The November & December issue of The Energy Cooperative Times Magazine is available online.

What’s Inside

  • PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE: Your Membership Matters
  • LIGHTING UP NORTH CAROLINA: Learn how our crews helped restore power after Hurricane Florence.
  • COVER STORY: Natural gas pipeline replacement improves reliability and supply.
  • DIRECTOR’S CORNER: District 1 Director, Don Hawk discusses member engagement in our cooperative.
  • TEACHING CHILDREN ABOUT ENERGY EFFICIENCY: Practical tips for teaching children how to reduce their energy consumption.
  • STRATEGIES FOR STRESS: Helpful tips to handle stress this holiday season.
  • FINANCIAL CORNER: Propane members noticed an increase in their rates this year. Here’s why.
  • OPERATION ROUND UP: Operation Round Up Foundation awards $41,488 in October.
  • MESSAGES FROM MEMBER SERVICE: We identified the questions you ask most often, and answered them.
  • FEATURED RECIPE CONTEST: Sandy Drenning of Mount Vernon, Ohio shares her recipe for cranberry pie.

Members of The Energy Cooperative have donated more than $3 million to our community through Operation Round Up!

Since it was started in 2005, Operation Round Up has helped our communities on a grand scale using a simple philosophy: If we all just give a little, together we can make a big difference. Rounding up your bill to the nearest dollar does so much more than making it easier to reconcile your checking account each month. It gives Operation Round Up the ability to help build a park for our children to play, feed our neighbors, make our neighborhoods safer, and the
community healthier.

On average most members give $6 annually. What matters is how many of our members are willing to make that gift. The Energy Cooperative and its members aren’t trying to do everything, but what we are doing is making a difference because we are working together. With an average of 80 percent of our consumers participating each year, the money raised since the inception of the program has provided more than $3 million to worthwhile charities, needy individuals, and organizations in our service territory.

We would like to thank YOU, the members of The Energy Cooperative, who have made an overwhelming difference in our community through your generosity and support of the Operation Round Up program.

Safety Moment

Written by Connie Hogue, Director of Human Resources & Safety

Competing priorities like work, family and other responsibilities can leave you little time to focus on your state of mind. Many people experience stress due to the demands of modern life; especially during the holidays. Ignoring stress can result in physical and mental consequences such as fatigue unstable relationships, substance abuse and depression.

Ways to Relieve Stress

Change your diet.

Rather than turning to traditional comfort foods when you are stressed, choose healthier options. Foods such as fatty fish, carrots and nuts are known to reduce stress levels. Drinking tea can also help calm your nerves.

Get active.

Many people find it useful to go on a run or walk to clear their mind. Any type of exercise can reduce stress as your brain releases endorphins and dopamine, which can increase happiness.

Get involved.

Donate your spare time to helping your community, and increase your impact by bringing a friend or family member along. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen, visit a local animal shelter, or help people in your community who may need an extra hand. These simple acts can brighten someone’s day, as well as your own.

Find support.

It’s important to share your problems with others rather than keep them bottled inside. Depending on the issue you are facing, talk to a trusted friend or family member.

Exploring group counseling provides an opportunity to benefit from speaking with others who are facing similar challenges.

Organize your living space.

Living in an unorganized environment can create stress if things like laundry or dishes pile up to the point of being overwhelming. Find the time to organize your living space and live a less cluttered life.

Speak to your doctor.

Stress and depression are major health issues, and it’s important to get professional medical help when you need it. Over 40 million adults in the United States suffer from anxiety, and over 16 million suffer from depression.

Community Resources

Pathways of Central Ohio is a private, non-profit social service agency serving Licking, Knox, Richland, Muskingum, Perry and Morgan Counties. They are certified by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and are nationally accredited by the Alliance of Information and Referral Services.

Director’s Corner

Written by Donald Hawk, District 1 Director, CCD, BL

Cooperatives are as local and community centered as they come. As one of the Directors of our cooperative, I am proud to be part of an organization that serves the communities in which we all live.

Being a member of The Energy Cooperative is more than knowing there are people working to bring you safe, reliable, and affordable energy. Being part of a cooperative is an investment in your community. The Energy Cooperative is owned by its members. We have a vested interest in making sure our communities are prosperous. We support your community by investing in economic development, supporting community organizations, and partnering with our members to fund Operation Round Up.

The Operation Round Up Foundation is funded each time our members round their utility bills up to the next full dollar amount. As a participant in Operation Round Up, I look at the dollars invested in my community of Knox County. The Operation Round Up Foundation supported capital efforts at The Sanctuary of Danville, Knox Co. Agricultural Museum, and Knox County schools. The list of Round Up grant recipients goes far beyond organizations in my hometown. Operation Round Up supports all our member communities. The full list of agencies and organizations who have received Operation Round Up grants is on our website. Take a look to see how your money makes a difference and encourage your neighbors to apply! Being one of your cooperative directors is both an honor and responsibility. I have lived on our cooperative lines all my life and have seen firsthand the tremendous improvement in reliability over the years. My father used to say, “when two clouds get together the lights go out”. Thankfully through the great work of our Right of Way (ROW) crews, and the entire electric team, outages today are few and far between. Watching my local electric cooperative grow into The Energy Cooperative has been impressive. For the past twenty years we have provided electric, natural gas and propane to our 63,000+ members.

As a cooperative director, there is always a need to plan for the future of this organization. Be assured that we are working with the future in mind. It is my hope that you view The Energy Cooperative as more than one of your utility providers. We are a local business who supports and engages in your community.

Call Us at (800) 255-6815 if you are interested in learning more about how we keep the lights on; the heat flowing; and our trucks heading your way. We are proud to be a part of this community, and hope you feel the same way.

Financial Corner

Written by Pat McGonagle, Vice President & CFO

About 5% of households in the United States (U.S.) heat primarily with propane. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects average household bills for those propane consumers will rise this winter because of higher forecast energy prices. Temperatures for the winter of 2018–19 are expected to be similar to last winter suggesting consumption will remain in line with last year. (For this outlook, EIA defines the winter season as the period from October through March.)

What are the factors causing the increase in propane prices in 2018?

The major factors causing the increase is the price of crude oil and exports.

The EIA forecasts that the Brent crude oil price, which is the most significant crude oil price in determining U.S. petroleum product prices, will average $79/barrel (b) this winter, which is $15/b (36 cents/gal) higher than last winter. Brent crude oil prices this winter are forecast to be higher than last winter as a result of gradually tightening global oil balances and concerns over potential supply disruptions in the coming months.

Propane inventories typically build between April and October and begin drawing down in late-September or October as temperatures begin to drop. U.S. propane inventories at the end of September were 8% lower than the previous five-year average for that time of year. The low inventories are primarily the result of strong global demand for propane. The price spread between U.S. propane and overseas markets widened during the current year meaning producers can gain a greater advantage in 2018 exporting U.S. propane.

Although early forecast for this winter indicate temperatures could be close to levels from both last winter and the typical winter from the past 10 years, recent winters provide a reminder that weather can be unpredictable. The winters of 2013–14 and 2014–15 were generally colder than normal, but the winters of 2015–16 and 2016–17 were much warmer than normal.

Fuel expenditures for individual households are highly dependent on the size and energy efficiency of individual homes and their heating equipment, along with thermostat settings, local weather conditions, and market size. Please visit our website at theenergycoop.com to review our energy savings tips before winter weather arrives.

Electronic and mobile devices, televisions, computers and gaming stations have become ubiquitous fixtures in our homes, particularly those with children. Consumer electronics coupled with the proliferation of smart home appliances, technology and electric vehicles have slowly but steadily changed our homes and lifestyles.

This ever-connected world is the modern environment in which children are growing up. Teaching youngsters to save energy is an important life lesson, especially because our lifestyles are increasingly reliant on technology and in turn, energy consumption.

Explain The Why

As most parents can attest, convincing kids to care about energy efficiency is a hard sell. Parents need to explain why it’s important to save energy and how it benefits the child – otherwise they will not understand the need to change their habits and will be less motivated to do so. In the simplest terms, less money spent on an electric bill can mean more money used for fun activities (that’s something children can relate to). Less tangible, but just as important, using less energy means running your home more efficiently, conserving natural resources and helping the environment.

Learn by Doing

Saving energy is an abstract concept for children. For this reason it is important to be specific about energy efficiency actions and set a positive example. Children learn by observing what their parents do. When you turn off the lights or unplug the phone charger, they will notice.

Try these Activities

For younger kids, turn energy efficiency into a “treasure hunt” game to locate all the things in your home that use electricity. Depending on the age of the children, challenge them to count and group the items into categories: electronics, appliances, lights, etc.
If age appropriate, have them create a list. Ask which gadgets and appliances could be turned off or unplugged to save power every day. For older children, show them how to program the smart thermostat and appliances. Shop with them for LED lights and discuss ENERGY STAR-rated appliances. Show them the electric bill so they can see the costs, energy use and how their actions impact the bill.

Kids of all ages can learn a few simple energy-saving habits that can last a lifetime:

Turn off lights, devices, computers and video consoles when not in use.
Open blinds and curtains during winter days to let warm sunlight in and close them during summer days to keep your home cooler.
If your children are old enough to run the dishwasher or wash their own clothes, teach them to run these appliances with a full load during off-peak energy hours.

Make a lasting impact

Teaching your children about saving energy is not only a creative way to spend time with them; it helps your home to be more energy efficient and can instill good habits that will benefit your child long into adulthood.

Focused on Safety, Reliability, and Supply

Written by Dan McVey, Vice President & Chief Operating Officer – Gas Operations

The Energy Cooperative provides natural gas service to more than 35,000 residential and commercial members within a seven-county area. This service is provided through a network of 150 miles of transmission pipeline; three underground gas storage fields; and nearly 1,000 miles of distribution pipeline.

We are committed to providing our members with safe and reliable service. Our natural gas pipeline replacement efforts address aged or inadequate infrastructure. Part of this commitment includes a recent project near the Heath-Newark Licking County Port Authority to upgrade and relocate a bare steel pipeline that was installed in 1965 (53 years ago). We removed approximately 5,700-feet of 8-inch and 10-inch bare steel pipe. We then relocated the pipeline and replaced it with a single 10-inch coated steel that is cathodically protected to prevent corrosion. The pipeline was relocated because its location inhibited potential development of property owned by the Port Authority and the corresponding industrial park. The pipeline’s new location on the western edge of James Parkway allows for improved industrial development within the park.

The project was completed in two phases over a period of one year, and required regulatory approval from the Ohio Power Siting Board.

While most of the installation was done using conventional methods, completing the project involved a challenging 750 foot horizontal bore for the installation beneath Ramp Creek (pictured above).

The new section of pipeline is designed for a Maximum Allowable Operating Pressure (“MAOP”) of 275 pounds per square inch (psig) and was pressure tested in place to ensure integrity. This increased operating pressure allows us to deliver greater volumes of natural gas to the Licking County area when demand is high.

In accordance with Federal Pipeline Safety Regulations 49 CFR, Part 192.16, The Energy Cooperative (TEC) is required to inform members that the member shall be responsible for their gas service lines.

Here’s what you need to know

  • The member is responsible for the maintenance and repair of all gas piping from the gas meter to all gas appliances.
  • The member is responsible for the repair/replacement of the gas service line located on the member’s property from the buried curb valve to the inlet of the gas meter. Buried gas piping that is not maintained may be subject to the potential hazards of corrosion and leakage.
  • For your safety, all buried pipe should be periodically inspected for leaks. If the buried piping is metallic, it should also be periodically inspected for corrosion. If an unsafe condition is found, the gas piping will need to be promptly repaired.
  • When digging near buried gas piping, the piping should be located in advance and the excavation done by hand. As a reminder, any time a member is excavating, Ohio 811 should be called by simply dialing 811 or 1-800-362-2764 at least 48 hours prior to digging. Ohio 811 will notify various utility companies to locate utilities lines in the area.
  • Plumbing and heating contractors can assist in locating, inspecting, and repairing the member’s buried piping. The Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) requires that a DOT-qualified plumbing contractor must be used to repair or replace a member’s buried piping upstream of the meter, including the gas riser attached to the meter set. While this is not required for piping downstream of the meter, TEC strongly recommends a DOT-qualified plumber be used for all buried gas piping.

For further information, please call our Member Service Department at (800) 255-6815.

Hurricane Florence Power Restoration

Fifty-four linemen from twelve Ohio electric cooperatives spent a week assisting with power restoration for South River EMC and Lumbee River EMC in North Carolina, two cooperatives severely impacted by Hurricane Florence. The Energy Cooperative sent crew leader Terry Erwin, and Linemen Trevor Berry; Marcus Gause; and John Wilson. Our crew departed Utica very early on a Saturday morning heading to Lumbee River EMC. They left with a bucket truck, a digger derrick and a pole trailer. When our crew arrived at Lumbee River, 35,000 of their 60,000 members were in the dark.

While the restoration process in other areas of the state seemed relatively straight forward, Lumbee River faced considerable adversity as flooding in the area worsened.

The flooding was devastating. Many roadways were closed, and crews had to find alternate routes to access the work sites to restore power.

Lumbee River’s outage management system, automated meter infrastructure, and SCADA systems were also initially offline.This created difficulty obtaining the precise number and location of outages. By Tuesday, Lumbee River’s outage map stood at 10,964 members without power (less than 20% of their total membership). In addition to the difficulties created by flooded roads, fuel scarcity created a significant hurdle. Many gas stations ran out of diesel fuel, and others were only able to accept cash (due to the widespread internet outages). Layered on top of those difficult conditions were temperatures in the mid-90s with very high humidity.

Throughout the restoration effort, Ohio linemen were commended for their adherence to high safety standards. Our crews did not deviate from our normal work practices. Safety is always number one, regardless if we are working at home or restoring power in another part of the country.

By late Thursday evening, Lumbee River’s outages were down to a manageable level, and Ohio’s crews were notified they would be released the next morning. By 7:30 a.m. on Friday, all Ohio linemen assisting Lumbee River had departed for home. The Energy Cooperative thanks our crew for their hard work and diligence in North Carolina, and know Lumbee River’s members appreciate having their lights turned back on!

President’s Message

Written by Todd Ware, President & Chief Executive Officer

As part of the cooperative business model, one of our core principles is “Concern for Community”. While our priority is to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy, we also view our role in the community as a catalyst for good.

We are purposeful in partnering with local groups such as The United Way, local foundations, and other programs. The Energy Cooperative invests in local communities where our members live and work. We award college scholarships; donate to schools and community organizations; are active in community events; and support the Operation Round Up Foundation which recently celebrated more than $3,000,000 in donations to our member communities. Ultimately, the larger community benefits from these programs because of our members. You empower us to be our best.
Each time you round up a utility bill, alert us to problems, or provide suggestions to our employees, we are able to improve operations and better serve our entire membership.

We continue to explore new ways to connect with our members. We are launching a new website this month to support member engagement. Additionally, we are exploring outage notifications; text messaging options; a live chat feature on our website, and online voting capabilities for Board of Directors elections.

Our employees appreciate the countless acts of kindness they receive when working in your backyard, especially during severe weather and dangerous conditions. We are thankful for your patience and consideration as we restore power during challenging situations, or respond to emergencies.

With deep roots in the communities we serve, we strive to make our corner of the world a better place. Your membership makes this possible.