Month: November 2015

Big Rivers Sebree Station Works 2 Million Hours Without A Lost-Time Incident

Earns 11th Governor’s Safety and Health Award

Deputy Secretary Rocky Comito of the Kentucky Labor Cabinet today joined employees and officials in Robards to present the employees of Big Rivers Sebree Station with the Governor’s Safety and Health Award. The honor recognizes the employees for working 2,063,993 hours without a lost-time accident or illness. This is the facility’s 11th award, last earning the recognition in August 2014, when it had more than 1.5 million hours without an incident.

“To go two million hours without a lost-time incident shows an extreme dedication to safety,” said Labor Secretary Larry L. Roberts. “The Big Rivers Sebree Station continues to maintain an incredible focus on staying safe on the job, which is something every workplace in Kentucky should have as a goal.”

Incorporated in 1961, Big Rivers has earned 38 previous Governor’s Safety and Health Awards throughout the years. The corporation is a member-owned, not-for-profit, generation and transmission cooperative headquartered in Henderson. With nearly 530 employees, Big Rivers owns, operates and maintains a 1,285-mile transmission system, three generating plants and 22 substations.

“Safety builds the foundation for everything we do at Big Rivers,” said Bob Berry, president and CEO at Big Rivers. “Reaching two million hours without a lost-time incident at Sebree Station is a tremendous accomplishment, and once again highlights our commitment to make this a safe workplace. I want to congratulate IBEW’s leadership for continuing to promote our safety culture and each employee for doing his or her part to ensure health and wellness. It’s encouraging to see their teamwork and dedication recognized by the Commonwealth’s highest safety honor.”

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1701 represents the employees at Sebree Station. The national IBEW union traces its roots to the late 1800s, and is the oldest and largest electrical union in the world.

“I am so proud of our dedicated workforce in achieving the two million-hour milestone,” said Mike Pullen, vice president of production. “This award is earned by a continuous daily focus on safe work practices in our plants.”

With approximately 225 employees, Sebree Station is comprised of three generating stations: Robert A. Reid, Robert D. Green, and Henderson Municipal Power and Light Station II. The three power plants combined have a capacity to produce 896 megawatts of electricity.

Big Rivers is owned by three distribution cooperative members: Jackson Purchase Energy Corp., headquartered in Paducah; Kenergy Corp., headquartered in Henderson; and Meade County Rural Electric Cooperative Corp., headquartered in Brandenburg. These member cooperatives deliver retail electric power and energy to more than 113,000 residential, commercial, and industrial customers in portions of 22 western Kentucky counties.

The Kentucky Labor Cabinet presents the Governor’s Safety and Health Award in recognition of outstanding safety and health performance. An establishment may qualify for the award if its employees together achieve a required number of hours worked without experiencing a lost-time injury or illness. The required number of hours is dependent upon the number of employees. In the case of Sebree Station, the requirement is 500,000.

The Governor’s Safety and Health Award program is part of Gov. Steve Beshear’s efforts to improve the health of all Kentuckians. The Governor launched kyhealthnow last year as an aggressive and wide-ranging initiative to reduce incidents and deaths from Kentucky’s dismal health rankings and habits. It builds on Kentucky’s successful implementation of health care reform and uses multiple strategies over the next several years to improve the state’s collective health.

Every establishment within the geographical boundaries of Kentucky is eligible for the award, even if the establishment won the award the previous year. Eligibility is limited to one award during a 12-month period of time.

For more on the Governor’s Safety and Health Award, and for a list of past winners, click here.

For more on Big Rivers, visit

-a press release from the Kentucky Labor Cabinet

Co-Op Leaders Recognized For Commitment To Local Programs

Community leaders from across Kentucky were recognized for their work within the electric cooperative community by the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives, Inc. at its annual meeting in Louisville on November 17, 2015.

Co-op managers, directors, and attorneys new to local distribution co-op boards received both recognition and training at the statewide gathering of co-op leaders.  Working together, these individuals will assist in keeping the lights on for 1.7 million Kentuckians in the rural areas of the state.

Also recognized at the KAEC annual meeting was a group of seasoned co-op managers, directors, and attorneys. Many leaders were recognized for twenty years of service and more. Jody Hughes and Howard Downing were recognized for a respective 40 and 50 years of service to Nicholasville-based Blue Grass Energy.

“Kentucky’s electric cooperatives have such a storied program with over 75 years of history,” said Chris Perry, President and CEO of the statewide association. “Today we have the opportunity to both usher in a new generation of co-op leaders, but also recognize the pillars within our program. Many of these men and women have helped make decisions that have ensured safe, reliable, and affordable electricity for many years.”

Photos of those that received service awards can be viewed in this KAEC photo gallery.

Hickman-Fulton Counties RECC (KY) To Merge With Gibson EMC (TN)

Gibson Electric Membership Corporation members voted in favor of the proposed merger with Hickman-Fulton Counties Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation at a Special Meeting on Tuesday, November 17.  The unanimous “yes” vote of 208 Gibson EMC members follows the HFRECC vote in which their members overwhelmingly approved the merger with an 88 percent “yes” vote.  The merger will become effective January 1, 2016.

Gibson EMC will serve HFRECC members and HFRECC’s Hickman office location will remain open and operate as one of Gibson EMC’s five member service centers.  Gibson EMC President and CEO Dan Rodamaker will lead the merged cooperative and all of HFRECC’s and Gibson EMC’s employees will keep their jobs.

“Our board is happy with the outcome,” says David Kimbell, HFRECC Board Chair.  “We look forward to 2016 and the positive changes it will bring for our members,” Kimbell says.

Gibson EMC Steve Sanders agrees.  “We’re pleased that our members have voted strongly in favor of the merger,” Sanders says.  “It is a decision that will benefit our members in the long-term and benefit Hickman-Fulton’s members immediately.”

Dan Rodamaker, Gibson EMC President and CEO, describes the outcome as a win-win.  HFRECC members are expected to see a cumulative savings of about $12.6 million over the next 10 years.  Gibson EMC members also will benefit from the merger by spreading costs over a larger number of members and by eliminating duplication.

“We want to thank all of the members who voted,” Dan Rodamaker says. “We also want to thank the employees and board members of both cooperatives for their selfless decisions and hard work.  We look forward to joining with the HFRECC board and employees and to serving the HFRECC members.”

The electric systems of Gibson EMC and HFRECC connect along the Tennessee and Kentucky border. HFRECC serves about 3,700 residents and businesses in Fulton, Hickman, Carlisle and Graves counties in Western Kentucky and portions of Obion and Lake counties in Northwest Tennessee.  Gibson EMC serves about 35,000 members in parts of eight Northwest Tennessee counties (Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Haywood, Lake, Lauderdale, Obion and Madison).

Dave Shuffett Honored As 2015 “Distinguished Rural Kentuckian”

Annual award bestowed by state’s electric cooperatives

Dave Shuffett, the longtime Kentucky broadcaster, columnist, and outdoors enthusiast, has been honored as the 2015 “Distinguished Rural Kentuckian” by the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives (KAEC).

Shuffett received the award at KAEC’s annual meeting on Monday, November 16, in Louisville. He is the 32nd recipient. Previous Distinguished Rural Kentuckians include elected leaders, authors, journalists, business executives, physicians, and sports champions. The award recognizes an outstanding individual who has devoted their life to Kentucky in a way that matches the co-op mission of enhancing the quality of life here.

“Dave Shuffett could be called Mr. Kentucky,” said Chris Perry, president and CEO of KAEC. “His commitment to our state, its culture, and its people resonates with our cooperative family and mission.”

A native of Greensburg, Kentucky, Shuffett’s television career has spanned more than three decades, including about 20 years on Kentucky Educational Television, first as host of Kentucky Afield and later as host of Kentucky Life, from which he retired in 2014. Shuffett is a writer for Kentucky Living magazine’s Great Outdoors columnist.

“I’d like folks to remember that I tried to make a difference for this state,” Shuffett said. “I tried to show people the great things about this state they live in. To show them things they’ve never seen about this state. The history. The people. Places we live. We get enough negative publicity. I wanted to show them the positive. That’s what I’m most proud of.”

“I think Dave is first and foremost a Kentuckian,” said Virginia Fox, former KET executive director and CEO. “Dave captures a lot of the essence of what it means to be a Kentuckian. And that was one of his special skills, a talent, finding and evoking those qualities that define Kentucky and its land and people. If you lined up 10 people and were looking for a Kentuckian, I think Dave would be the first pick.”

“Dave’s contribution to the woods and water and art, culture, and history in this great state is unmatched,” said Claude Bacon, a longtime friend. “His keen delivery has allowed Kentuckians to walk in his footsteps and experience the great things about our state. And for that alone he’s deserving of this honor.”

Shuffett has two children, Miranda and Will, and two stepchildren, Maddie and Austin. He and his wife, Dr. Sandra Shuffett, live on a Jessamine County farm.

The Distinguished Rural Kentuckian video tribute can be viewed on KAEC’s YouTube Channel:

Speaking Up For Electricity Consumers

The power of working together
Each of Kentucky’s 24 local distribution co-ops and the two generation and transmission co-ops that provide your electricity belong to the statewide organization that also publishes Kentucky Living—magazine, the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives (KAEC). Membership in KAEC gives the co-ops the opportunity to share information and practical advice among themselves, everything from safety to disaster response to technical know-how.

As an additional benefit, KAEC speaks on behalf of the co-ops to provide information to elected officials in the state legislature, in the governor’s office, various cabinets, and state agencies, including the Kentucky Public Service Commission, which regulates Kentucky’s electric utility industry.

This advocacy on behalf of co-ops and their members becomes even more important following August’s announcement of the national Clean Power Plan, which will have a huge impact on Kentucky’s energy future.

Chris Perry, the association’s CEO, says, “We represent 1.7 million people, with electric co-op members in 117 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. Our organization is a great example of how cooperatives work together, sharing resources. We represent our member-owners in Frankfort in many ways all year long.”

Chase Crigler, director of Community and Government Affairs for KAEC, says, “During each legislative session, our statewide association and representatives from the generation and transmission co-ops have a consistent and daily presence in Frankfort. We are constantly interacting with legislators, talking with them about hot-topic issues, and making them aware of issues they might not anticipate. We are always on hand to answer questions, dispel rumors, and provide the facts about all parts of the electric utility system. Then, when the legislature is not in session, we attend joint interim committee meetings around the state. We’ll meet with legislators anyplace they need us to be.”

Electricity and local economies
Working tirelessly year-round on behalf of electric co-op member-owners is becoming increasingly important as the economic impact of national energy policy goals receives more attention.

Crigler says, “Legislators are concerned with jobs, and they’re worried about our state’s competitiveness in terms of power pricing. And they want to know that the lights are going to stay on for all their constituents. Knowing that, even with the many changes going on in the bulk power system, cooperatives will continue to be able to provide reliable, affordable power is important. That has an impact on economic development in communities throughout the state.”

An unusual chain of events shows how cooperatives must always be on the lookout for positive opportunities. A few years ago, Big Rivers Electric Corporation, the generation and transmission cooperative that provides power for three local distribution co-ops in western Kentucky, received approval from the Public Service Commission to add a new interconnection near Henderson to improve reliability in the multi-state region.

Shortly thereafter, a major industrial user in the area, an aluminum smelter, decided to stop buying electricity from Kenergy Corp., the local distribution co-op, and instead shop around on the open market. For a while, losing such a key customer for Big Rivers’ electricity threatened to up-end decades of careful financial planning, affect the stability of the power grid, and cause widespread major increases in the rate structure for all other electricity users served by Big Rivers.

But the same interconnections that made it possible for the industrial customer to buy its power from another source have also offered a workable solution for Big Rivers to use its generation capacity wisely. As a member of MISO, the regional transmission organization that serves 15 midwestern states and the Canadian province of Manitoba, Big Rivers can sell bulk power on the open market.

Big Rivers already has several new contracts to sell electricity generated in Kentucky on the open regional market, with a net savings of $13 million over projected expenses. Big Rivers CEO Bob Berry says, “As a result of this bulk power sale contract, the fuel costs for co-op members is much smaller than it would have been without the sale.”

Big Rivers has also requested in filings with the Kentucky Public Service Commission that any earnings on another bulk power sale to a customer in Nebraska be returned to retail consumers as a credit on their electric bills. Berry says, “Our co-ops’ customers here in Kentucky own us, so they deserve the benefit of this transaction. These are cooperative principles at work.”

By Kentucky Living FUTURE OF ELECTRICITY Columnist Nancy Grant

McConnell Fighting To Stop EPA Regulations Harmful To Kentucky

Fighting Back Against Administration’s Costly Power Plan
By Senator Mitch McConnell
November 6, 2015

Here we go again. The Obama Administration has fired its latest salvo in the War on Coal by publishing the final version of its so-called “Clean Power Plan”—regulations that would effectively shut down most coal-fired power plants and prevent new ones from being built.

These regulations would shrink our state’s economy by almost $2 billion. And they would hurt Kentucky workers and their families by raising electricity rates by double digits while cutting coal jobs across the state. What the administration is pushing for is not a Clean Power Plan, but a “Costly Power Plan” that will have no lasting impact on the environment.

That’s why I am using my position as Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate to fight back against President Obama and his bureaucrats at the EPA who have issued these regulations aimed at the heart of coal country. This summer, I was able to secure language in an Interior Appropriations bill that, if enacted, would halt this regulation.

More recently, I filed a bipartisan measure in the Senate under a procedure established by the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The CRA empowers Congress to overturn regulations issued by the executive branch with a simple majority vote. The CRA measure I filed would stop the Obama Administration from imposing on Kentuckians its anti-coal regulation for new coal-fired power plants.

I am also a proud cosponsor of another bipartisan Senate measure filed under the CRA that would block the so-called Clean Power Plan’s regulation pertaining to existing coal-fired plants. Together, these measures represent a comprehensive effort to fight back against the Obama Administration’s outrageous effort to cut jobs and hike electricity prices in Kentucky.

I’ve been fighting against this president’s hurtful policies, and this so-called Clean Power Plan in particular, since he first proposed it. Several months ago, I wrote a letter to every governor in the country suggesting that they take a responsible wait-and-see approach before subjecting the citizens of their states to unnecessary pain caused by complying with the government’s request for state implementation plans for these outrageous regulations.

I wrote this letter because there is a legitimate question as to whether the administration even has the authority under federal law to issue these regulations. Also encouraging is the fact that the administration, in recognition of the difficulty many states will have complying with this plan, is allowing states to seek a two-year delay to abide by it. President Obama will be out of office by then, and the next administration may not even continue forward on this disastrous route.

This tacit admission from the Obama Administration that its plan is unworkable proves that the pushback from states is making a difference. More than half the states have launched lawsuits to fight back against this ill-advised plan. I’m encouraged that Kentucky’s next governor, Matt Bevin, has already pledged he will not comply with these regulations.

I’m determined to continue the fight against the Obama Administration’s attack on Kentucky jobs. The administration’s lack of compassion for those being trampled by these massively regressive regulations is shocking. The path to pursuing the administration’s left-wing ideological agenda runs right over Kentucky coal miners and their families, who have done nothing to deserve it.

And remember: for all the damage this Costly Power Plan would inflict on the middle class, it’s not even expected to reduce global emissions in any meaningful way.

Tons of pain for almost no gain. That’s the Obama White House plan.

So the fight against the War on Coal continues. This fight will not be short or easy. But it’s essential to our livelihoods and our very way of life, and hard-working Kentuckians should know that I’m going to keep standing and fighting for them, no matter what the Obama Administration or their EPA throw at us.