Month: March 2016

Big Rivers Electric Wilson Station Receives Safety Award

Kentucky Labor Cabinet Secretary Derrick Ramsey announced today that the 100 employees of Big Rivers Electric–Wilson Station have earned a Governor’s Safety and Health Award for their 1.7 million hours of work without a lost time injury.  Deputy Secretary Mike Nemes visited the facility today to congratulate employees on behalf of Sec. Ramsey.

“The hardworking men and women of the Wilson Station have gone nearly nine years without a serious injury on the job,” Sec. Ramsey said of the Wilson Station’s 14th award of this kind.  “This coal-fired facility has generated over 29 million megawatt-hours during this same time period and it is only fitting that they are recognized for their efforts.  On behalf of Governor Bevin and the Kentucky Labor Cabinet, I’m proud to help them celebrate not only their hard work and dedication toward a safe workplace, but for all that they do to power the homes and businesses of Kentucky.”

Sen. Dorsey Ridley (D-Henderson) also offered his praise.

“I want to offer my heartfelt congratulations to the employees at the Wilson Station,” Sen. Ridley said. “Their hard work, dedication and commitment to safety allowed the company to achieve this milestone, and they should all take pride in receiving this award.”

Based in Henderson, Ky., Big Rivers Electric Corporation is comprised of three cooperatives: Jackson Purchase Energy, Kenergy Corporation, and Meade County RECC.  Together, they serve 114,000 members over 22 counties, including: Carlisle, Ballard, McCracken, Graves, Marshall, Livingston, Lyon, Crittenden, Caldwell, Union, Webster, Hopkins, Henderson, McLean, Muhlenberg, Daviess, Ohio, Hancock, Breckinridge, Grayson, Meade, and Hardin counties.

“The safety and health of our employees is the top priority in everything we do at Big Rivers,” said Bob Berry, President of Big Rivers Electric Corporation.  “This distinguished award reflects the hard work and dedication of the Wilson Station employees and I applaud the leadership of IBEW Local 1701, as well as the employees and management who contributed to this remarkable achievement.”

“Working over 1.7 million man hours without a lost time incident is an incredible achievement for the Wilson Station employees,” Wilson Station plant manager Keith Scott said. “This celebration marks a milestone accomplishment that is part of a journey that dates back to 2007.  This journey is not over today, as there will be more important safety milestones to come.  I am very proud of this accomplishment and I am equally as proud of the employees who achieved it.”

The Kentucky Labor Cabinet presents the Governor’s Safety and Health Award to highlight outstanding safety and health performance in Kentucky’s workplaces.  A business may qualify for the award if its employees 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.  The Wilson Station employees have worked 3,207 days injury free.  Overall, this is the Big Rivers Electric Corporation’s 40th Governor’s Safety and Health Award.

from the Kentucky Labor Cabinet

Pennyrile Electric Presented Governor’s Safety And Health Award

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Mar. 10, 2016) – Kentucky Labor Cabinet Deputy Secretary Mike Nemes was on hand March 10 at Pennyrile Electric to present a Governor’s Safety and Health Award for their exemplary commitment to workplace safety.

In recognition of Pennyrile Electric’s fifth award of this kind, Labor Cabinet Secretary Derrick Ramsey congratulated them on their achievement.

“The 113 employees of Pennyrile Electric work together every day to maintain over 5,000 miles of powerlines across nine counties,” Secretary Ramsey said.  “This kind of workload combined with their long safety record makes what they do even more impressive.  On behalf of Governor Bevin and the Kentucky Labor Cabinet, I’m proud to acknowledge their hard work and dedication toward a safe workplace.”

Based in Hopkinsville, Ky., Pennyrile Electric is a part of Touchstone Energy Cooperatives that services 47,000 customers in Christian, Trigg, Logan, Todd, Muhlenberg, Lyon, Caldwell, Butler and Simpson Counties.

“Receiving this award is a celebration of a safe environment for our employees, and we strive to make it better each day,” Pennyrile Electric President and CEO Greg Grissom said.  “We could not achieve this without each and every employee’s hard work. The employees deserve this prominent recognition and we are very proud of all of the accomplishments our employees have attained in safety.”

The Kentucky Labor Cabinet presents the Governor’s Safety and Health Award to highlight outstanding safety and health performance in Kentucky’s workplaces.  A business may qualify for the award if its employees 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.  Pennyrile Electric employees have worked 223 days injury free and approximately 310,000 hours without a lost time accident.

— Kentucky Labor Cabinet

Kentucky Co-Op’s Make Capitol Connection

WASHINGTON, DC – The voice of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives was heard loud and clear in Washington, D.C. in February, when 26 co-op leaders from across the commonwealth met at the U.S. Capitol with all eight members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell briefed co-op leaders just after his meeting with the Republican Senate caucus concerning the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

The Republican senators agreed with McConnell’s contention that the replacement justice for Scalia should be named by the next president, and not President Obama, because the presidential campaign is in full gear, and provides the best reflection of the will of the American people.

Of particular consequence is the fate of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.  Without Scalia’s vote, the high court is split 4-4 on the legality of the unprecedented regulations.

McConnell has filed an amicus brief, or “friend of the court” brief with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of the State of West Virginia, et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) et al.

House Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (KY-01), and Representatives Hal Rogers (KY-05), Andy Barr (KY-06), Brett Guthrie (KY-02), and Thomas Massie (KY-04) joined McConnell on the brief.

“This is the latest effort to fight back against the Obama Administration’s War on Coal, and I am proud to lead efforts in filing this brief in support of Kentucky,” McConnell said.  “Our amicus brief makes clear that it is the role of Congress to legislate and the Administration has overstepped its authority by essentially legislating through regulation.”

At KAEC’s Energy Breakfast, Kirk Johnson, NRECA Senior Vice President of Government Relations, updated Kentucky co-op leaders on a possible timeline for the case. The NRECA is one of about 150 petitioners to file briefs to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Johnson explained that while the same basic legal arguments remain against the Clean Power Plan, the new briefs are also fashioned to reflect the judicial philosophies of the judges in the D.C. Circuit.

“If upheld, the Rule would lead to a breathtaking expansion of the agency’s authority,” the petitioners wrote in a joint brief.

“Congress did not intend and could not have imagined such a result when it passed the provision more than 45 years ago. The Rule must be vacated,” the brief concluded.

The legislative fly-in was led by KAEC President & CEO Chris Perry and KAEC Board Chairman David Kimbell of Gibson EMC.

Arguments before the DC Circuit are scheduled for June 2, with any decision likely to be appealed by one side or the other immediately thereafter, Johnson said. At that point, the case is at the mercy of the uncertainty of the U.S. Supreme Court, which may or may not have Scalia’s replacement in place, and may or may not grant “certiorari,” to agree to hear the appeal.

With the exception of Kentucky’s lone Democrat in Congress, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth (KY-03), who did not mention the EPA in his remarks to co-op leaders, Kentucky’s congressional delegation is unanimous in its opposition to the Clean Power Plan.

Introduced by Pennyrile Electric Cooperative CEO Greg Grissom, U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield was thanked for his years of service to co-ops and his consistent support of co-op issues, especially as Chairman of the House Energy Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power. Whitfield is retiring in January.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul spoke extensively about illegal EPA regulations, including the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) regulations which he said are another example of the Obama administration redefining words in order to make legislation apply to the administration’s agenda. Sen. Paul encouraged co-op leaders to continue to lead on these issues at home.

During visits with Kentucky’s congressional delegation, KAEC representatives asked them to sign the letter to the House Appropriations Committee requesting adequate funding for the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) program. The loan program is an important tool to ensure that members continue to have access to safe, reliable, and at-cost supplies of power from cooperative utilities.

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr was among the first to sign.

In his remarks to co-op leaders, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth expressed his disdain for the increased polarization of Congress. Yarmuth  predicted that emerging technologies will continue to disrupt business models the way we know them.

KAEC representatives encouraged lawmakers to appropriate at least level funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) as Kentucky sees continued job losses in rural areas of the state to assist our members with paying their bills.

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers consistently addresses this funding in his role as Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Legislators were also thanked for supporting the “Electrify Africa Act” which recently passed via voice vote and was signed into law by President Barack Obama. This bill helps Africa bring electricity to 50 million people for the very first time. Moreover, the bill  specifically defines coal as a fossil fuel and encourages its use as a fuel source for developing nations.

Co-op leaders asked the delegation to support legislation implementing a state enforcement mechanism for the EPA’s coal combustion residuals rule. Without a state enforcement mechanism, utilities would be left vulnerable to third-party lawsuits that would result from unclear and untimely federal implementation.

Introduced by Mark Stallons, Owen Electic Cooperative CEO, U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie expressed support for Kentucky’s electric cooperatives.

U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie updated co-op leaders on his efforts as a member of the House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee to curb the Obama administration’s regulatory overreach.

Perhaps the most significant takeaway from the KAEC meetings at the Capitol is that all six Kentucky U.S. representatives and both Kentucky U.S. senators met with us, a reflection of the strength of Kentucky’s electric co-ops as a constituency and a political force.

The legislative fly-in was led by KAEC President & CEO Chris Perry and KAEC Board Chairman David Kimbell of Gibson EMC.

Hampton Longest Serving Kentucky Co-Op Distribution Manager

Only one other active co-op leader in the nation has served longer

Ted Hampton was a 23-year-old PE and history teacher who “didn’t know a thing about electricity” when he was plucked from the faculty at Knox Central High School to become the distribution manager at Cumberland Valley Electric in 1964.

Once one of the youngest distribution managers in the country, Hampton is the longest serving in Kentucky history and has the 10th longest tenure in U.S. history. Only one other active co-op leader has served longer, hired five days before Hampton, according to benefits administrators at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

“I love it every day,” Hampton, 75, says at his office in Gray, Kentucky. “I look forward to getting up, going to work, and doing the job. It’s like a big family here. Everyone does a good job, and we are able to associate with leaders in the community.”

Hampton and Kentucky’s rural electrification grew up together. The Little Brush Creek one-room schoolhouse he attended through eighth grade had no electrical service. It was heated by a pot-bellied stove in the middle of the school.

Hampton’s uncle, Bill Hampton, had been manager at the southeastern Kentucky cooperative for 10 years when he suffered a sudden heart attack and died in 1964, his nephew recalls.

“The managers approached me to see if I would be interested in the job,” Hampton says. “The co-op had a great reputation in the community. I talked to my father and he said ‘Go for it.’”

But Hampton needed help learning the ropes. He credits Sam Hord, then manager at South Kentucky RECC, based in Somerset, for mentoring him.

“I was the new kid on the block,” Hampton recalls. “If I had any tough decision, any question, Mr. Hord was there to help me. He took me under his wing and helped me tremendously. I never took a bad piece of advice.

“I am always eternally grateful to the folks at South Kentucky RECC,” Hampton says.

The elder statesman of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives has returned the favor, many times over.

“Ted Hampton is the dean of Kentucky co-op managers,” says Michael “Mickey” Miller, president and CEO of Nolin Electric Cooperative, Elizabethtown. “His advice and counsel is always sought whenever a major decision is necessary.”

In December, Hampton completed his second term as board chairman of the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives. He had also served as KAEC board chairman in 1995.

“Ted has been a leader and mentor for the cooperatives across the state of Kentucky,” says Chris Perry, KAEC president. “He is not always the most vocal, but when he speaks everyone listens. He has been instrumental in the growth and development of the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives.”

“Ted’s welcoming personality puts everyone he interacts with at ease, and he sincerely wants to help others succeed,” says Tri-County Electric Executive Vice President & General Manager Paul Thompson.

“His positive, caring attitude and commitment to the rural electric cooperative members increases morale and ensures a high level of performance for the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives board of directors. Ted is truly an outstanding role model.”

“The whole world has changed,” Hampton tells Kentucky Living. “Back when I started, the main job was getting bills out and keeping the lights on, but now it is much more difficult. Regulations are killing us.”

Hampton remembers his initial goal in the 1960s was to reduce the cost of electricity to 1 cent per kilowatt-hour.

“We got it down to 1.2 cents per kilowatt-hour,” Hampton says, “but now it’s 9 or 10 cents, and with all the regulations and what they’re doing to the coal industry, it may rise to 15 cents.”

The intersection of rising electricity rates and the decimation of the coal industry, part of the economic fabric of Cumberland Valley’s service area, has Hampton worried about his neighbors.

“We’re going to be in trouble,” Hampton says. “With all the regulations, I’m concerned that electricity will be so expensive that the people in eastern Kentucky will be unable to pay their power bills.”

“We’ll find a way to serve the people,” Hampton continues, “but in our service area, we have lost so many jobs, they are hurting.”

Local co-ops need to do everything they can to contain costs for members and enhance education and communications, Hampton says. He has embraced technological advancements and encourages co-ops to share best practices with each other.

“There is a lot of knowledge in the cooperative world. You’ll find anyone in Kentucky is willing to help you,” Hampton says. “You save a lot of time and a lot of money and it’s good for the whole program.”

In the late 1990s Cumberland Valley pioneered an automated meter reading system, an efficiency especially helpful for its very rural and mountainous service area.

“Our power lines go across the river and across mountains,” Hampton says. “It is difficult for equipment to access many of those areas.”

Since 2004, the 21,000-member cooperative has implemented electronic mapping of all equipment and facilities.

“For more than half a century, Ted Hampton has led Cumberland Valley Electric with a simple philosophy: lowest possible cost of service, community involvement, and quality service,” says East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) President and CEO Tony Campbell. “My career has afforded me the opportunity to meet many electric cooperative leaders, and I would put Mr. Hampton in the elite class of these (cooperative) leaders. Over the past seven years, Mr. Hampton has been gracious enough to spend a significant amount of his time mentoring me, and I believe his coaching has made me a much more effective leader.”

Campbell says Hampton is consistently one of the first leaders to offer assistance when EKPC faces challenges.

“On many occasions, Mr. Hampton has given me advice that was not necessarily what was best for him, but was good for all cooperatives in general,” Campbell says. “He spends much of his time traveling the 140 miles across his service area, helping the people he’s known his whole life. He lives the co-op spirit, and he truly believes in─and practices─cooperative principles.“

His fellow distribution managers in Kentucky regard Hampton as a member of their families.

“Ted is almost like a father to some of us,” says Licking Valley RECC General Manager and CEO Kerry Howard. “He is always there for us and gives us great advice and always willing to help. Some of us even call him ‘Pops.’”

“Uncle Ted always brings clarity to the Kentucky co-op program,” says Pennyrile Electric President and CEO Greg Grissom. “He is a wonderful asset for advice and knowledge and a good friend.”

“I have known Ted Hampton for over 30 years,” says Taylor County RECC Manager Barry Myers. “His honesty and integrity are unequaled. I am blessed to be able to call him my friend.”

Recalling the instrumental role Sam Hord played in his career, Hampton suggests new co-op leaders find a mentor.

“If I was a young manager starting out today, I would try to find a manager with several years of experience,” Hampton says.

“He’s always one of the first to hold out his hand to welcome a new CEO,” says Debbie Martin, president and CEO of Shelby Energy in Shelbyville. “Most all of us have been touched by the wisdom and knowledge that Ted brings to the table.”

Hampton’s co-workers in southeastern Kentucky cannot imagine a co-op world without his leadership.

“Ted Hampton will not be fully appreciated for his service to Cumberland Valley Electric until someone or something has to do his job,” says Rich Prewitt, Cumberland Valley Electric’s director of Member Services. “He is so knowledgeable about the people that make up our members and the infrastructure of our lines that his guidance and leadership are just intuitive. He operates under the philosophy that there is never a time to do something wrong, it’s better to just do it right the first time. In serving our membership there are no gray areas, you always know where Mr. Hampton stands for, and that’s what is best for our members.”

Sixty-three years after he attended Little Brush Creek school, Hampton now owns the one-room schoolhouse near his home. He uses it for storage.

“It still does not have power,” Hampton laughs.

Fifty-one years and counting, Hampton plans to stay on the job “as long as my health holds out, and I’m doing a good job for Cumberland Valley.”

  • Joe Arnold, Vice President of Strategic Communications for KAEC