Month: January 2019

Winter weather tips: Prepare for prolonged outages, dangers

Kentucky weather can be unpredictable, especially during the winter months. That’s why you should prepare for dangerous situations before a storm hits. 

 It is especially important to develop a plan for prolonged power outages during these harsh months. Heavy snows, freezing rain and ice storms can all create electrical hazards.  

 Due to these dangerous conditions, many residents may be confined to their homes for days at a time. That’s why it is important to have a plan in place, especially during these prolonged outages. To better prepare you and your family for a power outage, your electric co-op recommends members keep a storm preparedness kit fully stocked. The basic supplies in this kit should include:  

  • Bottled water 
  • Non-perishable food  
  • Emergency blankets 
  • First aid kit/medicine 
  • Flashlight 
  • Battery operated or hand-crank radio 
  • Extra batteries 
  • Toiletries 

Now that your family is prepared for a prolonged outage, what should you do if the lights do go out?   

While indoors, many will turn their focus to staying warm. 

If homes are not using a generator, keep warm air in and cool air out by not opening doors to unused rooms. Do not open doors to the outdoors unless necessary.  

Food safety is also important when there is a prolonged outage. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible, and eat perishable food first. If you know a winter storm is coming, stock up on ice so that you can keep things in coolers to keep them from going bad if an outage lasts longer than a day. Once the refrigerator reaches temperatures higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, foods can become unsafe to eat.  

To protect homes’ electrical equipment during an outage, turn off and unplug all unnecessary electronics or appliances. This will keep equipment from being damaged by surges or spikes when the power returns. 

Once an outage is over, there are still safety precautions to take. Electrical power lines could still be down. If you see downed power lines, do not touch them. Call your local co-op or 911. 

Make sure your homes and families are prepared for winter storms this season, and avoid electrical hazards that may be common this time of year. 

Sources: Electrical Safety Authority, Popular Mechanics 

When in doubt, throw it out: food safety reminders during an outage

 During an outage:  

  • First, use perishable food from the refrigerator. Perishables should have a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) or below to be safe to eat. Use food from the freezer after consuming refrigerated food. 
  • An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours. 
  • A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half-full) if the door remains closed. 
  • If it looks like the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items. 
  • Keep food in a dry, cool spot and cover it at all times. 

After an outage: 

  • Throw away any food (particularly meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) that has been exposed to temperatures higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours or more, or that has an unusual odor, color or texture. 
  • Never taste food or rely on appearance or odor to determine its safety. If it has been at room temperature too long, bacteria causing food-borne illnesses can quickly grow. 
  • If you are not sure food is cold enough, take its temperature with a food thermometer. If it is colder than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, you can refreeze it. 

Sources: American Red Cross 

 Generator safety: Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. 
  • Keep these devices outdoors, away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. 
  • Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent CO buildup in the home. Although CO can’t be seen or smelled, it can rapidly lead to full incapacitation and death. 
  • Install CO alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide. 


Sources: American Red Cross 

When do I really need to change my air filter?

Breathe easier and also save energy and money by understanding your HVAC system

Air filters trap a lot of debris that otherwise would end up back in the house, stuck in ductwork, clogging heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment—or in our lungs.

For optimum energy efficiency and good indoor air quality, air filters should be changed regularly, which also saves you energy and money.

How often they need changing depends on several factors, including pets that shed, carpeting, wood-burning heat sources and cigarette smoke. During extremely high use, such as winter and summer, consider changing your filters monthly.

There are two categories of filters: permanent or disposable; and flat or pleated media. Disposable are the most prevalent, but don’t waste your money on the cheap ones with flimsy cardboard frames and thin mesh. Pleated filters perform better using media you cannot see through.

A bit about MERV, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value: It’s a rating system that tells you how effective a filter is at trapping particles. The scale runs from one to 16 (higher is better), but for technical reasons, it’s not as simple as choosing one at the higher end of the rating scale.

So, how do you decide which level of filter to use? If you have your system’s operating manual or can find it online, check for recommendations. Otherwise, go with a decent pleated filter with a MERV of three to five and check it once a month to see how it is performing. Also check to see if the dust inside abates.

FCC’s co-op connection

Lyle Ishida, the FCC’s Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division chief, right, meets with co-op staff at Nolin RECC. Photo: Sarah Fellows

After what he calls an “eye-opening” meeting with Kentucky’s electric cooperatives, a Federal Communications Commission official says the discussion will lead to an ongoing partnership with co-ops to help rural Kentuckians.

Lyle Ishida, FCC’s Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division chief, met with Kentucky co-op staff in December at Nolin RECC’s Elizabethtown headquarters. His visit was part of the FCC’s Appalachian Region Consumer Outreach Rural Tour in Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee.

Ishida briefed the co-ops on the FCC’s efforts to battle fraudulent robocalls. While Ishida focused on scams related to callers posing as Internal Revenue Service employees, every co-op at the meeting reported that scammers using similar methods have posed as co-ops in schemes threatening to cut off service unless the consumer-members send them immediate payment.

Co-ops caution that those receiving such a call should hang up and call their local co-op at the number on their bill.

Ishida also heard concerns about the need for broadband service for rural residents, which he says is a priority for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

Nolin RECC President and CEO Mickey Miller and his incoming successor Greg Lee updated Ishida on the innovative technology used by Kentucky co-ops, including advanced metering systems approved by the FCC that allow co-ops to more efficiently and effectively serve consumer-members.

100 years and counting for Kentucky Farm Bureau

It was the year of legendary thoroughbreds. Man O’ War won his first race and Sir Barton was first to win the Triple Crown.

The year 1919 would also see the birth of the American Legion, United Parcel Service and what is now one of the commonwealth’s most recognizable organizations, the Kentucky Farm Bureau.

The agriculture organization has come a long way since its first meeting in Louisville in November 1919. Now touting 500,000 members, Kentucky Farm Bureau is one of the largest in the nation.

“The year was 1919,” says Mark Haney, Kentucky Farm Bureau president, “Since then, much has changed. But one thing remains: KFB is still the voice of ag in this state and the strongest of advocates for Kentucky’s farm families.”

KFB kicked off its centennial year during its 99th Annual Meeting in November, asking members, “Why Farm Bureau?”

One key response is tied to the organization’s unified voice, from grassroots members to leadership.

“It’s a powerful tool to make sure Kentucky has a successful future,” Haney says. “KFB gives leaders the tools, encouragement and supportive voice they need to make sure our farmers’ voices are heard in Frankfort and Washington, D.C.”

KFB also highlights the importance of service to Kentucky, including through insurance services and support of education.

“Congratulations to our good friends at the Kentucky Farm Bureau,” says Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “We serve many of the same Kentuckians and share a mission to improve the quality of life here. Thank you for being a great partner, and our warm wishes for the next 100 years.”

Electric co-ops win national economic development award

Rodney Hitch, right, director of Economic Development for Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, visits Nucor Corp.’s steel plant in Ghent, with Nucor’s Randy Spicer, Hot Mill/Pickling & Galvanizing Line manager. In September, Nucor announced plans for a $650 million expansion of its Gallatin County plant, creating 70 new jobs. Photo: Tim Webb

In November, the economic development team for Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives received the 2018 Organization Excellence Award from the National Rural Economic Developers Association (NREDA), an organization of economic development professionals focused on the issues and opportunities of rural America.

“Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives are an innovative organization which uses that innovation to market their cooperatives in the economic development realm,” says Dennis Mingyar, NREDA Awards chair. “They took cutting-edge technology, combined it with a new marketing concept, and formed one unique brand with which to market their cooperatives. This effort has helped secure almost 10,000 new jobs in their cooperatives’ service territory.”

The award recognizes Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives for using technology such as data from aerial drone flights, online videos and mobile mapping apps to market rural Kentucky communities globally, attracting jobs and investment to Kentucky. Those initiatives are highlighted on the co-ops’ economic development site,

“This award is especially gratifying because the leaders and members of NREDA understand the unique challenges faced by rural communities in attracting jobs and investment,” says Rodney Hitch, Economic Development director for Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives.

Terry Gill, secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, applauded the cooperatives’ work and ongoing service to the state.

“Whether it’s a prospective investment by an internationally based tech company or an expansion by a longtime local manufacturer, the team at Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives recognizes economic development projects take trust, partnership and a long-term commitment,” Gill says.

Volunteering fills the soul

Service and honor

Taylor County Energy’s Erin Wise serves as a guardian on Honor Flights, shown here with David Sheets on the 2016 Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. Photo: Tim Webb


Erin Wise, a 27-year employee at Taylor County Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation, had heard the excited recollections of those who had gone on an Honor Flight.

Designed for veterans, the flights take vets to Washington, D.C., to see the war memorials and be honored for their contributions to the country. Erin decided to volunteer as a guardian, someone who helps veterans with individual needs.

The day was “awesome,” Erin says. The emotions of the day and the appreciation of the veterans remained with her long after the trip was over. She decided to volunteer again—and then again.

The third time Erin was a guardian for her father, James Thompson, who served during the Korean War.

“Every American should get to see what happens on those trips,” Erin says. “Such great stories. The one thing that impressed me most was that regular citizens come up and thank the vets and want their picture taken with them. I will always have that time with my dad and the stories he told me about serving in Alaska.”

Spreading the word

Kerry K. Howard, general manager/CEO of Licking Valley Rural Electric Cooperative, holds examples of the Gideon Bibles he places around Morgan and Magoffin counties. Photo: John May


Through Gideons International, an association of Christian business and professional people, some 2 billion Bibles in 100 languages have been distributed in 200 countries.

Helping place those Bibles is Kerry K. Howard, general manager/CEO of Licking Valley Rural Electric Cooperative.

“This is close to my heart,” Kerry says. “Placing the Bibles is a mission I can do right here at home.”

Kerry presents a Bible to every fifth-grader in the Magoffin County school system. He presents Bibles with camouflage covers to military recruits, large-print Bibles to nursing home residents, New Testaments to trick-or-treaters, and Bibles without covers to inmates. (Hardcovers are not allowed in prisons.) He also gives Bibles to motels, doctor’s offices, high school seniors and most anyone who desires one.

“I also speak at churches,” Kerry notes. “Some will bring the Bible they got in the fifth-grade with them. They still remember that. It is always exciting to hear the stories.”

Your Neighbor, Your Energy

Celebrating the New Year with our common purpose

Who is my neighbor?

It’s a question worth asking, whether in scripture or your community. It’s a question that electric cooperatives eagerly answer, because we are neighbors.

Chris Perry, President and CEO, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives

Whenever I think of the word “neighbor,” I think of my grandfather Joe Perry, who was a World War II veteran and a school bus mechanic who loved working on cars. When I was a child, he loved taking me on Sunday drives to visit neighbors and family.

He was a soft-spoken man who thought it was important for people to talk to one another, to sit on the porch together. I think about my grandfather as I drive across Kentucky to check in with our member co-ops. Yes, we have email, video conferencing and social media to keep up with each other today, but there is nothing like breathing the same air and meeting face-to-face.

It’s that spirit of neighborliness that is our co-op theme this year: Your Neighbor, Your Energy. Co-ops are not only neighbors because we live in the same communities as the people we serve, we are neighbors because we share a common purpose and interest: to improve the quality of life in our communities.

Your Neighbor, Your Energy also embraces our cooperative business model. As the energy landscape continues to change, know that your statewide association is working every day to protect members—both the largest customer we serve and the rural family at the end of the line.

Your local co-op is in a great position to serve your home area because a co-op—by its very nature—is uniquely suited to understand its own community. Your co-op was built by, belongs to and is led by people in your community.

Neighbors look out for one another. We’ll be looking out for you in Frankfort and Washington, D.C., as elected leaders make decisions that affect you. And, we may be asking for your help at times in that effort.

My grandfather’s Sunday drives  took us to nearby friends and distant hollers—but we were all neighbors. We checked on new calves and the corn crop and always shared a pitcher of iced tea.

As 2019 begins, let’s celebrate our connections and relationships. Let’s be neighbors.