Month: May 2020

2020 Kentucky Lineman’s Rodeo canceled

With the uncertainty of COVID-19 restrictions in Kentucky and in the interest of safety, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives decided on Wednesday to cancel the 2020 Kentucky Lineman’s Rodeo, originally scheduled for October 1-2 at Jackson Purchase Energy in Paducah. The statewide association board of directors discussed the decision on its virtual meeting.

Tentative plans for the 2021 rodeo call for Jackson Purchase Energy to host. The co-op is relocating to new headquarters in 2021.

“Our biggest concern is always safety,” said Tony Dempsey, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives safety instructor. “While the rodeo is a tremendous opportunity to share this safety commitment, the decision to cancel this year’s event also demonstrates the Kentucky co-op safety culture.”

“With the guidelines and restrictions we would be under, we felt that the rodeo would not meet the standards that Kentucky co-ops expect,” added safety instructor Randy Meredith.

Several co-ops had indicated they were unlikely to participate in the 2020 rodeo.

“The lessons learned at the rodeo continue to be important,” said Charlie Lewis, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives safety instructor. ”We pledge to work hard to communicate safety messages, support training and help JPEC make 2021 the best Kentucky Lineman’s Rodeo ever.”

Safety Short: Accident reporting

In this week’s safety video, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives Safety instructor Charlie Lewis stresses the importance of reporting workplace injuries. With their schedule of training and safety talks interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, our safety instructors are releasing weekly videos for local co-op personnel while adhering to social distancing guidelines. Be sure to subscribe to the statewide office’s YouTube channel. The safety team is also conducting live video conferences with local cooperatives by request.

Safety Short: Heat Stress

In this week’s safety video, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives Safety instructor Randy Meredith addresses the dangers of heat related illnesses. With their schedule of training and safety talks interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, our safety instructors are releasing weekly videos for local co-op personnel while adhering to social distancing guidelines. Be sure to subscribe to the statewide office’s YouTube channel. The safety team is also conducting live video conferences with local cooperatives by request.

McConnell’s CARES Act Sends $13.7 Million to Kentucky for Energy Assistance

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced today Kentucky received $13,745,001 to support low-income households with home energy costs impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. These federal funds, distributed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, were made available by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Senator McConnell introduced the CARES Act, which became the largest economic rescue package in American history, and led it to enactment in about a week. “Across Kentucky, the coronavirus poses serious health and economic challenges for almost everyone. I’m proud the bold legislation I introduced is delivering much-needed assistance for vulnerable Kentucky families,” said Senator McConnell“As families struggle to make ends meet during this crisis, these federal funds will help keep the lights on. My position as Senate Majority Leader helps give me the opportunity to take care of Kentucky, and I’m working to ensure our communities get the relief they need to beat this virus.” In addition to these federal funds, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act has had an $11 billion impact on Kentucky so far. Senator McConnell’s legislation has delivered $3.4 billion in relief to address urgent housing, transportation, healthcare, education and economic development priorities. His legislation also created the Paycheck Protection Program, which is helping nearly 44,000 Kentucky small businesses access over $5.3 billion in loans to keep their lights on and employees on payroll. Kentucky families have also received more than $3.2 billion in Economic Impact Payments from the U.S. Treasury.

The sun will shine bright again

Have you been a little stir-crazy? Have you been missing friends and family? How has school been going at home with your kids?

I have been struggling with the essential lockdown of our country. This is the time of year when I generally travel around the state to each of our 26 local electric cooperatives—from Paintsville to Paducah and from Gamaliel to Germantown—to attend annual meetings.

Many of those meetings in May and June have been rescheduled for later in the year, while some co-ops plan to hold virtual meetings and/or drive-thru registration instead. Thanks to all of you for your continued interest and participation as our co-ops adjust schedules.

Kentucky is beautiful and may be the best kept secret in the country. Our people are strong and resilient. Kentuckians are also kind. During this pandemic, I have seen this strength in our nurses and doctors. They have been quick to point out that this virus is dangerous and that we should heed the warnings.

I want to personally thank all the health care professionals and all the others who have been on the front lines during this war. These amazing Kentuckians prove how strong and kind we are.

It doesn’t matter where I am in the state, our citizens are warm, caring and willing to help in any way. Monthly in Kentucky Living, we introduce you to the unique characters and people who make our state special and we highlight interesting places and communities.

It’s also the time of year when I normally become sentimental over our state song with the Kentucky Derby, which usually takes place the first Saturday in May but has been moved to September this year.

My Old Kentucky Home is a wonderful song that makes me think of the warm, sunny days we yearn for at this time of year. I think back to times of sitting on the porch with my grandmother and preparing homegrown green beans, and waving at cars going by.

The sun will shine bright again on our Old Kentucky Home. I know that this spring has been difficult—as the song says, hard times come a knocking at the door. I can’t wait to drive down the parkway and see the corn and beans growing. I am going to look forward to the harvest once again.

May God bless and hold close each of you and your family and friends.

Chris Perry, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives President and CEO.

Counting on Kentucky co-ops

February started simply enough with electric co-op employees across Kentucky following the early advice of public health experts to increase handwashing and decrease physical contact with others.

As COVID-19 pandemic concerns intensified in March, cooperatives responded with characteristic discipline, setting into motion procedures and policies for the safety of consumer-members and employees.

Disasters are what electric-co-ops know well. Staffs are trained to respond quickly and safely to ensure consumer-members have electricity. 

Safety steps co-ops are taking

At Farmers RECC’s offices in Glasgow and Munfordville, the first steps included closing the lobbies and a regular deep cleaning of commonly touched surfaces.

“We have redeployed our workforce as much as possible, including alternating employee shifts and disbursing employees among different locations,” says Farmers President and CEO Bill Prather. “We want to assure our members that Farmers RECC has taken multiple steps to ensure continuous, normal business operations with a focus on serving our members with safe, reliable, affordable service, as always.”

In Paintsville, Big Sandy RECC implemented the highest level of its pandemic plan. With the exception of its billing department, employees are working from home. Customer service representatives work alternating shifts.

“Our CSRs wear latex gloves and disinfect payments and paperwork received in the drive-thru and the mail,” says Big Sandy RECC President Bruce Aaron Davis. “We are also practicing social distancing while in the office.”

Staggered shifts for line crews are also the new practice at Jackson Energy Cooperative in southeastern Kentucky. The co-op’s safety culture extends beyond the workday. All employees and their families have been encouraged to stay home when they are not working and on their personal time off.

“With the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic, we know our members are facing many concerns,” says Carol Wright, president and CEO. “Jackson Energy is dedicated to finding the best solutions for our membership while ensuring the continued safety of our employees and our members during this difficult time.”

Electric co-ops critical and essential

Co-op employees and contractors are among the workers in critical infrastructure industries identified by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency as essential to continued infrastructure viability.

“With so many cooperative members isolated at home, it is critically important that we maintain reliable electric service,” says Anthony “Tony” Campbell, president and CEO of East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Winchester, which provides power to 16 electric distribution co-ops in central and southeastern Kentucky.

In addition to such measures as teleconferencing, limiting travel and strict social distancing, EKPC is taking special care in its role as a major power supplier to co-ops serving consumer-members in 87 counties in Kentucky and to PJM Interconnection, the nation’s largest electrical grid. Some work areas have been isolated. Critical staff such as plant operators and line crews have been isolated, and shifts have been separated.

“EKPC is doing everything we can to keep our employees healthy and to prevent the spread of illness, so we can keep the power flowing,” Campbell says.

To help consumer-members to pay their electric bill safely, cooperatives are encouraging them to use electronic transactions via co-op websites and mobile apps. In addition, most drive-thrus remain open and night-deposit boxes can accept payments. (Please check with your local electric co-op or see the center section in this issue to confirm before going.)

“We understand the challenges and overwhelming circumstances that many of our consumer-members are facing,” says Greg Grissom, president and CEO of Jackson Purchase Energy Cooperative in Paducah. “JPEC will not disconnect consumer-members or charge late fees for a limited time. While this is not our normal procedure, we are sensitive to the unforeseen circumstances and financial burden being placed on many of our consumer-members.”

This is the case at many electric cooperatives, but consumer-members are encouraged to pay at least a portion of their bill as they are able. This will help avoid a large multi-month balance when the pandemic is over. Contact your co-op for payment options.

Community Action Agencies Accepting Applications for Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 1, 2020): In response to the COVID-19 emergency, Community Action Agencies across Kentucky are now taking applications for an added spring open enrollment period for Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Applications will be accepted through June 30, 2020, or until designated funds are depleted on a first-come, first-serve basis.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has put many families under unprecedented stress. They should not have to worry about how they will keep their lights on and cook for their children,” said Roger McCann, executive director of Community Action Kentucky. “That is why this new Spring LIHEAP couldn’t come at a better time. It will help take some of that stress off. When it is combined with other Community Action services, LIHEAP will really help families and communities in their efforts to recover and rebuild.”

The program, which is designed to help low-income households offset home energy costs, has increased income eligibility requirements to 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. The benefit amount awarded is based on an individual’s income and primary fuel type. Benefits are paid directly to the primary fuel vendor in the form of a voucher.

Each year, the 23 Community Action agencies provide home energy assistance to over 100,000 Kentucky families through LIHEAP. Kentucky’s Community Action Network collectively operates outreach offices in all 120 Kentucky counties. Qualified applicants are encouraged to contact their local Community Action outreach office for specific applications instructions.

All applicants will be required to supply the following documentation at time of application:

• Proof of Social Security Number or Permanent Residence card (Green Card) for each member of the household.

• Proof of all household’s (all members) income from the preceding month.

• Most current heating bill, statement from your landlord if heating expenses are included in your rent, statement from utility company if you participate in a Pre-Pay Electric Program. 

• The account number and name on the account for main heating fuel sources and electric bill.

Community Action Kentucky administers LIHEAP in partnership with the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services who receive the funding as a pass-through block grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. More information about LIHEAP and a listing of LIHEAP outreach offices can be found at the Community Action Kentucky website at