Author: Chris Hayes

Paying it forward (and back)

By Debra Gibson Isaacs

MAYFIELD

“It helped me reset, kept my compass true, and made sure I was headed in the right direction.”

Russ Kirby, a journeyman lineman with West Kentucky RECC, is talking about the West Kentucky Youth Camp in Marion, a regional church camp funded by the Churches of Christ. From ages 8 through 18, Kirby was a camper. As an adult, he serves as a counselor and helps with facility improvements so that the next generation can have the same life-changing experiences he had at the camp.

“The best mission field is investing in youth,” Kirby says. “There are so many stories about the impact the camp has had on people’s lives. It’s not just the camp itself but the relationships and bonds you make at the camp.”

Kirby also helps his family with a community project in Mayfield called Cartwright Grove. He’s a favorite when the electric cooperative does electrical safety demonstrations at schools. 

Clark Energy’s Tammy Moberly serves on the board of the Winchester-Clark County Chamber of Commerce and volunteers with several other nonprofit organizations. Photo: Clark Energy

No problem

WINCHESTER

Tammy Moberly doesn’t see problems. 

Instead, she sees opportunities to help others and make her community better.

Moberly is on the board of directors of the Winchester-Clark County Chamber of Commerce and on its Member Services Committee. She also is vice president of the board and Funding Committee member for the Clark County Homeless Coalition. Moberly is far from a one-note volunteer, as her service ranges from Junior Achievement instructor since 2005 to helping organize the annual Turkey Trot 5K for Clark County Community Services to working with the Clark County Animal Shelter for years.

“I feel like each person owes it to the community to give back,” Moberly says. “I particularly love working with the children in Junior Achievement. I work with the kindergarteners and first-graders. They are so excited to learn new things.”

With all her volunteer work, Moberly still has time for a regular job. She has been with Clark Energy for 20 years, currently as lead administrative technician, overseeing the Engineering Department’s day-to-day work for new construction, the automated meter reading system and the outage system.

SaveSave

Nolin Receives PEER Gold Certification

Nolin RECC is proud to announce our recognition as the first electric cooperative in the nation to meet standards of service and efficiency required for the Performance Excellence in Electricity Renewal (PEER*) award. The PEER Gold Certification was presented to Nolin June 26th by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Click on this link for the full story and photo.
http://www.thenewsenterprise.com/…/article_9d751ac4-5097-5d…

Kentucky’s Electric Co-Ops Urge Change To Farm Bill

Kentucky’s electric cooperatives are expressing concern with a provision in the Senate Farm Bill which would radically alter the current rural electrification funding program and likely lead to increased costs and uncertainty for co-op consumers across Kentucky.

The bill passed by the Senate on Thursday includes a provision that would retroactively change the rules of the Rural Utilities Service Electric Loan program, one of the most successful infrastructure development programs across the federal government.

Over time, co-ops fund escrow accounts to secure their ability to repay government loans. The current RUS electric loan program contributes hundreds of millions of dollars annually to the federal Treasury.

However, the Senate-passed Farm Bill would retroactively reduce interest rates on these funds, altering existing agreements.

“Kentucky’s electric cooperatives count on the ‘cushion of credit’ in the RUS program for greater certainty to the federal government that loans will be repaid, particularly in the event of disasters or other unforeseen disruptions that can negatively impact a co-op’s cash flow,” explained Chris Perry, president of the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives.

As the House version of the Farm Bill does not adversely affect the RUS program, Kentucky co-ops urge lawmakers to implement significant changes in conference as they work to develop a Farm Bill that can be supported by the 1.5 million Kentuckians and 42 million Americans who benefit from safe, reliable and affordable service of electric cooperatives.

Arlington Inspires Kentucky Co-Op Students

Meade County High School’s Evan Smiley is one of 90 high school seniors from Kentucky participating in the Washington Youth Tour, an annual program of America’s Electric Cooperatives. KAEC is proud to share their stories.

Courage. By definition it means, “the ability to do something that frightens one.” But to our nation’s greatest heroes, courage is much more than that. Courage is going above the call of duty and serving in one of our country’s gruesome wars and served as leaders not just in their battalions, but for their communities and their country. Many of these heroes gave the greatest sacrifice to prepare, preserve, and protect the rights of every American.

See more photos of the Washington Youth Tour and a video of the students at Arlington on KentuckyLiving.com

On June 12, 90 high school seniors and 15 chaperones representing Kentucky’s electric cooperatives on the Washington Youth Tour witnessed a testament to that courage at Arlington National Cemetery – the United States’ most sacred memorial ground. Participants toured the roughly 562 acres where 420,000 fallen soldiers are entombed, dating back as far as 1864.

Youth tour delegates are rising high school seniors selected for their academic performance, social involvement, and personalities. The Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives (KAEC) has coordinated the tour for Kentucky co-ops since 1972, when 18 students and four chaperones made the trip. In all, the more than 1,800 delegates from across rural America are in Washington, D.C. to learn about the political process, interact with elected officials and gain an up-close understanding of American history.

For many participants, including myself, Arlington is the final resting place of close relatives and friends. Therefore, when the opportunity presented itself to visit the gravesites of these loved ones, participants were eager to pay their respects. Arlington even provides a smartphone app known as “ANC Explorer” that allows the user to identify the exact location and directions to a particular grave. A shuttle guided tour allows visitors to explore an area and simply “hop on” the next shuttle. Sometimes, the shuttles are delayed by funeral processions which average 20-30 every weekday and ten on Saturdays.

Arlington National Cemetery has a unique history that involves many historical figures. The land was once a plantation owned by the adopted grandson of President George Washington, whose daughter married the Confederate General Robert E. Lee. During the Civil War, the Lee’s abandoned Arlington House to fight in the war. Meanwhile, the Union Army used it as a headquarters. Arlington House overlooks the great national cemetery and serves as a memorial for Lee. Many great figures have visited and admired the home. President John F. Kennedy stated that he loved the view from Arlington House that he could stay there forever. Just eight months later, he was assassinated and was laid to rest in Arlington.

Kennedy isn’t the only President buried at Arlington, however. President William Howard Taft also wanted his final resting place to be there, joining the long list of great leaders and patriots within the hallowed grounds.

Arlington is home to one of the most solemn places of United States History – the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The tomb is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year despite any weather conditions. Participants of the youth tour were able to witness the legendary changing of the guard. Two of Kentucky’s youth tour delegates, James Shaddox and Tori Drew, placed a wreath on the tomb on behalf of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives. Many participants said this was their favorite part of the entire tour of Washington DC. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is one of many memorials at the cemetery including the Coast Guard Memorial, Chaplains’ Hill, and the Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial.

Arlington National Cemetery is a treasured part of the youth tour itinerary, a place of courage and honor for our country’s finest men and women.

And they’re off! Kentucky co-ops send 90 students to DC

One of the great traditions of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives is unfolding again in 2018 as 90 high school seniors and 15 chaperones have begun this year’s Washington Youth Tour.

Students boarded buses at Kentucky’s local electric co-ops Friday morning, ultimately rallying at the Clark County Extension Office for lunch and orientation before heading to Charleston, West Virginia for the night. On Saturday, the students are touring Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, before making their way to the nation’s capital.

“We have had a very smooth start,” says Mary Beth Dennis of the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives, the coordinator of the trip. “The first two days are always an exciting time for us because we get to watch the students start to come out of their shells and form friendships, friendships we hope last a lifetime.”

KAEChas been coordinating the tour for Kentucky co-ops since 1972, when 18 students and four chaperones made the trip.

The students join more than 1,800 of rural America’s best and brightest high-schoolers who will visit Washington, D.C. to learn about the political process, interact with elected officials and gain an up-close understanding of American history.

Now in its 53rdyear, the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour is a weeklongprogram that includes Youth Day on June 11, a spirited gathering of young delegates and featured speakers.

Among Kentucky’s youth tour alumni are business leaders, elected officials, journalists, and many engaged co-op consumer-members and citizens.

One of the first orders of business for the Kentucky delegation will be electing its representative on the Youth Leadership Council, a yearlong appointment to represent Kentucky electric cooperatives on the national and state level.

Last year, Allison Wade of Jackson Energy Cooperative, McKee, was selected as the YLCrepresentative.

“Throughout the Youth Tour, I made memories and friendships that I will carry with me for the rest of my life,” Wade says. “And I am beyond grateful to share this experience with other cooperatives across Kentucky.”

Local electric cooperatives set their own criteria to select which students they will sponsor on the all-expenses-paid trip.

“It is an investment in our co-op youth and the future of the co-ops themselves,” says Chris Perry, KAECpresident. “We are so proud of these students. They impress us with their passion for their communities and our nation, and they give us hope for the future.”

Be safe around pad-mounted transformers

That “big green box” in your yard needs space

Transformers change voltage from higher levels to voltages people use in their homes for their electronics, appliances and lighting.

While overhead power lines are mounted on utility poles and substations are protected by security fences, pad-mounted equipment is at ground level.

Clarence Greene, Safety and Loss Prevention director with Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives, says, “If you see kids playing near pad-mounted transformers, ask them to move elsewhere, away from the electrical equipment.”

In many newer subdivisions and residential developments, overhead lines are no longer installed above ground. While consumers seldom see technicians working on the underground equipment, they are regularly inspected by co-op crews.

“It’s also important that landscaping and other barriers be kept clear of co-op equipment,” says Greene. “Co-op technicians need at least 10 feet of clearance at the opening side of a pad-mounted transformer. Approximately 4 feet of open space is preferable at the rear and on the sides of the metal housing.”

It’s important to check with your local electric co-op before planting shrubs or trees, setting fence posts, installing sprinkler systems and digging where it might damage underground lines.

A Day In The Life Of A Lineworker

Mike Mason’s day as a lineworkerfor Shelby Energy Cooperative actually started the night before. He was getting ready for bed when a woman reported her power out. It was Mason’s turn to be on call overnight for the Shelbyville-based utility. He drove to the woman’s house, identified a problem in the base of the meter, installed a temporary fix until an electrician could get out the next day and returned home two hours later. He reported to the co-op office at 7:30 the next morning.

“I like hunting down problems,” says Mason. “I know I’m doing something the members can’t do themselves. They depend on us.”

I meet Mason and his co-workers to write this story about a day in the life of a lineworker. I discover a group of people who carefully follow the rules of an elaborate system that lets the rest of us make magic by flipping a switch. It’s a system of little pieces of hardware, big trucks and a warehouse full of tools.

While every day is different, the same is true of the 713 lineworkers who work for Kentucky’s 26 electric co-ops providing power to more than 1.5 million co-op members.

Lineworkers are quick to credit other jobs at the utility—accountants who process their paychecks or the member services reps who talk to unhappy callers with power outages.

Still, we’re all fascinated by this unique profession involving high voltages and climbing poles in the snow and cold. That’s often what the lineworkers like best about the job.

“I like being outside and not at a desk all day. I get to meet a lot of different people,” Benji Bohannon says. “I like being at the top of a 40-foot pole and watching the sun come up over a beautiful countryside. A lot of people don’t get to see that.”

Today, Mason starts his day in a room with the rest of the lineworkers, each planning their day around stacks of paper—checklists, maps and work orders.

In addition to coordinating plans, these guys (there are a few women among the more than 15,000 co-op lineworkers around the country) need to keep track of a lot of equipment. They need to be wearing safety gear or have it close at hand—hard hat, safety glasses, fire-retardant uniforms, steel-toed shoes, regular work gloves, hot-line safety gloves.

Electric work is unforgiving

But before driving to their jobs, they turn their attention to the weekly safety meeting.

Safety coordinator Sarah Newton announces that while catastrophic contact with electric current is always a top concern, today’s meeting would focus on “slips, trips and falls that can cause very big issues.”

They then hear from Tony Dempsey, a member of the statewide safety team at the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives.

“Working on electric lines isn’t dangerous,” says Dempsey, seeming to contradict every other safety message. But then he makes his point: “It’s unforgiving and it’s hazardous, but accidents don’t have to be a part of our work. We have the tools, we have the rules, the employees and the knowledge that can keep it from being dangerous.”

That safety emphasis seems to be working. From 2006 to 2015, co-op lineworkers across the country reported 53 injuries from falls, including falling off poles. In 2016, that number was zero.

By midmorning, the convoys are ready. I follow three lineworkers driving three trucks: a service truck, a bucket truck pulling a trailer with a large spool of wire, and a digger truck with a huge auger on top and pulling a trailer with a backhoe. They head across the county to relocate a ground-mounted transformer, moving it 500 feet uphill, near an underground connection at a new barn.

“It’s going to be muddy out there after the rain we’ve had,” says Rick Shaw, the crew leader who is a revered lineman among co-workers, with 41 years’ experience at Shelby Energy. “When you’re working on underground connections, mud is not your friend.”

Safety takes time

At the driveway into the worksite the crew faces the first of several time-consuming obstacles: managing a right turn without ripping out the mailbox. They drive to where they can turn around, allowing a left turn onto the property.

The trucks ease up the crushed-rock driveway, avoiding the soft ground on either side. Once there, the crew members change into rubber boots.

The men gather for a routine job briefing. They open a metal-clad clipboard, reading through a stack of forms, noting the address, cross street and account number—should they have to report an accident, location info would be quickly available. All three sign the form.

They break their huddle and de-energize the lines they will be working on, and let the office know the power has been cut. For the next two hours, they use the backhoe to dig out the transformer and carry it up the hill for rewiring into its new location. When they finish, they pack up and top off the gas tanks on the way back to the office, where they check paperwork and equipment for the next day’s jobs.

Everything the lineworkers did that day seemed to take a long time.

When asked about it later, Jason Ginn, Shelby’s manager of Operations, says “We don’t think this is taking a long time. We just think, this is how you do it. We don’t say, ‘hurry up.’ We look out for each other.”

From the June 2018 issue of Kentucky Living

EKPC To Demolish Powerhouse in Clark County

East Kentucky Power Cooperative plans to demolish the powerhouse of a decommissioned power plant in Clark County, Ky.

The powerhouse and stacks of Dale Station, located in southern Clark County on the Kentucky River, will be torn down and removed over the next year.

The plant ceased operations in early 2016. Since that time, the powerhouse, which houses the plant’s generating units, has been unused and is beginning to deteriorate.

“Maintaining the abandoned powerhouse is an ongoing cost to EKPC, and it is likely to increase as the structure deteriorates,” said Anthony “Tony” Campbell, EKPC’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We have determined it is best to proceed with demolition.”

Once demolition is complete, the footprint of the powerhouse will be filled and leveled.

EKPCmaintains a switchyard and other transmission facilities at the site. They will continue to operate and are critical to the reliability of the regional power grid. In addition, an office building and some out-buildings will remain.

The powerhouse is in close proximity to surrounding homes and other private structures. EKPCwill take steps to share information with neighbors beforehand about plans for demolition, and will provide ongoing updates and notification about upcoming demolition events.  If necessary, EKPCwill make provisions to protect nearby structures.

Dale Station was built in the 1950s. It featured four coal-fueled generating units with total capacity of 196 megawatts. In recent years, EKPCfaced mounting costs to add environmental controls to meet more-stringent environmental regulations. In addition, newer, more-efficient generating technologies have become more cost-competitive.

“Dale Station was EKPC’s first power plant,” Campbell said. “Over the years, the plant served a vital role in providing reliable, affordable energy for thousands of homes and businesses and millions of Kentucky residents.”

Plans call for demolition activities to begin in July and last until July 2019. Security personnel will remain on site 24 hours a day.

East Kentucky Power Cooperative is a not-for-profit, member-owned cooperative providing wholesale electricity to 16 owner-member distribution cooperatives that serve 1.1 million Kentucky residents at 535,000 homes, farms, businesses and industries across 87 counties. EKPCprovides power through coal-fueled plants located in Mason and Pulaski counties; natural gas plants in Clark and Oldham counties; renewable energy plants in Barren, Boone, Clark, Laurel, Greenup, Hardin and Pendleton counties; and more than 2,800 miles of transmission lines. Together, EKPCand its 16 owner-member cooperatives are known as Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives. Visit EKPCat www.ekpc.coop.

Lend Your Voice to Rural America

In 2016, rural America played a big part in our national elections – 500,000 MORE rural voters went to the polls than in 2012.  This is an incredible story, as many in small towns and communities across our country went to the polls to ensure their voices were heard, and elected officials took notice.  But, elections matter EVERY year.

2018 will be no different, and electric cooperatives have the opportunity to play a vital role in encouraging rural voter turnout and engaging on issues that matter most to us. This year, we must build on the momentum we started in 2016, to join with 42 million members of electric cooperatives around the country, and remind our elected officials that rural issues matter.

Electric co-ops are not-for-profit energy providers that are owned by the members they serve.  They provide coverage for 88 percent of our nation’s counties. They are a foundation in their communities and their members can make a difference in lending their voices to issues like rural infrastructure and broadband, and maintaining access to affordable, reliable electricity.

To ensure that all electric co-op members do continue the drumbeat that started in 2016, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) will continue the successful Co-ops Vote program. This is a non-partisan initiative that remains quite simple at its core:  to ensure that members are registered to vote and they go to the polls for every election, and to ensure rural issues remain part of the national discussion.

By participating in the Co-ops Vote program in 2018, co-op members continue to send a resounding message that all candidates – at all levels – will need to put rural America’s concerns front and center in order to earn our vote. We proved in 2016 that with millions of electric co-op members speaking out with one voice, we can have a major impact in making our top issues part of the national conversation.

Learn more at www.vote.coop.