By Todd Ware, President & Chief Executive Officer

About this time every year, The Energy Cooperative’s management staff begins the budgeting process for the next year. This process involves looking at revenues, operating expenses, and capital expenses. The process also includes reviewing our rates to ensure fixed costs are covered by fixed charges, and variable costs are covered by variable charges. Our goal is for all of our members to share fixed costs equally, even when no energy is being used. If the fixed rate is not high enough, large users pay a disproportionate share of the fixed charges.

After reviewing our current rates, residential electric and natural gas rates will be adjusted effective
January 1, 2020.

Electric Members

Your electric bill has three main parts:

  • The fixed monthly facility fee covers the cost of connecting you to the electric grid. This cost doesn’t change depending on the amount of electricity you use each month.
  • Generation & transmission is the cost to get electricity to The Energy Cooperative’s system. This charge is a pass-through cost from our power supplier, Buckeye Power. This charge accounts for more than 50 percent of your electric bill.
  • The distribution energy charge is calculated based on the amount of electricity you use each month.

Electric Facilities Fee Adjustment

For residential electric members, the facilities fee adjusts from $26 to $27 per month effective January 1, 2020. There will be no change to the generation and transmission charge and no change to the distribution energy charge.

Natural Gas Members

Your natural gas bill has four main components:

  • The fixed monthly facility fee covers the cost of providing you with access to the natural gas pipeline system. The cost doesn’t change depending on the amount of gas you use.
  • The infrastructure replacement rider (IRR) is a fixed charge to recover the replacement of aging pipelines to comply with federal and state guidelines.
  • The gas cost is the commodity and transportation cost for the natural gas.
  • The distribution charge recovers variable operating costs based on your natural gas use.

Natural Gas Facilities Fee Adjustment

For residential natural gas members, the facilities fee adjusts from $22 to $23 per month effective January 1, 2020. There will be no change to the distribution charge.

The Cooperative Difference

To ensure the cooperative’s return on revenue, rates must align with assets and operating costs. Recent member surveys tell us that price, service, and reliability are most important to you. We work hard to control our expenses each day and balance those costs while bringing you reliable energy.

Each day we look for ways to make our operation more efficient and to be good stewards of each dollar we spend. We don’t want rates to go up and we don’t like applying rate adjustments, but these changes are necessary. The Energy Cooperative Directors and employees are committed to providing you with a good value for the service we provide. After all, we are a cooperative. We exist for our members, not to make a profit for shareholders. That’s a big part of the cooperative difference.

If you have questions regarding the adjustments, please contact The Energy Cooperative’s Member Service Department at (800) 255-6815 or visit myenergycoop.com.

By Pat McGonagle, Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Did you know that you are your own first line of defense against any type of cybersecurity threats? Have you been hacked? How would you know? As we enter the online holiday shopping season, it is important to remember cybersecurity attacks can be one click away. It is critical that you remain vigilant in protecting your personally identifiable information (PII) online.

Ransom-ware, credential theft, phishing emails and other attempts at cyber crime are much more common than you might think. Every password is a possible access point into your systems and devices. There are, however, simple ways to protect your information from cybersecurity threats.

Keep Your Defenses Up

  1. Sign up for automatic updates and protect your devices with anti-virus software. Keep software up to date to help block cyber threats.
  2. Back up contacts, photos, videos and other mobile data to another device or a cloud service. This is important because if your device is compromised, you must reset it to factory settings.
  3. Set your devices to lock after a short time and use strong device passwords.
  4. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) to ensure the only person with access to your account is you. Use it for email, banking, social media, and any other service that requires you to enter a password.
  5. Create strong passwords and keep them private. A poor password, even at nine characters, can be cracked almost instantly. It would take centuries to crack a good password of 12 or more mixed characters.
  6. Treat Wi-Fi networks as a potential security risk. Never check financial or other sensitive accounts when using a public Wi-Fi network.

Don’t fall for phishing, vishing and smishing

Be on the lookout for emails, phone calls and other messages from people attempting to gain access to your information. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your instinct and don’t reply or open attachments in these emails.

Always think before you click!

Do not click links or open attached files in emails or text messages from senders you do not know. Even if you do know the sender, hover over the link and check the sending email address before you click, as someone could be spoofing them.

Protect yourself

Our personal information is under a constant state of attack in this digital age and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. Practice effective preventive controls to minimize the probability that your data will be breached.

It is always a good practice to remember that you are the first line of defense against cybersecurity threats.

By Connie Hogue, Director of Human Resources and Safety

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas produced when vehicles, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, portable generators or furnaces burn fuel. People and animals are at risk when carbon monoxide builds in enclosed spaces. Fatal levels of carbon monoxide can be produced in minutes, even when doors and windows are open.

TIPS TO PREVENT CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING

  • Do not run a car in a garage that is attached to a house. This puts you at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning even with the garage door open.
  • Do not use portable, flameless, chemical heaters indoors.
  • Never use a gas oven to heat your home.
  • Never use a generator inside your home, basement, garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door or vent.
  • Have your chimney checked and cleaned every year.
  • Make sure your fireplace damper is open before lighting a fire and well after the fire is extinguished.
  • Install a battery-operated or battery backup carbon monoxide detector in the hallway near each separate sleeping area in your home.
  • Check or replace the battery for each carbon monoxide detector when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall.
  • Replace carbon monoxide detectors every five years.

SYMPTOMS OF CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING

Everyone is at risk. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows infants, the elderly, and people with chronic heart disease, anemia or breathing problems as more prone to illness or death from carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptom severity varies depending on the level of carbon monoxide and duration of exposure. People often mistake mild symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning for the flu.

Low to moderate carbon monoxide poisoning is characterized by:

  • High-level carbon monoxide poisoning results in:
  • Mental confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of muscular coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death.

If you experience any of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, go outside to get fresh air immediately.

WHEN THE CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM SOUNDS

The Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that you should never ignore a carbon monoxide alarm. Instead, follow these steps:

  • Move outside to get fresh air.
  • Call emergency services, fire department or 9-1-1.
  • Do a head count to check for everyone.
  • Do not reenter the premises until emergency responders have given you permission.

Winter is a prime time for carbon monoxide poisoning because people turn on their heating systems and often warm their cars in garages. As the weather turns colder, it’s important to take extra precautions to keep your family safe.

From Single Phase To Three Phase At 200 mph

By Gary Baker, Director of Marketing & Public Relations

Imagine driving a car from Newark, Ohio to Las Vegas, Nevada in less than 9 hours. Or picture yourself driving from Newark to Chicago in 105 minutes. This would be possible only if you drove an average of 200 mph. Most of us will never travel that fast in a car. But Larry Morgan has done it, one-quarter mile at a time, thousands of times. Larry spent 30 years as a National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Pro-Stock racer and is one of the most successful drivers of all time.

Larry Morgan still enjoys getting behind the wheel and traveling across the country to NHRA races. His major focus, however, is his custom CNC machine shop. Larry Morgan Racing builds racing engine blocks, heads, manifolds and most any custom motor parts. Walking into the business, you are greeted with an impressive number of trophies and awards before heading into the machine shop. Larry earned 10 NHRA Pro Stock victories, 19 NHRA event victories, and 48 NHRA final round appearances.

Here are a few of the many championships Larry Morgan earned as driver:

  • $25,000 Mr. Gasket Challenge three times.
  • $50,000 Budweiser Shootout
  • 2015: Charlotte Four-Wide Nationals winner
  • 2012: Top ten finish
  • 2010: Debuted Ford Mustang and reached finals at Summit Nationals
  • 2009: Raced to Victory at Las Vegas; Posted career-best speed
  • 2008: Logged three runner-up finishes, including Indianapolis
  • 2007: Posted career best time competing in the inaugural Countdown to the Championship.
  • 2006: Runner-up finish at St. Louis and reached three semifinal rounds
  • 2005: Reached semifinal round in Englishtown
  • 2004: No. 1 qualifying position at Atlanta, snapping an 11-race top qualifying streak by Greg Anderson; First top-five points finish since 1993
  • 2002: Won first race, Sonoma, since 1994; earned a $25,000 bonus for winning the Motel 6 “Who Got The Light” award for posting the smallest margin of victory during the season (.0002 seconds)
  • 2001: Debuted the Dodge Neon at Denver.

Larry’s love for machines started long before his professional racing career began. As a young boy, he took apart the engine of a riding lawn mower and completely rebuilt it (with more power). Larry laughed as he told us he rebuilt the motor until it went 30 mph. Larry’s love for speed has served him well—he made a career out of it. Larry Morgan Racing manufactures quality custom parts for pro-stock, pro-mod, pro-nitrous, pro-boost, top sportsman, top dragster, pro extreme and grudge racing.

Larry Morgan (center), Dave Elk (left), Nick Morgan (right)

Are you looking for ways to save money on your utility bill this holiday season? Here are a few tips from the U.S. Department of Energy to help you save energy and money.

Use Power Strips

Even when you aren’t using lights and electronics, they still draw small amounts of energy — at an average cost of $100 a year. Plug your electronics into a power strip and turn it off to reduce your energy bills.

Install a Light Timer

Timer controls allow you turn lights on and off at specific times, while staying in the holiday spirit. Inflatable decorations are often the most expensive to use. A large, animated snow globe can use about 200 watts. As a general rule, the larger the inflatable the more it costs to power.

Use LED Lights

Light up your home with LED lights. They last longer and consume 70 percent less energy than conventional incandescent light strands. It only costs $0.27 to light a 6-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days with LEDs compared to $10 for incandescent lights.

Save Energy in the Kitchen

Cooking typically accounts for 4.5% of your home’s energy use. During the holidays, that number jumps as high as 15%. Using pots and pans that match the size of the burner can save about $36 a year for an electric range or $18 for gas. And resist the temptation to open the oven door for a peek at your food’s progress — the oven has to work harder each to reheat each time the door is opened. Use the oven light instead.

Buy Energy Star Electronics

Are computers, TVs or other electronics on your wish list this holiday season? Be sure to ask for ENERGY STAR rated home electronics for instant energy savings. Depending on usage, an ENERGY STAR computer can save 30-65 percent more energy compared a computer without this designation.

Take Advantage of Sunlight

Use sunlight to your advantage this winter. Open curtains during the day and allow sunlight to warm your home naturally. Close curtains at night to reduce the chill from cold windows.

Prepare Your Home for Winter

Weatherizing your windows can reduce drafts, and installing storm windows can cut heat loss through your windows by 25-50 percent.

Maintain Your Fireplace

Proper chimney maintenance — like sealing your fireplace flue damper, caulking around your hearth, and installing tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system to blow warmed air back into the room — will help keep warm air in your house and cold air out.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

Don’t pay for warm air you’re not using while you’re away for the holidays. A programmable thermostat can automatically lower the temperature, and 10-15 degrees for eight hours can save 5-15 percent a year on heating bills. The key is to set it and forget it.

Get a Home Energy Audit

Give yourself the gift of energy savings by having The Energy Cooperative perform a home energy audit. Our energy advisor will check your home for air leaks, inspect insulation, survey heating and cooling equipment and more. We can also recommend ways to save you money on your utility bill.

Make sure your home, office and vehicles are stocked with the supplies you might need.

At Home and Work

Your primary concerns at home or work during a winter storm are loss of heat, power and telephone service and a shortage of supplies if storm conditions continue for more than a day. In either place, you should have available:

  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio and portable radio to receive emergency information
  • Extra food and water such as dried fruit, nuts, granola bars and other food requiring no cooking or refrigeration.
  • Extra prescription medicine
  • Baby items such as diapers and formula
  • First-aid supplies
  • Heating fuel: refuel before you are empty; fuel carriers may not reach you for days after a winter storm
  • Emergency heat source: fireplace, wood stove or space heater properly ventilated to prevent a fire
  • Fire extinguisher, smoke alarm; test smoke alarms monthly to ensure they work properly
  • Extra pet food and warm shelter for pets
  • Never run a generator in an enclosed space
  • Make sure your carbon monoxide detector is working correctly and that the outside vent is clear of leaves and debris. During or after the storm, make sure it is cleared of snow.

We are thankful for our members!

The Energy Cooperative Operation Round Up Foundation has donated over $3.5 million to community groups and organizations.

Since 2005, our members have rounded up their energy bills to the next dollar to benefit Operation Round Up. Each member donates approximately fifty cents per month, or six dollars per year. Operation Round Up grants are awarded to a group or organization that serves people living in our member communities.

We would like to thank our members for making an overwhelming difference in our community through their generosity and support of the Operation Round Up program.

Written by Nelson Smith, CCD, BL, District 2 Director

As a member of The Energy Cooperative, you are among 42 million Americans who can claim ownership in a not-for-profit member owned utility that provides energy. Joining the Action Committee for Rural Electrification (ACRE) is an opportunity for you to raise your voice and participate in the political process.

For over forty years, ACRE has been working to support candidates for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives who understand and support electric cooperatives and their members. ACRE® strengthens a strong grassroots network of 30,000 cooperative members who are dedicated to the long-term success of the electric cooperative program. Together we will continue to fight for a viable environment for electric cooperatives and the quality of life of the people and communities that cooperatives serve.

Contributions to ACRE Co-op Owners for Political Action® are not tax deductible. All contributions to ACRE are voluntary and will be used for political purposes. Contribution guidelines are suggestions only, therefore you may contribute more or less than the recommended amount. Action Committee for Rural Electrification (ACRE) gives you, the member, the opportunity to use your voice on behalf of your cooperative. State and federal government officials make policy decisions that affect your local cooperative and way of life. The ACRE program is an easy way for you to help determine who gets to make those decisions.

Written by Pat McGonagle, Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Did you know natural gas can be stored underground for future consumption? Storage fields (or depleted gas reservoirs) are the most prominent and common form of underground storage. They are typically natural gas wells that have produced all their economically recoverable gas and are readily capable of holding injected natural gas. Using these wells has proven to be economically attractive because start-up costs for a storage facility are eliminated by taking advantage of existing space, gathering systems and pipeline connections. Depleted reservoirs are also attractive because their geological and physical characteristics have already been studied and are well known.

The Energy Cooperative utilizes three on-system storage fields in order to balance the seasonal requirements of natural gas for our members. The three storage fields are Perry, Zane and Muskie. Their capacity is 2 Bcf (billion cubic feet) which equates to nearly one third of the annual system usage throughout our cooperative. The Zane and Perry fields were developed in the mid 1950’s primarily to meet the seasonal needs of our increased residential load during that time period. The company’s residential load continued to grow through the 60’s and 70’s and contributed to the need for the Muskie storage field beginning in 1973. The cooperative’s three gas storage fields are located close to our transportation infrastructure (pipelines and distribution systems) which also helps control the transmission costs of getting the product to our members.

Written by Gary Glover, Vice President & Chief Operating Officer – Electric Operations

Have you ever thought about where the electricity that powers your home or business is generated? Our electric generation comes from Buckeye Power. Buckeye Power, Inc. (BPI) is Ohio’s generation and transmission cooperative, providing electricity to the 24 Ohio-based cooperatives and Michigan-based Midwest Energy & Communications. Owned and governed by the cooperatives it serves, Buckeye Power is dedicated to providing its member cooperatives with affordable and responsibly-produced power. They own a portfolio of generation and peaking facilities, outfitted with best-in-class environmental controls. They are also committed to researching and investing in economically sustainable sources of renewable power.

A Balanced Portfolio

Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives take a balanced approach to renewable energy. They utilize affordable coal-fired generation for the bulk of our member’s power. In addition to this base load generation, Buckeye Power has made significant investments in renewable energy on behalf of Ohio cooperative families.

Base Load Generation

Buckeye Power’s base-load generation assets serve the day-to-day needs of Ohio’s cooperative members. These facilities are best-in-class, outfitted with state-of-the-art environmental controls.
Cardinal Power Plant is located in Brilliant, Ohio. Cardinal is a coal-fired power plant that has a generating capacity of 1,230 megawatts.
Clifty Creek and Kyger Creek plants, owned by the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation. These two coal-fired power plants have a combined capacity of 434 megawatts.

Buckeye Power’s natural gas-fueled peaking facilities serve Ohio cooperative members on the coldest and hottest days of the year.

  • The Robert P. Mone Plant is in Convoy, Ohio. It is a natural gas power plant with 510 megawatts of capacity.
  • The Greenville Generation Station located in Greenville, Ohio, is a natural gas plant with 200 megawatts of generation capacity.