Portable generator safety tips

The following list of tips is not inclusive. Always refer to the manufacturer’s guide that came with your portable generator.

  • Read and adhere to all manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation. Professionally and permanently installed standby generators are actually a safer and more reliable option than portable generators because they are mounted a safe distance from your home and run directly from a fuel source.
  • Never plug a generator into a wall outlet or directly into your home’s wiring. Contact a licensed electrician to install a properly rated power transfer switch. This protects you and your appliances and protects co-op workers from shock while restoring power.
  • Ensure your generator is properly grounded.
  • Never, ever use a generator indoors—even with windows open—or in an enclosed area, including never in an attached garage, carport, basement, crawlspace, or any other enclosed or partially enclosed area—even if it’s ventilated.
  • If you must use a generator, install a carbon monoxide detector and test batteries monthly. Carbon monoxide (CO), which is odorless and invisible, can build up to lethal levels in a matter of minutes.
  • Locate the generator where fumes cannot filter into your home through windows, doors, vents, or other openings.
  • Start the generator first before connecting appliances. 
  • Make sure the generator stays dry during operation, and never touch electrical equipment with wet hands. Water and electrical devices don’t mix. To prevent shocks or electrocution, the generator must be kept far away from water or precipitation. Operate it on a dry surface under an open structure.
  • Turn off generators and let them cool down before refueling. Never attempt to refuel the generator while it’s running or hot. Gasoline and its vapors may ignite if they come in contact with hot components or an electrical spark. Turn the unit off and allow it to cool down first.
  • Store fuel in a properly labeled safety container, in a secure location outside of living areas and away from the generator or other fuel-burning appliances. Local laws may restrict how much fuel you can store and where you can store it. Check with your local fire department for details.
  • Locate the generator where fumes cannot filter into your home through windows, doors, vents, or other openings-even 15 feet is too close. Carbon monoxide (CO), which is odorless and invisible, can build up to lethal levels in a matter of minutes. If you must use a generator, install a carbon monoxide detector and test batteries monthly.
  • Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting it down.
  • Always have a fully charged fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Practice proper maintenance procedures between uses. Refuel it with treated fuel from the generator before putting the unit away. It’s also a good idea to inspect the fuel and oil filters, spark plug, oil level, and fuel quality. Start the generator on a regular basis to make sure it’s running properly.


KAEC Safety Director Clarence Greene’s: What to know before, during, and after you buy a portable generator

What do I think about when shopping for a portable generator? Most portable generators will not power your whole house or all appliances at once. You may need to rotate important loads like refrigerators, lights freezers and heaters to keep from overloading a generator. Keep in mind that you may also have to assemble the unit.

What will a 6000-watt generator cover?  This size would be limited to powering a couple portable heaters, refrigerator, lights  and TVs or computers not the whole house.

What’s important when choosing between a battery-start and a pull-start generator? The pull-start generator requires a hard pull, such as starting a lawn mower. A battery-start generator requires you must have a charged battery to start the generator.

What are some of the fuel types of generators? A 4- cycle generator burns normal lawn mower gas; a 2-cycle generator, which include some smaller generators, requires a gas-oil mix; propane and natural gas generators require pressurized gas (such as your heating system) and are usually built-in or permanent-type generators.

Where do I store my generator? Store it in a dry location that is easy to get into position to supply power during an outage, fueled up with fuel that has storage treatment. Regularly start it and monitor its operation and keep enough fuel available to run the generator several days. Also, store a large drop cord that is generator compatible to run your appliances.

Where do I locate my portable generator? I have my temporary power supply generator parked in a safe place, close to where I will operate it in case of an outage. I usually wait a few hours to determine the utility’s electric restore time by checking their website and watching news for severity of storm or outages before starting the generator.

Do I need a generator for this outage? Before starting the generator, check with your local electric co-op whenever possible, for restore information about your location. You may be on a critical line that is restored sooner than normal, or you may be in a remote location that will take longer to repair power service.

What other things do I need to think about? Other than just starting it, you need to check fuel, check oil, get it in a safe place to run, and bring UL-rated, heavy-duty drop cords through a window or dedicated entrance point to supply power to selected appliances.

How long should I run it? You will need to decide if you are going to run it all the time, or only run it a few hours a day to conserve fuel and preserve home atmosphere

Can I wire it directly into my electrical wiring of the house? ABSOLUTELY NOT. DO NOT plug it directly into a regular wall outlet or wire it into your home’s wiring. It could send high voltage to the repair persons working on your line. Use a licensed, professional electricity to hook up your generator. This means you will need to plan in advance to install a portable or standby generator.

Where do I place the generator? Place it somewhere safe from theft, such as chained to something. Place it away from windows, vents, flus, and furnace intakes, and away from combustibles like leaves, wood piles, garbage cans, etc.

I have some lights on watching KET and my lights flicker. Why? Maybe it is out of fuel. Check fuel and refuel after it cools off, check oil level, then restart. Check the manual for how long it will run on a tank of fuel.

Once the power is back on, what do I do? I give it a few minutes to make sure the local electric co-op power is on, then turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting the generator down. Service it soon afterward, refuel it with treated fuel, store it, and store your cords nearby where you can find them in the time of need.

Remember, the generator power can still shock, burn and kill you if handled wrong. Never cut corners when it comes to safety!

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 

First 72 On You – Be Prepared to Stay Safe and Healthy in Cold Temps

FRANKFORT (Nov. 15, 2018) – As part of the year-long First 72 On You campaign, the Department for Public Health (DPH), within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), is spotlighting cold weather preparedness efforts to remind Kentuckians of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, hypothermia and foodborne illness from possible power outages and cold weather conditions.

A Facebook Live discussion on this important topic will be held on Friday, Nov. 16 at 1 p.m. (Eastern). Watch on the Cabinet’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/kychfs.

“When temperatures drop significantly below normal such as during a cold spell or during a long-term power outage, staying warm and safe can become a challenge,” said Jeffrey Howard Jr., M.D., DPH commissioner. “Carbon monoxide poisoning and hypothermia are deadly and should be taken seriously. We urge Kentuckians to take steps to prevent exposure to both cold temperatures and carbon monoxide by avoiding using alternative heating sources like propane heaters, gas-powered stoves and charcoal grills while indoors. It can be a matter of life or death.”

Officials at DPH strongly encourage residents to follow these guidelines below to prevent injury, illness or death:

Carbon Monoxide Safety

  • Avoid using alternative heating sources such as portable generators, kerosene heaters, propane gas stoves and ovens heated with gasoline indoors because this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Don’t use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, garage or near a window.
  • Don’t run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
  • Don’t burn items in a stove or fireplace that isn’t properly vented.
  • Don’t heat your house with a gas oven.
  • Don’t place a portable heater within reach of children or pets and don’t use a power strip or extension cord. Look for the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label and carefully read instructions before use.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home and replace batteries as required. If the detector sounds, leave your home immediately and dial 911.
  • Seek immediate medical attention by calling 911 if you are experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Initial symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. If recognized early, carbon monoxide poisoning is treatable.
  • If you are experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning or if you have questions, call the Kentucky Poison Control hot line at (800) 222-1222.


Hypothermia occurs when the body’s temperature drops below what is necessary to achieve normal metabolism and other bodily functions. In severe cases or when the body is not warmed properly, death can result. People exposed to and not sufficiently prepared for cold weather also are at an increased risk for hypothermia.

Important steps to prevent hypothermia include:

  • Wear appropriate clothing. Layer clothes made of synthetic and wool fabrics, which are best for keeping warm. Always remember to wear hats, coats, scarves and gloves.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol if outdoors. Alcohol can speed the loss of heat from the body. Avoid overexertion from activities that cause excessive sweat, which can lead to damp clothing, causing chills. Stay as dry as possible.
  • Outdoor workers should make sure they are dressed appropriately and take frequent breaks to warm up and ensure their clothes are sufficient to keep them warm and dry.
  • Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, altered speech pattern, abnormally slow rate of breathing; cold, pale skin; and lethargy. Seek medical attention if you experience signs of hypothermia. Individuals experiencing these symptoms should call 911 or seek medical attention immediately.

Food Safety

  • Refrigerated foods should be safe as long as power is out for no more than four hours.
  • If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, read the temperature when power comes back on. If the thermometer stored in the freezer reads 41 degrees Fahrenheit or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen.
  • Throw out any perishable food in your refrigerator, such as meat, poultry, lunchmeats, fish, dairy products, eggs and any prepared or cooked foods that have been above 41 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours or more. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 41 degrees Fahrenheit or below, it is safe to refreeze.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables are safe as long as they are still firm and there is no evidence of mold or sliminess. Raw meats, poultry, cheese, juices, breads and pastries can be refrozen without losing too much food quality. Prepared food, fish, vegetables and fruits in the freezer can be refrozen safely, but food quality may suffer.
  • To remove spills and freshen the freezer and refrigerator, DPH recommends washing with a solution of two tablespoons of baking soda dissolved in one quart of warm water. To absorb any lingering odors, place an open box or dish of baking soda in the appliance.

Questions for the First 72 On YouFacebook Live discussion with state public health officials can be emailed in advance to chfs.communications@ky.govor posted in the comments section during the event at http://www.facebook.com/kychfs.

More information about how to stay safe and healthy in cold weather can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/index.html.


Behind the storm

Lineworkers deal with heat, fatigue and flying pests to help restore power after Hurricane Michael

It was hours after dark when the first crew made its way into the grainy glow of the generator-powered lights of the tent city. The dimness of the light coupled with crewmembers’ slow, lumbering gait, resembled a scene from a zombie movie.

For many of these workers, they were well into at least their second week of working to help restore power in southern Georgia, a land ravaged in the wake of Hurricane Michael. Within hours, they would soon be up to start another 16-hour day.

More than 100 lineworkers representing 16 co-ops from Kentucky are part of a massive restoration effort in several southeastern states.  Most of the Bluegrass contingency is working for Mitchell and Grady electric cooperatives in Georgia. This area is nearly three hours inland, but the damage has left thousands of people without power.

Hurricane Michael was one of the most powerful storms to hit the southeast. A 50-year employee of Mitchell EMC said it was the worst he had ever seen.

The damage in the area spared few. Stretches of houses with at least one downed tree each. Some homes spared when trees fell safely into the front lawn; others were not so lucky. Along the byways, there were fields where pecan trees were blown over at the root and thousands of less hearty, although no less mature, pine trees were snapped like twigs.

Mobilizing the thousands of workers to help with the restoration is no small task.  In the Bluegrass, it starts when the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives gets the call that help is needed.

Each co-op decides whether it has the workers to share because the first commitment is to its own consumer-members. If a co-op has the available labor, it “releases” the workers who then essentially become temporary employees of the co-ops they are traveling to help.  The workers are compensated by that co-op and will work for it as long as requested unless they need to come home to help with issues in Kentucky or for personal reasons.

“Kentucky crews are typically a hot-commodity,” said Robert Thornton, storm coordinator for the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives. “Geographically speaking, Kentucky crews can be to most affected areas in twelve hours or less.  A hurricane or other tropical storm that affects the Southeast usually does not affect Kentucky co-ops.  Crews can also respond quickly to the Midwest during tornado outbreaks or ice-storms.

“I have had several states and co-ops specifically request help from us. When I travel and meet CEOs and other co-op officials from other states, they always mention how impressed they were with the aid they received. Kentucky linemen are known for getting the job done in a safe, efficient, and timely manner.”

Determining where the crews, usually teams of four, will spend their days is also a complicated process. Each crew is assigned a “birddog” –  an employee of the local co-op who understands the grid and can help navigate the crew through the backroads.

The goal is to work on areas that will have the most impact, that will restore power to the most people. Once the “birddog” finds a location where the crew can repair damage, he goes to find the next location.

And every location can have its challenges.  Often, the crews will come across a downed line that has had more debris pile on top from homeowners anxious to remove limbs from their property.

“We understand that people want to get stuff out of their yard,” says Michael Insley crew foreman for Warren RECC. “But this does make it difficult for us, to have to remove all the debris before we can start to repair the lines.”

And while each morning crews load up on poles and other supplies, there is no easy way to predict what will be needed during the day.

“Yesterday, we ran out of supplies, so we had to rely on our ‘birddog’ to help us find places where we could do work like cleaning up debris and other tasks where we didn’t need new poles or line,” says Insley.

Along with fatigue and the unfamiliarity of the territory, the workers are dealing with heat—temperatures are still in the upper 80s in southern Georgia—along with fire ants and gnats.

Oh, the gnats. Although the locals joke that they are much worse in mid-summer, that is little consolation to the workers who are dealing with these pests constantly flying around their heads, and often into their noses and ears.

“These things are the worst,” says Shane Vickers of Jackson Energy. “Bug spray doesn’t work, and you just can’t get rid of them.”

One thing that has provided comfort has been the support of the local communities.  Companies and individuals have donated everything from drinks to socks to help. Those living in the tent city are provided with portable showers along with hot meals.

Still, the long days away from home begin to wear on the crews and staying upbeat is a constant challenge.

“We just try to keep cutting up, trying to make the most of it,” says Insley. “We are a team and when one gets down, we have to be there for them.”

And while it looks like there may be weeks more work before this area of Georgia has power fully restored, the folks back home can be proud of how these workers have personified the spirit of cooperatives.

“These guys from Kentucky have been great,” said one of the Mitchell EMC lineman working alongside the Kentucky contingency. “They have been out here every day giving 100 percent, and we are so grateful they’re here.”




Electric co-op lineman work to be “everyday safe” – this means being aware of your surroundings, identifying risks and making smart choices. We want your family to be everyday safe, too.


Kentucky’s Electric Cooperatives Tracking Winter Weather

Crews from Kentucky’s electric cooperatives are preparing for the potential impact of winter weather moving through the commonwealth on Friday and Saturday.

As of 10am (EST), about 100 power outages were reported by co-ops in central and western Kentucky. Co-ops serve about 1.5 million Kentuckians in 117 of 120 counties.

“Right now, co-op electric crews are loading and checking their trucks and restoration equipment to function correctly in the next few days of freezing rain, sleet and several inches of snow with wind and freezing temperatures we are expecting to see in Kentucky,” said Clarence Greene, director of safety and loss prevention at the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives, the statewide association providing services to each electric cooperative in the state.

“Some problems restoration crews face are slick, slippery roads and walking surfaces,” Greene continued, “trees and downed power lines across roadways and possible back-feed from consumer generators and cold wet working conditions.”

Preparations with out of state crews have also been made if more help is needed, Greene added.

Kentucky’s electric cooperatives are stressing safety as the winter weather hits. Remember the following tips to stay safe and warm should you find yourself in the dark after a severe winter event:

  • Never touch a fallen power line, and assume all wires on the ground are electrically charged. Call your electric co-op to report it immediately. Avoid contact with overhead lines during cleanup and other activities.
  • In the event of an outage, an alternate heating source—such as a fireplace, propane space heater, or wood stove—may be used. Extreme caution should be taken.
  • Plan to stay in an area of the home where the alternate heat source is located.
  • Fuel- and wood-burning heating sources should be vented. Be sure to follow manufacturer’s directions.
  • Make sure carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors are working properly.
  • Do not use a gas-powered oven for heating. A gas oven may go out or burn inefficiently, leading to carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Do not use a gas or charcoal grill inside the home. Do not use charcoal briquettes in the fireplace.
  • If you use a portable generator to power a heating source, be sure the generator is located outside your house for proper ventilation. Do not use a generator in an attached garage. Follow manufacturer’s directions for operating the generator.
  • Take special care not to overload a generator. Use appropriately sized extension cords to carry the electric load. Make sure the cords have a grounded, three-pronged plug and are in good condition.
  • Never run cords under rugs or carpets.
  • Never connect generators to power lines. The reverse flow of electricity can electrocute an unsuspecting utility worker.

Ideally, your family will stay warm until the power comes back on. But keep an eye on family members for signs of hypothermia, which include shivering, drowsiness, and mental and physical slowness. The elderly and young children are particularly vulnerable to hypothermia. Call 911 immediately if you notice these symptoms. At least one telephone in the house that does not depend on electricity should be available in the case of a power outage.



Kentucky electric cooperatives serve more than 1.5 million people—about 35% of the state’s population—in 117 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. The Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives provides representation before the Legislature, Congress, and regulatory bodies; safety training; coordination of management training; and public relations support including publication of Kentucky Living magazine. KAEC is governed by a board consisting of one manager and one director from each of its 26 member systems, and is headquartered in Louisville.

EPA Plan Threatens Affordability And Reliability Of Kentucky’s Electricity

“Clean Power Plan” published in Federal Register on Friday

The member-owners of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives stand to pay a disproportionate price for the changes required in the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clean Power Plan” (CPP), published in the Federal Register on Friday.

Kentucky’s electric cooperatives are not-for-profit, member-owned entities which serve more than 1.5 million people (about 35% of the state’s population) in 117 of Kentucky’s 120 counties.  All costs are paid by members.  Cooperatives serve some of the most remote areas of the commonwealth, where members are often the least able to afford rate increases.

The EPA plan targets coal, the main source of Kentucky’s electricity, in new and aggressive limits on carbon emissions.  About 90 percent of electricity generated in Kentucky is by coal fired power plants.  The CPP fundamentally changes how electricity is generated, distributed and consumed in the United States.

“The new limits in the plan are impossible to achieve with our current fleet of generators,” said Chris Perry, President and CEO of Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives (KAEC).  “The time frame is inconsistent with time needed to build alternative sources. This makes the potential great for increased costs and potential reliability problems.”

In the last decade, the two main suppliers of electricity to cooperative customers, East Kentucky Power Cooperative and Big Rivers Electric Corporation, have invested more than $2 billion in coal assets.  These are 20- to 30-year investments.

Cooperative member-owners face compounded costs under the Clean Power Plan:

  • cost of the electricity as generated, including construction of new plants
  • cost to pay for debt of prematurely retired coal-fired plants as non-producing stranded assets
  • cost to pay carbon credits to other states which have an easier burden under the CPP

In 2013, Kentucky had the 3rd most electricity-intensive economy in the U.S., based on electricity consumption per state GDP dollar.

Kentucky has lost one-quarter of its manufacturing jobs since 2000.  The Kentucky Energy & Environment Cabinet estimates a ten percent increase in the cost of electricity would trigger a loss in Kentucky of almost $2 billion GDP.

The CPP assumes an increased dependence on natural gas, a commodity which is also used in residential heating, making it prone to price volatility and supply concerns.  The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) projects a 30 percent increase in demand for natural gas, straining availability during periods of heavy demand, such as in extreme heat or cold.

While coal-fired power plants generally keep 30- to 45-day coal stockpiles, natural gas – by its nature – is not stored, but conveyed by pipelines in a “just-in-time” delivery model.  While the coal supply has redundant delivery channels, the natural gas supply is limited to one or two pipelines.

In addition, the NERC report on potential reliability impacts of the Clean Power Plan questions whether adequate equipment (e.g., generators, solar panels, wind facilities, transformers, and conductors) and resources (e.g., engineering, procurement, and construction) will be available to support the plan’s requirements.

Though Kentucky’s electric cooperatives support the coalition of 24 states and energy companies who filed suit today to challenge the regulatory package, cooperatives will comply with federal mandates and have a fiduciary responsibility to plan accordingly, even while courts contemplate whether to vacate the regulations.

Gubernatorial Candidates Urge Electric Cooperatives To Defy EPA

Kentucky voters aren’t the only ones facing a critical decision. The next governor must decide how to confront controversial EPA regulations.

With Kentucky’s future electric rates hanging in the balance, opposing candidates for governor share a common suggestion, that the state’s electricity providers should resist crafting a plan to comply with the stricter than expected final rule of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

“I don’t think you ought to start developing a plan,” Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway (D) said during a gubernatorial debate before the 52-member board of the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives (KAEC) in Louisville.

“I would instruct you not to comply,” agreed businessman Matt Bevin (R). “Because, as a state, we will not comply. As governor, I will not submit that plan, and I will have your back on that.”

At the September 22 debate, both Bevin and Conway recognized the importance of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives in the lives of the approximately 1.7 million people they serve, stressing the legacy of reliable and affordable electricity, especially in rural areas dealing with poor economic conditions.

The EPA’s final rule to limit carbon emissions across the United States shocked Kentucky energy officials when it was announced in August because it requires a much steeper reduction of CO2 emissions than the original plan.

The Clean Power Plan calls for a 32 percent reduction in carbon emissions nationwide by 2030. The plan’s final rule calls for Kentucky to reduce its carbon emissions by 41 percent by that same deadline.

“The new limits in the plan are impossible to achieve with our current fleet of generators,” says KAEC President and CEO Chris Perry. “The time frame is inconsistent with time needed to build alternative sources. This makes the potential great for increased costs and potential reliability problems.”

(View all segments of the KAEC Gubernatorial Debate)

How Kentucky chooses to react to the EPA mandate is one of the first major decisions facing the next governor of Kentucky, who will take office on December 8.

If a state fails to file a state implementation plan, it becomes subject to a federal implementation plan. Losing control of implementation is a concern to power generating cooperatives, such as East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) in Winchester. During the debate, EKPC President and CEO Tony Campbell reminded the candidates of what’s at stake in the EPA debate.

“I think it is conceivable that we could see a doubling of rates” by 2030, Campbell told the candidates, “especially with natural gas prices moving upward. Are you going to put an order out for us not to comply? Because we’re going to have to comply with one or the other if it’s a federal law.”

“We do not need to comply with the regulatory suggestions from unelected bodies,” Bevin says. “There is no legally binding mandate, none whatsoever, from the EPA that forces us as a state or you ultimately as individual cooperatives to comply, and I will have your back on that.”

Conway has sued the EPA as Kentucky’s attorney general, but a federal appeals court rejected Kentucky’s request for a preliminary injunction against the Clean Power Plan because the final rule has not yet been published in the Federal Register.

“The D.C. Circuit (Court), I think, is very sympathetic to our arguments,” Conway says. “So as soon as that thing is published, I as attorney general or I as governor, will sue, along with other states, to get an injunction in place, to stay the implementation of that, pending the outcome on the merits of this case.”

Campbell believes Kentucky’s energy regulators should begin developing a plan with input from Kentucky’s electric utilities.

“It is wise to have that plan as an option,” Campbell says. “Ultimately, it will be up to the governor’s administration to decide whether to submit that plan.”

“I would tell you, no, do not begin planning for that,” Conway says, “because I think we’re going to win this case. I think it’s pretty clear that the Environmental Protection Agency hasn’t followed its own governing statutes. I mean, they are reregulating carbon several times under several sections of the Clean Air Act.

“They haven’t released their science,” Conway says. “They haven’t done a cost-benefit analysis, which the MATS case that we just won at the Supreme Court, tells us they have to do.”

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics (MATS) regulation, ruling that the EPA had not taken the costs to utility companies into consideration when it formulated the rule.

Because electric utilities need to make long-term decisions based on the best available information, the invalidation of the MATS regulation came only after the utilities began taking action to comply with it.

“We had a victory,” Conway says, “but it resulted in about 18 percent of coal-fired generation being retired in trying to comply with a rule that wasn’t legitimate in the first place.”

Bevin says he is prepared to join the attorneys general and governors in 26 other states refusing to submit state implementation plans.

“I know you’re concerned about the fact that while they’ve said that if we don’t submit a plan, they’ll submit one for us, and that may be more onerous on some of you, than the alternative,” Bevin acknowledges. “And I appreciate that, and so we’ll have open dialogue about this. We’ll have a conversation about this. But I think it would be a mistake.”

Though Bevin and Conway appear to be in agreement on Kentucky’s next move, the candidates sparred at the debate about each other’s abilities and commitment to deal with the issue. Bevin alleged that Conway has a spotty record on energy issues, citing the Sierra Club’s support for Conway in a prior congressional race.

“Truth is, we’re very different people,” Bevin says. “I will stand on our autonomy. I will stand as somebody who has the authority as a governor to be the last line of defense.”

Bevin warns that rates will increase “catastrophically” without action.

“It’s going to come back on you,” Bevin says. “Your customers will be outraged at the 20-, 30-, 50-, 100-percent increases, and ultimately, that is not acceptable.”

Conway disputed Bevin’s charge that he once favored “cap and trade” legislation to limit carbon emissions and argued that he is better equipped and experienced to handle the challenges ahead.

“I have stood up, I’ve taken on my own party,” Conway says. “I’ve put people over politics, I’ve put Kentucky first. And I am going to do everything I can to stop the Clean Power Plan because I think it hurts Kentucky. I’m going to see this lawsuit through to the end as attorney general and as your next governor. We will not be submitting a plan to the EPA while we do not think that this rule is legitimate. End of story.”

Independent gubernatorial candidate Drew Curtis was not a part of the KAEC debate, but a statement released on his campaign Web site indicates support for both the Clean Power Plan and Kentucky providing an implementation plan.

“Unless we do provide one, the EPA takes over and there is no recourse later to provide a state plan,” Curtis says in his statement. “As governor I’d prefer to retain control of this program, so we must provide a plan to the EPA for Kentucky to implement the Clean Power Plan.”

Both Bevin and Conway say the state needs to change its tax structure, including phasing out the inventory tax, yet they differ on the current shape of the rural economy under current Governor Steve Beshear.

“Kentucky’s doing pretty well right now,” Conway says, explaining that his administration’s Economic Development Cabinet would have the right priorities and use tax incentives to create jobs.

Conway also reiterated support for the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) initiative to boost eastern Kentucky, taking advantage of public-private partnerships to deliver broadband access.

Bevin argued for fundamental changes.

“We have got to be serious about why we are being held back,” Bevin says. “We must pass Right to Work legislation. It has to happen. This is no longer an option.”

Bevin also says Beshear’s expansion of Medicaid is unsustainable and comes at a price that taxpayers “cannot bear.”

Both candidates told the KAEC board that Kentucky’s community and technical schools need to meet the needs of employers.

“If we want certain outcomes, we need to incentivize those outcomes,” Bevin says.

Conway says early childhood education would be a major focus of his administration.

“We have too many kids in rural areas in single-parent families that aren’t getting exposed to the tools they need at the tenderest ages to make certain they learn,” Conway says. “And that’s how you break the cycle of poverty.”

Bill Prather, president and CEO of Farmers Rural Electric Cooperative in Glasgow, told the candidates about a lack of available workers in some parts of Kentucky, explaining that people are opting to collect state and federal benefits rather than enter the workforce.

“There should not be a working age, able-bodied childless man or woman in this state receiving benefits from this state,” Bevin says. “Period.”

Conway says Kentucky needs to “re-engineer the way the Workforce Development Cabinet does business,” and to coach high school students to prepare for jobs of the future.

Responding to concerns by board member Linda West of Salt River Electric Cooperative, headquartered in Bardstown, the candidates disagree on the best course of action to rescue Kentucky’s imperiled pension systems for retired state workers and teachers.

“It is impossible to maintain as a defined benefit program,” Bevin says. “We’ve got to move to a defined contribution plan for all people who are not currently in the plan.”

Conway countered that Kentucky has largely adopted recommendations by the Pew Foundation to address pension shortfalls.

“It’s going to take a decade and a half of sound budgeting principles to get it out (of debt),” Conway says, adding that he is committed to fully funding future pension obligations in each Kentucky budget, and finding a dedicated stream of revenue to dedicate to pension obligations.

“We are encouraged they understand the importance of rural Kentucky and the importance of having affordable energy to drive job growth in the future,” says Perry. “It’s critical that the next governor understands the challenges faced by the utility industry.” KL

Joe Arnold is KAEC’s Vice President of Strategic Communications. He joins KAEC after 20 years in television news and radio.

Farmers RECC, EKPC, City Of Glasgow Dedicated Newest Landfill Gas-To-Electric Plant

Farmers RECC and East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) joined the City of Glasgow on August 5, 2016 to celebrate the successful launch of the cooperative’s landfill-gas-to-electric (LFGTE) power plant.

The plant, located at the city’s Glasgow Regional Landfill, is fueled by methane gas from the landfill. Completed earlier this year, the plant can generate up to 1 megawatt of electricity, and Farmers RECC distributes the power to its members.

“This project is a shining example of how our organizations can work together to innovatively address our needs and benefit the entire community,” said Bill Prather, president and CEO of Farmers RECC. “We are proud to generate renewable energy for Farmers RECC members.”

Representatives from EKPC, Farmers RECC and the City of Glasgow gathered at the plant today for a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony. They were joined by Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Charles Snavely, along with other dignitaries from the local community and state and federal government.

The project began as a result of extensive discussions between Farmers RECC and the City of Glasgow.  Farmers RECC was interested in the production of energy from renewable sources and the city of Glasgow was interested in capturing the landfill’s methane gas.

EKPC, which is owned by Farmers RECC and 15 other electric cooperatives around the state, has years of experience in operating LFGTE plants at landfills around Kentucky. The plants are fueled by methane, a flammable gas produced as organic waste decays within landfills. Methane gas often is flared off as a waste product.

As a result of the discussions, EKPC agreed to construct and operate the plant, and will purchase methane gas from the City of Glasgow. The gas is piped to the plant, where it fuels the generator. Farmers RECC is purchasing all of the renewable energy produced by the facility to provide to its members. In addition, the plant serves as a source of backup electric power for the city’s nearby sewage treatment plant.

“EKPC is delighted to help Farmers RECC and the City of Glasgow put the landfill’s methane gas to work for the entire community as a fuel to generate electricity,” said Anthony “Tony” Campbell, EKPC’s president and CEO.

In May, Farmers RECC received the Silver Switch Award from the Rural Electricity Resource Council, which recognized the depth of cooperation required to complete the project, as well as the unique nature of the renewable electricity produced.

The Glasgow facility is EKPC’s sixth LFGTE plant. The others are located at landfills in Boone, Laurel, Greenup, Hardin and Pendleton counties. Together, the six plants have the capacity to generate up to 14.6 megawatts of electricity.

The Glasgow LFGTE plant is EKPC’s only facility that delivers its electric power to the local co-op.

Currently, the Glasgow LFGTE plant generates enough electricity to have any one of the following annual environmental impacts:

  • Offset greenhouse gas emissions from more than 1 million miles driven by an average passenger vehicle; or
  • Offset CO2 emissions from more than 50,000 gallons of gasoline consumed; or
  • Offset CO2 emissions from more than 1,000 barrels of oil consumed.

Farmers RECC is a not-for-profit electric cooperative, serving more than 25,000 services across eight Kentucky counties, with a mission to provide reliable, competitively-priced energy that will enhance the quality of life for its member-owners and communities.

East Kentucky Power Cooperative is a not-for-profit , member-owned cooperative providing wholesale electricity to 16 owner-member distribution cooperatives that serve 530,000 Kentucky homes, farms, businesses and industries across 87 counties. EKPC provides power through coal-fueled plants located in Mason and Pulaski counties; natural gas-fueled pea king units in Clark and Oldham counties; renewable energy plants in Barren, Boone, Laurel, Greenup, Hardin and Pendleton counties; and more than 2,800 miles of transmission lines. Together, EKPC and its 16 owner-member cooperatives are known as Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives. Visit EKPC at www.ekpc.coop.

For more information, contact:
Nick Comer, External Affairs Manager
Office (general): (859) 744 – 4812, ext. 450
Office (direct): (859) 745 – 9450
Mobile: (859) 333 – 8735

EKPC Leaders Mark Co-Op’s 75th Anniversary With Reflections On Achievements, Challenges

During today’s annual meeting, the leaders of East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) marked the co-op’s 75th year of improving the lives of Kentuckians by providing safe, affordable, reliable electricity.

“Our founding principles still guide us to work together to improve lives,” said Anthony “Tony” Campbell, EKPC’s president and CEO. “By being faithful to our mission and by looking for opportunities, we have a bright future ahead.”

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin was the featured speaker during the event at the co-op’s headquarters in Winchester.

“So often we take for granted simple luxuries like flipping on a light switch,” said Gov. Bevin. “So many great efforts are made every day behind the scenes by hard-working Kentuckians. I want to thank all the electric cooperatives for everything they do to provide reliable affordable electricity for rural Kentucky.”

Paul Hawkins, EKPC’s board chairman, noted EKPC has faced critical challenges in the past decade. But, he said, the co-op’s leaders have worked hard over the past five years to improve the overall health of the organization.

“Together with our CEO, executive staff and employees, we applied patience and old-fashioned elbow grease to restore EKPC as one of the biggest and strongest generation and transmission cooperatives in America,” he said.

Campbell noted several key milestones from the past year, including the purchase of Bluegrass Generating Station in Oldham County and the successful achievement of 15 percent equity-to-assets ratio, which was a key objective of the co-op’s strategic plan since 2011.

In the past year, Standard & Poor’s Rating Service affirmed EKPC’s credit rating of A- with a stable outlook, while Fitch Ratings affirmed a BBB+ rating with a positive outlook.

On the horizon, federal regulations pose a challenge, as coal-dependent generators like EKPC comply with rules to limit carbon dioxide emissions and more-tightly regulate coal ash disposal and water impacts.

Meanwhile, the co-op is preparing to request regulatory approvals to establish a utility-scale solar generating plant.

“Be assured, we will find the path that results in the least cost and most reliable service to our members,” Campbell said.

Hawkins, who is stepping down as board chairman, was honored for his work during the five years he has served in the role.

Joe Spalding, who represents Inter-County Energy, was elected today by the board to serve as EKPC’s board chairman for the next year.

East Kentucky Power Cooperative is a not-for-profit, member-owned cooperative providing wholesale electricity to 16 owner-member distribution cooperatives that serve 530,000 Kentucky homes, farms, businesses and industries across 87 counties. EKPC provides power through coal-fueled plants located in Mason and Pulaski counties; natural gas-fueled peaking units in Clark and Oldham counties; renewable energy plants in Barren, Boone, Laurel, Greenup, Hardin and Pendleton counties; and more than 2,800 miles of transmission lines. Together, EKPC and its 16 owner-member cooperatives are known as Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives. Visit EKPC at www.ekpc.coop.

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