Month: November 2019

Co-ops honor McConnell as 2019 ‘Distinguished Rural Kentuckian’

Highest honor awarded by Kentucky Electric Cooperatives

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (November 18, 2019) – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was honored on Monday, November 18 as the “2019 Distinguished Rural Kentuckian” at the 73rd Annual Meeting of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. The award is the highest honor given by the statewide association of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives which serve nearly 1.5 million Kentuckians in 117 of 120 Kentucky counties.

“Senator McConnell is a champion for rural Kentucky,” said Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “Time and time again, he has been there for co-ops when it matters most. And, what’s striking is how responsive he is to the issues of rural Kentucky and America.”

Perry said McConnell’s leadership securing access to sensible financing and USDA funding has helped Kentucky co-ops deliver safe, reliable and affordable electricity, and McConnell’s advocacy for sensible environmental regulations has protected the consumer-members of Kentucky co-ops.

“We know that Leader McConnell’s clout means good things for Kentucky and we appreciate his hard work and dedication to fight for rural priorities,” Perry continued. “As Majority Leader, he gets to set the agenda and because of that, rural Kentuckians have a lot to be grateful for. Our agenda is his agenda.”

“As a predominantly rural state, we’re made stronger by our heritage,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader McConnell. “From the Big Rivers to East Kentucky Power, your 26 statewide electrical cooperatives are making a real difference in the lives of families and communities. You’re helping power Kentucky’s future, support good jobs, and drive our economic prosperity. I’m grateful for your advocacy and keeping me up to date on your priorities, and I’m honored to receive this award.”

First elected to the U.S. Senate in 1984, Senator McConnell is Kentucky’s longest serving senator and the longest serving Republican Senate Leader in U.S. history. In addition to serving on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senate Rules and Administration, he also serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee – the committee which holds jurisdiction over discretionary spending.

Through the years, Senator McConnell has fought for many priorities important to rural Kentucky, including major tax reform, regulatory relief, infrastructure, rural broadband development and healthcare. Senator McConnell is well-known as a champion for rural Kentuckians – their jobs, families and futures. He has secured vital funding for our communities and been the voice for all Kentuckians in Washington.

Living in the present

Major holidays like Thanksgiving naturally make you think about family, childhood memories and the gifts of love and togetherness of past holidays.

It has been a tough year for me. Both of my parents passed away. My father lost his battle with Alzheimer’s disease and a couple of months later my mother lost her battle with Parkinson’s disease.

As we enter the holiday season, I have a hole in my life. No more picking up the phone to talk about football. No more visits discussing the grandchildren. No more laughs. No more hugs. All that is left are the memories and photographs that I now cherish. 

Thanksgiving was a wonderful time when I was growing up. I loved waking up on those mornings in my house with the smell of turkey and pumpkin pie. My mother loved the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and we would watch every minute while she continued to work hard making a wonderful meal. Dad would make the patented Perry potato salad. My aunt would bring the deviled eggs. Those afternoons were perfect with our family sharing a meal and sharing time together.

After the stuffing and pumpkin pie were finished, my brother and I would watch some football. My dad and uncle would go outside in the cool air and enjoy smoking a cigarette. After some time passed, we would convene again for a little more pie, coffee and Pepsi. After a wonderful day, we would hug and look forward to the upcoming Christmas season, when we would do it all again.

I miss those days. So, as we enter the holidays and spend time together, I ask that you to try to avoid the distractions of the season and be fully present with the ones you love.

I found out this year that those moments are fleeting, and I will appreciate the ones now a little more. My wife, daughters and friends are the world to me, and I promise to be engaged and live life filled with focus and purpose.

May you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving.


Chris Perry, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives President and CEO.

Smart grid, better reliability

The traditional electric grid has evolved into the modern smart grid, packed with advanced technologies that benefit both consumers and utilities.

A key feature is the smart meter, which provides two-way communication between the energy provider and the consumer. Smart meters help detect power outages and automate billing. Both help to improve reliability and efficiency. 

Research and innovation continue to add improvements, making problems in the grid easier to prevent early on, easier to identify and easier to fix. The smart grid also helps utilities plan for the future to reduce the likelihood of power blackouts and surges, and to better manage the electricity load, which can ultimately save money for the utility and consumer.

Another consumer benefit is more access to information and new ways to control and manage their energy use online or via app before they receive their monthly bill, which can lead to better energy efficiency habits. 

By investing now in smart grid technologies, utilities will help to reduce costs over the long run while also providing more reliable service to those they serve. 

Over the next decade, utilities are expected to invest $110 billion in smart grid technologies, and this value is likely to grow as new technologies are developed. Many electric cooperatives across the U.S. have started initiatives to deploy smart meters and other advanced grid infrastructure.

—Maria Kanevsky/NRECA

Winter weather is upon us: How low should you go?

Selecting the proper temperatures throughout the day and night can be a bit confusing as you balance comfort with energy and dollar savings. 

It does save energy overall if you lower the temperature setting on your central furnace or heat pump thermostat. The actual amount of dollar savings depends primarily on how low you set the thermostat, how long you have it set back and, to a lesser degree, your climate.

There also are other advantages to lowering the thermostat setting during winter. A lower house temperature requires less moisture indoors to keep the indoor air at a given relative humidity level. A heating system that runs less at a lower temperature means the equipment will last longer.

There is not a “best” thermostat setting for all homes and climates. The lower you set it, the greater the overall savings will be. The amount of savings per degree for each nighttime, eight-hour setback period ranges from 1% to 3%.

Unless there are some health problems in your family, 62 degrees is typically comfortable if you are wearing long sleeves or a sweater.

Important note: programmable thermostats generally are not recommended for heat pumps. Do not change heat pump thermostat settings more than 1 or 2 degrees. Consult the manufacturer’s manual or contact your co-op’s energy advisor for more information.


It is a common myth that it takes as much energy to reheat a house—in the morning, for example—as was saved during the overnight temperature setback. The amount of heat a house loses through its walls, ceilings and floors is directly proportional to the difference between the indoor and the outdoor temperatures. Air leakage also increases with larger temperature differences.

When the indoor temperature is set lower, the indoor-to-outdoor temperature difference is smaller, so less heat is lost from your house. That means your furnace has to use less gas, oil or electricity to create the heat to replace it—which is less than the amount saved over the temperature setback period. During the summer, the same concept applies with air conditioning.

JAMES DULLEY is a nationally syndicated columnist who writes on energy efficiency and do-it-yourself energy topics.

Candidates for Kentucky governor answer electric co-op questions

On November 5, Kentucky voters will elect the commonwealth’s constitutional officers for the next four-year term.

Topping the ballot are the candidates for governor. Incumbent Republican Matt Bevin and his running mate state Sen. Ralph Alvarado face Democrat Attorney General Andy Beshear and his running mate Jacqueline Coleman.

We are grateful to both candidates for replying to our questions about key issues facing rural Kentucky, in particular the commonwealth’s energy future, economic development and workforce development.

In addition to advocating for issues that affect the ability of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives to deliver safe, reliable and affordable electricity, co-ops are also leading the drive for more voter participation in the rural areas they serve.

Kentucky’s off-year elections typically draw poor voter turnout, especially compared with presidential election years. Four years ago, Kentucky’s statewide voter turnout was only 30.6%, and the counties with the lowest turnout were in rural areas.

The nonpartisan Co-ops Vote campaign aims to both improve rural voting and make sure that rural voters are aware of important issues. Since the launch of Co-ops Vote in 2016, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives has championed the cause, encouraging consumer-members attending local co-op annual meetings to make sure their voices are heard at the ballot box.

“If rural Kentuckians want elected leaders to pay attention to their concerns, voting is the most effective method,” says Chris Perry, president of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “I encourage all Kentuckians to join me in making the commitment to vote.”

Eligible voters, no matter where they live or whether they are co-op members, can participate in Co-ops Vote and take advantage of its voter resources. Just visit and take the pledge to vote in this year’s elections. Once you’ve registered, you’ll have access to information on registering to vote, where to vote and background on all the candidates.

“The communities and rural areas served by co-ops are facing challenges that require attention and respect,” Perry says. “It’s easy to attack rural electric cooperatives. We are paying attention to see who gives co-ops and their members a fair shake in Frankfort.”

As the flagship publication of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives, Kentucky Living posed the same four questions to both Bevin and Beshear, allowing each a total of 400 combined words to answer all questions.

Co-op Candidate Q & A

What is your vision for the energy future of Kentucky?

Bevin: Our energy future must be intertwined with my vision that Kentucky will become the engineering and manufacturing hub of excellence in the United States. We are in the process of fulfilling that vision precisely because of Kentucky’s low energy prices. Kentucky is second in the entire nation in aerospace exports. Automotive and pharmaceuticals are also major export categories for our commonwealth. In fact, we broke our all-time record as a state with $31.76 billion in international exports in 2018. Maintaining this growth is dependent on affordable, safe, reliable and environmentally responsible energy production.

Beshear: Kentucky needs an all-of-the-above approach to energy. One of the biggest challenges working families face, especially in eastern Kentucky, is that their energy bills go up year after year, while good jobs are hard to find and wages remain flat. Kentucky families shouldn’t have to choose between putting food on the table and keeping the lights on. As attorney general, my office has opposed dozens of utility bill hikes and helped save Kentucky families nearly $1.6 billion. I will continue to advocate for consumers, affordable utility costs and smart energy policy as governor.

No Kentuckian currently pays sales tax on their residential electric use. Can Kentucky’s electric cooperatives count on your support to help them serve struggling families and keep residential electric sales exempt from a sales tax?

Beshear: Tax reform in Kentucky shouldn’t burden working families who are already struggling just to get by. My focus will be on closing sales tax loopholes for purchases of things like private jets and luxury yachts. Additionally, we have to stand up for consumers and hold utility companies accountable. Monthly energy bills should be reasonable and affordable, not the skyrocketing rates we have seen in many parts of Kentucky.

Bevin: I do not support taxing utilities that people need.

What is your plan to help rural Kentucky retain, grow and recruit business to bring people back to rural Kentucky?

Bevin: I would refer you to my record thus far. No governor in America has outhustled me since I took office. Since the beginning of our administration, we have announced 1,160 new projects. We just broke the $20 billion mark in investments and are now over 52,000 new jobs. Perhaps most importantly, we have more people working in Kentucky than ever before. Many of these are in rural communities in Kentucky. Stay tuned, we are just getting warmed up.

Beshear: We must create family-supporting jobs and support small businesses in every part of Kentucky, including rural areas. My plan to create good-paying jobs focuses on growing economic sectors that Kentucky is positioned to lead in, like agritech and advanced manufacturing. These jobs of the future will draw on our state’s agricultural and industrial strengths as well as new technological innovations. We also have to rethink how we use tax incentives for job creation. My administration will move away from giving handouts to out-of-state CEOs and bring more jobs that pay a living wage to our rural communities. We also need to protect two of the main pillars of rural economies: health care and public education. While Matt Bevin attacks our schools and rural hospitals, they will be a priority in a Beshear/Coleman administration.

Electric cooperatives employ more than 3,000 people across the Commonwealth. What is your plan to ensure that Kentucky has an educated and prepared workforce for the future?

Beshear: Kentucky has the talent and the people, but Governor Bevin has failed to give our workforce the tools they need to compete in a global economy. Instead of cutting community colleges, I will expand job training programs in partnership with organized labor and strengthen career readiness in schools. We should also be fully funding public education, including community colleges and technical schools. Businesses will follow the workers, and I’ll always prioritize making sure Kentuckians have the skills they need to earn a good living for their families.

Bevin: Again, I have to refer you to my record. Our per pupil education expenditures were the highest in Kentucky history in our most recent budget. Meanwhile, programs like our Work Ready Skills Initiative, our Registered Apprentice Program, our Work Ready Scholarship and our Work Matters Task Report (which was recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor) represent a multimillion-dollar investment in Kentucky’s workers. These programs, along with public/private partnerships that are training world-class graduates in advanced manufacturing, are in place to ensure that Kentuckians have the skills demanded by job creators for 2019 and well into the future.