Wood.

Better Business Bureaus around the country are seeing big increases in phony utility company invoices, according to an official at a BBB serving northwestern Ohio and southeastern Michigan.

Other co-ops in Ohio and at least one in Florida have warned members about the email scam in recent days. The co-ops are advising members to ignore suspicious requests for personal information, such as bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and user names and passwords. Members are also advised to delete those emails.

Hersch said Hancock-Wood received reports about the emails at about the same time the local BBB issued an alert.

“Our members are pretty savvy, and some told us some funny stories about how the bogus utility responded to their scrutiny,” said Hersch. “The best story out of this was when one member was asked to pay by a bogus company. She boldly stated, ‘My electric utility is Hancock-Wood, who are you guys?’ They promptly hung up.”

 

Colder Weather Hikes Bills

January 24, 2014

Cold Weather Hikes Power Bills

By Derrill Holly | ECT Staff WriterPublished: January 28th, 2014

An early start to the winter heating season, coupled with sustained cold weather in January, has electric cooperatives and other utilities urging their consumers to search for ways to conserve energy at home. Since December, cold snaps triggered by the polar vortex have led to record demand for electricity, propane and natural gas, and high bill warnings from many utilities, including co-ops.

 

A -2 degree temperature reading, at the Bison S.D., headquarters of Grand Electric Cooperative, Jan. 27, is an indication of one of the most severe winters faced by electric co-ops in years. (Photo By: Tally Seim/Grand EC)

A -2 degree temperature reading, at the Bison S.D., headquarters of Grand Electric Cooperative, Jan. 27, is an indication of one of the most severe winters faced by electric co-ops in years. (Photo By: Tally Seim/Grand EC)

 

“Psychologically folks don’t seem to pick up the phone when the bill is $299.99 but the second it goes to $301.19, phones start ringing off the hook” said Heidi Jernigan Smith, manager of economic development, marketing and corporate communications for Pantego, N.C., based Tideland Electric Membership Corp.

The bitter cold, accompanied by ice and snow has led to widespread school and business closings in many areas, prompting families to remain home during periods when they might otherwise adjust their thermostats downward. Economists estimate that the prolonged cold spell could drain $5 billion from the U.S. economy due to crop losses,  business delays or closures, decreased consumer spending and higher energy costs.

“Members who earn an hourly wage are not getting paid,” said Smith. “We’ve got people who’ve been down to two or three days a week since the cold weather began.”

In Comanche, Texas, “Our temperatures got as low as 17 degrees, which is pretty extreme for us,” said Shirley Dukes, communications and public information specialist at Comanche Electric Cooperative.

The co-op’s member services representatives have been fielding inquiries about statements covering the billing period that began just before Thanksgiving and continued through Dec. 20.

The prospect of higher bills stemming from the coldest sustained temperatures in decades has triggered a spate of inquiries about balanced billing at Comanche EC. It’s also led to an upswing in appointments for the co-op’s heating/air conditioning tune-up program.

“If members have their units tuned up to our specifications, we give them a $100 rebate,” said Dukes. “Even though there is nothing we can do about the current bill because they did actually use the power, we care enough about them to offer a solution and are willing to pay them to lower their bill.”

Independent system operators PJM Interconnect and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas have reported historic winter peak demand for electricity, as have power wholesalers National Grid and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

“When it’s below 20 degrees, each time the temperature drops one degree, another 400 megawatts of electricity is needed, said  Tim Ponseti, TVA’s vice president of transmission operations and power supply, during a recent interview. TVA is encouraging utilities it supplies to urge consumers to set thermostats a degree or two below normal for conservation.

Propane shortages have led to higher costs in the Midwest, and concerns that the roughly 30 percent of households in the region that use the fuel could expect to pay twice the rates charged last winter. Experts have also warned that home heating oil cost, now about $3.92 per gallon in the Northeast, could also increase if cold weather persists. In areas where natural gas is the predominate heating fuel, increased demand is expected to affect both supply and transmission costs.

Distribution cooperatives in other parts of the country are also preparing members to brace for “higher than normal” energy bills as temperatures hovered in the teens or single digits.

“Many members will receive a bill higher than usual for this time of year,” said Brian Lacy, communications manager for Cullman Electric Cooperative, based in Cullman, Ala. “Nighttime temperatures in the low teens will cause heating systems to work harder and longer, which will result in even more high electric bills.”

Similar warnings were coming from DeRidder, La.,-based Beauregard Electric Cooperative.

“Members will see an increase in monthly bills as a result of some of the coldest days experienced in the last 20 years,” said Kay Fox,  the co-op’s vice president of marketing and member services, who notified members through social media and local news outlets that the average temperature in the co-op’s service territory during December 2013 was just over 51 degrees, or nearly 7 degrees cooler than the same period of 2012.

“This represents a significant difference in temperature where December 2013 was twice as cold,” said Fox, citing heating degree day data from the National Weather Service.

At Delaware Electric Cooperative in Greenwood, “electric bills for December and January are considerably higher than what members saw for the same period one year ago,” said Jeremy Tucker, manager of marketing and communications.

The co-op expects that trend to continue through at least February’s billing cycle as temperatures in the mid-Atlantic region are likely to remain below freezing.

“We sent out an email alert [in December] and will probably do the same thing again by early February,” Tucker said. The co-op’s email list includes more than 50,000 of its 87,000 members.

“We want to make sure they receive the information and have the opportunity to ask questions if they choose,” said Tucker. “Some people will conserve, while others want to have a warm and comfortable house, even if it adds significantly to their monthly bill.”

 

Scams Keeping Coops on Alert

January 7, 2014

Scams Keeping Co-ops on Alert

By Michael W. Kahn | ECT Staff WriterPublished: January 6th, 2014

Scammers continue to target electric cooperative members in several states, using a variety of schemes including one where a man looks like he might work at the co-op.

 

Electric cooperatives in several states are warning members about a variety of scams. (Photo By: iStock)

Electric cooperatives in several states are warning members about a variety of scams. (Photo By: iStock)

 

That’s occurring in Paintsville, Ky.-based Big Sandy RECC’s service area, where officials say someone has been approaching members, requesting money under threat of disconnection.

“He’s dressed like a utility worker,” said David Estepp, president and general manager of Big Sandy RECC. “He’s driving a vehicle that looks similar to our vehicles. It does not have our emblem or our name on it, but if somebody is not paying attention they could be deceived.”

Estepp said co-op members who were approached knew they had paid their bills and didn’t give the man any money. Estepp also noted that his employees never collect money in the field, and he urged members to ask anyone claiming to work for the co-op to show identification.

In neighboring Tennessee, scammers posing as co-op employees have been calling both residential and business members, demanding immediate payment to avoid disconnection.

“The calls sound official,” said David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “They claim to be with the local electric cooperative, and many times the caller ID even displays the name of the utility.”

Callis said co-ops don’t operate that way. He urged members to hang up on such callers and then phone the co-op to tell them what happened.

“No one can protect you from being victimized better than you,” Callis said.

Credit card numbers are what an imposter is after in Colorado, where commercial members of La Plata Electric Association are being targeted.

“The caller apparently indicates that the businesses’ LPEA account is past due, and if payment is not made immediately by credit card, then the electricity would be disconnected,” said Steve Gregg, manager of operations at Durango-based LPEA.

The co-op first learned about the calls Christmas Eve, and Gregg said they know of at least four calls. “Chances are there have been many more attempts.”

In New Mexico, Taos-based Kit Carson Electric Cooperative said some members have been getting calls from a man claiming to be a co-op service representative named Mark Lopez. The caller threatens to turn off the electricity in 30 minutes unless the member makes an immediate payment using a prepaid money card.

Luis Reyes, Kit Carson CEO, urged his members to gather as much information as possible from the caller, and then phone the co-op, which is working with local law enforcement.

“Any information you can provide may help us stop the fraudulent activities that are occurring across New Mexico and other co-ops throughout the U.S.,” Reyes said.

 

If you ever have any question about the validity of someone representing LJEC that is at your door or on the phone, we encourage you to contact the coop directly at 888-796-6111.

 

Natural Gas: Fuel of the Future?

January 2, 2014

Natural Gas: Fuel of the Future?

By Steven Johnson | ECT Staff WriterPublished: December 28th, 2013

 

When it comes to electric power generation, coal is headed to second place.

Natural gas will be the primary source of electric generation by 2040, the government says. (Photo By: Ron Thomas)

Natural gas will be the primary source of electric generation by 2040, the government says.
(Photo By: Ron Thomas)

A new government report foresees a steady decline for coal as a fuel source for electricity, saying natural gas will surpass it during the next quarter-century.

By 2035, natural gas will catch up with coal, with each accounting for 34 percent of all U.S. electric generation.

By 2040, natural gas will increase to 35 percent, while coal slides to 32 percent, the Energy Information Administration said in a preliminary version of its Annual Energy Outlook 2014.

That’s a sharp change from the current split of 37 percent for coal and about 30 percent for natural gas, EIA said, adding that could factor into higher electricity prices.

“The combination of slow growth in electricity demand, competitively priced natural gas, programs encouraging renewable fuel use, and the implementation of environmental rules dampens future coal use,” the agency said.

EIA said it included the economic impact of compliance with the Clean Air Interstate Rule and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard in its projections for coal plants.

The agency didn’t assign specific costs to the regulations. But it said they will create enough uncertainty to slow the use of coal for electric power. About 50 gigawatts of coal generation will be retired by 2021, EIA said.

With low natural gas prices and a rise in construction costs for new coal plants, coal-based capacity will fall from 310 GW in 2012 to 262 GW in 2040, according to the agency.

Natural gas will take up the slack, EIA said, even with long-term price hikes. The Henry Hub spot price will reach $7.65 per million Btu in 2040, an increase of about 80 percent from its current level.

Nuclear power will account for 16 percent of generation by 2040, down from its current 19 percent, as facilities reach retirement age. Renewables will grow from about 12 percent to 16 percent, EIA added.

The changes in fuel mix will be felt in the wallet, EIA said. The average price of electricity, which was 9.8 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2012, will hit 11.1 cents per kwh in 2040, a jump of about 13 percent.

 

States Call for EPA Flexibility

November 25, 2013

States Call for EPA Flexibility

By Cathy Cash | ECT Staff WriterPublished: November 25th, 2013

Electric cooperatives are ready to work with state utility regulators who are urging the Environmental Protection Agency to be flexible when it comes to setting carbon dioxide standards for existing power plants.

“We look forward to working with state regulatory commissions across the country who want EPA to pursue a flexible path forward when crafting carbon dioxide standards that will impact our coal fleet,” said Ted Cromwell, NRECA senior principal for environmental policy.

Jay Morrison, NRECA vice president for regulatory issues, Mary Ann Ralls, NRECA associate director regulatory counsel, and Cromwell attended the annual meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, Nov. 17-20, in Orlando, Fla., where state regulators approved a resolution calling for the federal agency to rely on their expertise when regulating carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.

Federal carbon dioxide guidelines “should rely on both State utility and environmental regulators to develop the CO2 performance standards and implementation plans that reflect the policies, energy needs, resource mix and economic conditions of each State and region that exist now and in the future,” the resolution said.

NARUC, the national association representing state commissioners who regulate essential utility services, took no position on whether EPA should proceed with carbon dioxide regulations.

At the direction of the White House, EPA is preparing to draft regulations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants. A proposed rule is due June 2014. The agency is expected to publish a carbon dioxide standard for new plants soon that will launch a 60-day comment period.

 

JFK and the Co-op Connection

November 19, 2013

JFK and the Co-op Connection
By Steven Johnson

NRECA General Manager, Clyde T. Ellis, was already looking forward to President John F. Kennedy's second term when he accepted a presidential adviser's invitation to sort through rural issues over lunch at the White House.

Ellis had forged a close bond with Kennedy and eagerly marked the date on his calendar - November 25, 1963.

Instead of dining at the White House that day, Ellis was one of millions of mourners who watched Kennedy's funeral cortege pass through the streets of Washington, D.C. "From where we sit in this great rural electrification crusade, we say to the memory of President John F. Kenndy, our very dear personal friend and friend of the program, 'Well done, and thank you,'" Ellis reflected a few weeks later.

On the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's assasination, it's important to realize that his administration was about more than charm, the Cold War and a dreadful day in Dallas, said Ted Case, author of Power Plays, a book about presidents and electric co-ops.

"My research showed an amazing relationship between Kennedy and electric cooperatives," said Case, executive director of the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association. "Being from Boston, you would not think of him as a natural fit for co-ops, but when he got on board, he did so in a huge way."

Kennedy first reached out to Ellis while he was a U.S. senator. In 1958, Kennedy addressed an NRECA regional meeting in Burlington, VT, and wowed the NRECA annual meeting the next year when he went on stage after President Eisenhower, who sought to raise Rural Electrification Administration loan rates.

"Whereas Ike got one applause when he went in - I walked with him - and one when he was introduced... and one at the end when he left; I think it was eighteen applauses Kennedy got in his address besides at his introduction," Ellis recalled in an oral history for the JFK Library.

As president, Kennedy routinely hosted Ellis and co-op representatives in the White House. In the week after the Cuban Missle Crisis, he oversaw the November 1962 agreement between NRECA and the U.S. Agency for International Development that has used the electric co-op model to bring electricity to more than 100 million people worldwide.

"He believed that if you could establish democratic institutions in Latin America, you could stop another Cuba," Case noted. "It's been a huge success story and I think something he would be very pleased with 50 years later."

During his term, Kennedy eloquently advocated for hydropower development, loosened REA operating policies and dispatched an aide as a personal emissary to electric co-ops. Other co-op priorities were stuck in the pipeline, though, partly because of bureaucratic foot-dragging and partly because Kennedy's presidency was so brief.

On September 23, 1963, Ellis told Kennedy about the enthusiastic response to electrification at organizational meetings in Latin America. "He would just go wild over these programs," Ellis said. It was the last time he met with Kennedy at the White House.

Case believes the relationship between Kennedy and electric co-ops holds lessons for today.

"What Kennedy shows is that politicians can evolve and become great supporters of our program. It is an education and if we rely only on rural legislators, we will fail because there is not enough of them," Case said. "We need to focus on the urban legislators who might not have co-ops in their districts. It happened with John Kennedy."

 

 

Co-ops to EPA: Keep Power Affordable

November 12, 2013

Co-ops to EPA: Keep Power Affordable
By: Cathy Cash, ECT Staff Writer - November 12, 2013

Expensive energy will hurt the economy. That's the message electric coopertive leaders gave government officials who are drafting regulations for carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-based generation.

And that's what lies ahead if coal is taken off the table, they told the US Environmental Protection Agency at its November 7 "listening session" at EPA headquarters in Washington, DC. EPA will propose carbon dioxide standards for existing power plants in June 2014.

"If EPA's approach causes our electricity rates to rise, it could force industrial customers to close their production facilities," said Robert Richhart, Vice President of Management Services at Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative. "This would dramatically impact jobs in the communities served by our members and drive rates up further for the remaining customers."

The Bloomington, IN, co-op serves 300,000 businesses, homes and farms and 750,000 people in 59 central and southern counties in Indiana and Illinios.

Ed Short, CEO and General Manager of Covington Electric Cooperative in Sanford, AL, underscored that rural customers served by co-ops will bear the brunt of unattainable standards for coal plants. The co-op serves more than 22,400 meters across six counties.

Rural co-ops face higher costs because of the low density of their territories and most of the costs "will pass directly to those hard-pressed customers," he told EPA. "Most are on a fixed income."

In keeping with the Fuel Use Act of 1978, about 70 percent of co-op built generation was coal-based because it was the lowest cost option.

Billions of dollars that co-ops have since invested to clean up their power plants are at risk if these units must close under a new carbon dioxide mandate. Limited technology is currently available to reduce a coal plant's carbon emissions.

"We respectfully ask the EPA to recognize and respect that we followed the law when constructing power plants and consumers cannot afford for us to switch again with so much investment on the line, " Richhart said at the session, which was amonth the last of 11 sessions conducted.

Ted Cromwell, NRECA Senior Prinicpal for Environmental Policy, told the agency that co-ops have added more than 5,000 megawatts of renewable generation, in addition to cleaning up their fossil fuel units. EPA "can't ignore the remaining useful life of coal plants, or the payments of loans that are outstanding on these facilities," he said.

The Virginia, Maryland and Deleware Association of Electric Cooperatives' Brian Mosier also urged the EPA to rethink a carbon rule on behalf of 15 member co-ops that serve over 650,000 homes and businesses in the there states.

"Let's keep coal in the President's stated 'all of the above' mix, as one of several fuel sources, while continuing to find ways to make using it to generate power cleaner and more efficient," he said.

Michalene Reilly, Manager of Environmental Services for Hoosier Energy, told OPA that the agency's plans to apply New Source Review provisions to control carbon dioxide from existing plants will be an "impediment to improving efficiency in power plants."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-KY), came down from Capitol Hill to make a case for coal. "Coal is crucial to affordable, independent energy for our nation," he said.

Co-ops across the country traveled to EPA sessions held in large cities, including Atlanta, where co-op representatives from three states spoke out on October 23, and in Chicago, where Duane Noland, President and CEO of the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives, gave comments on November 8.

Power to the People

August 26, 2013

“Power to the People” features Electric Cooperative Crews Bringing Light to Guatemala

            Topeka — PBS affiliate KTWU will air a documentary during September depicting the journey of 32 electric cooperative volunteers who brought electricity to 175 remote homes, businesses and churches in a remote region of Guatemala in 2012.

 

            Entitled “Power to the People,” the documentary details the 30 days of extraordinary effort by electric cooperative linemen to bring light for the first time to three villages. Along the way, the story captures the rugged beauty of the region and the bonds that develop between the volunteers and the Guatemalans who are grateful for the life-changing convenience of electricity.

 

“The video is an amazing story of spirit and determination that goes beyond just delivering electricity,” said Bruce Graham, CEO of Kansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc., the statewide service organization for the electric cooperatives that serve in Kansas.

“The documentary is a universal message about how electric service makes a health, welfare and quality of life difference,” he added.

           

            Graham has a unique connection to the project and the documentary. He launched the initiative in 2011 while serving as CEO of the Indiana Statewide Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives. Graham joined Kansas Electric Cooperatives in March of 2012.

 

            “While I may have been involved at the start, the stars of the show are the 32 volunteers and the 38 Indiana electric cooperatives that donated time and resources.   They took the idea and made it happen,” Graham said.  “I am excited to have “Power to the People” broadcast here because the same commitment and generosity so well demonstrated in this documentary is shared by electric cooperatives in Kansas and across the nation.”

 

            Broadcast of the production is made possible by the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives of Kansas. The KTWU broadcast schedule is as follows:

Monday         9/02/13         9 p.m.          KTWUHD
Saturday       9/07/13         6 p.m.          KTWU Enhance
Sunday         9/8/13          5 p.m.          KTWU Enhance
Sunday         9/8/13          10 p.m.         KTWUHD
Monday         9/9/13          9 p.m.          KTWU Enhance
Sunday         9/22/13         12 a.m.         KTWU Enhance

Avoid HVAC Headaches at Home

August 20, 2013

Avoid HVAC Headaches at Home

By Michael W. Kahn | ECT Staff WriterPublished: August 20th, 2013

 

It’s one of the biggest investments a homeowner will make: installing a new HVAC system. But hiring the right company requires a lot more research than asking your friends who they used.

“You have no idea if the person coming to your house is even remotely qualified to do a good job,” warns Brian Sloboda, senior program manager at NRECA’s Cooperative Research Network.

“It is not a secret in the HVAC industry that there are times when you buy a very nice brand new, highly efficient heat pump or air conditioner, and by the time the person is finished installing it, you’re left with something that might actually be less efficient than the thing you just replaced.”

Say what? How can that happen?

“The duct work in your house may not be functioning. There are instances where duct work is lying on the ground and not actually connected when the person leaves. There are other cases where the duct work is not designed properly, so you may need to reconfigure some of the duct work,” Sloboda cited as common examples.

Other problems: The refrigerant could be under-charged or over-charged. Or you could be sold a system that’s oversized for your house, leaving it humid inside.

Mistakes like these are commonplace, Sloboda said, because there “really are no standards that HVAC installers have to meet to get their job.”

However, some industry groups have come up with their own quality installation programs, including the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)—which CRN has met with—and North American Technician Excellence (NATE), which was formed by several HVAC industry stakeholders.

CRN and its strategic partner E Source have been looking into quality installation programs, which Sloboda said teach proper design and installation, as well as how to instruct consumers on correct use “so that the system works the way the manufacturer intended.”

Sloboda said consumers should ask their utility if it has a preferred contractor program, consisting of companies that the electric cooperative or other utility has vetted. If not, check the ACCA or NATE websites for accredited companies.

But that’s just for starters. Sloboda said that when you call a contractor, “You really should insist that the person who actually comes to your house and does the work is the person with the certification.” Not everyone working for an accredited company is necessarily certified.

“When they come to your house, ask questions,” Sloboda advised. A good one to lead off with: How long have you been doing this? “If they say, ‘This is only my second job,’ you may want to ask the HVAC contractor to send somebody out with the person.”

So what about asking friends or neighbors who they used?

“They have no clue if the person did proper duct analysis or charging of the system. No one knows. You can’t tell by looking at it. You can’t really tell by looking at your energy bill,” Sloboda said. “You have to hook electronics up to the system to see how it’s performing, and you can’t do that as a regular homeowner.”

 

Climate Change Plan Will Harm Rural America

July 16, 2013

'All-of-the-Above' Energy Strategy Needed
NRECA Straight Talk, July 2013

In late June, President Obama announced a series of actions to combat climate change. For electric co-ops, the outline hammered one point that has us ready to do battle: reducing the volume of greenhouse gases—primarily carbon dioxide—emitted from fossil fuel-burning power plants, both new and existing.

To that end, the President has instructed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate carbon emissions under the federal Clean Air Act, a law last updated in 1990 that contains not a single line mentioning carbon dioxide. Under the sweeping mandate set forth, the White House risks shuttering the nation’s entire coal fleet—roughly 37 percent of generation capacity—and driving up electric bills for all consumers.

NRECA and its member cooperatives oppose using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases and will engage the administration at every turn to inject common sense back into policy discussions. Whether you agree with the President’s underlying concerns about global warming or not, the basic fact is that short of closing all coal-fired power plants there are no economically viable tools currently available to accomplish his goals.

For several years, electric co-ops have warned the Obama administration that employing the Clean Air Act to curb power plant carbon dioxide emissions is badly misguided. Without significant modifications, co-ops feel the President’s proposal will jack up electric bills for those who can least afford it—our consumer-members.

Rural residents already spend a greater chunk of their income on energy than those in urban communities. One of our first missions as not-for-profit electric co-ops remains keeping rates affordable―an important consideration since household income in our service territories runs 11 percent lower than the national average and one person in six served by a co-op lives in poverty.

Forcing electric co-ops to shut down coal plants and switch to other fuels amounts to levying a punitive, regressive tax on rural America. History shows us this bad idea was tried once before, with bad results.

In the late 1970s policymakers were concerned the U.S. would soon run out of natural gas, the main energy source for heating and cooking in many parts of our land. Congress’s solution to the issue was passing the ill-conceived Powerplant and Industrial Fuel Use Act of 1978, which prohibited burning natural gas to generate electricity. To meet growing demand for power, utilities were forced to choose either coal or nuclear power facilities.

For electric co-ops the timing couldn’t have been worse. The measure kicked in just as generation and transmission co-ops (G&Ts) were in the middle of a major power plant building cycle. In the end, many found themselves shifting generation strategies midstream―an expensive proposition—and either partnering with investor-owned utilities in nuclear reactors or constructing state-of-the-art coal stations equipped with scrubbers and other pollution control technologies.  

Thanks to the Fuel Use Act, power costs soared, and with them, cooperative electric bills. Realizing its mistake, Congress repealed the act in 1987. Yet because of the legislation, many electric cooperatives became deeply invested in coal. Today, coal accounts for about 74 percent of the power produced by G&Ts and 55 percent of all electric cooperative electricity requirements. 

Just like 35 years ago, the President’s call for action has co-ops once again faced with shifting fuels—in this case, choosing natural gas or renewables over coal. However, in regions without access to natural gas pipelines, changing from coal to natural gas isn’t feasible. On the renewables front, co-ops have emerged as leaders, adding “clean and green” power systems where it makes economic sense—such as solar photovoltaic arrays in the Southwest and wind farms across the Great Plains and Midwest.  But the sun doesn’t always shine (clouds) and the wind doesn’t always blow, especially during periods of peak demand on hot, humid summer weekday afternoons or cold winter mornings below minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit when power is needed most. Keeping the lights on 24 hours a day, seven days a week requires traditional baseload generation—namely coal, nuclear, and hydro—as well as a full mix of fuels.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, on behalf of America’s electric cooperatives, will continue to urge the President and his administration to work with co-ops on a real “all-of-the-above” energy strategy to keep electric bills affordable for rural Americans.

Zimbabwe Delegation at LJEC

July 3, 2013

Zimbabwe Delegation Visits LJEC

A delegation of rural district council men and women from Zimbabwe toured Leavenworth Jefferson Electric Co-op (LJEC) on June 25.

 

The co-op visit was part of the group’s rural economic development tour.

 

“They want to see how rural electric utility projects provide reliable, affordable electricity to rural areas,” said Susan Peoples, Program Associate of the Kansas City International Visitors Council (KCIV).

 

LJEC’s General Manager, Steve Foss, members of his staff, and Kansas Electric Cooperative’s Vice President of Government Relations, Dave Holthaus, met the group of eight delegates at the LJEC substation near Tonganoxie that recently had a standby generator installed. They returned to the co-op’s headquarters where Foss and Holthaus gave presentations on electric cooperatives on both a national and local basis.

 

“They were in Kansas City, so we were asked to give them a tour,” Foss said. “We recently installed a standby generator at our substation, and they were very interested in that part of the facility.”

 

Holthaus added, “They were also interested in how to start an electric co-op, and they wanted more information on NRECA’s international programs.”

 

CIV hosts Department of State sponsored delegations from around the world. These groups come to the U.S. on typically three-week programs, spending a few days in Kansas.

 

The group toured industries with programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, and farmers, including Growing Growers, the Olathe Chamber of Commerce, and Kansas State University’s Johnson County Extension Office.

Courtney Returns from DC

July 2, 2013

McLouth Student Back from DC

McLouth High School’s John Courtney recently toured the nation’s capitol with 34 other students from across Kansas for the 53rd Annual “Government in Action” Youth Tour, June 13-20.        

 

Kansas is one of 42 states that sent a delegation to the annual electric cooperative youth tour this year.

 

The Youth Tour was inspired by Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson when he declared at a national electric cooperative meeting in 1957, “If one thing goes out of this meeting, it will be sending youngsters to the national capital where they can actually see what the flag stands for and represents.”

 

“This trip was without a doubt the greatest trip I have been on. I met so many people and learned so much. Seeing how our group was so close compared to the other groups was great,” said Courtney.

 

“Leavenworth Jefferson Electric Cooperative is proud to support the Youth Tour program and send our youth to experience government in action,” said Steve Foss, LJEC General Manager. “Our hope is that local students will gain some awareness of how our political system works and how important it is for the youth to be involved in our community.”

 

The students began their trip by visiting Kaw Valley Electric Cooperative in Topeka before flying to Washington, D.C. The group learned about the U.S. government through visits with Senators Moran and Roberts, as well as Representatives Huelskamp, Jenkins and Pompeo. They also met with youth from other states and tours of museums, Capitol Hill, Arlington National Cemetery and the National Archives.

 

Courtney said, “I was greatly impacted by Arlington and the Vietnam Memorial because it shows the sacrifice that so many of our great men made.”

 

“Having experienced it first-hand, I have an overwhelming passion for this program,” said Melinda Thomas, Ark Valley Electric Cooperative, who chaperoned the trip in 2013. “Youth Tour brings in some of the finest youth in our nation, refining and honing their leadership skills to produce tomorrow’s leaders. I was humbled and honored to witness the spark in our delegates as each one discovered that they are important and that they have the ability to make a difference.”

Many of the students expressed how this trip has changed their view on the world, and also their view on themselves.

 

Courtney was selected from a group of high school applicants by LJEC. To win this trip, students were tested on their knowledge of electric cooperative history and had a one-on-one interview with two former trip winners who served as the judges. LJEC sponsors the trip to Washington, DC for one outstanding student each year.

 

For more information about this program contact LJEC at 888-796-6111.

 

 

DC Youth Trip In Full Swing

June 19, 2013

Through the generosity of LJEC members and our Board of Trustees, McLouth High School Student, John Courtney, is attending this year's Youth Tour.

 

 

Wave of Co-op Youth Hits Capital

By Derrill Holly | ECT Staff WriterPublished: June 18th, 2013

Nearly 1,600 young electric cooperative members took the nation’s capital by storm during the 49th annual Electric Cooperative Youth Tour.

“We’re not just in the electricity business—we’re in the people business. Our mission is to improve the lives of the member-owners we serve,” NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson said in a video message to the NRECA Youth Day rally. “That’s what we call the co-op difference.”

The former House member told the young delegates—primarily rising high school seniors or recent graduates—that despite their age, they will make lasting impressions on members of Congress they visit throughout the week because they symbolize their families and other constituents.

Those meetings continue a tradition that began in 1957, seven years before NRECA officially became the sponsor of the annual event.

“Smart members of Congress make the time to meet with these teenagers; there are more than 1,500 future voters on Youth Tour this year,” said Brian Cavey, NRECA vice president of legislative affairs. “We are inspiring the next generation of leadership that will lead our electric cooperatives.”

Emerson reminded them that, “When you’re here this week meeting with your legislators and seeing the history of this beautiful city, you are representing your state, your co-op and yourself.”

“We’re so fortunate to have you as part of our Co-op Nation,” added Emerson, who called the group “the best and the brightest.”

Members of the 2013 NRECA Youth Leadership Council were introduced during the annual Youth Day rally in Arlington, Va. (Photo By: Derrill Holly)

Members of the 2013 NRECA Youth Leadership Council were introduced during the annual Youth Day rally in Arlington, Va. (Photo By: Derrill Holly)

 

From June 14-21, under the watchful eyes of nearly 300 co-op chaperones, the delegations have been touring museums and monuments, immersing themselves in the heritage and culture of the United States.

“It’s so important to give our young people a look at our nation’s capital,” said Lenore Vickrey, vice president of communications for the Alabama Rural Electric Association and editor of Alabama Living magazine. “They not only meet our decision makers, but they get a chance to see how decisions are made and how history is made.”

While most of their time has been spent in Washington, D.C., and its adjacent suburbs, there have been side trips to attractions.

When young delegates from Kansas and Hawaii headed to Baltimore to visit historic Fort McHenry and the National Aquarium, they also toured M&T Bank Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Ravens. Delegations that traveled from the Northeast and Midwest by chartered bus also stopped by Gettysburg National Military Park, in Pennsylvania.

 

Safety Tip

May 22, 2013

A recent story out of Illinois is a good reminder what to do if you're in a car accident and find power lines near or on your vehicle.

 

 

Illinois Linemen Rescue Trapped Motorist

By Derrill Holly | ECT Staff WriterPublished: May 20th, 2013

When Mathew Emery’s pickup truck crashed into a utility pole in rural Illinois, he knew the crackling sound of electricity meant he should stay in the cab until help arrived. And that’s exactly what electric cooperative and investor-owned utility linemen provided.

 

A shattered utility pole remains atop the damaged pickup truck with de-energized lines still attached. (Photo By: Bill Hart/RECC)

A shattered utility pole remains atop the damaged pickup truck with de-energized lines still attached. (Photo By: Bill Hart/RECC)

 
“I was safer in there than I was outside,” Emery recalled about the April 27 single-vehicle accident, near North Litchfield in south-central Illinois. “People who saw the accident were sitting on the road talking to me, and I knew the best thing for me to do was stay put.”

That’s because two power lines were still attached to the pole. A 34,500-volt transmission line belonging to investor-owned Ameren was on top of the truck. A 7,200-volt distribution line belonging to Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative was suspended about three feet above the ground just outside of the driver’s door.

“You could hear the electricity just sizzling through those lines, so there was no way I was getting out of the truck without help,” Emery said.

Both utilities responded quickly to emergency calls. David Stuva, president and CEO of Auburn, Ill.-based RECC, said a lineman from Ameren disconnected the energized lines and used his bucket to lay insulated blankets on the ground and sleeves on the co-op line.

Bill Hart and Curt Nichelson of RECC arrived at the scene in time to see the Ameren technician trying to maneuver his bucket truck into position to help Emery out of his truck.

“The Ameren technician wasn’t aware that when he killed his transmission line, our distribution line had also been de-energized, so he’d covered it with an insulator blanket as a precaution,” Hart said.

Emery might have avoided serious injury because he remained in his vehicle until trained workers removed the lines, Hart said. “He’s a farmer and it’s likely he’s had some safety training.”

The co-op crew stayed at the scene until Ameren could replace its damaged pole, and then reattached its distribution line to the new pole, restoring service to 24 affected consumer-members.

Stuva said the RECC crew took a lot of photos at the accident scene for future reference. “We’ll be using them for emergency response training.”

 

Board Election Results

April 29, 2013

We look to our Board of Trustees to maintain open lines of communication with those in the District they serve, work with other trustees to ensure equitable treatment to all members across the LJEC system, as well as strive to be knowledgeable about trends and circumstances that may affect the members and the communities the cooperative serve.

During this year's Annual Meeting, the election for three board districts were held. Our three incumbent candidates, Jeanine Murphy, Harlan Hunt and Ralph Phillips were all re-elected in their respective districts (3, 8 and 9). They will serve the cooperative for an additional three-year term.

Youth Trip Winners

April 5, 2013

LJEC recently held their annual Youth Trip Competition. Students were vying for a spot on one of two trips sponsored by the cooperative; one to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the other to Washington, DC. Students competed on their general knowledge of electric cooperatives, their history, as well as taking part in a personal interview conducted by former trip winners.

Oskaloosa High School junior, Kelsey Willits, won the competition; Cody Koch, a junior at Tonganoxie High School, was second and McLouth High School junior, John Courtney, finished third.

Willits and Koch both chose to attend in the “Cooperative Youth Leadership Camp” that will take place this summer in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Attendees include students sponsored by electric cooperatives from Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Wyoming. Students are assigned to small breakout groups that work together to form a working cooperative as well as participate in a transmission line competition. There are numerous leadership exercises and programs presented throughout their weeklong trip. Students also tour the Trapper Coal Mine and Craig Power Generation Plant as well as sites around Steamboat Springs.

Courtney will head to Washington, DC for a week in July for the “Government In Action” tour.

Courtney will start his trip with a tour of the Kansas State Capitol and Wolf Creek Power Plant. He then heads to Washington, DC, where he will meet with numerous elected officials from the State of Kansas. He’ll also have the opportunity to visit numerous historical sites and memorials during his trip. Courtney will be joining over 1,500 youth from other electric cooperatives around the country to learn more about the U.S. government and how it functions.

LJEC began sponsoring the Washington, DC trip in 1962 and the Colorado trip in 1978. Since that time, over 75 local students have benefited from this program. The cooperative is proud to support initiatives that directly impact the youth in our local community.

Capital Credit Payout at Annual Meeting

March 27, 2013

Capital Credit Payout At Annual Meeting

Capital credits represent margins earned by the cooperative that are allocated on an annual basis to the members of the cooperative. These allocations are paid (retired) when the financial stability of the cooperative allows such a retirement.

Our Board of Trustees has the sole discretion to determine the time, place and manner of capital credit retirement while insuring the financial stability of the cooperative.

The LJEC trustees regularly visit every board and employee policy in effect at the cooperative. The trustees determined that a committee needed to be formed to review our capital credit policy since it was the most far reaching policy.

During 2012, a committee of LJEC members, trustees and staff was formed and changes recommended by the committee were adopted in October 2012. The committee recommended a revised capital credit policy that allows a hybrid method of retiring capital credits–meaning the board can retire both old and new allocations at the same time at whatever percentages they deem appropriate. Click HERE to review a copy of this new policy.

With the adoption of this new policy, LJEC is introducing the practice of retiring capital credits at their present net present value to its deceased members and members who no longer live on our system. The rate at which they are being repaid is equal to the cooperative’s weighted average cost of capital (the rate that a company is expected to pay on average to all its security holders to finance its assets).

The primary reason for this policy change was to implement fair treatment of all of our members. The board believes it is essential that we institute a policy that includes the payout of the present net present value of early retirements.

Because of the improving financial position of the cooperative, the Board of Trustees has approved a general retirement.

At this year’s Annual Meeting on April 23, LJEC will be offering a hybrid capital credit payout for the following: A retirement of approximately $198,000 in capital credits that were allocated for the years of 1967 through 1974.  This payout will permanently retire these credits and get the oldest allocations off of our books. A retirement of approximately $198,000 in capital credits to members of LJEC during 2012. This payout will help lower the amount of allocation recorded on our books for 2012 and also allow current LJEC members to see a benefit of membership.

Your total will be based on the above two categories. If you were a member between 1967 and 1974 and/or a member allocated capital creditsfor 2012, you may be eligible for the capital credit retirement. If your capital credit total exceeds $25, you can pick up a check at the Annual Meeting. If it is less than $25, a credit will be applied to your active LJEC billing account. If you are unable to attend this year’s annual meeting on April 23, your check will be mailed to you.

LJEC has not paid on general retirements since 2004. We are very excited that the cooperative’s financial stability has improved to this point that capital credits are being paid out prior to the death of a member.

As always, if you have any questions about the business of LJEC, you are encouraged to call the office at 888-796-6111.

Youth Tour Deadline Soon

March 8, 2013

LJEC is sponsoring two all-expensepaid trips for high school juniors whose parents or guardians are LJEC members. LJEC will send one student to the “Government in Action” Youth Tour in Washington, D.C., June 13-20, and two students to the Cooperative Youth Leadership Camp in Steamboat Springs, CO, July 13-19. Additional information can be found on our website. Click HERE.

Phone Scam Targets Coop Customers in Western Kansas

January 15, 2013

Scam targets Victory Electric customers

 

DODGE CITY, Kan. —

A scam in southwest Kansas targets people who use Victory Electric.

The fraud is happening over the phone. Scammers claim to be from the "electric company" and say they are trying to collect funds. They tell members that if they don't go buy a MoneyPak card, their service will be disconnected.

Victory Electric says a handful of people have fallen for the scam. The company says it wants members to know that this is not how it operates.

"We want to make everyone aware," says Josh Schmidt, manager of member services for Victory Electric. "We want to protect our members and let them know that is not how we operate. We are never going to call after hours, and we are never going to disconnect you within an hour. We just don't operate like that".

The company reminds customers to never give their personal information over the phone. It also says to refuse any offer that asks you to buy a prepaid credit or debit card like MoneyPak.

Click here or call 1-800-432-2310 to report scams to the Kansas Attorney General's office consumer protection division.


Please note that LJEC will not call members after hours. If you suspect a scam, hang up and call LJEC directly at 888-796-6111 immediately (even after hours). That way you ensure that you are speaking to LJEC or our answering service (after hours).

Annual Meeting - April 23rd

January 4, 2013

Mark your calendar for LJEC's 69th Annual Meeting. We'll meet in the auditorium at McLouth High School's auditorium, beginning at 7:00pm. Watch Kansas Country Living magazine for additional details as they are developed!

CFL's Don't Cause Cancer

November 19, 2012

CFL Cancer Scare Debunked

By Michael W. Kahn | ECT Staff WriterPublished: November 19th, 2012

If the story appeared in a supermarket tabloid you’d probably chuckle, shake your head, and then pay for your groceries. But when stories about compact fluorescent bulbs posing health risks turn up in Scientific American, you have to take notice.

The CFL in this desk lamp won’t harm you. Just keep it at least a foot away. (Photo By: Michael W. Kahn)

The CFL in this desk lamp won’t harm you. Just keep it at least a foot away. (Photo By: Michael W. Kahn)

Not to worry, says NRECA’s Cooperative Research Network. But electric cooperatives will want to be aware of what’s going on, because some members are asking questions.

“About a year and a half ago, there were some reports in the European media that CFLs cause cancer and there was a university study. It was picked up by a lot of reputable media outlets in Europe and the United States,” said Brian Sloboda, CRN senior program manager.

“And then one day, a reporter called the university to interview the researcher. And the researcher said he had no clue because he’d never done any work like that. It was a total fabrication,” Sloboda explained.

Fast forward to July of this year, when Scientific American and others picked up on research conducted at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Sloboda said some co-ops received calls from members asking about this story, which suggested the university found some correlation between skin cells in a Petri dish and ultraviolet radiation emitted by some CFLs.

“The details are different,” said Sloboda, who took a closer look. “The simple answer is that there is, for most people, not too much to be concerned with.”

For starters, some of the cells used in the SUNY study are not normally exposed to sunlight. So it’s worth looking at research by others, including the Food and Drug Administration.

That found that while CFLs do produce UV light, it is a small amount “equivalent to just being outside in the sunlight for a minute or two,” Sloboda said. “So it doesn’t cause direct damage.”

The only eyebrow-raising finding by the FDA concerns people with pre-existing conditions, such as lupus, that cause the skin to be hyper-sensitive to UV light. And in those situations it’s only people who are “using the CFL very, very close to your skin for an extended period of time,” Sloboda said. “Most people are not doing that.” FDA recommends keeping the CFL at least a foot from your skin.

Co-ops can advise members to talk to their physician, and if they’re still worried, to buy LEDs which don’t emit UV light.

But Sloboda said the bottom line is: “You’re far more at risk for skin cancer by going outside and never using sunscreen for several years. That’s what puts you at risk—not having a CFL in a table lamp.”

 

Hadfield Earns CCD Certificate

October 22, 2012

LJEC Director Earns Credentialed Cooperative Director Certificate

Bill Hadfield, a Director with Leavenworth Jefferson Electric Cooperative, recently received the Credentialed Cooperative Director certificate from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).

Hadfield was recognized at NRECA’s Region 7 & 9 meeting, held in Salt Lake City, Utah, for his commitment to education and attainment of the Credentialed Cooperative Director certificate before an audience of more than 550 electric cooperative officials from 13 states, including  Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Today’s electric utility environment imposes new demands on electric cooperative directors, particularly increased knowledge of changes in the electric utility business, new governance skills and a working knowledge of the cooperative principles.  Leavenworth Jefferson Electric Cooperative has a commitment to work through Kansas Electric Cooperatives and NRECA to sharpen this body of knowledge for the benefit of their electric cooperative consumer-owners.

The NRECA Credentialed Cooperative Director, or CCD, program requires attendance and demonstrated understanding of the basic competencies contained in five core courses:

  • Director Duties and Liabilities
  • Understanding the Electric Business
  • Board Roles and Relationships
  • Strategic Planning
  • Financial Decision Making

The NRECA Region 7 & 9 meeting is the fourth in a series of five 2012 Regional Meetings convened by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.  The Regionals continue the Association’s grassroots policymaking process, which begins at the local co-op level and culminates at NRECA’s Annual Meeting held each February.

Sept 25 - LJEC Health Fair & Member Appreciation Day

September 12, 2012

4th Annual LJEC Health Fair & Member Appreciation Day

LJEC will host our Member Appreciation Day and Annual Health Fair on Tuesday, September 25, 2012, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Join us at the LJEC offices for an open house where you’ll be able to tour the LJEC offices, seeing the upgrades that have been made over the last several years.

LJEC members are also welcome to partake of a free meal beginning at 5 p.m. In addition, we’ll be  hosting our annual health fair the same time.

This is the fourth year for LJEC’s health fair. Various exhibitors will be on hand to give everyone in the community a chance to start getting their physical and financial matters in tip top shape!

The health fair is held specifically at this time of year to coincide with the beginning of flu season. The American Red Cross (ARC) will be in attendance, offering flu shots and pneumonia shots. The ARC accepts many insurance programs and can also help you file your paperwork if needed.

For those that may be uninsured, flu shots are only $30. This is an important vaccine for you to receive early in the season to give your body the best defense against this dreadful virus! Pneumonia shots are also available for $55 (if you are uninsured).

Vendors will be on hand with valuable information for your physical and financial health. Confirmed attendees include: Holland Eye Clinic, Perry Lake Chiropractic Wellness Clinic, Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s Sleep Center, LMH’s Food and Nutrition Department, as well as many others!

We’ll be conducting a food drive as well. Bring non-perishable food items and they will be distributed to local food banks. Last year, LJEC members donated in excess of 300 lbs. of food to help the less fortunate.

If you’ve ever been interested to see the inner workings of your electric cooperative–here’s your chance! Come tour the LJEC offices, enjoy a free meal, get your annual flu shot and collect valuable financial and health information, all in one spot!

Questions can be directed to Jennifer Fisher at LJEC, 888-796-6111.

EPA Rule Struck Down

August 21, 2012

Court Strikes Down EPA Air Rule

By Steven Johnson Published: August 21, 2012 @ 3:22 pm In On the Docket,Top Story

Saying the Environmental Protection Agency overstepped its legal authority, a federal appeals court struck down a sweeping Obama administration air quality rule governing emissions that cross state lines.

A federal court vacated an EPA rule regulating airborne interstate emissions. (Photo By: Basin Electric Power Cooperative) [A federal court vacated an EPA rule regulating airborne interstate emissions. (Photo By: Basin Electric Power Cooperative)

In a 2-1 ruling announced Aug. 21, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said EPA violated the Clean Air Act in issuing the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule in August 2011.

It returned the rule to the agency for more review and ordered it to continue to apply a Bush administration-era rule in its place.

“We conclude that EPA has transgressed statutory boundaries,” the court said in EME Homer City Generation v. Environmental Protection Agency.

Electric cooperatives said the decision shows EPA failed to take a reasonable and balanced approach toward implementing the law, which could have prevented unnecessary lawsuits and multiple rounds of rulemakings.

“According to the ruling issued today, as drafted by the EPA, the Cross-State Air Pollution rule was unworkable, unfair and unlawful. The D.C. Court of Appeals has rightly ordered EPA back to the drawing board,” said NRECA CEO Glenn English.

In court petitions, NRECA and several co-ops challenged the rule’s legality [2], contending it was based on flawed models and treated different parts of the country in an arbitrary manner.

The appellate court stayed the rule just before it took effect [3] on Jan. 1, and less than five months after EPA announced it.

The rule established emissions limits and a tradable allowance program for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that contribute to ozone formation in 27 states, mostly east of the Mississippi River. EPA estimated compliance costs at $800 million in 2014.

At the center of the court opinion was a “good neighbor” provision, which calls for upwind states to limit power plant emissions that cross state lines and impair the ability of downwind states to meet air quality standards.

By requiring upwind states to make more than their appropriate share of reductions, EPA exceeded its authority under Clean Air Act, the court said.

It also said EPA failed to give states the initial opportunity to make required emissions reductions within their own borders by setting up a system of federal implementation plans, telling them where and how to make cuts.

For the time being, the Clean Air Interstate Rule will be the law on interstate emissions. A federal court struck down that rule in 2008, but allowed its provisions to stand while EPA reworked the regulations.

 

BEWARE - Bill Payment Scam

July 9, 2012

Beware of Bill Payment Scam

By Victoria A. Rocha | ECT Staff WriterPublished: July 9th, 2012

 

As electric bills rise because of summer temperatures, a handful of consumer-members at electric cooperatives have fallen prey to a coast-to-coast telemarketing scam offering bogus help with energy bills.

 

Bogus telemarketers are telling consumers that President Obama will pay their electric bills if they provide personal information. (Photo By: Cynthia A. Johnson)

Bogus telemarketers are telling consumers that President Obama will pay their electric bills if they provide personal information. (Photo By: Cynthia A. Johnson)

 

Co-ops are warning members about the scam in which residents are told that President Obama will help pay energy bills under a special federal program if they provide personal information, such as a bank routing number or their Social Security number.

“We urge our members to guard their personal accounting and banking information and never share this information with family, friends or strangers,” said a message on the website of Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative.

Six members at the Lexington, S.C., co-op were bilked, and a few even had power cut off as a result, said Eddie Richardson, vice president for member services. In one instance, the co-op blocked a bank routing number given to a consumer who had provided a Social Security number.

“They were thinking their bill was paid without checking with us to be sure,” said Richardson, who notified the state’s department of consumer affairs about the incidents. “Others called us, saying they didn’t get credit on their accounts.”

Better Business Bureaus in several states also have issued consumer warnings, as well as attorneys general in Mississippi, North Carolina and Arizona and elsewhere.

“We have taken hundreds of calls at this point, probably topping 1,000, from Mississippi residents concerning this scam,” said Jan Schaefer, a spokeswoman at the state’s attorney general office.

It’s unknown how many have lost money, and the cases are under investigation, said Schaefer.

“Many of those callers have indicated to us that they turned over personal identifying information after talking to a person they believed was offering them help paying their bills.”

At Southern Pine Electric Power Association a few members also have fallen victim to the scam, and the Taylorsville, Miss., co-op is trying to help them, said Dan Davis manager of marketing/public relations.

If their power is cut off for non-payment, “they would have to pay restoration and connection fees. It could be a very expensive proposition,” said Davis, who has done outreach via social media and an appearance on a local radio show

 

Table Carbon Regulations

July 2, 2012

Table Carbon Regs, NRECA Asks EPA


 

By Steven Johnson | ECT Staff WriterPublished: July 2nd, 2012

Saying it violates parts of the Clean Air Act, NRECA has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw its proposed rule for greenhouse gas emissions from new fossil fuel-based power plants.

 

NRECA says EPA violated the Clean Air Act in formulating greenhouse gas regulations for future power plants.  (Photo By: Jason Maehl)

NRECA says EPA violated the Clean Air Act in formulating greenhouse gas regulations for future power plants. (Photo By: Jason Maehl)

“While there are a few provisions in this proposal that NRECA supports, they are few indeed and are not nearly sufficient to overcome the proposal’s many flaws and illegalities,” the association said in a 22-page filing with the agency.

EPA is breaking the law by classifying coal and natural gas baseload generation as interchangeable fuel sources, NRECA said.

It noted that the agency has established a single emissions standard for the revised category that only some natural gas combined cycle plants can meet.

That would effectively eliminate coal as a future baseload generation source, according to the comments, submitted by Rae E. Cronmiller, NRECA environmental counsel.

“As much as EPA apparently wants to dictate and limit the nation’s future generation options to exclude coal, it can no more redefine the source by regulatory fiat any more than it can command the geographical positioning of the source such that it would be accessible to natural gas,” NRECA said.

That overreliance on natural gas also raises concerns about reliability and affordability, NRECA said, since gas prices have fluctuated by 300 percent or more within the last decade.

EPA announced the New Source Performance Standards for future fossil-fuel plants on March 27. Due to the nature of the NSPS, the standards are in effect and represent the current law of the land, even though the proposed rule will be challenged in court.

In addition, NRECA took issue with the agency’s contention that yet-to-be-built coal plants can rely on carbon capture and storage technology to meet the carbon reduction standards.

The rule will inhibit the technology’s development because utilities and financial institutions won’t commit to an unproven technology without knowing its full costs and viability, NRECA said.

EPA also lacks discretion under the Clean Air Act to require electric generating units to commit to future emissions reductions by a technology that doesn’t currently exist.

“These overreaches are plainly unlawful,” NRECA added.

EPA is required to consider comments to the proposed rule before finalizing it.

 

Lightning Awareness Week: June 24-30

June 12, 2012

When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

(information courtesy of the National Weather Service)

 

The lightning safety community reminds you that there is little you can do to substantially reduce your risk if you are outside in a thunderstorm. The only completely safe action is to get inside a safe building or vehicle.

Safe Buildings

A safe building is one that is fully enclosed with a roof, walls and floor, and has plumbing or wiring. Examples include a home, school, church, hotel, office building or shopping center. Once inside, stay away from showers, sinks, bath tubs, and electronic equipment such as TVs, radios, corded telephones and computers.

Unsafe buildings include car ports, open garages, covered patios, picnic shelters, beach pavilions, golf shelters, tents of any kinds, baseball dugouts, sheds and greenhouses.

Safe Vehicles

A safe vehicle is any fully enclosed metal-topped vehicle such as a hard-topped car, minivan, bus, truck, etc. While inside a safe vehicle, do not use electronic devices such as radio communications during a thunderstorm. If you drive into a thunderstorm, slow down and use extra caution. If possible, pull off the road into a safe area. Do not leave the vehicle during a thunderstorm.

Unsafe vehicles include convertibles, golf carts, riding mowers, open cab construction equipment and boats without cabins.

Bolts from the Blue

A lightning flash can travel horizontally many miles away from the thunderstorm and then strike the ground. These types of lightning flashes are called "Bolts from the Blue" because they seem to come out of a clear blue sky. While blue sky may exist overhead (or in part of the sky overhead) a thunderstorm is always located 5 to 10 miles (and sometimes even farther) away. Although these flashes are rare, they have caused fatalities.


Lightning Risk Reduction When a Safe Location is Nearby

Run to a safe building or vehicle when you first hear thunder, see lightning or observe dark threatening clouds developing overhead. Stay inside until 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder. Do not shelter under trees. You are not safe anywhere outside.

Plan Ahead!

Your best source of up-to-date weather information is a NOAA Weather Radio (NWR). Portable weather radios are handy for outdoor activities. If you don't have NWR, stay up to date via internet, TV, local radio or cell phone. If you are in a group, make sure all leaders or members of the group have a lightning safety plan and are ready to use it.
If you are part of a large group, you will need extra time to get everyone to a safe place. NWS recommends having proven professional lightning detection equipment so your group can be alerted from significant distances from the event site.

Below are a few common outdoor scenarios with suggestions on how to safely respond to the lightning threat.

Coach of Outdoor Sports Team

You coach a little league team and have a game this evening at the local recreational park. The weather forecast for the day calls for partly cloudy skies, with a chance of thunderstorms by early evening. You arrive in your vehicle while the kids arrive with their parents. When you get to the park, you notice the only buildings are the restrooms (an enclosed building with plumbing and electricity). Shortly after sunset, the skies start to cloud up and you see bright flashes in the sky to the west. What should you do?

In this case, you should get everyone into vehicles or the restrooms. Do NOT stay in the dugouts; they are not safe during lightning activity. Once at a safe place, wait 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder before going back and resuming play.

At the Beach/Lake

Your family plans to go to the beach today. The weather forecast calls for a nice morning followed by a 30 percent chance of afternoon thunderstorms. When you get to the beach, you see that the only nearby structures are open sided picnic shelters. The parking lot is about a five minute walk from the beach. By early afternoon you notice the skies darkening and hear distant thunder.

What should you do?

Go to your car! Do NOT seek shelter under the beach picnic shelters. Wait 30 minutes until after the last rumble of thunder before going back to the beach.

Camping and Other Wilderness Activities

You are cooking dinner on the camp stove when you hear distant rumbles of thunder. Your tent and a large open sided picnic shelter are nearby. Your vehicle is about ¼ of a mile away parked at the trail head. What should you do?

Go to your vehicle! The tent and picnic shelter are NOT a safe places. Wait 30 minutes until after the last rumble of thunder before going back to the campsite. For those who cannot get to a vehicle, here are tips from the National Outdoor Leadership School on what to do in the back country, in a canoe, etc., as a last resort.


Outdoor Lightning Risk Reduction When a Safe Location is not Nearby

Remember, there is NO safe place outside in a thunderstorm. If you absolutely can't get to safety, this section may help you slightly lessen the threat of being struck by lightning while outside. Â Don't kid yourself--you are NOT safe outside.

Being stranded outdoors when lightning is striking nearby is a harrowing experience. Your first and only truly safe choice is to get to a safe building or vehicle. If you are camping, climbing, on a motorcycle or bicycle, boating, scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities and cannot get to a safe vehicle or building, follow these last resort tips. They will not prevent you from being struck by lightning, but may slightly lessen the odds.

  • Know the weather patterns of the area. For example, in mountainous areas, thunderstorms typically develop in the early afternoon, so plan to hike early in the day and be down the mountain by noon.
  • Listen to the weather forecast for the outdoor area you plan to visit. Â The forecast may be very different from the one near your home. If there is a high chance of thunderstorms, stay inside.

These actions may slightly reduce your risk of being struck by lightning:

  • If camping, hiking, etc., far from a safe vehicle or building, avoid open fields, the top of a hill or a ridge top.
  • Stay away from tall, isolated trees or other tall objects. If you are in a forest, stay near a lower stand of trees.
  • If you are camping in an open area, set up camp in a valley, ravine or other low area. Remember, a tent offers NO protection from lighting.
  • Stay away from water, wet items (such as ropes) and metal objects (such as fences and poles). Water and metal are excellent conductors of electricity. The current from a lightning flash will easily travel for long distances (See Figure 2 below).

    Lightning struck the fence, and the electrical current traveled along the fence killing the cows. Photo Courtesy Ruth Lyon-Bateman

Motorcyclist/Bicyclist

Protect yourself when on a bicycle, motorcycle or dirt bike. Carry a portable NOAA Weather Radio or listen to commercial radio. If you see threatening skies in the distance and you are near a safe building, pull over and wait 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder before resuming your ride.

On the Water

The vast majority of lightning injuries and deaths on boats occur on small boats with NO cabin. It is crucial to listen to weather information when you are boating. If thunderstorms are forecast, do not go out. If you are out on the water and skies are threatening, get back to land and find a safe building or safe vehicle.

Boats with cabins offer a safer, but not perfect, environment. Safety is increased further if the boat has a properly installed lightning protection system. If you are inside the cabin, stay away from metal and all electrical components. STAY OFF THE RADIO UNLESS IT IS AN EMERGENCY!

If you are caught in a thunderstorm on a small boat, drop anchor and get as low as possible. Large boats with cabins, especially those with lightning protection systems properly installed, or metal marine vessels are relatively safe. Remember to stay inside the cabin and away from any metal surfaces.

Lightning Safety Myths and Truths


Myth: Lightning never strikes the same place twice.
Fact: Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall, pointy, isolated object. The Empire State Building is hit nearly 100 times a year.

Myth: If it’s not raining or there aren’t clouds overhead, you’re safe from lightning.
Fact: Lightning often strikes more than three miles from the center of the thunderstorm, far outside the rain or thunderstorm cloud. “Bolts from the blue” can strike 10-15 miles from the thunderstorm.

Myth: Rubber tires on a car protect you from lightning by insulating you from the ground.
Fact: Most cars are safe from lightning, but it is the metal roof and metal sides that protect you, NOT the rubber tires. Remember, convertibles, motorcycles, bicycles, open-shelled outdoor recreational vehicles and cars with fiberglass shells offer no protection from lightning. When lightning strikes a vehicle, it goes through the metal frame into the ground. Don't lean on doors during a thunderstorm.

Myth: A lightning victim is electrified. If you touch them, you’ll be electrocuted.
Fact: The human body does not store electricity. It is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to give them first aid. This is the most chilling of lightning Myths. Imagine if someone died because people were afraid to give CPR!

Myth: If outside in a thunderstorm, you should seek shelter under a tree to stay dry.
Fact: Being underneath a tree is the second leading cause of lightning casualties. Better to get wet than fried!

Myth: If you are in a house, you are 100% safe from lightning.
Fact: A house is a safe place to be during a thunderstorm as long as you avoid anything that conducts electricity. This means staying off corded phones, electrical appliances, wires, TV cables, computers, plumbing, metal doors and windows. Windows are hazardous for two reasons: wind generated during a thunderstorm can blow objects into the window, breaking it and causing glass to shatter and second, in older homes, in rare instances, lightning can come in cracks in the sides of windows.

Myth: If thunderstorms threaten while you are outside playing a game, it is okay to finish it before seeking shelter.
Fact: Many lightning casualties occur because people do not seek shelter soon enough. No game is worth death or life-long injuries. Seek proper shelter immediately if you hear thunder. Adults are responsible for the safety of children.

Myth: Structures with metal, or metal on the body (jewelry, cell phones,Mp3 players, watches, etc), attract lightning.
Fact: Height, pointy shape, and isolation are the dominant factors controlling where a lightning bolt will strike. The presence of metal makes absolutely no difference on where lightning strikes. Mountains are made of stone but get struck by lightning many times a year. When lightning threatens, take proper protective action immediately by seeking a safe shelter – don’t waste time removing metal. While metal does not attract lightning, it does conduct it so stay away from metal fences, railing, bleachers, etc.

Myth: If trapped outside and lightning is about to strike, I should lie flat on the ground.
Fact: Lying flat increases your chance of being affected by potentially deadly ground current. If you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, you keep moving toward a safe shelter.

New Energy Savings App

June 3, 2012

App Calculates Energy Savings

By Michael W. Kahn | ECT Staff WriterPublished: June 3rd, 2012

How much can you save using CFLs? What does it cost to run the dishwasher for an hour? Answering those questions is easy with the newest Touchstone Energy® app.

 

The Together We Save—Save Energy Save Money app. (Photo By: Touchstone Energy)

The Together We Save—Save Energy Save Money app. (Photo By: Touchstone Energy)

It’s called Together We Save—Save Energy Save Money, an offshoot of the popular Together We Save program.

“It has two new calculators,” said Jason McGrade, senior Web development and social media specialist at Touchstone Energy. One allows you to compare incandescent bulbs to CFLs and LEDs, based on the number of bulbs, the wattage, and how many hours they’re used per day.

For example, a house with a dozen 75-watt bulbs running eight hours a day could save $223.70 a year by switching to CFLs or $255.65 converting to LEDs. Daily and monthly savings are also displayed.

There is also an appliance calculator. “We’ve got it broken out into different appliances in different rooms of a house,” McGrade explained.

Click on “Laundry” and then “Clothes Washer” and select the number of hours it runs per month. The calculator will show what it costs to run per hour and per month.

“All of the rates are customizable to a local cooperative,” McGrade explained. When the app is downloaded, enter your ZIP code and a list of nearby co-ops appears. Simply select yours.

“The plan is to add additional calculators throughout the year, so we’ll have a full suite,” McGrade said.

The app also pulls in alerts for weather, news, “or anything that the cooperative wants to make their consumer-members aware of,” McGrade said. Members can select the frequency with which to receive alerts, ranging from real-time to not at all.

To generate alerts, co-op employees go to a back end portal “where co-ops create and maintain their profile. We have it set up so it can be automated based off of an RSS/XML feed.”

There are also daily tips available from the app in seven different categories, from air conditioning to water heating.

The app can be found in iTunes by searching “togetherwesave.com.” A Droid version will be available in mid-June.

 

Visit Kansas State Parks FREE!

March 21, 2012

Free Family Outing at all Kansas State Parks on Saturday, March 31, 2012!

Bring your friends, bring your family… it’ll be a great day to play!  And, all Kansas State Parks will hold special events that day.   

Visit your favorite park (or parks!) on March 31, 2012.  IT’S SPECIAL EVENT DAY at all Kansas State Parks, and the park offices will be OPEN from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. to serve you.  Plus, when you visit the park office, you can enter a statewide drawing to win a free one-night stay* at a state park or public lands cabin of your choice (See Terms and Conditions below, no purchase is necessary)!  Visit State Parks Open Houses to learn about special events at your favorite park. 

Other Prizes you can enter for a chance to win:

  • 1 winner will recieve: A Bass Pro Shop 2 Room Tent
  • 4 winners will receive: A Bass Pro Shop Aluminum Table and a Lantern
  • 1 winner will receive: A Bass Pro Shop Aluminum Table an Igloo Cooler, and TravelKS camp stool.
  • 8 winners will receive: Two Bass Pro Shop Sleeping bags and a Coghlan's 4 function whistle, themometer, magnifier and compass
  • 5 winners will receive: 2 canvas hard arm chairs with cup holder with carry bag and an Igloo cooler
  • 2 winners will receive: 2 canvas hard arm chairs with cup holder with carry bag and a Red Head boot/bag combo, camo duffle bag
  • Each park office will also be drawing for a $20 Lottery Coupons.
    Prizes provided courtesy the Kansas Lottery.

Click HERE for additional details!

Sealing Air Leaks

March 8, 2012

 

Sealing Air Leaks
Air leaks can waste a lot of your energy dollars. One of the quickest energy-and money-saving tasks you can do is caulk, seal, and weather strip all seams, cracks, and openings to the outside.
 

Tips for Sealing Air Leaks

  • Test your home for air tightness. On a windy day, carefully hold a lit incense stick or a smoke pen next to your windows, doors, electrical boses, plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, ceiling fixtues, attic hatches, and other places where air may leak. If the smoke streak travels horizontally, you have located an air leak that may need caulking, sealing, or weatherstripping.
  • Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows that leak air.
  • Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting, or elecrical wiring comes through walls, floors, ceilings, and soffits over cabinets.
  • Install foam gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on walls.
  • Inspect dirty spots in your insulation for air leaks and mold. Seal leaks with low-expansion spray foam made for this purpose and install house flashing if needed.
  • Look for dirty spots on your ceiling paint and carpet, which may indicate air leaks at interior wall/ceiling joints and wall/floor joists, and caulk them.
  • Cover single-pane windows with storm windows or replace them with more efficient double-pane low-emissivity windows.
  • Use foam selant on larger gaps around windows, baseboards, and other places where air may leak out.
  • Cover your kitchen exhaust fan to stop air leaks when not in use.
  • Check your dryer vent to be sure it is not blocked. This will save energy and may prevent a fire.
  • Replace door bottoms and thresholds with ones that have pliable sealing gaskets.
  • Keep the fireplace flue damper tightly closed when not in use.
  • Seal air leaks around fireplace chimneys, furnaces, and gas-fired water heater vents with fire-resistant materials such as sheet metal or sheetrock and furnace cement caulk.

 

*information courtesty of energysavers.gov

Kansas Power Plant Put On Hold

January 31, 2012

U.S. court puts up roadblock on Sunflower Electric Power Corp. coal-burning power plant in Kansas

By Scott Rothschild
January 31, 2012

TOPEKA — Environmentalists on Tuesday cheered a court ruling that the proposed 895-megawatt coal-fired power plant in southwest Kansas cannot be built until there is a thorough environmental review.

“We are confident that once the environmental impacts of this plant are considered in light of alternatives, the project’s impacts will be unacceptable and it will be rejected,” said the Sierra Club’s Scott Allegrucci.

Officials with Sunflower Electric Power Corp., which has been pushing for the project near Holcomb, had no immediate comment. Cindy Hertel, a spokeswoman for Hays-based Sunflower Electric, said the company was analyzing the court decision.

The ruling was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan in Washington, D.C.

Sullivan’s decision follows a March 2011 ruling that the federal government’s Rural Utilities Service, which was financially supporting the Sunflower project, failed to consider environmental impacts of the plant.

Sullivan has ordered “RUS shall not issue any approvals or consents for agreements or arrangements directly related to the Holcomb Expansion Project, or take any other major federal actions in connection with the Holcomb Expansion Project, until an EIS is complete.”

The decision represents another twist in the project that has rocked Kansas politics for years.

In 2007, Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Rod Bremby denied a permit to Sunflower Electric citing the effects of the project’s carbon dioxide emissions on health and climate change.

The Legislature tried to override Bremby’s decision but each time was thwarted by vetoes by then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

When Sebelius became secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, her successor Mark Parkinson almost immediately crafted a deal with Sunflower to bless the project.

In November 2010, Bremby was removed after refusing to resign as head of the KDHE to coordinate the cabinet transition from Parkinson’s administration to that of incoming Gov. Sam Brownback. Bremby said he was willing to help with the transition, but didn’t want to leave office to do so.

After Bremby’s departure, replacement John Mitchell approved a permit for a proposed 895-megawatt coal-burning power plant, just before new federal regulations on greenhouse gases went into effect.

Sweeping Air Rules Postponed

January 9, 2012

Court Delays Sweeping Air Rule

By Steven Johnson | ECT Staff Writer Published: January 9th, 2012

A federal court has temporarily blocked the Obama administration’s sweeping air quality rule that governs emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides in the eastern United States.

 

A federal appeals court has put a temporary hold on a major cross-state air emissions program. (Photo By: Oglethorpe Power Corp.)

A federal appeals court has put a temporary hold on a major cross-state air emissions program. (Photo By: Oglethorpe Power Corp.)

On December 30, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit granted a motion to delay the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule pending a full challenge to the regulations.

The order is not a final verdict―the court asked parties in the case to submit proposed briefing schedules by January 17 that would enable it to hear the case in April.

Kirk Johnson, NRECA senior vice president, government relations, said NRECA will continue to be active in pointing out the flaws of the rule, which was scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.

NRECA  filed a petition as well to review the rule in federal court last October, and in a separate petition to EPA asked it to reconsider numerous aspects of the rule which appeared to be flawed, raising both procedural and substantive issues.

“This is only a first step, but we are pleased the court recognized that there was sufficient merit to the plaintiffs’ arguments to warrant a stay of the rule,” Johnson said.

The Bush-era Clean Air Interstate Rule, earlier rejected by the same federal court that issued the stay, will continue to be in effect until the court rules on the new regulations.

Energy Future Holdings of Dallas is the named plaintiff in the case, though the court consolidated a large number of lawsuits filed against the new rule.

The rule applies to Texas and 26 other states by setting new caps on sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that cross state lines through a system of tradable allowances. EPA estimated the costs of the rule in 2014 at $800 million, in addition to $1.6 billion per year in capital investments underway as part of the Clean Air Interstate Rule.

NRECA has said that the rule contains unattainable compliance timetables and is full of miscalculations that shortchange some G&Ts on emissions allowances.

The association also told EPA in its October filing that the agency also should have convened a small business review panel under the Regulatory Flexibility Act so small entities like co-ops could contribute more to the rulemaking process.

Light Bulb Standards On Hold

January 2, 2012

 

Light Bulb Standards Put on Hold
January 2, 2012 | Vol. 14, No. 1 (CFC Solutions)

Congress has delayed the implementation of light bulb energy efficiency standards that would have taken some incandescent bulbs off store shelves in 2012. Republicans successfully included language in a recent spending bill that cuts funding to the U.S. Department of Energy to implement light bulb standards originally laid out in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). The standards would have triggered a phaseout of relatively inefficient bulbs beginning this week.

The standards—now defunded until at least October 2012—would have incrementally targeted 100-watt, 75-watt, 60-watt and 40-watt incandescent bulbs, requiring each to use less power in putting out the same amount of light.

Republicans argued that the standards would limit consumer choice; Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) called the delay a “present for all Americans,” according to The Hill newspaper. Some industry groups countered that the delay will have a negative impact on the light bulb industry.

“American manufacturers have invested millions of dollars in transitioning to energy-efficient lighting as a result of the EISA provision,” the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) said in a statement. “Delay in enforcement undermines those investments and creates regulatory uncertainty.”

Although the standards would gradually phase out less efficient incandescent bulbs, the technology is not going away anytime soon. Incandescent bulbs currently account for 80 percent of the bulb market, with CFLs accounting for the majority of remaining sales, according to NEMA. Sales of incandescent bulbs had been on a steady decline since sales of compact fluorescent alternatives began growing in 2003, although incandescent bulb sales for Q3 2011 were up 21.5 percent compared to the same period last year.

More information for consumers on the range of bulbs on the market is available at www.energysavers.gov/lighting.

 
 

LJEC Holiday Hours

December 19, 2011

 

LJEC Holiday Hours

The LJEC office will be closed the following days during the holiday season:

  • Friday, December 23, 2011
  • Monday, December 26, 2011
  • Monday, January 2, 2012

All other days LJEC will be open during regular hours (Monday through Friday, 7:30am -  4:00pm).

Outage calls are answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (888-796-6111).

Lighting Up The Holidays, Wisely

December 5, 2011

A Season for Savings

By Derrill Holly | ECT Staff Writer Published: December 5th, 2011

The holiday season is a time for spending and giving, but some electric cooperatives are urging their consumer-members to consider energy savings. NRECA’s Cooperative Research Network is wrapping up the year with suggestions designed to help co-op members save money.

 

The White House and Maryland Governor’s Mansion (shown here) are among the millions of homes now adorned with light-emitting diode lights for the holidays. (Photo By: Associated Press/Kathleen Lange)

The White House and Maryland Governor’s Mansion (shown here) are among the millions of homes now adorned with light-emitting diode lights for the holidays. (Photo By: Associated Press/Kathleen Lange)

 
“From holiday decorating, to gifts and family gatherings, there are opportunities to save energy,” said Brian Sloboda, a CRN senior program manager. “Used correctly, some of the best gifts can help you save energy throughout the year.”

Light emitting diode Christmas lights are one timely example. Five years after the first generation of LED lights began disappearing off store shelves, newer designs are claiming a growing share of the market.

“Newer LEDs are brighter and more colorful,” Sloboda said. “They’re also plastic and more durable than glass. They also work independently so that if one goes out, you don’t have to replace the whole string.”

CRN also recommends using timers for lighting displays both indoors and out, Sloboda said. “Set them to turn on at dusk and off around bedtime, so you’ll lose less energy when everyone’s sleeping.”

In many areas, televisions have been a popular gift since the shopping season began. CRN is suggesting that consumers consider model specifications instead of just brand names.

“When you turn those things off, they are still using energy,” Sloboda said. “Some of the models available use less energy than others. If you are interested in energy savings, find a knowledgeable salesperson.”

For stocking stuffers, one of the best choices around for saving energy is the power strip, Sloboda said. “They may be the gift that keeps on saving throughout the year.”

While some power strips feature a simple on and off switch, others are so-called “smart power strips,” which sense when devices are not in use and go into a reduced consumption mode.

For holiday entertaining, lowering the thermostats a few degrees before guests arrive could make it less likely you’ll have to open a window to cool off, once the house is full, Sloboda said. “You also don’t have to preheat the oven to cook large meats like turkey or ham.”

More Paperwork for Pesticides

November 18, 2011

Pesticide Permit Rule Takes Effect

By Steven Johnson | ECT Staff Writer Published: November 18th, 2011

A new Environmental Protection Agency regulation that took effect November 1 will add an extra layer of paperwork for co-ops that apply pesticides and herbicides along rights of way.

A new EPA rule will add more permit paperwork for co-ops that use pesticides and herbicides applicators. (AP Photo/Chen yibao)

A new EPA rule will add more permit paperwork for co-ops that use pesticides and herbicides applicators. (AP Photo/Chen yibao)

An effort by Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., to hold off on implementing the rule for two years stalled in the Senate and paved the way for the permit requirement to go into effect.

“It is a shame this common-sense compromise was rejected due to partisan politics,” said Roberts, the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “I remain committed to finding a permanent solution to protect American agriculture and public health departments.”

At issue is a second round of permits that herbicide and pesticide applicators will have to secure, since the chemicals could end up in navigable waters. A federal court held in 2009 that EPA must issue those permits under the Clean Water Act.

That’s in addition to permits required under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which enables EPA to regulate the distribution, sale and use of pesticides and herbicides.

Co-ops have been working for a legislative solution to the court ruling, so they don’t have to get a secondary round of permits, as long as they comply with current rules.

EPA also won a delay in the court ruling to provide time for a congressional fix, but that authority expired Nov. 1.

About 35,000 pesticide applicators will need permits to cover 500,000 applications per year, according to EPA estimates. The agency said the permits will cost states, local entities and applicators $50 million a year.

 

Sen. Pat Roberts

Sen. Pat Roberts

Roberts has been a leading voice for a bill that would reverse the court decision and prohibit EPA or a state from requiring a permit under the Clean Water Act, when the user already has a proper permit under federal law.

The bill, H.R. 872, sponsored by Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, passed the House and the Senate Agriculture Committee earlier this year with bipartisan support, including Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

It has not received floor action and Roberts offered the two-year delay as a compromise to avert the Nov. 1 deadline, but opponents rejected his effort to bring it up for a vote.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which shares jurisdiction on the issue, instead wants a comprehensive study of pesticide impacts on waters. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., backed her instead of his other committee chairman.

Kirk Johnson, NRECA senior vice president, government relations, said co-ops will continue to work with members of Congress to find a common-sense solution and address the duplicative permitting requirement.

EPA said for the first 120 days of the rule, it will focus on providing compliance assistance and education of the permit requirements, as opposed to enforcement. 

Watch Out for Heater Hype

November 8, 2011

Co-ops Warn Against Heater Hype

By Derrill Holly | ECT Staff Writer Published: November 8th, 2011

Colder weather has many of the nation’s electric cooperatives bracing for calls from consumer-members concerned about higher bills.

Large displays of space heaters are common in discount stores as winter approaches. (Photo By: Derrill Holly)

Large displays of space heaters are common in discount stores as winter approaches. (Photo By: Derrill Holly)

And many concede that some of those calls will come from disappointed members who expected to save money by relying on space heaters to heat their homes.

“During an energy audit, I found three 1,500-watt heaters in the home of a co-op consumer with a high bill complaint,” said Nick Rusnell, an energy advisor with Portland, Mich.-based HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative. “I did a cost analysis for him and he was shocked.”

“The salesman told him, ‘These heaters will cost you pennies a day.’ They just never said how many pennies,” said Rusnell. “They are efficient, but not very cost-effective. No matter how you slice it, a watt is a watt.”

But space heaters are often far less effective than air source and ground source heat pumps, said Brian Sloboda, a senior program manager with NRECA’s Cooperative Research Network.

“Space heaters are not the ideal solution for heating homes,” Sloboda said.“For every unit of electricity that is consumed by these devices, they produce one unit of heat.”

Some member services representatives have recounted stories of consumer-members who have three to five electric space heaters in their homes and can’t understand why their bills are so high, Sloboda said. “The cost of operating multiple heaters is almost always significantly more than most central heating systems.”

Still, high-end space heaters are heavily marketed during the fall and winter through television infomercials, full-page ads in newspapers and magazines, and marketing presentations designed to resemble news articles.

It doesn’t matter what kind of heater or appliance you have. If you put 1,000 watts in, you get 3,412 British Thermal Units of heat out. Electric resistance heat is 100 percent efficient, said Al Bohl, an energy advisor with Centuria, Wis.-based Polk-Burnett Electric Cooperative.

“This discussion and knowledge cuts through a lot of the marketing hype,” Bohl said. “Hopefully, we get to talk to them before they buy.”

Nationwide Test of Emergency Alert System November 9th

November 4, 2011

FIRST NATIONWIDE TEST OF THE EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM

Test to Take Place November 9 at 2 p.m. EDT

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. -   On November 9 at 2:00 p.m. ET, the federal government will conduct the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS).  The test will last up to three and a half minutes. During this period, regularly scheduled television, radio, cable, and satellite shows will be interrupted as the system is being tested.   This event will be just a test, and not a real emergency alert.  

The test is being conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as part of their ongoing efforts to keep the nation safe during emergencies and strengthen our resilience against all hazards.

The national Emergency Alert System is an alert and warning system that can be activated by the president, if needed, to provide information to the American public during emergencies.  NOAA's National Weather Service, governors, and state and local emergency authorities also use parts of the system to issue more localized emergency alerts. The test is an important exercise in ensuring that the system is effective in communicating critical information to the public in the event of a real national emergency.  

Similar to emergency alert system tests that are already conducted frequently on the local level, the nationwide test will involve television and radio stations across the United States, including Alaska, Hawaii, and the territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa.

Under the FCC's rules, radio and television broadcasters, cable operators, satellite digital audio radio service providers, direct broadcast satellite service providers and wireline video service providers are required to receive and transmit presidential EAS messages to the public. A national test will help federal partners and EAS participants determine the reliability of the system, as well as its effectiveness in notifying the public of emergencies and potential dangers both nationally and regionally.  The test will also provide the FCC and FEMA a chance to identify improvements that need to be made to build a modernized and fully accessible Emergency Alert System. 

LJEC, along with FEMA, encourages the public to use this event as a reminder that everyone should establish an energency preparedness kit and emergency plan for themselves, their families, communities, and businesses.  Visit www.Ready.gov for more information about how to prepare for and stay informed about what to do in the event of an actual emergency.

Thank you for your assistance in spreading the word about the November 9th, 2pm ET  nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System!

Year of the Cooperative Launches

November 1, 2011

Year of Cooperatives Launches

By Michael W. Kahn | ECT Staff Writer Published: November 1st, 2011

Electric cooperatives are joining with their co-op brethren worldwide to mark 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives.

At the United Nations, publicity materials are ready for the International Year of Cooperatives. (Photo By: UN/Rick Bajornas)

At the United Nations, publicity materials are ready for the International Year of Cooperatives. (Photo By: UN/Rick Bajornas)

The designation was made by the United Nations, and it was at U.N. headquarters in New York where dignitaries from across the globe officially launched the celebrations Oct. 31.

“The International Year of Cooperatives is an opportunity to raise public awareness about cooperatives, to promote their formation, and to encourage governments to establish policies conducive to their growth,” said U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro. “Just as important, it is a chance to underscore the importance of cooperative values.”

NRECA CEO Glenn English noted that co-ops have a rich history in the U.S., going back to one of the nation’s Founding Fathers.

“In the United States, the first known co-op dates back to an insurance cooperative formed by Benjamin Franklin,” said English, who was inducted into the National Cooperative Business Association Hall of Fame in 2010.

“Co-ops continue today to provide a tremendous service to people throughout the world,” English said. “Cooperatives are a model of self-reliance and an example of people working together to improve their quality of life.”

Martin Lowery, NRECA executive vice president, external affairs, recently completed his term as NCBA board chairman. He hopes the International Year of Cooperatives will see more co-ops created.

“As Pauline Green, president of the International Cooperative Association, stressed in her remarks to the General Assembly, we want 2012 to be so successful in promoting cooperatives that the next decade will see dramatic growth in cooperative businesses worldwide,” Lowery said.

2012 not only is the International Year of Cooperatives, but is also the 50th anniversary of NRECA International Programs.

“Over the past five decades, NRECA International has established itself as the leading institution in provision of rural electrification programs and project design and knowledge transfer to rural electric program agencies and rural communities worldwide,” said Dan Waddle, senior vice president, NRECA International Programs.

Waddle thanked the many co-op directors, managers and employees who have come together to “support tens of thousands of communities and to substantially contribute to rural economic development in many of the poorest and most remote communities on earth.” It is a tradition he promised will continue.

“While we are proud of the legacy of our program, we are also cognizant that there is much work that remains.”

Pole Regulations Opposed

October 23, 2011

NRECA Opposes Pole Regulation Effort

By Steven Johnson | ECT Staff Writer Published: October 23rd, 2011

 

NRECA has told a federal appeals court that it should uphold a lower court decision and reject a lawsuit to subject tens of millions of treated-wood utility poles to environmental permitting and compliance programs.

A federal lawsuit could determine whether treated-wood poles should be regulated under environmental laws. (Photo By: Shutterstock)

A federal lawsuit could determine whether treated-wood poles should be regulated under environmental laws. (Photo By: Shutterstock)

In an Oct. 13 filing with other trade groups, the association said a ruling in support of regulating utility poles by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would create a costly administrative nightmare.

The stakes are enormous―electric cooperatives own and maintain about 37 million poles, according to NRECA estimates, and that number is climbing every year.

“The potential reach of any decision requiring permits … if widely applied, is staggering,” according to the brief, signed for NRECA by Rae Cronmiller, environmental counsel.

The closely watched case, Ecological Rights Foundation v. Pacific Gas & Electric Co., centers on whether poles treated with preservatives should fall under the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act because the chemicals might run off and contaminate bodies of water.

A U.S. District Court in California ruled in March that the foundation failed to prove utility poles are a “point source” that conveys pollutants, like pipes, ditches and channels. That means they don’t fall under the permitting requirements of the Clean Water Act, the court said.

NRECA, joining with several trade associations, including the Edison Electric Institute, the North American Wood Pole Council and the Utility Water Act Group, asked the appeals court to side with the district court’s ruling.

While a reversal of the district court’s decision would apply only to poles in northern California, where the lawsuit originated, its reach could be nationwide if other courts adopted the same rationale, according to the brief.

“Millions of existing installations could end up being removed and placed in landfills and, if feasible, replaced with concrete or steel alternatives―the construction, transportation, and installation of which would come with their own significant environmental impacts,” the trade groups said in the filing.

Additionally, they added, the Environmental Protection Agency has already reviewed, registered and regulated the treatment preservatives at the heart of the case.

They also told the appellate court that the lower court ruled correctly in holding that the poles do not constitute solid waste, which could trigger additional regulations.

Co-ops Pushing for State Coal Ash Management

October 18, 2011

House Backs New Plan for Coal Ash

 

NRECA CEO Glenn English said electric cooperatives will continue to push hard in the U.S. Senate for legislation that sets up a new state-run plan for managing coal ash without designating it as hazardous waste.

The U.S. House has voted to block EPA from regulating coal ash as hazardous waste, an issue that gained attention after a 2009 spill at this Tennessee Valley Authority plant. (Photo By: AP Photo/Wade Payne)

The U.S. House has voted to block EPA from regulating coal ash as hazardous waste, an issue that gained attention after a 2009 spill at this Tennessee Valley Authority plant. (Photo By: AP Photo/Wade Payne)

The Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act passed the House Oct. 14 on a 267-144 vote, with 37 Democrats joining the GOP majority. It now heads to the Senate.

“Electric cooperatives are gratified to see the strong bipartisan support for economically prudent legislation that protects beneficial reuse of coal ash while bringing much-needed regulatory certainty. We hope this same spirit of bipartisanship holds in the Senate,” English said.

English said the measure helps to ensure that coal ash, also known as coal combustion residuals, a common byproduct of coal-based plants, can continue to be used in building and construction materials, such as wallboard.

About 45 percent of all electric utility coal combustion residuals is recycled for beneficial purposes.

Coal ash legislation has been a top priority for electric co-ops. They have opposed a 2010 proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency to subject the common byproduct of coal-based plants to federal standards for handling and disposing of hazardous waste.

Kirk Johnson, NRECA senior vice president, government relations, said a call to members in the week before the vote produced more than 6,100 messages to House members through the association’s grassroots Take Action Network.

That followed a similar call last fall that generated more than 11,000 messages to EPA, opposing the hazardous waste plan.

“We’re extremely pleased with the way our members have responded to this issue. They understand its implications for the cost of electricity and the beneficial use of recycled coal combustion residuals,” Johnson said.

EPA had said in 2000 that coal ash was not a hazardous waste, but revisited the issue following a major December 2008 spill from a failed impoundment at a Tennessee Valley Authority plant.

The agency has not finalized a coal ash rule; its proposal in 2010 offered two options—a hazardous designation and a non-hazardous designation. EPA estimated the compliance costs of the hazardous designation at $10.9 billion in 2016.

The agency has said it does not expect to finalize a rule until 2013, so now is a good time for Congress to weigh in on guidelines, Johnson said.

The House bill would enable states to enforce federal standards established by the new legislation. EPA could step in if a state decides not to proceed with enforcement.

“A hazardous waste designation would be extremely harmful to our nation’s economy. With 50 percent of our nation’s electricity generated by coal, all of those utility customers would see higher rates if this designation was made,” said Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., chairman of the House Environment and the Economy subcommittee. 

Common Energy Bandit

October 4, 2011

Set-top Boxes are Energy Bandits

 

If you’ve got cable or satellite TV, odds are a set-top box came with it. But finding out how much electricity that box is using could be scarier than a horror movie.

Which of these devices uses more electricity? You’d be amazed. (Photo By: Michael W. Kahn)

Which of these devices uses more electricity? You’d be amazed. (Photo By: Michael W. Kahn)

The utility consulting firm Ecos has been crunching the numbers for a typical home. If you have two set-top boxes—one a high-definition DVR, the other a regular HD box—they’re using about 450 kilowatt-hours per year.

“What’s notable is that that combination of set-top boxes is using more energy than a typical refrigerator. And most people don’t know that—they think devices that are smaller use less energy,” said Laura Moorefield, Ecos senior manager of research and policy.

But wait, there’s more.

“The typical set-top boxes in a home can use more energy than a TV, which they’re intended to be a part of that system, not the main part,” Moorefield said during a session at the Touchstone Energy® National Energy Efficiency Conference.

“These devices typically draw the same amount of power no matter what you’re doing. If you’re watching TV, if you’re recording a show they’re drawing an average of 30, 40 watts continuously.”

And don’t bother yelling at the kids to shut off the box when they’re done.

“If you punch the button to turn off the set-top box, really, in most models, the only thing that’s turning off is the little LED indicator light,” Moorefield said. “There’s no drop in power.”

But set-top boxes are only a part of what’s known as “plug load”—devices that draw power even when they’re off.

Moorefield said the Energy Information Administration projects plug loads to be the nation’s fastest-growing section of electricity use. Ecos estimates as many as four million plug load devices are now in use nationwide.

And if that’s not reason enough for co-ops to encourage members to unplug things like cell phone chargers and coffeemakers, Moorefield added one more.

“In homes, plug loads are anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of residential electricity use. They cost the homeowner more than $100 to operate every year.”

LJEC Health Fair / Member Appreciation Day

September 19, 2011

Leavenworth Jefferson Electric Cooperative is hosting a free community health fair that is open to the public on Tuesday, September 27, 2011 from 4:00pm to 7:00pm. The fair will be held at LJEC’s office at 507 N. Union, McLouth. 

There will be blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol screenings available as well as reviews of height, weight and body mass index (BMI) by the McLouth Medical Clinic and Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Information will also be available for chiropractic services, eye care, nutrition, hearing, and much more. Sam’s Club will be on hand offering discounts to those who join or renew their membership. In addition, there will be bank and investment representatives on hand to review your financial health. 

Flu shots will be available from the American Red Cross for $30. Quantities are limited and will be given on a first come, first served basis. The Red Cross can accept the following insurance companies: Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Humana, Coventry, Aetna, United Health Care, Advantra, Humana Gold, Railroad Medicare, Pyramid Life, Care Improvement Plus, Medicare Part B and Many Medicare B Supplements. Check your individual plan to ensure coverage. You will need to show a current insurance card with ID. 

LJEC will also be hosting a Member Appreciation Day at the same time as the health fair. LJEC members can enjoy a free meal while enjoying the physical and financial benefits of attending the health fair. 

A food drive is also planned. Bring non-perishable food items and LJEC will distribute the donations to local food banks. 

Additional information can be obtained by calling LJEC at 888-796-6111.

Ozone Proposal Scrapped

September 12, 2011

White House Scraps Ozone Proposal
September 12, 2011 – CFC Solutions News Bulletin

President Obama has pulled back proposed National Ambient Air Quality Standards that would have required states and communities—and potentially power plants and industrial facilities therein—to cut emissions contributing to ground-level ozone. 

Ground-level ozone is the primary constituent of smog and is regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Air Act. In 2008, the eight-hour “primary standard” (a limit to protect public health) was set at 75 parts per billion. 

In January 2010, EPA issued a proposed rule calling for a lowered range of 60 to 70 parts per billion “based on scientific evidence about ozone and its effects on people and sensitive trees and plants,” according to EPA. Standards are typically revisited every five years. 

“Work is already under way to update a 2006 review of the science that will result in the reconsideration of the ozone standard in 2013,” Obama said in an official statement. “Ultimately, I did not support asking state and local governments to begin implementing a new standard that will soon be reconsidered.” 

Early EPA estimates put total costs of reducing ozone emissions under the proposed rule at between $19 billion and $90 billion per year by 2020. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce responded to the estimates with a July 2011 letter to EPA, claiming the change would result in “the single most expensive environmental standards ever to be imposed by any administration on the U.S. economy.” 

The White House cited a desire to reduce regulatory and economic burdens in announcing the pull-back. The 2008 standard of 75 parts per billion will remain in place; any future reviews will take place in the course of the customary five-year reviews. The withdrawal of the proposed standards will not have an impact on any other EPA regulations that are directly aimed at the utility industry, according to NRECA.

Members Going Online

August 15, 2011

Members of All Ages Go Online

 

Computers: They’re not just for young people anymore. That’s something co-ops need to seize upon.

Co-op members of all ages increasingly own computers and have high-speed Internet connections. (Photo By: Touchstone Energy)

Co-op members of all ages increasingly own computers and have high-speed Internet connections. (Photo By: Touchstone Energy)

“Nearly 60 percent of members 65 and older have a PC in the home,” said Tom Laing, director of market research at TSE Services, which produced the Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives 2010 National Survey on the Cooperative Difference. “We used to have an inverse relationship between computer ownership and Internet connectivity by age. That’s really filling in across all age groups.”

Not only do older members increasingly own computers, they’re using them as something other than typewriters.

“Nearly half of our oldest members have Internet access, which has doubled in just the past few years,” Laing noted. And all co-op members are increasingly turning to high-speed access.

“Most of our members now have some sort of broadband,” Laing said. “And while a little over 15 percent of our oldest members are still relying on dial-up, less than 5 percent of our youngest members are.” That latter figure is one that Laing said co-ops should pounce upon.

“Those members that we’re really trying to engage—utilizing things like Together We Save’s website, or Web portals for energy efficiency, or Facebook—we’re not hampered by bandwidth as we were just a few years ago,” Laing said. “Some of the richer content, the interactive content being offered by Touchstone Energy appears not to have a hurdle to overcome as it did in the past.”

And there’s good reason for co-ops to make use of that content. Although nearly 90 percent of members report taking action to become more energy efficient, a majority still give their co-ops low grades for helping them manage costs or inspiring them to action.

“We have ample opportunity to proactively help our members manage their costs,” Laing said. “With the Together We Save campaign, the whole goal is to inspire action.” 

More Time Needed on EPA Rule

August 10, 2011

NRECA: More Time Needed on EPA Rule

 

The Environmental Protection Agency has badly underestimated the time that electric utilities will need to comply with its controversial proposed rule to control hazardous air pollutants, NRECA told the agency.

Co-ops are concerned that EPA is setting an unrealistic time frame in a proposed major rule. (Photo By: Basin Electric Power Cooperative)

Co-ops are concerned that EPA is setting an unrealistic time frame in a proposed major rule. (Photo By: Basin Electric Power Cooperative)

And, NRECA added, the agency’s “Utility MACT” rule is based on flawed methodology and includes requirements that are unachievable for many power plants.

“In short, our member cooperatives have great concerns with the practical implications of this rulemaking, as well as the procedures EPA incorporated into this rulemaking process,” according to comments submitted Aug. 4 by Rae Cronmiller, senior principal environmental counsel.

The complex rule, issued in May, requires coal- and oil-fired steam generating units to use maximum available control technology, or MACT, to reduce levels of mercury, nickel and related air toxics. EPA plans to finalize the rule, required under a federal court order, in November.

Its provisions, particularly the compliance time frame, have drawn sharp criticism on Capitol Hill, where a House committee passed a bill to delay implementation by at least six months.

By EPA estimates, more than 50 percent of all electric generating units might have to add at least one major pollution control device. NRECA said that’s simply not practical, given the agency’s compliance timetable of three years, with a possible one-year extension.

“Contrary to EPA’s presumption, even four years may not allow adequate time for staggered installations of equipment to ensure reliability or avoid significant cost increases to the electric consumer due to participation in the wholesale markets for baseload power,” NRECA said.

The filing also noted smaller systems like electric cooperatives will have to purchase substitute power at uncertain prices when they take units off-line for retrofits, and compete with larger utilities for equipment and engineering expertise.

“In some cases, financing is not as readily available to smaller systems or takes longer to acquire,” NRECA said.

In addition, NRECA said EPA has misconstrued the statutory basis for regulating hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act and has employed approaches to setting emissions standards that are neither legal nor appropriate. 

Financial Reform Could Cost Coops

July 26, 2011

NRECA Warns on Financial Reg Costs

Uncertainty surrounds implementation of 2010 law

By Steven Johnson | ECT Staff Writer Published: July 26th, 2011

NRECA CEO Glenn English has warned lawmakers that overzealous implementation of a landmark financial reform act by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission could undermine co-ops’ ability to provide stable, affordable power to their members.

Rep. Frank Lucas

Rep. Frank Lucas

In testimony to the House Agriculture Committee, English said the CFTC should interpret the 2010 Dodd-Frank law to exclude small entities like cooperatives from regulations designed to apply to much larger players.

“Rural electric cooperatives are not financial entities, and therefore should not be burdened by new regulation or associated costs as if we were financial entities,” English said at a July 21 hearing on the impact of the law on small businesses.

The CFTC is still wrestling with putting the law into practice and has extended until Dec. 31 the deadline for finalizing rules to regulate “swaps,” which include traditional commercial transactions and commodity derivatives.

Co-ops are minor players in the $600 trillion global derivatives market, but use swaps as one tool to control costs by reducing the commercial risks associated with electricity and capacity, English said.

Cooperatives are not in the speculation business, he said, cautioning that driving up the price of commodity derivatives through regulation would lead to price risks and cost increases that would be passed on to members.

Instead, the CFTC should define “swaps” to exclude the kinds of nonfinancial commodity contracts on which co-ops rely.

English also said the CFTC should follow the intent of Congress and exempt entities like cooperatives that use swaps solely to hedge commercial risk obligations.

“If properly implemented by regulation, that exemption would leave millions of dollars in electric consumers’ pockets that might otherwise sit in margin accounts or be paid in capital fees to financial institutions.”

Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said he will continue to watch CFTC as it proceeds with its regulations under the Dodd-Frank law.

“If a rural electric cooperative finds itself in the same regulatory category as Goldman Sachs, the CFTC simply doesn’t have it right. We need to bring some balance and common sense back to this process,” he said.

Lights Out for Bulb Standards?

July 19, 2011

Amendment Would Bar Bulb Standards

Measure would defund heightened efficiency requirements

 

The prospects for preserving manufacturers’ ability to market traditional incandescent light bulbs dimmed, then brightened a bit during a three-day period in the U.S. House.

Incandescent light bulb (Photo By: Michael W. Kahn)

Incandescent light bulb
(Photo By: Michael W. Kahn)

Bulb boosters’ fortunes floundered on July 12 as a bill to repeal incandescent-endangering bulb efficiency standards fell short on procedural grounds. However, a July 15 amendment removed funding to implement the standards from the 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations Act.

H.R. 2417, the standards-repeal legislation sponsored by Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, won majority backing—233 to 193—on the House floor, but failed because it was considered under a rule requiring a two-thirds majority to pass. The successful appropriations amendment was offered by a co-sponsor of the Barton bill, another Texas Republican, Rep. Michael Burgess.

According to many observers, however, even with House passage of the amendment, opposition from the White House and most Hill Democrats may place further progress in doubt.

The efficiency standards targeted by incandescent bulb supporters were contained in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. While the standards do not explicitly ban the bulbs, their mandated energy efficiency increases would effectively eliminate use of incandescents, beginning with the 100-watt size as of 2012, moving downward through smaller sizes and ending with the 40-watt size in 2014.

Barton premised opposition to the standards on freedom of choice, asserting that his bill would “allow people to keep using the cheap and reliable incandescent light bulb.” He denounced “the de facto ban” on the bulbs as a “perfect example of … overreaching government intrusion.”

Energy Secretary Steven Chu challenged claims of a prospective ban on incandescents, asserting before the House vote on the Barton bill that the 2007 standards were focused on making the bulbs more efficient, not barring their use. He said that the “commonsense” standards would save consumers $6 billion annually on their electric bills.

NRECA has never taken a position on the continuing availability of incandescent light bulbs, according to Brian Cavey, vice president for legislative affairs.

However, he noted, the association has taken a position on energy efficiency, supporting more efficient energy alternatives in order to avoid having to build expensive new power plants. “That’s where our focus is and continues to be.”

House Panel Blocks EPA

July 18, 2011

House Panel Prunes EPA Regs

Committee sets new coal ash and review guidelines

By Steven Johnson | ECT Staff Writer Published: July 18th, 2011

 

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has voted to advance legislation to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating coal ash as a hazardous waste.

The committee approved a bill July 13 that would set up a new state-run plan to handle coal combustion residuals, a byproduct of coal-based plants that is commonly recycled as building and construction materials.

Supporters said the new process will empower state and local officials closest to the problem to address environmental concerns, without costing utilities and ratepayers billions of dollars in new regulatory costs.

The Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act, sponsored by Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., passed with a bipartisan 35-12 vote. 

Rep. Fred Upton

Rep. Fred Upton

“Beneficial reuse of coal combustion residuals benefits the economy and jobs as well as the environment,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich.

The committee action was the second in two days to clip EPA’s wings. On July 12, the panel voted 33-13 to set up a new federal interagency committee to review proposed and recently issued EPA regulations for their impact on jobs and the economy.

The committee also voted to delay implementation of two major EPA rules. One would require utilities to use maximum achievable control technology on their units to reduce emissions of mercury and pollutants such as chromium and nickel. The second is aimed at airborne emissions that cross state lines in the eastern part of the country.

Kirk Johnson, senior vice president, government relations for NRECA, said co-ops will continue to support legislation that ensures electricity will remain affordable for members by preventing excessive regulations from unnecessarily increasing the cost of power.

EPA has been weighing two approaches to coal ash regulation, an issue that has been simmering since a December 2008 spill at a Tennessee Valley Authority plant. The more controversial options would designate coal ash as a hazardous waste for the first time, subjecting impoundments and ash landfills at coal plants to federal requirements for hazardous waste management and disposal.

The committee bill preempts EPA action, which is not expected until 2013. Several Democrats signed on to the legislation after receiving assurances that states will have to meet minimum standards.

“You can’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good,” said Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa.

Both bills are expected to receive favorable treatment on the House floor, but Senate action is uncertain.

House Blocks EPA

June 27, 2011

House Panel Blocks EPA on Coal Ash

Legislation pre-empts use of hazardous waste designation

By Steven Johnson | ECT Staff Writer Published: June 27th, 2011

 

A House subcommittee has taken the first legislative step toward blocking the Environmental Protection Agency from classifying coal ash as a hazardous waste.

Rep. David McKinley

Rep. David McKinley

Saying EPA’s proposal would lead to high energy costs and stymie coal ash recycling in construction materials, the House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment approved a new, state-driven plan to regulate handling and disposal of the material.

“Potentially hundreds of thousands of jobs could be lost and costs could surpass the hundred billion dollar range if the EPA is allowed to regulate coal ash as a hazardous material,” said Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., the bill’s author.

The Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act passed June 21 on a voice vote and now goes to the full House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Kirk Johnson, NRECA senior vice president, government relations, called the bill a positive step in addressing an issue that was a central focus of the NRECA Legislative Conference.

“This legislation accomplishes the goal of ensuring that regulation of coal combustion residuals does not drive up electricity costs nor curtails their beneficial use,” he said.

Last June, EPA proposed two options to deal with coal ash, an issue that gained attention following a December 2008 impoundment rupture at a Tennessee Valley Authority plant, which released 1 billion gallons of fly ash slurry.

A hazardous waste designation would, for the first time, subject impoundments and ash landfills at coal plants to federal requirements for hazardous waste management and disposal. EPA estimated the compliance costs of that proposal would be $10.9 billion in 2016.

The other option would give the agency authority to set minimum performance standards for storage and disposal. Either way, EPA is saying it will not finalize the regulation until 2013.

The subcommittee’s bill prevents EPA from classifying coal ash as hazardous waste and authorizes states to adopt their own regulatory programs. If a state decides not to proceed with a program, EPA can step in.

Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus, R-Ill., said the panel’s recent hearings on coal ash showed that state environmental officials can provide proper oversight without undue federal control.

“Given the unique challenges of each individual state, I believe this is the best approach,” he said.

NRECA Backs Supreme Court

June 21, 2011

NRECA Backs Supreme Court Ruling

Association says court acted properly in emissions case 

By Steven Johnson | ECT Staff Writer Published: June 21st, 2011

 

NRECA CEO Glenn English said the U.S. Supreme Court ruled properly when it struck down a multi-state attempt to sue utilities that emit greenhouse gases under federal common law on the grounds that they are a public nuisance.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down an attempt to sue utilities that emit greenhouse gases. (Photo By: Shutterstock)

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down an attempt to sue utilities that emit greenhouse gases. (Photo By: Shutterstock)

In a closely watched case, the high court overturned an appellate court decision that permitted a lawsuit against American Electric Power, the Tennessee Valley Authority and three other power companies to proceed.

The 8-0 ruling in American Electric Power v. Connecticut helps to put a damper on costly litigation that could harm consumers, English said.

“America’s electric cooperatives welcome today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that states and other groups cannot try to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by filing federal lawsuits, so-called ‘nuisance suits,’ against utilities. Such lawsuits are not well suited to take economic concerns into account,” he said.

“Keeping electric bills affordable is essential for America’s consumers as the economy continues to recover, and preventing expensive lawsuits with little environmental benefit will help utilities achieve that goal.”

Upset by what they termed the slow pace of Environmental Protection Agency regulation, six states, New York City and three land preservation trusts had sought court-ordered limits on greenhouse gases at plants owned by AEP and the other providers.

However, the Supreme Court said that since greenhouse gases are pollutants under the Clean Air Act, federal statutory law supersedes the plaintiffs’ attempt to limit greenhouse gases under a federal public nuisance doctrine.

“The expert agency is surely better equipped to do the job than federal judges, who lack the scientific, economic, and technological resources an agency can utilize in coping with issues of this order,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the court.

NRECA joined with the American Public Power Association and Edison Electric Institute in filing a brief in support of AEP’s position. Permitting the appellate court’s decision to stand “would embroil the federal judiciary in decades-long oversight for which the courts are institutionally ill-suited,” NRECA said.

The decision does not affect EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. Ginsburg reiterated EPA’s ability to regulate carbon dioxide under a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that is the basis of the agency’s current program.

The Supreme Court split 4-4 on whether states and conservation groups have a legal right to sue the utilities or whether such lawsuits are effectively barred from federal courts under the political question doctrine. So the appeals court ruling for the plaintiffs on that point still holds.

Senators Hit EPA

June 6, 2011

Senators Hit EPA on Coal Ash Rule

Group urges quick action on non-hazardous designation

 

On an issue of major importance to electric co-ops, a bipartisan group of 44 senators has told President Obama that the Environmental Protection Agency should act quickly to designate coal ash as a non-hazardous material. 

Kent Conrad

Kent Conrad

In a May 26 letter to the president, the senators said financial institutions have backed off support of projects that involve coal ash because they are concerned that EPA will instead classify it as a hazardous substance and drive up compliance costs. 

“Already, beneficial use of [coal combustion residuals] has decreased and landfill disposal has increased. This result is counterproductive but likely to continue as long as the present regulatory uncertainty persists,” the letter said. 

The letter was authored by Sens. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., and backed by 42 other senators. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., sent a separate letter opposing regulation of coal ash as hazardous. 

In June 2010, EPA issued two options for regulating coal ash, which attracted a wave of attention following a major December 2008 spill at a Tennessee Valley Authority plant. 

One would treat it for the first time as a hazardous substance and subject impoundments and ash landfills at coal plants to federal hazardous waste management requirements. 

The other option, preferred by electric co-ops and the signatories of the Senate letter, does not include a hazardous substance designation. 

In a statement accompanying the letter, Conrad said that represents a less burdensome option that still protects the environment and public health. 

“Years of research have shown that coal ash should not be regulated as a hazardous waste. Doing so would only force unworkable requirements on our state’s utilities, resulting in serious economic consequences and the loss of good-paying jobs,” he said. 

Some 72 million tons of coal combustion residuals are produced annually in the U.S., and are used extensively in the building and construction industries. 

After it received a torrent of comments on its rule last fall, including about 11,000 comments from co-op managers, directors and staffers, EPA announced it will take more time to decide on a final rule. 

Kirk Johnson, senior vice president of government relations at NRECA, said co-ops should build on the senators’ letters by making the case for a non-hazardous designation to their elected officials. 

“We’ll continue with our efforts to make sure EPA gets this issue right,” he said. “That includes working with members of Congress, so that they can weigh in with EPA to get our concerns addressed.”

Leaders Lobby on Capitol Hill

May 3, 2011

Co-op Leaders Lobby on Capitol Hill
By Steven Johnson Published: May 3, 2011 @ 10:55 am In Legislative Conference,Top Story

 

NRECA CEO Glenn English told co-op leaders from across the country that they must stay focused on policies to maintain a reliable and affordable supply of electricity, and avoid being drawn into an unproductive and divisive congressional debate on fiscal and budgetary issues.

NRECA CEO Glenn English addresses the 2011 NRECA Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. (Photo By: Luis Gomez Photos) []

NRECA CEO Glenn English addresses the 2011 NRECA Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. (Photo By: Luis Gomez Photos)

 

Speaking to the annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., English said co-op managers, directors and staffers need to keep co-op-related issues, such as funding for the Rural Utilities Service and incentives for renewable energy generation, front and center when they meet this week with members of Congress.

Straying off co-op themes by weighing in on the highly charged issues of federal spending cuts and an increase in the debt ceiling is outside the mission of co-op leaders and represents a “no-win situation,” he told about 2,500 conference participants at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill.

“That’s for Congress to decide. That’s not our area of expertise,” he said. “We’ve got to avoid the temptation to choose sides. The stakes are too great. The only side we’re on is the side of our 42 million members.”

The conference brought together co-op managers, directors and officials May 2-4 for a series of briefings from NRECA lobbyists before one-on-one meetings with congressmen, senators and their staffers.

“We’re doing this in an atmosphere that’s increasingly challenging,” said Kirk Johnson, NRECA senior vice president of government relations. “But we have a good story to tell.”

The conference zeroed in on four issue areas that NRECA representatives said will require minimal spending, but could dramatically affect whether members’ monthly bills remain affordable or take a sharp upward turn.

Participants were urged to lobby members of Congress on behalf of a $6.5 billion level for fiscal 2012 for the Rural Utilities Service Electric Loan Program [2], so that the cost of co-op borrowing, which affects electric rates, remains reasonable.

English noted that the program does not represent a net loss to the U.S. Treasury and could return an estimated $100 million to federal coffers. “If they cut RUS, they’re going to be increasing the deficit, not reducing it,” he said. [3]Additionally, co-ops want to eliminate restrictions on RUS lending for baseload generation, and reinstate the Guaranteed Underwriter Loan Program, which has been targeted for elimination by the Obama administration.

Co-op leaders also were asked to solicit support for S. 49, a bill authored by Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., that would repeal the freight railroad industry’s antitrust exemption [4]. That would open the way for shippers to benefit from increased competition in railroad rates and service.

On the issue of coal ash, co-ops want House members to line up behind H.R. 1391, a measure sponsored by Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., that would ensure coal combustion residuals are treated as non-hazardous waste [5].

By contrast, if the Environmental Protection Agency classifies coal ash as hazardous waste, that will drive up costs and could shutter as much as 18 percent of the current coal-based generation fleet, according to NRECA officials.

On another matter, co-ops want an extension of the Clean Renewable Energy Bonds program [6], so that they have incentives comparable to IOUs for investments in clean energy—an important issue for co-ops that must meet renewable energy targets.

Related content: 2011 NRECA Legislative Conference [7]


Article printed from ECT.coop: http://www.ect.coop

URL to article: http://www.ect.coop/special-reports/legislative-conference/co-op-leaders-lobby-on-capitol-hill

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.ect.coop/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Legislative-conference.jpg

[2] a $6.5 billion level for fiscal 2012 for the Rural Utilities Service Electric Loan Program: http://www.ect.coop/public-policy-watch/energy-environment/obama-budget-adds-options-for-rus

[3] Read more: http://www.ect.coop/special-reports/legislative-conference/co-op-leaders-lobby-on-capitol-hill/2

[4] repeal the freight railroad industry’s antitrust exemption: http://www.ect.coop/public-policy-watch/legislation/shippers-back-rail-antitrust-repeal

[5] coal combustion residuals are treated as non-hazardous waste: http://www.ect.coop/public-policy-watch/energy-environment/caution-urged-on-coal-ash-rules

[6] an extension of the Clean Renewable Energy Bonds program: http://www.ect.coop/public-policy-watch/energy-environment/co-ops-seek-crebs-extension

[7] 2011 NRECA Legislative Conference: http://www.ect.coop/category/special-reports/legislative-conference

Efficiency Works!

May 3, 2011

Experts Say Energy Efficiency Works
By Derrill Holly Published: May 3, 2011 @ 10:51 am In Consumer Outreach,Editor's Pick

Energy-efficiency programs appear to reduce demand for electricity, but those who help design the programs concede that more has to be done to encourage consumers to take full advantage of the potential savings.

Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives are using the Together We Save program to show their consumers ways to save energy and save money. (Photo By: Touchstone Energy) []

Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives are using the Together We Save program to show their consumers ways to save energy and save money. (Photo By: Touchstone Energy)

 

“Eighty percent of the savings for these programs is coming from lighting, primarily CFLs,” said Joe Loper, an energy consultant who helped evaluate Maryland’s Empower Program.

The Maryland program mandates a 15 percent reduction in energy consumption by 2015. Loper compared it to similar efficiency programs in other states and found that many of the programs will take time to produce results.

He was among panelists who presented a forum on energy demand, efficiency and consumer behavior at the Energy Information Administration’s Energy Conference 2011, in Washington, D.C., April 27.

Researchers contend that consumers don’t associate specific tasks with the costs of energy because they are billed weeks after the service is delivered.

“What is the link between what you do and the monthly electric bill?” asked panelist James Sweeney, rhetorically.

Consumers need to be encouraged to make small behavioral changes that will collectively help them reduce their energy use, said Sweeney, director of the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center at Stanford University. “Think about the things that are easily controllable.”

Besides replacing incandescent lighting with compact fluorescent light bulbs or other more efficient lighting, panelists suggested that consumers should be encouraged to use their programmable thermostats.

“If the U.S. became 20 percent more energy-efficient, that would mean $200 billion in annual savings,” said Kathleen Hogan, deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Panelists agreed that the programs need to provide more options to encourage efficiency programs in existing buildings. Those include owner-occupied housing, commercial real estate and rental properties.

“Two-thirds of the facilities that will be here in 2050 are here today,” said Hogan. “Tenants need to start asking about utility costs.”

Hundreds of the nation’s rural electric cooperatives are pursuing a wide range of energy efficiency programs on behalf of their consumer-members. Many of these initiatives are marketed under the Touchstone Energy®  [2] brand.

“Our Together We Save campaign teaches consumers how small energy-saving steps around the home can add up to big savings,” said Jim Bausell, chief operating officer of Touchstone Energy. “Through TogetherWeSave.com, consumers have used 16 different interactive calculators to determine over $30 million in energy savings on their electric bills.”


Article printed from ECT.coop: http://www.ect.coop

URL to article: http://www.ect.coop/editors-pick/experts-say-energy-efficiency-works

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.ect.coop/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/EIA_Touchstone-Caulking.jpg

[2] Touchstone Energy® : http://www.touchstoneenergy.com/Pages/default.aspx

Fossil Fuels & Wind Dominate Planned Generation

May 2, 2011

  Fossil Fuels and Wind Dominate Planned Generation
reprinted from the May 2, 2011 CFC Solutions News Bulletin

Almost 446,000 MW of new generation capacity is under development—whether in proposal, permitting or construction phases—according to a new report from the American Public Power Association (APPA). Sixty-two percent of the total is new natural gas and coal generation;
18 percent is wind.

“Natural gas and coal represent a declining share of the capacity mix through each stage of the planning process,” the report said. “Where construction has already begun, these traditional forms of energy still predominate. Where plans are more uncertain, non-emitting fuel types form larger shares.”

Electric cooperative projects account for
6.2 percent, or 2.9 GW, of plants under construction. Investor-owned utilities account for 28.1 percent, municipal utilities for 7.1 percent and federal projects for 6.2 percent. Non-utility generators account for 50.5 percent of total plants under construction.

The capacity from proposed projects has tripled since APPA’s first generation development report—from 84,560 MW in 2007 to 251,499 MW in 2011. Renewable generation projects make up almost 80 percent of these proposed projects:
38.4 percent is proposed wind; 21.8 percent is proposed hydro; and 19.6 percent is proposed solar. Proposed natural gas-fired plants make up 9.3 percent; coal-fired projects make up a mere 3.4 percent of the total.

The full report is available at APPA’s website.

Tax Credits Still Available

April 11, 2011

Energy-efficient upgrades still have tax benefit
 


Windows and materials to help you seal them are among the items that are covered through
the federal tax credits geared to make homes more energy efficient.

April 11, 2011 - Lawrence Journal World
Christine Metz

From windows to wind turbines, tax credits give homeowners an extra incentive to make energy-efficient home improvements.

The sweet deals of 2010 — where homeowners could receive a maximum tax credit of $1,500 — are gone. The tax laws for 2011 reverted to the incentives of 2006 and 2007, which cover up to 10 percent of the cost of improvements with a $500 cap. For certain kinds of improvements, such as windows, heaters and air conditioners, the maximums are lower, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

While it’s not the $1,500 of 2010, local energy auditor Sarajane Koch of Scott Temperature said it does help. For instance, the $500 limit can be met through a $300 tax credit for an air conditioner, a $150 tax credit for a furnace and a $50 tax credit for circulating fan.

In the past 15 months, Koch said she saw more homeowners go with higher efficiency models because the $1,500 tax credit helped cover the difference.

The $500 lifetime limit doesn’t apply to all energy-efficiency projects. The more costly improvements of installing geothermal heat pumps, solar water heaters, solar panels, fuel cells and wind generators are eligible for a 30 percent tax credit and have no upper limit. These credits are good until 2016.

That’s good news, Koch said because projects such as installing geothermal heat pumps can cost between $15,000 to $40,000.

All of the housing credits are for equipment that is installed and used in 2011. And the upgrades have to be made for the homeowner’s principal residence and can’t be applied to rental properties. There is also a $500 lifetime limit on the tax credit. So, if you took full advantage of last year’s $1,500 tax credit, you won’t be eligible.

The tax credits also don’t include installation and labor costs.

With the help of information from the DOE, we made a cheat sheet on what tax credits are available for 2011.

Windows, doors, skylights

Homeowners can get up to 10 percent off the cost of the windows, skylights and doors that carry the ENERGY STAR label. The credit is good for up to $200 of the cost of windows and skylights and $500 for doors. To qualify, not all the windows, doors or skylights in your home have to be replaced and they don’t even have to be replacements for old ones, so products that are used on additions would qualify.

Insulation, weather stripping

Tax credits are available for 10 percent of the cost of insulation or weather-stripping products with a $500 cap. The tax credits cover typical insulation products such as batts, rolls, blow-in fibers and expanding sprays. It also covers weather-stripping materials, cans of spray foam, caulking and house wrap. Homeowners can get the credit if they install the insulation or do the air sealing themselves.

Water heaters

A $300 tax credit is available for water heaters that have an energy factor of .82 or a thermal efficiency of at least 90 percent. The DOE has a list of tankless water heaters that qualify. There aren’t any residential storage tank water heaters or gas condensing water heaters on the market right now that qualify for the tax credit.

There is also a $300 tax credit for electric heat pump water heaters that have an energy factor of 2.0. Electric storage tanks and electric tankless water heaters do not qualify.

Furnaces and boilers

A $150 tax credit is available for furnaces and boilers that have an annual fuel utilization efficiency rating (AFUE) of 95 or greater. The DOE doesn’t have a list of all the heating products that qualify for the tax credit, but the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute keeps track of products that do. You can search its website.

There is also a $300 tax credit for air source heat pumps and a $50 tax credit for an advanced main air circulating fan.

Central air conditioners

A $300 tax credit is available for central air conditioners, but you will most likely have to replace your furnace as well to qualify. The DOE doesn’t have a user-friendly list of what central air conditioners qualify, so the best way to find out what earns a tax credit is to check with your contractor.

Biomass stoves

Stoves that use biomass, such as trees, wood, grass or agricultural crops, can earn a $300 tax credit. The stove must have a thermal efficiency rating of at least 75 percent.

Roofs

Homeowners can receive 10 percent of the cost of a new roof. The tax credit is capped at $500. The tax credit is aimed at reflective roofs, which are best used for homes that are in hot sunny climates and use air conditioning frequently.

What’s not covered

Here’s a list of what isn’t covered under the government’s tax credits: ceiling fans, washers, dryers, compact fluorescent light bulbs, dehumidifiers, dishwashers, electric furnaces and boilers, swamp coolers, lighting fixtures, ovens, programmable thermostats, refrigerators, room air conditioners, TVs and toilets.

The $11 Billion EPA Rule

March 22, 2011

EPA Compliance Costly, English Warns

Small systems could have trouble with new mercury rule

 

NRECA CEO Glenn English said co-ops are concerned about the costs and compressed time frame associated with a massive regulation issued by the Environmental Protection Agency designed to control airborne emissions of mercury and other pollutants.

Power plants will have a short period of time to comply with EPA’s expansive new mercury and air toxics regulations. (Photo By: David J. Phillip)

Power plants will have a short period of time to comply with EPA’s expansive new mercury and air toxics regulations. (Photo By: David J. Phillip)

The rule, issued March 16, would have costs of about $10.9 billion in 2016 and add $3 to $4 to monthly electric bills by requiring coal-based power plants to install new pollution control equipment, EPA said.

English said co-ops support efforts to protect the public’s health and the environment, and added that the association is studying the potential consequences of the 946-page rule. 

But he cautioned that initial indications suggest compliance, especially for small systems, could be expensive and difficult, in part because of the limited time available to conform to the regulations.

“Electric cooperatives are deeply concerned that the agency’s strategy to require very significant emissions reductions of multiple pollutants with very compressed timelines may be unachievable and could damage the economy of rural America without providing commensurate and meaningful environmental benefit,” English said.

The standard for mercury, arsenic, chromium and other air toxics comes at a time when EPA is finalizing multiple regulations affecting air pollutants, coal ash, greenhouse gases and other substances, and that flurry of activity could cut against co-ops, English said.

“Cooperatives will find themselves at a disadvantage when competing for limited resources to add large emission control projects, or, alternatively, to build replacement generation for units that may be forced to shut down.”

EPA is under a court order to develop standards for hazardous air pollutants. In 2008, a federal judge struck down the Bush administration’s Clean Air Mercury Rule, which established a cap-and-trade program of emissions credits to reduce mercury emissions from coal-based plants by 70 percent.

The court gave EPA three years to come up with a revised rule for regulation of additional emissions sources. The agency said its new rule would prevent 91 percent of mercury from being released into the air.

The agency estimated the rule will affect about 1,200 coal units at 525 plants nationwide. About half of these plants have advanced control technologies in place that can be used to meet the new standards, EPA said.

The agency plans to take public comments for 60 days after the rule is published in the Federal Register, which is expected to occur shortly. EPA is under a court order to finalize the rule by Nov. 16, but has indicated that it might seek to delay that date.

Senator Moran Attending LJEC Annual Meeting

March 4, 2011

United States Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) is scheduled to visit LJEC’s Annual Business Meeting on Wednesday, April 27, 2011. 

jerrymoran.jpg

Raised in Plainville, Kansas, Senator Moran first attended Fort Hays State University and later, the University of Kansas, where he completed a degree in economics in 1976. Moran continued his education at the University of Kansas School of Law earning is J.D. in 1982.

Prior to his election to the United States Senate in 2010, Moran served Kansans in the "Big First" Congressional district for seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as eight years in the Kansas State Senate - spending the last two years as Majority Leader.

As a member of the Senate Veteran's Affairs Committee, one of Moran's top priorities is improving the quality of life for the nearly 250,000 veterans living in Kansas. Through his work o the Special Committee on Aging, Moran works to address the challenges facing all Kansas seniors - including access to health care, the solvency of Social Security and Medicare, and retirement planning.

Senator Moran recently attended the Kansas Electric Cooperatives Annual Meeting, which brought more than 200 electric cooperative trustees, managers and key staff together, in Topeka. Moran talked about such things as the nation’s economy, policies to create jobs, the health care reform bill, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) efforts to regulate greenhouse gasses. 

“I think there was a strong message (in the last election), and one that almost all Kansans share, that the Federal government needs to get its financial house in shape. We need to restrain grown in spending and increase opportunities for employment,” he said. 

“The best thing we could do to help our economy is to create our own energy supplies and reduce our dependence on OPEC,” he added. “Our energy money is going overseas, and some of this money is being used to try to end our way of life. 

We live our lives in a special way in Kansas. I want to make it so our kids and grandkids can raise their families in the place we call home.” 

The meeting will begin promptly at 7:00pm at the McLouth High School Theater Auditorium (McLouth, KS). Since this is the annual meeting of Leavenworth Jefferson Electric Cooperative, the meeting is not open to the public. You must be a LJEC member to attend.

EPA Told to Slow Down

February 8, 2011

EPA Told to Slow Down Rulemaking

By Steven Johnson Published: February 8, 2011 @ 10:42 am In EPA,Top Story

Co-ops are delivering a strong message to the Environmental Protection Agency on new greenhouse gas regulations for electric generating units: Slow down the process.

Co-op representatives spoke at a Feb. 4 meeting on greenhouse gas issues at EPA headquarters. (Photo By: Jason Maehl) [1]Co-op representatives spoke at a Feb. 4 meeting on greenhouse gas issues at EPA headquarters. (Photo By: Jason Maehl)

During a Feb. 4 session  [2] in Washington, D.C., co-op representatives told EPA that more time is needed for analysis and public input on New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) that the agency could issue as soon as July 26.

Wayne Penrod, executive manager of environmental policy at Sunflower Electric Power Corp.,  [3] Hays, Kan., said EPA instead should follow its standard process of issuing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking, so the industry and public will have some idea of the measures it is considering.

As it stands, EPA plans to issue the first-ever NSPS for greenhouse gas emissions from newly constructed or modified electric generating steam units, as well as guidelines for state standards, as part of a settlement agreement stemming from a years-old lawsuit.

“Tell us what you’re thinking. Tell us how this might come to pass because otherwise we’re not sure exactly how to wrap our arms around the problem,” Penrod said during the session, which EPA billed as a chance to hear views from affected utilities.

“I really believe a notice of proposed rulemaking would solve many of the problems. It would give other people an opportunity to speak to you, as you’ve allowed us today,” he said.

Another participant, Rae Cronmiller, senior principal environmental counsel at NRECA, cautioned that meeting other EPA regulations, like the Clean Air Transport Rule, could decrease the carbon efficiency of electric generating units.

Also, he said, the act of modifying a unit to meet NSPS requirements could trigger New Source Review issues as EPA now interprets those requirements.

“I don’t think it’s the intent of the agency to issue a rule that will put units into a lose-lose, where no matter what they do, they run into conflicts with EPA rules,” Cronmiller said.

Comments from the co-op representatives were reinforced in a Jan. 31 NRECA filing with EPA. In an 11-page comment [4], NRECA warned that the agency’s rush could produce a rule so flawed and poorly developed that it might halt proposed new power plant construction in its tracks.

NRECA also urged the agency to step away from the pending settlement agreement, which sets a timetable for EPA action. With proposed regulations due in July, final EPA approval of the new standards would occur on May 26, 2012.

“It is inexplicable that EPA would agree to such an abbreviated schedule, in an unprecedented rulemaking with potentially profound implications for the reliability of the nation’s electricity supply, and involving complex legal and technical considerations that EPA has never before had occasion to address,” NRECA said.

 


 

Article printed from ECT.coop: http://www.ect.coop

URL to article: http://www.ect.coop/regulatory-watch/epa/epa-told-to-slow-down-rulemaking

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.ect.coop/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/EPA-building.jpg

[2] a Feb. 4 session : http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/12457383

[3] Sunflower Electric Power Corp., : http://www.sunflower.net/

[4] 11-page comment: http://www.ect.coop/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/NSPSsetCmts-2.pdf

Coops Lead Smart Meter Installation

February 8, 2011

Co-ops Retain Advanced Metering Lead

By Todd H. Cunningham Published: February 8, 2011 @ 2:25 am In Editor's Pick,Trends, Reports & Analyses

Electric co-ops are maintaining their utility industry leadership in the adoption of advanced metering infrastructure, with a penetration of nearly 25 percent, according to the latest survey conducted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Advanced electric meters are a common sight in many co-ops’ service territories.  (Photo By: D4Fish) [1]Advanced electric meters are a common sight in many co-ops’ service territories. (Photo By: D4Fish)

According to the 2010 edition of FERC’s “Assessment of Demand Response and Advanced Metering,”  [2] 8.7 percent of the U.S. market uses advanced metering, up from the 4.7 percent level outlined in the 2008 report. These meters reach more than 13 percent of the market in the upper Midwest, West and Texas.

The staff report, released on Feb. 3, covers calendar year 2009.

Co-ops are also performing well in the demand-response sector, trailing only IOUs in the number of consumers enrolled in direct load control programs. Survey responses indicate that more than 500 entities offer such programs, with a potential contribution estimated at more than 58,000 megawatts, or 7.6 percent of U.S. peak demand.

This is an increase of about 17,000 MW from the 2008 survey, FERC reported. The regions with the largest estimated demand-response resources are the Midwest-to-Mid-Atlantic region, and also the upper Midwest and the Southeast.

Co-ops offer time-of-use rates in every region, and while they account for 10 percent of the nation’s electricity consumers, they include about 22 percent of those enrolled, trailing only IOUs’ share.

“This survey shows that co-ops don’t need to be regulated by the government in order to strongly participate in programs such as advanced metering and demand response,” said Rich Meyer, NRECA senior regulatory counsel.

“Self-regulated consumer-run businesses like electric co-ops will do what is best for their consumer-members without being compelled to do so by the government,” he added.

FERC’s report was based on survey responses from more than 1,750 companies—investor-owned and municipal utilities and power marketers, as well as co-ops—that serve 78 percent of retail customers, the commission reported.


Article printed from ECT.coop: http://www.ect.coop

URL to article: http://www.ect.coop/editors-pick/co-ops-retain-advanced-metering-lead

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.ect.coop/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/FERC-Meters-Survey.jpg

[2] the 2010 edition of FERC’s “Assessment of Demand Response and Advanced Metering,” : http://www.ferc.gov/legal/staff-reports/2010-dr-report.pdf

Smart Meters - Reprint from Lawrence Journal World

January 31, 2011

As smart meter use grows across Kansas, so do options for easy use
By Christine Metz, Lawrence Journal World
January 31, 2011

For many Kansas electric cooperatives — the energy providers that serve the state’s most rural areas — smart meters are old news. 

In Lawrence, the community is just learning about the meters, and some questions are being raised on how they will affect electric bills and customers’ privacy. 

Westar Energy is spending $40 million to install 45,000 smart meters in Lawrence this year and establish the backbone of its system’s smart grid. 

Eventually customers will be able to go online and see how much electricity they use by the hour. With this knowledge, Westar hopes that Lawrence residents will do a better job of conserving it, which in the future could delay the need for Westar to build more power plants. 

Combined, 10 of the state’s 29 electric co-ops have installed almost 72,000 smart meters, about 25 percent of all their meters, said Dave Holthaus of Kansas Electric Cooperatives, the organization that serves all Kansas co-ops. He defines a smart meter as one that provides two-way communication between the home and the electric provider. 

Co-ops like being able to access the meters remotely, Holthaus said, and customers like the added information they provide. 

“If it makes really good sense on both sides of the meter, chances are it is only going to expand,” he said. 

Options expanding

So far, none of the co-ops offers anything nearly as elaborate as what Westar will have online for its Lawrence customers, providing information on hour-by-hour energy usage as soon as the next day.

For many of the co-ops, a customer who wants a read-out of his or her daily usage must call to the co-op to request it. 

That’s what customers at Kaw Valley Electric do. The co-op, which has about 1,000 meters in Douglas County, has been replacing mechanical meters with digital ones as its meter readers retire. So far, about half of the co-op’s 4,000 meters are digital. 

“Information storage is an issue. We were reading meters once a month. Now it’s every five minutes,” said Kevin Gregg with Kaw Valley Electric. “You come up with quite a bit of information, then it is a matter of how do you store it and what do you do with it?” 

As of now, the co-op records energy usage once a day.

The Heartland Rural Electric Cooperative in Girard was the first to put in the early versions of smart meters in 2003. The big draw to smart meters is the ability to read them remotely, an attractive option for co-ops that have service areas that encompass several large counties, Holthaus said. Smart meters also make it easier to detect power failures, and to disconnect and turn on power. 

Leavenworth-Jefferson Electric Cooperative, which has a few dozen customers in Douglas County, started installing smart meters six months ago at customers’ request. 

“Consumers in general are looking for ways to save on their energy bill and are looking for ways to be helpful with the environment,” said Jennifer Fisher with the co-op. “They wanted more options.” 

By 2012, the co-op expects to convert all of its 8,000 meters to smart meters. The cost to do so is $1.5 million. 

With the new meters, customers can get a time-of-use rate. At LJEC, the standard rate is 10.81 cents per kilowatt hour every hour of the day seven days a week. This is how customers typically purchase electricity. 

However, with the time-of-use rate, customers have to pay a higher rate (17.89 cents per kilowatt hour) when they use electricity from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Any other time, customers pay a lower rate of 8.45 cents a kilowatt hour. 

The hope is that the higher rate will encourage customers to use less energy during the times of highest demand (usually in the late afternoon) when the co-op has to pay more for the energy it sends through the grid. 

Of the 1,600 smart meters the co-op has installed so far, around 100 customers have signed up for time-of-use pricing. 

“I think once folks have the chance to look at the benefits of the time of use rate and the kind of money it saves them more people will absolutely get on board,” Fisher said. 

After smart meters are installed in Lawrence, Westar plans to offer a similar concept as a pilot program for volunteer customers. 

Elsewhere throughout the state, co-ops have offered preferred rates to farmers and industrial users. For a lower rate, the co-op can shut down the farmer’s irrigation system during times of peak demand and the turn it back on when the demand goes down. 

Some concerns

Across the country, the deploying of smart meters have been met with some backlash. Concerns have been raised about increased radiation exposure, privacy issues and faulty calculations in how much electricity was actually being used. In California, some cities have placed moratoriums preventing electric companies from installing the devices until more research was done.

But so far the co-ops in Kansas haven’t had to face any of those concerns, Holthaus said. And of the 100 customers who have decided to do time-of-use pricing, Fisher said just one or two have dropped out. 

“This is going on nationwide, it really is,” Fisher said. “This goes back to the consumer really wanting more choices.” 

Together We Save