Author: Chris Hayes

March 14 Storm Roundup

As of March 15, 2019

Jackson Purchase Energy

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

JPEC is continuing to assess damage.

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

Kenergy

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

West Kentucky RECC

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

 

 

Jackson Purchase responding to storm outages

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

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

We are continuing to assess damage which includes:

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

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

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

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

Mowing through lawn-care choices

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

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

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

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

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

Electric or gas mower?

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

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

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

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

Fighting to keep the lights on

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

Electric co-ops battle critters, storms and hackers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Investing in technology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cybersecurity never-ending

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrating local

Kentucky Proud and electric cooperatives make a difference

Do you remember your wedding vows? I will never forget my wedding day as I stood in front of friends and family and watched my bride escorted by her father into the sanctuary of Rose Hill Baptist Church in Ashland. That was 25 years ago.

We were so young and excited about what life had in store for us. I look back at the pictures and see two young people who were committed to each other and to making a difference in the world. She was beautiful then and even more beautiful today. I was much thinner and had no signs of gray in my hair. 

We were recent college graduates and I had accepted a job at Nolin RECC as an engineer. I am so thankful that I found a job working for an electric cooperative. I was able to find a program that had a mission that I could completely support. Electric cooperatives make a difference in their local communities and are always thinking of how to keep electric rates affordable. 

In our wedding vows, I remember the line “for better or worse.” I bet most married folks have lived out that portion of our vows at different times in our lives. For us, there have been the good times, but there have also been the bad times. 

In this issue of Kentucky Living, you will read about Kentucky Proud Weddings (page 24), which are uniquely Kentucky. The venue, flowers, food and entertainment have roots in our state heritage.

The idea of using local suppliers is to give back to your community. That’s something that electric cooperatives can get behind, because our roots have always been and are still locally based.

When I read the story, I immediately thought of my marriage. We were married in a small town and celebrate our Kentucky roots. I am proud of our 25 years—Kentucky Proud.

Co-ops Care: Pulling together to serve the community

Thankful for the opportunity to serve

Warren RECC Board Director N.E. Reed, center, celebrates at Bowling Green’s 80th anniversary celebration. Joining him are Board Director Orville W. “Pete” Dotson III and Warren RECC employee Launa Allen. Photo: Tami Cohron

Bowling Green

Concern for community is one of seven principles that Kentucky’s electric cooperatives adhere to. If you want to know what that really means, look at the life of N.E. Reed, a board director for Warren RECC.

For 21 years, N.E. was judge-executive of Edmonson County. Working with others, N.E. was able to build a library, senior center, courthouse annex and technology center at no cost to the county. He led the charge to create an industrial park and attracted three factories that hired 130 people. At the end of his tenure, the county budget was in the black with a financial reserve.

For 40 years, he also served Oak Grove United Baptist Church as song leader. He taught Sunday School, was a deacon and is still a clerk for the church.

“I’m most proud of the people here in our county willing to help,” says N.E. “When we put our heads together we come up with great things for the county. I appreciate the opportunity they gave me to serve.”

Nolin RECC’s John Mastin finds that being a bell ringer for the Salvation Army blesses him. Photo: Sarah Fellows

The cure for what ails you

Elizabethtown

If you ever get down on your fellow man, John Mastin has the solution: volunteer.

Mastin, a dispatcher for Nolin RECC, has volunteered for an array of causes, including serving as a Sunday School teacher for Eastwood Creek Baptist Church. Today he is a bell ringer for the Salvation Army and a flag stander for the Patriot Guard Riders of Kentucky.

“As a bell ringer, it blesses my heart to see people give although they may not have as much as others,” John says.

Flag standers honor veterans and first responders by standing in a flag line and rendering a final salute as the funeral procession passes. John knows what these men and women have given, since he was in the military from 1974-77.

“In my past 37 years at the cooperative, the co-op has always led by example and encouraged us to volunteer,” John says.

Adair named VP of Human Resources & Communications at Jackson Purchase

Jackson Purchase prioritizing communications with members and employees 

PADUCAH – Jackson Purchase Energy Corporation,  announced it has named Scott Adair as Vice President of Human Resources & Communications.

Adair brings a wealth of experience and demonstrated success in human resources and communications to Jackson Purchase Energy as the co-op works to better serve both its consumer-members and its employees.

“Scott will be an asset as we work to focus on communication with our members and employees,” says Greg Grissom, Jackson Purchase Energy’s president and CEO. “These are critical functions of our electric cooperative.”

Adair joins JPEC from Briggs & Stratton, where he has led professional training activities and served in several roles over the last eight years in Public Relations, Organizational Development, Communications, and Human Resources. His career also includes ten years in the hospitality industry at Kentucky Dam Village. Since 2011, he has taught as an Adjunct Professor at Murray State University.

Adair is a member of the Rotary Club and serves on the United Way Board of Directors in Murray, KY. He holds multiple degrees from Murray State University, including a doctorate of education in P20 and Community Leadership. Adair and his wife, Laken, live in Calvert City with their daughter.

 

NRECA Supervisor and Manager Development Program April 15-16

With the impending retirement wave of co-op leaders and the rapid changes occurring within our industry, NRECA has developed a new program to provide co-op employees with the knowledge and skills they need to lead their teams through these changes and bolster the co-op overall. Kentucky Electric Cooperatives will host two courses in the NRECA Supervisor and Manager Development Program (SMDP).

Instructor: Bryan Singletary

  • Monday April 15, 2019 – 710.1 Stepping into Your Supervisory Role: Learning to Lead
  • Tuesday April 16, 2019 – 714.1 Change is Hard: Guiding Your Team through Complex Times

Location: Statewide Office
1630 Lyndon Farm Court
Louisville KY 40223
Second Floor: Training Center

Supervisor and Manager Development Program (SMDP); – The Supervisor and Manager Development Program is a flexible, co-op-specific education program focused on strengthening the leadership skills, knowledge and abilities needed to hire, develop and lead others, manage performance, communicate effectively and make decisions.

If you were working towards the Supervisory Certificate and/or the Management Essentials Certificate, the courses you take in this program could count toward the Supervisor and Manager Development Program. (NRECA – 1 credit CEU – 0.6 credits)

COST:

Co-ops will be billed for their attendees at the per-person cost, which will be based upon the total number of attendees.  In any event, we will only bill enough to recoup the purchase price of the programs and ancillary charges such as food and beverage.

 HOTEL RESERVATIONS:

A block of rooms has been reserved at:
Embassy Suites by Hilton Louisville
9940 Corporate Campus Drive
Louisville, KY 40223

Cut-off date for making reservations is March 18.  Please make your reservation before that date in order to secure a room at our block rate of $129.  To make a reservation, either call (502) 426-9191, or click on the link below which will take you to the room block site.

HOTEL ROOM BLOCK

Enjoy: complimentary cooked to order breakfast, Wi-Fi, and parking as well as an evening reception with beer, wine, cocktails, and sodas.

Please complete this registration form by APRIL 1 and return to Kelli Gibson

 

 

Wanted: Lineworkers

Want to join one of the Kentucky electric cooperatives, a utility construction company or other electricity provider in Kentucky? 

The new lineworker program at Madisonville Community College is the first in Kentucky to offer a for-credit course in that field. After eight weeks of class, graduates can start out making $30,000-$45,000, according to Mike Davenport, workforce solutions director for the college. Lineworkers have the potential to earn $75,000 annually within three years and as much as six figures if they are willing to travel and work overtime.

Students in the first two classes earned utility technician I and II certificates, Davenport says. The classes are also part of an associate degree program.

“The 12 hours they’ve earned count toward an advanced integrated technology degree should any of the graduates decide to return to college,” he says.

“This program gives students a leg up on apprenticeships and makes them more employable,” Davenport says. “When a program offers college credit, it has a lot of clout to it.”

He says demand for lineworkers is high, and it’s a challenge to fill the openings.

Demand for the lineworker class is also high—March and June classes are full, with a waiting list for September.

“Programs like this are included in what we call the career freeway, which offers many on and off ramps for earning credentials,” says Madisonville Community College President Cynthia Kelley. “Because there are so many financial aid sources available for this program, most students should have no long-term debt.”

For more information, contact Mike Davenport at (270) 824-8661.

When do I really need to change my air filter?

Breathe easier and also save energy and money by understanding your HVAC system

Air filters trap a lot of debris that otherwise would end up back in the house, stuck in ductwork, clogging heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment—or in our lungs. 

For optimum energy efficiency and good indoor air quality, air filters should be changed regularly, which also saves you energy and money.

How often they need changing depends on several factors, including pets that shed, carpeting, wood-burning heat sources and cigarette smoke. During extremely high use, such as winter and summer, consider changing your filters monthly. 

There are two categories of filters: permanent or disposable; and flat or pleated media. Disposable are the most prevalent, but don’t waste your money on the cheap ones with flimsy cardboard frames and thin mesh. Pleated filters perform better using media you cannot see through.

A bit about MERV, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value: It’s a rating system that tells you how effective a filter is at trapping particles. The scale runs from one to 16 (higher is better), but for technical reasons, it’s not as simple as choosing one at the higher end of the rating scale.

So, how do you decide which level of filter to use? If you have your system’s operating manual or can find it online, check for recommendations. Otherwise, go with a decent pleated filter with a MERV of three to five and check it once a month to see how it is performing. Also check to see if the dust inside abates.

—NRECA