Are you ready for extreme cold? As temperatures go below zero this week. Here are some tips from FEMA to keep you safe.

Wear layers to prevent frostbite.

Limit your time outside. If you need to go outside, then wear layers of warm clothing. Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.

  • Frostbite causes loss of feeling and color around the face, fingers, and toes. Signs: Numbness, white or grayish-yellow skin, firm or waxy skin. Actions: Go to a warm room. Soak in warm water. Use body heat to warm. Do not massage or use a heating pad.
  • Hypothermia is an unusually low body temperature. A temperature below 95 degrees is an emergency. Signs: Shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech, or drowsiness.  Actions: Go to a warm room. Warm the center of the body first—chest, neck, head, and groin. Keep dry and wrapped up in warm blankets, including the head and neck.

Listen to local officials.

Your local government agencies (county sheriff, health department, emergency management agency, and more) often provide guidance during storms. Visit your county government’s website or social media pages.  You can also visit the Ohio Emergency Management Agency (EMA) online for statewide information.

Build an emergency car kit.

Create an emergency supply kit for your car. Include jumper cables, sand, a flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, bottled water, and non-perishable snacks. Keep the gas tank full.

Charge your devices.

In addition to keeping those cell phones charged, gather supplies in case you need to stay home for several days without power. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Do not forget the needs of pets. Have extra batteries for radios and flashlights.

Check on your neighbors.

Older adults and young children are more at risk in extreme cold.

Check in with friends and family.

Let your family and friends know that you are safe, and make sure they are as well. You might ask them:

  • Do you have enough food, water, medications to last throughout the storm?
  • Are you using a space heater? If yes, make sure it has an auto shut-off in case it tips over. Also keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from a fireplace, wood stove, or space heater.
  • Are your pets safe?
  • Do you have an emergency kit in your car? Is your gas tank full?

January 21, 2019

Todd Ware, President & Chief Executive Officer of The Energy Cooperative recently stopped by Genesis Health Care in Zanesville to donate $5,000 on behalf of the cooperative’s, “Energy to Help Find a Cure” program.  The donation was made to the Genesis Health Care Foundation requesting the money be donated to their Cancer Care Services unit.

The Energy Cooperative is guided by Seven Cooperative Principles, one of which is Concern for Community. As part of this commitment to community, the cooperative has three delivery trucks with special colors and decals. The Cooperative donates $0.01 for each gallon delivered from these trucks to charitable community groups. The pink and lavender trucks promote cancer awareness. The red, white and blue truck is in support of veteran affairs. The Energy Cooperative proudly supports member communities one penny at a time.

The $5,000 donation was funded from The Energy Cooperative’s lavender propane truck that supports cancer awareness, research, and treatment. For every gallon of propane delivered by the lavender truck, the cooperative donates one cent to local cancer organizations. The goal is to enable oncologists and cancer researchers to pursue promising new ideas, create new knowledge and ultimately develop new methods of cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment.

Written by Lija Kaleps-Clark, Director of Land and Legal Services

As a Cooperative member, you have a voice in how your Cooperative is operated. The Board of Directors that manages the business and affairs of the Cooperative is elected by you, the member. Elections for The Energy Cooperative’s board of director positions are coming up soon. You will receive this year’s ballot by mail in early April. The results of the elections will be announced at the annual meeting on May 20, 2019.

Electronic Voting is Here!

This year we will be introducing electronic voting, which will allow members to vote for board of directors candidates online in addition to traditional mail-in paper ballots. The Energy Cooperative is working with Survey & Ballot Systems to offer electronic voting to make it easier for our members to vote. Electronic voting is a secure and easy way to vote. All members will receive a paper ballot by mail that will include a special code for voting electronically, giving members the option to vote online. You can easily vote through SmartHub or The Energy Cooperative’s website. Members will still be able to vote by mail-in paper ballot. More information about electronic voting will be available soon on our website and by mail. If you have any questions regarding electronic voting, please contact our member services department at 1-800-255-6815.

Interested in becoming a board member?

This year the Board of Director seats in Districts 3, 4 and 7 are up for election. To find out more about the Cooperative Districts, visit myenergycoop.com/board-of-directors. A letter will be mailed to all members in these three districts in January with instructions on submitting recommended nominations. If you would like to run for the board or know someone who you feel is qualified, please send in the postcard from the letter for their nomination. The candidates will then be interviewed by the nominating committee in late February or early March and, if nominated by the committee, the candidate will be added to the ballot. To run for the board, you must be an active member for the past three consecutive years and reside in the district you plan to represent. Additional qualifications and information on running for the Board are provided on our website and in the Code of Regulations. If you have any questions regarding the election process, please call our member services department at 1-800-255-6815 for more information.

Written by John Klauder, District 6  Director, CCD, BL

We appreciate and value the investment that you make in the The Energy Cooperative each month, and we strive to use that investment wisely for the benefit of all members of our community.

Twenty eighteen for Licking Rural Electric, Inc. (LRE, Inc.), dba The Energy Cooperative, is now in the books. Last year the weather was a bit more seasonal with winter temperatures a bit colder and summer temperatures a bit warmer than it has been in recent years. The “normal” temperatures make it easier to forecast and even maintain our budget the following year.

The President & CEO and his staff spend many hours reviewing trends and assumptions that help predict revenues and expenses. Budgets are prepared for Licking Rural Electric, National Gas & Oil, (NGO), NGO Transmission, NGO Propane, NGO Development and Producers Gas. The budgets are then presented to and approved by the board of directors. In fact, budgets were reviewed and approved at December’s monthly board meeting.

In this edition of the newsletter, Vice-President & CFO, Pat McGonagle talks about natural gas prices rising 48% at the end of 2018. How can utilities predict that dramatic change in the market? They can’t, but they can manage gas purchases and storage to help moderate the dramatic change in pricing. See Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Dan McVey’s article on how we store and manage the supply of our natural gas. This is a crucial part of our financial strategy when trying to keep gas rates as low as possible while maintaining an adequate supply.

As we get started in 2019, I want to assure you that Todd Ware, President & CEO, his staff, and your Board of Directors are working hard to manage the short and long term financial stability of The Energy Cooperative.

Written by Pat McGonagle, Vice President & CFO

The natural gas futures market is off to an unpredictable start this winter. Natural gas futures rose to their highest level in more than four years during the week of November 12th as the December 2018 delivery contract traded at $4.846 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). The final settlement price for December was $4.715 as compared to the November close of $3.185 representing a 48% increase for the month. The primary reasons for this price spike appear to be low storage inventory levels across the nation combined with short-term weather forecasts for colder than normal weather. Due to the current volatility in the pricing of natural gas and the early arrival of winter I thought it may be a good time to review how we calculate our Gas Cost Recovery (GCR).

The GCR reflects the cost incurred by the cooperative to purchase the gas used by our members. Through the GCR charge, the cooperative, in turn, charges you the member the same price it paid for the gas. Gas costs recoverable through the GCR include the following three components: the cost of purchasing the gas, the cost of transporting the gas from the producing region to the cooperative’s service territory and any over/under recovery of gas costs from previous months.

First, the cooperative purchases natural gas based on projected usage. In order to ensure a reliable supply and counteract price fluctuations, the cooperative purchases gas supplies through contracts with various suppliers and local producers. Most of these gas purchases are based off NYMEX pricing and the volatility in this market greatly affects the monthly GCR. A portion of the gas used during the winter, November through March, is purchased and injected into our underground storage fields during the summer and fall in order to meet demand during the winter and hedge against a spike in price like we are currently witnessing (see page 6).

Next, the cooperative transports purchased natural gas on one of three interstate pipelines from the Gulf of Mexico to our service territory. The cost of transporting this natural gas to our pipelines is then calculated on each pipeline and added to our gas cost. The cooperative then completes the first step of the GCR calculation adding the gas and transportation costs. This subtotal is what the natural gas industry refers to as the Expected Gas Cost (EGC).

The final component of the GCR is calculating the over/under recovery of gas costs from previous months. This over/under recovery is referred to as the Actual Adjustment (AA) in the regulated natural gas industry. The AA calculation is comprised of two main variables, which are usage and price. The most common factor effecting usage is weather. Weather can provide for large changes in projected customer usage, either up or down. The second factor can be a change from the anticipated natural gas cost as projected when the GCR is calculated to actual costs for the month.

The methodology listed above that the cooperative uses to calculate the Gas Cost Recovery is, with a few exceptions, the same methodology that is prescribed by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. Rest assured, the price the cooperative paid for the natural gas is the same price you pay when you consume the product.

Written by Gary Baker, Director of Marketing and Public Relations

“The broadest and maybe the most meaningful definition of volunteering: Doing more than you have to because you want to, in a cause you consider good.” – Ivan Scheier

Concern for Community is the seventh cooperative principle. It is also something employees of The Energy Cooperative (TEC) value year-round. Our employees are your neighbors. They live in the communities we serve and work to improve the quality of life for our members. Our employees coach little league, volunteer at church, and serve with you in any number of community organizations. This is often after spending the day delivering propane, working to keep the lights on, or bringing natural gas into your home.

In addition to being involved in their communities, many of our employees (and their families) also volunteer to help during our member events. They might set up tents, carry boxes of t-shirts, or serve hot dogs to members. Regardless of how they contribute to the events, we couldn’t do it without them! We would like to send a special thank you to our employees who work hard for our members every day. With their help and support, we can host events for your family and collectively make a big difference in our communities.

If you haven’t yet attended one of our events, we hope to see you this year!

The January & February issue of The Energy Cooperative Times Magazine is available online.

What’s Inside

  • President’s Message: Looking ahead to 2019.
  • Winter Safety Tips: Review tips for outages; space heaters; home heating; winter driving and more.
  • Safe, Reliable Natural Gas: Learn how we purchase and store natural gas to meet your needs throughout the entire year.
  • Financial Corner: Natural gas prices are rising. Read how this impacts our members.
  • Director’s Corner: District 6 Director, John Klauder discusses your investment in The Energy Cooperative.
  • High Bill Concerns? Our member service team provides tips for high winter bills.
  • Employees Giving Back: Concern for community is one of our core values. Read more about how our employees give back to the communities we serve.
  • Cooperative Elections: Gain insight into this year’s Board of Directors elections, and see how we are expanding ways our members can participate in this key part of our democratic process.
  • Featured Recipe Contest: Member Harlene Reidenbach shares her recipe for fruit bars.

 

The primary factor impacting your bill from The Energy Cooperative is the cost to heat or cool your home. Weather plays a big part in this, however, there are things you can do to ensure you are using energy as efficiently as possible.

Energy Efficiency Tips for Cold Weather

  • Set thermostats to 68°F in winter (or as close as you can while staying comfortable).
  • In the winter run ceiling paddle fans on low, blowing air up. Reverse this in the summertime.
  • Set water heater temperature no higher than 120°F.
  • Wash clothes in cold water. Use hot water only for very dirty loads.
  • Set the refrigerator temperature to 34°-37°F and freezer temperature to 0°-5°F.
  • Replace any light bulb that burns more than one hour per day with its equivalent compact fluorescent bulb.
  • Turn computers and monitors off when not in use.
  • Unplug battery chargers when not needed.
  • Change HVAC filters monthly.
  • Make sure drapes and shades are open to catch free solar heat in the winter.
  • Make sure heating vents are not blocked by furniture.

Has your usage been estimated?

When a bill is estimated, it is based on usage from the same time last year, and can often result in your estimated usage being lower or higher than your actual usage. Your next bill, based on an actual read, will bring your account back in line with the current reading on your meter. If your previous estimated bill was too low, your next bill may be higher than you expected. Similarly, if your bills have been overestimated, you will eventually receive a reduced bill.

Have you used more energy?

You will see your energy usage for the previous twelve months on your bill. To understand why you may have used more energy, look at the billing dates on the bill and think about what happened during that period.

  • Did someone in your household spend more time than usual at home, or did you have guests staying?
  • Did you use more heating during a cold period?
  • Did you use more hot water, or did you cook with gas more than you normally do?
  • Did you buy or use any additional appliances?

 

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

The Energy Cooperative operates three underground natural gas storage fields on our transmission system. Located in Muskingum and Perry counties, these fields hold enough gas to provide our base load supply for natural gas, as well as, some peak demand capability. During any given winter month, as much as half of all our natural gas supply may come from our storage fields. This gas supply provides our members with reliability and protection from price volatility when the demand is particularly high.

Demand for natural gas is usually higher during the winter months because it is used for heat in both residential and commercial settings. Natural gas storage is needed for meeting seasonal demand requirements and as insurance against unforeseen price spikes or supply disruptions. Unlike oil and other liquid fuels like propane, natural gas isn’t stored in tanks. Instead it’s typically stored in underground storage facilities built specifically for this purpose. Depleted gas production fields are the most common type of storage facility.

Stored natural gas plays a vital role in ensuring that any excess supply delivered to us during the summer months is available to meet the increased demand of the winter months. Typically, natural gas is put into storage during the summer months (from April through October) and withdrawn during the winter from (November to March). The recent trend towards natural gas electric generation facilities has increased the demand for natural gas during the summer months.

Base load storage is used to meet seasonal demand increases. Base load facilities can hold enough natural gas to satisfy our long-term seasonal demand requirements. These storage reservoirs are relatively low-deliverability, meaning the natural gas that can be extracted each day is limited. Instead, these facilities provide a prolonged, steady supply of natural gas.

Peak load storage, on the other hand, is designed to have high-deliverability for short periods of time, meaning natural gas can be withdrawn from storage quickly should the need arise. Peak load facilities are intended to meet sudden, short-term demand increases.

Natural gas storage plays a vital role in maintaining the reliability of supply needed to meet the needs of our members. Storage is a buffer between production, transmission and distribution. This buffer helps us ensure adequate supplies of natural gas are in place for seasonal demand shifts and unexpected surges. Natural gas in storage also serves as insurance against any unforeseen accidents, natural disasters, or other occurrences that may affect the production or delivery of natural gas. In addition to serving those purposes, natural gas storage is also used for cost advantages; storing gas when prices are low and withdrawing when market prices are higher to hedge against gas cost increase.

The bottom line is that we work hard to ensure our natural gas supply meets your needs throughout the entire year. When you run natural gas appliances, or turn on your furnace, we want to ensure everything works without disruption. This reliable natural gas service takes a great amount of planning and work behind the scenes. It’s work we have been doing for years. We are proud to provide our members with safe and reliable natural gas.

By Connie Hogue, Director of Human Resources & Safety

The Energy Cooperative cares about the safety of our members, and we want you to be prepared during the cold winter months. Heavy snow, high winds, and ice can cause several safety issues. This includes downed power lines and dangerous driving conditions. During an outage, our crews work as safely and quickly as possible. There are a few things you can do, however, to ensure you are prepared before an outage occurs.

Outage Checklist

  • Have at least one heating source in working order in case the power goes out.
  • Consider a fireplace, indoor portable space heater, kerosene heater, or an electric generator to provide heat during an outage.
  • Collect extra blankets, sleeping bags, and warm winter coats, mittens, gloves, scarves, and hats for everyone in your home.
  • Have a power outage supply kit handy (flashlight, extra batteries, first aid supplies, and bottled water).
  • Make sure your fireplace is in good condition. If you have a wood burning fireplace, ensure you have plenty of dry firewood available. If you have a gas log fireplace verify it is usable.

Space Heater Safety

Whether you are supplementing your home heating with space heaters, or using them for outages, space heaters can be effective when used properly. The National Fire Protection Association reminds the public, however, that space heaters should be used with caution as they do present potential fire hazards. Most of those fires started by space heaters were a result of the heater being too close to flammable items, especially furniture and fabric (such as clothes, curtains or bedding). If you decide to use a space heater this winter season, be sure to use one with automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing elements. Also, keep heat sources at least 3 feet away from anything.
Additionally, if you are utilizing space heaters plan to have the following safety equipment on hand:

  • Chemical fire extinguisher
  • Smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector that are in working order (Check prior to winter storm season and change batteries twice a year).

Home Heating Safety

There are also a few dangerous behaviors you should always avoid when heating your home.

  • Never turn on the cook stove for heat. It is not safe.
  • Never use an electric generator indoors, inside the garage, or near the air intake of your home. Doing so significantly increases the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Do not use a generator or appliances if they are wet.
  • Do not store gasoline indoors where the fumes could ignite.
  • Never place a space heater on top of furniture or near water.

Generator safety

Never connect a standby generator into your home’s electrical system. There are only two safe ways to connect a standby generator to your equipment.

  • Stationary Generator: An approved generator transfer switch, which keeps your house circuits separate from the electric co-op, should be installed by a professional.
  • Portable Generator: Plug appliances directly into the outlet provided on the generator.

Set up and run your generator in a well-ventilated area outside the home. Make sure it’s out and away from your garage, doors, windows and vents. The carbon monoxide generated is deadly.

Use a heavy-duty extension cord to connect electric appliances to the outlet on the generator.

Start the generator first before connecting appliances.

Car and Emergency Checklist

Plan to ensure you are protected for vehicle emergencies during winter storms or inclement travel weather. The following items can help you in vehicle emergencies.

  • Cell phone and portable charger
  • Windshield ice scraper
  • Battery-powered radio with extra batteries
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Water
  • Snack foods
  • Heavy Blankets for all passengers
  • Spare winter gloves, hats and scarves
  • Shovel.

Winter Storm Warning Tips

  • WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY: Expect winter weather conditions (e.g., accumulation of snow, freezing rain, and sleet) that could cause severe inconvenience and life-threatening hazards.
  • FROST/FREEZE WARNING: Expect below-freezing temperatures.
  • WINTER STORM WATCH: Be alert; a storm is likely.
  • WINTER STORM WARNING: Take action; the storm is in or entering the area.
  • BLIZZARD WARNING: Seek refuge immediately! Snow and strong winds, near-zero visibility, deep snow drifts, and life-threatening wind chill.
  • BLACK ICE: a thin coating of glazed ice on a surface.

Perhaps the most dangerous of winter events is black ice. Black ice is virtually clear, and forms when the surface air temperature is freezing (or colder) and rain is falling. The best recommendation for black ice is to avoid being out in these conditions, especially at night. If you must drive, exercise extreme caution.

5 Safety Tips for Driving on Black Ice

  • Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you. Remember it takes twice as long to stop on black ice.
  • Never hit the brakes on ice to avoid skidding. Instead, hold your steering wheel steady.
  • Be vigilant in the early morning hours, when air temperatures rise faster than the temperature of the road’s surface.
  • Take extra caution when driving on bridges, overpasses, and in tunnels.
  • Don’t over correct your steering if you feel your car sliding.

Sources: National Safety Council, National Fire Protection Association