Month: March 2019

Co-ops cheer NUCOR announcement in Meade County

David Pace, a Meade County RECC employee who works as Meade County-Brandenburg Economic Development chairman, speaks at a press conference announcing that Nucor plans to build a $1.35 billion steel plate manufacturing mill in Brandenburg.

BRANDENBURG – The announcement that America’s largest steel producer plans to build a $1.35 billion steel plate manufacturing mill in Brandenburg is a great example of how Kentucky’s electric cooperatives are a key player in the state’s economic development, said Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives.

“The co-op mission is to improve the quality of life in the communities we serve,” Perry said. “The decision by NUCOR Corp. to build this plant in the Buttermilk Falls Industrial Park served by Meade County RECCand Big Rivers Electric affirms that mission and is the latest example of how co-ops are ready to power Kentucky’s economy.”

Gov. Matt Bevin joined executives from Nucor Corp. at the announcement, calling the investment both an immediate and long-term economic development achievement, creating more than 400 well-paying, full-time jobs in the coming years and ranking as one of the state’s largest-ever single investments.

“Nucor is a proven, longtime corporate citizen in Kentucky and a key partner in our world-class primary metals industry,” Gov. Bevin said. “We are grateful for the company’s decision to construct a new state-of-the-art mill in Brandenburg. This massive project will transform the region’s economy and provide high-quality jobs to Kentuckians for generations to come. Thanks to Nucor’s strong commitment to the commonwealth, we are taking another momentous step toward solidifying our reputation as America’s engineering and manufacturing center of excellence.”

The 1.5-million-square-foot facility will sit on 900 acres along the Ohio River in Brandenburg. With a production capacity of 1.2 million tons per year, the steel mill will enhance Nucor’s ability to serve customers throughout the region and meet needs for the company’s customers nationwide. Full-time positions at Nucor will pay an average annual wage of $72,000, and will include equipment operators, production specialists, safety and environmental technicians, engineers and office support staff. Nucor executives anticipate construction will begin by year-end with the facility opening by 2022. The project could create as many as 2,000 construction jobs.

“This is a huge economic development milestone for our region,” said Marty Littrell, President of Meade County RECC. “Meade County RECC, its board & Big Rivers Electric have actively been working along with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development to attract large industrial development projects that would benefit our entire cooperative member system. Today’s announcement is a testimony to the ambitious strategic goals we established to best benefit the communities we serve. It’s a proud day for Meade County RECC, Big Rivers and the community.”

The announcement comes just six months after the company announced a $650 million, 70-job phase II expansion at Nucor Steel Gallatin, a mill producing flat-rolled coils in Ghent. That plant is also served by co-ops, Owen Electric Cooperative and East Kentucky Power Cooperative, the wholesale energy provider to Owen Electric which worked closely with Nucor officials to support the expansion that promises to nearly double the mill’s annual capacity to approximately 3 million tons.

In making the announcement, John Ferriola, chairman, CEO and president of Nucor, thanked both government officials and Big Rivers Electric.

“The new plate mill will grow our company’s already significant presence in Kentucky. With this announcement, Nucor is currently investing more than $2 billion in our Kentucky operations,” Ferriola said.

David Pace, a Meade County RECC employee who works as Meade County-Brandenburg Economic Development chairman, congratulated Nucor and the partners involved in making the region attractive for industrial development.

“We owe huge thank you to Nucor for entrusting Brandenburg and Meade County with being the home of this hugely important project,” Pace said. “The mill’s announcement today further underscores the years of foresight and preparation by our board, city and county leaders, utility partners and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. Collectively we’ve worked to establish Buttermilk Falls Industrial Park and advance it over the years with infrastructure, utilities and due diligence that made it desirable for a great partner like Nucor.”

To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in a special meeting today preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $30 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of the new tax revenue it generates over the agreement term through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.

Additionally, KEDFA approved Nucor for up to $10 million in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing.

Nucor has two performance-based incentive agreements from KEDFA for the current expansions in Gallatin County.

Nucor is also eligible to receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies can receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives.

March 14 Storm Roundup

As of March 15, 2019

Jackson Purchase Energy

Jackson Purchase Energy has restored service to more than 5300 consumer-members after at least one tornado touched down Thursday morning. Currently, we have around 3900 consumer-members without power. In addition to JPEC’s own crews, local crews including Paducah Power and mutual aid from other Kentucky electric cooperatives are working to restore power. Sixteen crews in the field prepared worked through the night to restore power.  Local crews from Paducah Power assisted with JP staff as well.

JPEC is continuing to assess damage.

Major areas included Hinkleville Rd., Blandville Rd., US HWY 62 – Fisher Rd., and Upshaw Rd.


Kenergy’s peak member outages were between 5,500-6,000 on the afternoon of March 14. More than 10 poles were broken. Power was expected to be restored by noon, March 15.

West Kentucky RECC

Most power has been restored by West Kentucky RECC. At the peak, there were 1,200 members without service, mostly in Marshall County around Calvert City and Gilbertsville. West Kentucky also lost a substation that feeds about 2,400 members on the western edge of our service area, but that was quickly restored. That outage was caused by a TVA transmission problem.



Jackson Purchase responding to storm outages

Jackson Purchase Energy is responding to 60 outages affecting more than 7,000 consumer members after at least one tornado touched down on Thursday morning.

Because multiple utility poles have been downed by the storms, please prepare for extended outages.

We are continuing to assess damage which includes:

Multiple transmission feeds from Big Rivers Electric are down
Multiple JPEC substations are without power
Main double circuits affecting the Kentucky Oaks Mall area are down
Broken poles near Hwy 60 in western Kentucky near Kentucky Oaks Mall

JPEC crews are already working to restore power. Those crews will be assisted by multiple crews from both out of state and mutual aid crews from other Kentucky electric cooperatives.

Please be advised that JPEC phone lines are again being answered. Our staff needed to take shelter for about one hour during the tornado warning.
ALWAYS stay away from downed power lines and assume they are energized and dangerous. Call 911 to report downed lines.

To report an outage, you can use our Smart Hub app, or call 270-442-7321 or toll-free 800-633-4044

Mowing through lawn-care choices

Do you think it’s worth making the switch from a gas mower to an electric mower?—Eric

Until recently, corded and cordless electric mowers tended to be underpowered, with sub-par battery life for cordless models. But today, those problems are largely solved and the best electric mowers have the power and battery life to keep pace with a gas mower, depending on the size of the lawn.

A cordless electric mower with a large, 56-volt battery can run for about one hour. Plug-in electric mowers don’t have this limitation, but using a long electrical cord can be challenging.

Quality electric mowers, especially the cordless, rechargeable ones, tend to cost twice as much as a new equivalent gas model. But you can recoup some of the expense because they are cheaper to operate and maintain. Or you can purchase a less-costly corded mower if you don’t mind the hassle of navigating around the cord.

Another cost factor is that rechargeable batteries typically need to be replaced after three to five years. The savings also depend on the size of your lot. A small lot uses less gas, so fuel cost savings are less significant.

Electric or gas mower?

Besides having lower fuel and maintenance costs, electric mowers are much quieter than gas mowers, and they start instantly. Electric mowers produce less tailpipe emissions, but the overall environmental impact depends on how the electricity you’re using for charging is generated. The environmental benefits will be greater if the electricity is generated from renewable energy sources.

So, weigh your priorities. If you are looking to buy a new mower, have a small- to mid-size lot, prioritize environmental concerns and don’t mind navigating a cord or recharging batteries, an electric mower could be the right choice for you.

If you don’t mind the noise, maintenance and other hassles of a gas mower, have a large lot and prefer not to invest in the upfront price tag, a gas mower may be a better option.

PAT KEEGAN and BRAD THIESSEN write on energy efficiency for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Fighting to keep the lights on

United Aerobotics staff inspect high-voltage transmission lines for Big Rivers Electric Corporation in Meade County RECC’s co-op territory. Photo: Stephanie McCombs

Electric co-ops battle critters, storms and hackers

Did you know squirrels, lightning and trees have something in common? They all can knock out your electricity.

Electric cooperatives work hard to keep your lights on all the time, but “limited power outages are inevitable,” says Clarence Greene, safety and loss control manager at Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “Getting power restored is important, but safety of lineworkers and the public comes first. The dangers of downed power lines need to be part of any conversation about power restoration.”

An electric utility’s basic job of keeping the power flowing 24/7 calls for maintaining a complex network of power plants, poles and wires. But it also means battling the unpredictable. Greene cites the top three troublemakers to electric reliability as trees falling on power lines and other interferences from vegetation, lightning strikes and animals going about their daily routines, especially squirrels chewing on electrical equipment.

Humans contribute to power outages as well, with vandals deliberately damaging electrical equipment and drivers crashing into utility poles.

Despite the potential problems, statistics show the percentage of time that the average American has electricity at the flip of a switch is a steady 99.97 percent.

“I don’t see big swings from year to year,” says Tony Thomas, senior principal engineer with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). “If things are fairly consistent, that means the utility is operating about as efficiently as it can.”

Investing in technology

Kentucky co-ops deploy barriers, shields and other coverings to prevent critters—from woodpeckers to snakes—from compromising reliability.

“One method that many Kentucky cooperatives are using to prevent squirrels from causing outages is by installing electrostatic guards on overhead transformers,” explains Tony Dempsey, a safety and loss prevention instructor with Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “The guard emits a static charge that deters squirrels or other animals from creating a short at the point where the main line is connected to the transformer.”

Utilities operate extensive right-of-way programs to keep vegetation away from power lines. Digital software can forecast the growth of trees and other plants so that utilities can prune branches before they cause a problem.

Other software tries to manage lightning by analyzing the age and wear on the utility’s equipment, which minimizes the damage from lightning strikes by replacing it before it fails.

By far the biggest factor in reliability comes from the decades of building, maintaining and updating the massive machinery of the nation’s electric grid at power plants, high-voltage transmission lines, banks of substations and transformers and local distribution lines.

Kentucky’s electric cooperatives invest hundreds of man-hours inspecting and maintaining power lines. “This includes line inspections, breaker and transformer preventative maintenance, and right-of-way work,” says Robert Thornton, a safety and loss prevention instructor with Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, who trains lineworkers to recognize both the causes and the hazards associated with outages in order to minimize outage times.

Working out of three high-voltage demonstration trailers, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives helps train lineworkers to troubleshoot outages, including both overhead and underground equipment and devices. Vendors and electrical equipment manufacturers participate in workshops that ensure equipment is used and operated safely and efficiently.

“Kentucky co-ops have lineworkers on call every night and each weekend to respond to outages,” Thornton says.

Keeping the grid up and running calls for a lot of planning among utilities to anticipate how electricity will be used in the future. Part of that reliability planning focuses on protecting the electricity system from computer-based digital attacks.

Cybersecurity never-ending

As director of government affairs for NRECA, Bridgette Bourge is among those overseeing how digital technology affects reliability for electric co-ops and their consumer-members.

“Cyber helps a lot on reliability because it gives us the ability to monitor and know everything right away,” she says. “But whenever you increase reliability through a technology, you do potentially open up vulnerabilities as well from the security angle.”

Bourge says it’s routine for a co-op to receive tens of thousands of attempts each day to break into its computer network. She says NRECA cyber-reliability programs aim to help protect against a range of threats, from broad attempts to shut down parts of the electric grid, to more focused efforts to corrupt pieces of software used by electric cooperatives.

Cooperation among cooperatives is a cooperative principle. Much like traditional safety training, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives works with NRECA and other partners to share techniques for protecting utility systems from internet invaders. Cyber mutual-assistance agreements utilize teams of information technology experts in the case of a cyber incident or natural disaster.

“You will never be 100 percent cybersecure,” says Chris Hayes, chief technology officer with Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. Hayes serves as a liaison to Kentucky co-ops on information technology and cybersecurity. “The bad guys buy the same hardware and software as co-ops and other major companies to find flaws and exploit them.”

Hayes sees electric co-ops as well-placed to pay attention to cybersecurity. He says as community-based, member-led businesses, electric co-ops have a unique interest in protecting the reliability of the local community’s energy supply.

“Cybersecurity has to be a priority in everything we do,” says Hayes. “Protecting the electric grid means protecting our family, friends andcommunities.”