Category: Public News

Co-Op Leaders Recognized For Commitment To Local Programs

Community leaders from across Kentucky were recognized for their work within the electric cooperative community by the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives, Inc. at its annual meeting in Louisville on November 17, 2015.

Co-op managers, directors, and attorneys new to local distribution co-op boards received both recognition and training at the statewide gathering of co-op leaders.  Working together, these individuals will assist in keeping the lights on for 1.7 million Kentuckians in the rural areas of the state.

Also recognized at the KAEC annual meeting was a group of seasoned co-op managers, directors, and attorneys. Many leaders were recognized for twenty years of service and more. Jody Hughes and Howard Downing were recognized for a respective 40 and 50 years of service to Nicholasville-based Blue Grass Energy.

“Kentucky’s electric cooperatives have such a storied program with over 75 years of history,” said Chris Perry, President and CEO of the statewide association. “Today we have the opportunity to both usher in a new generation of co-op leaders, but also recognize the pillars within our program. Many of these men and women have helped make decisions that have ensured safe, reliable, and affordable electricity for many years.”

Photos of those that received service awards can be viewed in this KAEC photo gallery.

Hickman-Fulton Counties RECC (KY) To Merge With Gibson EMC (TN)

Gibson Electric Membership Corporation members voted in favor of the proposed merger with Hickman-Fulton Counties Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation at a Special Meeting on Tuesday, November 17.  The unanimous “yes” vote of 208 Gibson EMC members follows the HFRECC vote in which their members overwhelmingly approved the merger with an 88 percent “yes” vote.  The merger will become effective January 1, 2016.

Gibson EMC will serve HFRECC members and HFRECC’s Hickman office location will remain open and operate as one of Gibson EMC’s five member service centers.  Gibson EMC President and CEO Dan Rodamaker will lead the merged cooperative and all of HFRECC’s and Gibson EMC’s employees will keep their jobs.

“Our board is happy with the outcome,” says David Kimbell, HFRECC Board Chair.  “We look forward to 2016 and the positive changes it will bring for our members,” Kimbell says.

Gibson EMC Steve Sanders agrees.  “We’re pleased that our members have voted strongly in favor of the merger,” Sanders says.  “It is a decision that will benefit our members in the long-term and benefit Hickman-Fulton’s members immediately.”

Dan Rodamaker, Gibson EMC President and CEO, describes the outcome as a win-win.  HFRECC members are expected to see a cumulative savings of about $12.6 million over the next 10 years.  Gibson EMC members also will benefit from the merger by spreading costs over a larger number of members and by eliminating duplication.

“We want to thank all of the members who voted,” Dan Rodamaker says. “We also want to thank the employees and board members of both cooperatives for their selfless decisions and hard work.  We look forward to joining with the HFRECC board and employees and to serving the HFRECC members.”

The electric systems of Gibson EMC and HFRECC connect along the Tennessee and Kentucky border. HFRECC serves about 3,700 residents and businesses in Fulton, Hickman, Carlisle and Graves counties in Western Kentucky and portions of Obion and Lake counties in Northwest Tennessee.  Gibson EMC serves about 35,000 members in parts of eight Northwest Tennessee counties (Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Haywood, Lake, Lauderdale, Obion and Madison).

Dave Shuffett Honored As 2015 “Distinguished Rural Kentuckian”

Annual award bestowed by state’s electric cooperatives

Dave Shuffett, the longtime Kentucky broadcaster, columnist, and outdoors enthusiast, has been honored as the 2015 “Distinguished Rural Kentuckian” by the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives (KAEC).

Shuffett received the award at KAEC’s annual meeting on Monday, November 16, in Louisville. He is the 32nd recipient. Previous Distinguished Rural Kentuckians include elected leaders, authors, journalists, business executives, physicians, and sports champions. The award recognizes an outstanding individual who has devoted their life to Kentucky in a way that matches the co-op mission of enhancing the quality of life here.

“Dave Shuffett could be called Mr. Kentucky,” said Chris Perry, president and CEO of KAEC. “His commitment to our state, its culture, and its people resonates with our cooperative family and mission.”

A native of Greensburg, Kentucky, Shuffett’s television career has spanned more than three decades, including about 20 years on Kentucky Educational Television, first as host of Kentucky Afield and later as host of Kentucky Life, from which he retired in 2014. Shuffett is a writer for Kentucky Living magazine’s Great Outdoors columnist.

“I’d like folks to remember that I tried to make a difference for this state,” Shuffett said. “I tried to show people the great things about this state they live in. To show them things they’ve never seen about this state. The history. The people. Places we live. We get enough negative publicity. I wanted to show them the positive. That’s what I’m most proud of.”

“I think Dave is first and foremost a Kentuckian,” said Virginia Fox, former KET executive director and CEO. “Dave captures a lot of the essence of what it means to be a Kentuckian. And that was one of his special skills, a talent, finding and evoking those qualities that define Kentucky and its land and people. If you lined up 10 people and were looking for a Kentuckian, I think Dave would be the first pick.”

“Dave’s contribution to the woods and water and art, culture, and history in this great state is unmatched,” said Claude Bacon, a longtime friend. “His keen delivery has allowed Kentuckians to walk in his footsteps and experience the great things about our state. And for that alone he’s deserving of this honor.”

Shuffett has two children, Miranda and Will, and two stepchildren, Maddie and Austin. He and his wife, Dr. Sandra Shuffett, live on a Jessamine County farm.

The Distinguished Rural Kentuckian video tribute can be viewed on KAEC’s YouTube Channel:

Speaking Up For Electricity Consumers

The power of working together
Each of Kentucky’s 24 local distribution co-ops and the two generation and transmission co-ops that provide your electricity belong to the statewide organization that also publishes Kentucky Living—magazine, the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives (KAEC). Membership in KAEC gives the co-ops the opportunity to share information and practical advice among themselves, everything from safety to disaster response to technical know-how.

As an additional benefit, KAEC speaks on behalf of the co-ops to provide information to elected officials in the state legislature, in the governor’s office, various cabinets, and state agencies, including the Kentucky Public Service Commission, which regulates Kentucky’s electric utility industry.

This advocacy on behalf of co-ops and their members becomes even more important following August’s announcement of the national Clean Power Plan, which will have a huge impact on Kentucky’s energy future.

Chris Perry, the association’s CEO, says, “We represent 1.7 million people, with electric co-op members in 117 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. Our organization is a great example of how cooperatives work together, sharing resources. We represent our member-owners in Frankfort in many ways all year long.”

Chase Crigler, director of Community and Government Affairs for KAEC, says, “During each legislative session, our statewide association and representatives from the generation and transmission co-ops have a consistent and daily presence in Frankfort. We are constantly interacting with legislators, talking with them about hot-topic issues, and making them aware of issues they might not anticipate. We are always on hand to answer questions, dispel rumors, and provide the facts about all parts of the electric utility system. Then, when the legislature is not in session, we attend joint interim committee meetings around the state. We’ll meet with legislators anyplace they need us to be.”

Electricity and local economies
Working tirelessly year-round on behalf of electric co-op member-owners is becoming increasingly important as the economic impact of national energy policy goals receives more attention.

Crigler says, “Legislators are concerned with jobs, and they’re worried about our state’s competitiveness in terms of power pricing. And they want to know that the lights are going to stay on for all their constituents. Knowing that, even with the many changes going on in the bulk power system, cooperatives will continue to be able to provide reliable, affordable power is important. That has an impact on economic development in communities throughout the state.”

An unusual chain of events shows how cooperatives must always be on the lookout for positive opportunities. A few years ago, Big Rivers Electric Corporation, the generation and transmission cooperative that provides power for three local distribution co-ops in western Kentucky, received approval from the Public Service Commission to add a new interconnection near Henderson to improve reliability in the multi-state region.

Shortly thereafter, a major industrial user in the area, an aluminum smelter, decided to stop buying electricity from Kenergy Corp., the local distribution co-op, and instead shop around on the open market. For a while, losing such a key customer for Big Rivers’ electricity threatened to up-end decades of careful financial planning, affect the stability of the power grid, and cause widespread major increases in the rate structure for all other electricity users served by Big Rivers.

But the same interconnections that made it possible for the industrial customer to buy its power from another source have also offered a workable solution for Big Rivers to use its generation capacity wisely. As a member of MISO, the regional transmission organization that serves 15 midwestern states and the Canadian province of Manitoba, Big Rivers can sell bulk power on the open market.

Big Rivers already has several new contracts to sell electricity generated in Kentucky on the open regional market, with a net savings of $13 million over projected expenses. Big Rivers CEO Bob Berry says, “As a result of this bulk power sale contract, the fuel costs for co-op members is much smaller than it would have been without the sale.”

Big Rivers has also requested in filings with the Kentucky Public Service Commission that any earnings on another bulk power sale to a customer in Nebraska be returned to retail consumers as a credit on their electric bills. Berry says, “Our co-ops’ customers here in Kentucky own us, so they deserve the benefit of this transaction. These are cooperative principles at work.”

By Kentucky Living FUTURE OF ELECTRICITY Columnist Nancy Grant

McConnell Fighting To Stop EPA Regulations Harmful To Kentucky

Fighting Back Against Administration’s Costly Power Plan
By Senator Mitch McConnell
November 6, 2015

Here we go again. The Obama Administration has fired its latest salvo in the War on Coal by publishing the final version of its so-called “Clean Power Plan”—regulations that would effectively shut down most coal-fired power plants and prevent new ones from being built.

These regulations would shrink our state’s economy by almost $2 billion. And they would hurt Kentucky workers and their families by raising electricity rates by double digits while cutting coal jobs across the state. What the administration is pushing for is not a Clean Power Plan, but a “Costly Power Plan” that will have no lasting impact on the environment.

That’s why I am using my position as Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate to fight back against President Obama and his bureaucrats at the EPA who have issued these regulations aimed at the heart of coal country. This summer, I was able to secure language in an Interior Appropriations bill that, if enacted, would halt this regulation.

More recently, I filed a bipartisan measure in the Senate under a procedure established by the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The CRA empowers Congress to overturn regulations issued by the executive branch with a simple majority vote. The CRA measure I filed would stop the Obama Administration from imposing on Kentuckians its anti-coal regulation for new coal-fired power plants.

I am also a proud cosponsor of another bipartisan Senate measure filed under the CRA that would block the so-called Clean Power Plan’s regulation pertaining to existing coal-fired plants. Together, these measures represent a comprehensive effort to fight back against the Obama Administration’s outrageous effort to cut jobs and hike electricity prices in Kentucky.

I’ve been fighting against this president’s hurtful policies, and this so-called Clean Power Plan in particular, since he first proposed it. Several months ago, I wrote a letter to every governor in the country suggesting that they take a responsible wait-and-see approach before subjecting the citizens of their states to unnecessary pain caused by complying with the government’s request for state implementation plans for these outrageous regulations.

I wrote this letter because there is a legitimate question as to whether the administration even has the authority under federal law to issue these regulations. Also encouraging is the fact that the administration, in recognition of the difficulty many states will have complying with this plan, is allowing states to seek a two-year delay to abide by it. President Obama will be out of office by then, and the next administration may not even continue forward on this disastrous route.

This tacit admission from the Obama Administration that its plan is unworkable proves that the pushback from states is making a difference. More than half the states have launched lawsuits to fight back against this ill-advised plan. I’m encouraged that Kentucky’s next governor, Matt Bevin, has already pledged he will not comply with these regulations.

I’m determined to continue the fight against the Obama Administration’s attack on Kentucky jobs. The administration’s lack of compassion for those being trampled by these massively regressive regulations is shocking. The path to pursuing the administration’s left-wing ideological agenda runs right over Kentucky coal miners and their families, who have done nothing to deserve it.

And remember: for all the damage this Costly Power Plan would inflict on the middle class, it’s not even expected to reduce global emissions in any meaningful way.

Tons of pain for almost no gain. That’s the Obama White House plan.

So the fight against the War on Coal continues. This fight will not be short or easy. But it’s essential to our livelihoods and our very way of life, and hard-working Kentuckians should know that I’m going to keep standing and fighting for them, no matter what the Obama Administration or their EPA throw at us.

Kentucky’s Electric Cooperatives Salute U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield

Champion of energy retiring after 22 years in Congress

Leaders of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives are thanking U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield (Ky-01) for his decades of service in Congress, in particular his leadership on energy issues and commitment to affordable and reliable electricity in the United States.  On Tuesday, Whitfield announced that he would not seek a 12th term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Congressman Whitfield has been a great supporter of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives,” said Chris Perry,  president and CEO of the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives.  “He has led the charge on our issues for many years.  Representative Whitfield has been great for Kentucky and great for our country.”

As Chairman of the House Energy and Power Subcommittee, Whitfield has been a tireless and consistent advocate for Americans most affected by federal regulation of U.S. power plants.  The Hopkinsville native played a key role in modernizing U.S. energy policy, while promoting clean uses of coal and protecting domestic uranium enrichment capabilities at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

Most recently, Whitfield has forcefully and articulately objected to pending EPA regulations projected to dramatically increase electricity rates for members of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives over the next 15 years.

“I hate to see him go,” said Greg Grissom, president and CEO of Pennyrile Electric in Hopkinsville.  “Congressman Whitfield has been a wonderful asset for the First District and a very strong supporter of our electric cooperatives.”

Grissom, a former executive at Hickman-Fulton Counties Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation, noted that Whitfield has worked to understand and represent the varying needs and concerns of individual electric cooperatives, regardless of the source of electric generation.

Kentucky’s First Congressional District represents about 700,000 people in Western Kentucky.

“Representative Whitfield has been a tremendous asset to the electric cooperative program in Kentucky and nationwide,” said David E. Smart, president and CEO of West Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation in Mayfield.  “He is always accessible, knowledgeable on our issues and ready to work with us for the greater good of our members and his constituents. His experience and support of the first district will be difficult to replace.”

KAEC Governor’s Debate On Energy

With Kentucky facing challenges and critical decisions relating to the future of energy use and generation, the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives (KAEC) hosted a debate on September 22, 2015, with gubernatorial candidates Jack Conway (D) and Matt Bevin (R).

For one hour, the candidates answered questions on a variety of concerns to the 1.7 million Kentuckians served by KAEC member cooperatives.  The 52-member board, representing 26 local cooperatives across Kentucky, attended the debate, held at KAEC’s headquarters in Louisville.  Both candidates recognized the importance of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives in the lives of the people they serve, stressing the legacy of reliable and affordable electricity, especially in rural areas dealing with poor economic conditions.

“We are going to need to have steady and affordable energy sources both now and going forward,” Bevin said.  “This is imperative.”

“I worked closely with the rural electric cooperatives,” Conway said of his work on energy issues in the administration of Governor Paul Patton.  “I chaired a task force that told the entire state that going to a deregulation of the electricity industry made no sense for a low-cost state like Kentucky that uses its electric rates to create jobs. And I hope you feel that as Attorney General of Kentucky, I’ve looked out for the ratepayers and economic development in rural Kentucky.”

“Certainly, our utility costs have historically been a great demand for us,” Bevin added.  “If there is anything we could be great at, I mean truly a beacon for the rest of America, it would be as a manufacturing hub.”

The candidates also addressed questions on  business and workforce development, education, pensions, deregulation and how Kentucky will deal with the federal mandates in the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. The October issue of Kentucky Living, KAEC’s flagship statewide publication, will feature a comprehensive summary of the candidate’s remarks.

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

Perry said KAEC and its member cooperatives look forward to working with the next governor on the issues discussed at Tuesday’s debate.

# # # #

ABOUT KAEC

Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives is the statewide association that provides services for the 24 local, consumer-owned electric distribution utilities in the state, as well as two generation and transmission cooperatives that produce power. Electric co-ops in Kentucky serve 843,000 member-owners, providing power to one-third of Kentucky’s population. KAEC services include representation before the Legislature, Congress, and regulatory bodies; safety training; coordination of management training; and public relations support including publication of Kentucky Living magazine, the largest circulation publication in the state with nearly 480,000 copies mailed monthly, with a readership of 1.2 million.

Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives
1630 Lyndon Farm Ct, Louisville KY 40232
(502) 451-2430  •  www.kaec.org

Joe Arnold Named Vice President Of Strategic Communications For KAEC

Joe Arnold, political editor, reporter, anchor, and host of the weekly The Powers That Be program for WHAS11, has been named Vice President of Strategic Communications for Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives.

KAEC President and CEO Chris Perry says, “Our industry is facing many challenges due to the Clean Power Plan and other regulations. Joe is a communications leader with the skills to effectively communicate how issues will affect Kentucky’s electric co-ops and our members. This is a critical role in the success of our organization and during a period of transition in the utility world. We are looking forward to having Joe on board.”

Arnold announced his departure from television news to colleagues in the WHAS11 newsroom Tuesday morning, August 4, 2015. Though Arnold will begin his position at KAEC on September 18, he will continue to contribute to WHAS11 political coverage as host of The Powers That Be and on election night.

“It is with mixed emotions that I announce my decision to transition to the next stage of my career,” Arnold said. “WHAS11 is a leader in broadcast journalism and my dear and talented colleagues have been a second family to me over the last 17 years. WHAS11 has introduced me to leaders, concerned citizens and issues in Kentucky, and I am excited to be able to apply my experience and skills to an organization that supports a critical asset for our state, reliable electricity at affordable rates.”

In his new role, Arnold will oversee corporate media relations communications for KAEC, which includes Kentucky Living magazine. He will represent KAEC on local and state legislative concerns and lead KAEC communications as it relates to the 26 electric cooperatives and other key constituent groups.

Recognized locally and nationally for his reporting of politics and government, Arnold first joined WHAS11 in 1998 while host of The Joe Arnold Show on WHAS-AM 840. Beginning in 2001, Joe anchored Good Morning Kentuckiana and weekend newscasts before assuming the role of political editor in 2009.

Arnold’s reporting has been recognized with top awards from the Associated Press and Emmy Awards for investigations and blogging.

A 2012 graduate of Leadership Louisville, a civic training group for emerging leaders, Arnold has also been recognized for his contributions to charitable causes, including the Colon Cancer Prevention Project and the Alzheimer’s Association.

Arnold lives in Louisville with his wife and two children.

Historic Clean Power Plan Unveiled – How EPA’s Carbon Emissions Rule Will Impact Kentucky

On Monday, August 3, 2015, President Barack Obama unveiled the Environmental Protection Agency’s final rule for the Clean Power Plan, regulating greenhouse gas emissions at U.S. power plants. The plan requires carbon emissions to be cut 32 percent by 2030 outlined in a 1,560-page report.

The Clean Energy Plan sets national standards, while allowing states flexibility in deciding how to meet those goals. States are required to submit state-specific plans by September 2016. If states need more time, they can make an initial submission and request extensions of up to two years for their final plan. Mandatory reductions for carbon emissions begin in 2022, and states can elect to gradually step down reductions to meet the final goals for 2030.

While the nation relies on nearly 40 percent of coal for its energy, Kentucky’s energy is 92 percent coal-powered, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

An important strategy for lowering emissions in Kentucky, given the state’s heavy reliance on coal for energy and lack of renewable energy from solar and wind, will be energy-efficiency programs put into place by electric utilities, which are already being widely used.

For Kentucky, shuttering power plants, leaving stranded assets before the debt is paid off, is a huge concern. East Kentucky Power Cooperative’s CEO Tony Campbell says, “The regulations announced effectively remove coal as an option for future power plants, and begin restricting carbon emissions from existing coal-fired plants. This will put pressure on costs to rise. As we move away from coal, there are serious questions that must be addressed about the affordability and reliability of alternatives, including natural gas and renewables.”

East Kentucky Power provides generation and transmission to 16 distribution electric co-ops in Kentucky, which provide power to more than 1 million Kentuckians.

EKPC’s Campbell says, “I am concerned about the impact these rules will have on the affordability and reliability of electric power.” He says, “I am especially concerned for the people at the end of our power lines. Among the people served by Kentucky’s electric cooperatives, household income is 7.4 percent below the state average and 22 percent below the national average. Among the 87 counties served by EKPC’s owner-member cooperatives, 40 counties face persistent poverty.”

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) CEO Jo Ann Emerson states, “Any increase in the cost of electricity most dramatically impacts those who can least afford it, and the fallout from the EPA’s rule will cascade across the nation for years to come.”

NRECA is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives that provide electricity to 42 million consumer-members in 47 states, including Kentucky.

Emerson states, “While we appreciate the efforts intended to help offset the financial burden of rising electricity prices and jobs lost due to prematurely shuttered power plants, the final rule still appears to reflect the fundamental flaws of the original proposal. It exceeds the EPA’s legal authority under the Clean Air Act, and it will raise electricity rates for our country’s most vulnerable populations while challenging the reliability of the grid.”

NRECA recently commissioned a study that underscores the devastating relationship between higher electricity prices and job losses. The study, Affordable Electricity: Rural American’s Economic Lifeline, measures the impact of a 10 and 25 percent electricity price increase on jobs and gross domestic product (GDP) from 2020 to 2040. The study shows even a 10 percent increase in electricity prices would result in 1.2 million jobs lost in 2021 across the country with nearly 500,000 of those lost jobs in rural communities.

“For many years, because of the Commonwealth’s abundant coal resources, Kentucky has enjoyed some of the lowest electric rates in the nation,” says Campbell. “I am proud of EKPC’s role in providing some of the most affordable, reliable electric available. As a result, Kentucky has a dynamic manufacturing economy that employs 235,000 Kentuckians and depends on that affordable energy.”

Kentucky’s electric cooperatives are committed to keeping costs affordable and to maintain reliability for electric co-op members.

Emerson says, “We will continue reviewing this extremely complex rule and have additional comments on behalf of America’s not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives in the coming days.”

2015 Kentucky Lineman’s Rodeo A Success

Pennyrile Electric, in Hopkinsville, hosted the 11th Kentucky Lineman’s Rodeo at the Western Kentucky Fairgrounds July 30 and 31.

The Kentucky Lineman’s Rodeo is a yearly competition organized by the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives and showcases the amazing talents of electric cooperative lineman. This year’s rodeo saw 21 of Kentucky’s 26 electric cooperatives’ linemen compete for the coveted titles of top Apprentice, Journeyman, and Lineman team. The competition includes several work-related events: hurt-man, pole top rescue, and skill climb. All events are mainly judged on safety procedures since the rodeo’s main focus is doing line work in the safest possible manner.

Besides the 100+ competing lineman, the rodeo also had 50 judges and 37 volunteers. Family members and co-workers also come out in large numbers to support their various cooperative team members. Sponsors are also important to the success of the rodeo and there were 32 sponsors at varying levels providing support.

The rodeo, which began in 2005, started as part of a state effort to make lineworker safety a top priority for electric co-op utility employees in Kentucky. While the event is a competition, the rodeo tests line workers’ skills and safety practices—scoring rewards safety over speed.

Find out top results and see a video about the 2015 Kentucky Lineman’s Rodeo.