The Power of Membership

Mark your calendars! Cass County Electric Cooperative’s annual meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 22 at the Valley City Eagles Club.

This year’s theme is The Power of Membership. Because as a member, you have the power: the power to have a voice in how the co-op is run, the power to energize and enhance your life with affordable electricity and the power to save money through responsible energy use and giving back to our local communities.

Being a member/owner of your electric cooperative gives you:

The power of electricity: the ability to energize your home with the consistent, reliable power that you need in your everyday life.

The power of value: the ability to stay connected at an affordable rate of $0.11/kwh.

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The power of working together: the ability to collaborate with your cooperative on how to conserve energy and save money.

The power of connections: the ability to save on more than just electricity, by presenting your Co-op Connections Card at participating businesses.

These are just a few of the ways it pays to be a cooperative member. We hope to see you at the annual meeting, where you can learn even more about the power of your cooperative membership.

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Be Safe, Not Sorry

As the temperature starts to rise and those feelings of dread when heading outdoors disappear, you may start spending a little more time outside. (I mean, 40s is practically shorts weather around here, right?)

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However, because being outside increases your exposure to power lines, and also because we want your time enjoying the warmer weather to be safe and enjoyable, we’ve compiled some power line safety reminders for you and your family to ensure you stay safe during your outdoor activities.

  • In general, keep your distance from power lines. Contact with these lines can be dangerous, or even fatal. So whether you are playing outside with your children or working on a project in your yard, keep your distance from power lines, meters, transformers and electrical boxes.
  • Make sure you or your children do not climb ladders or trees near power lines, as this can increase risk of exposure to the line.
  • Avoid flying kites or remote control-operated toys near lines. If you accidentally get an object stuck in a power line, do not try to remove it yourself. Call Cass County Electric Cooperative to remove it for you.
  • If you notice a downed power line, do not go near it. Even more importantly, do not touch the line or even anything that the line may be touching.
  • If you are ever in a situation where a power line falls on your vehicle, do not attempt to exit the vehicle unless it starts on fire. If the vehicle is not on fire, call for help and warn any bystanders not to touch the car or the downed line. In a situation where your car does start on fire, open the door and jump — do not step — from the vehicle. Then, shuffle your feet until you are 50 or more feet away from your automobile.

If you have any doubts about whether or not a power line poses a risk to your safety in a certain situation, call Cass County Electric Cooperative at 800-248-3292 for clarification.

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Six More Weeks?

Puxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on Sunday, foreboding that we’ll have six more weeks of winter upon us. For those of you ready to pack your bags and move to Florida, don’t book your plane tickets just yet. We have some helpful tips that will help you save energy while staying warm amidst the extended winter.

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  1. Sunlight is your friend. As we get closer to spring, it stays lighter longer — which means you have a great opportunity to heat your home naturally. Leave your window coverings open during the day to let in that natural light and let the sun heat your home in the process.
  2. Be cautious when using space heaters. While portable heaters can be effective in warming up cold spaces, they consume quite a bit of energy. If you are going to supplement your heating with a space heater, avoid falling prey to marketing claims that certain space heaters are more energy efficient. Whether you spend $30 or $300 on your space heater, it is the wattage that predicts energy use. If the cheap device and the expensive one are both 1,500-watt heaters, they will produce the same heat and use the same energy, despite the cost difference.
  3. Remember to continue checking your air filter — about once a month — and change it whenever it looks dirty. A clogged filter does not function at its fullest potential and makes your heating system work harder to keep you warm.
  4. Keep your water heater below 125° to avoid unnecessary energy consumption that is accompanied by water heater thermostats set at 140°. Plus, reducing the temperature also slows pipe and water heater corrosion.

The groundhog has spoken, and we likely won’t see signs of spring anytime soon — but don’t break out the suitcases and bathing suits just yet. With the coldest days (hopefully) already behind us, these easy energy-saving tips should help you withstand the last weeks of winter.

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Comment Period Open for Proposed Carbon Rule

Cass County Electric Cooperative is asking its members to help join the fight against onerous proposed carbon regulations.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has launched a 60-day public comment period on its proposed emissions standards for carbon from new power plants. The proposal was placed in the Federal Register on Jan. 8.

The scoop: If finalized, the proposed rule would regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including carbon dioxide, from new power plants under the Clean Air Act’s provisions for new source performance standards (NSPS). Once the rule was published on Jan. 8, it began the official comment period (comments due March 10).

What you can do: Go to action.coop to sign up with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), make a comment and learn more about the new power plants proposal and other EPA proposals that would impact our rates. Though CCEC and our wholesale energy provider, Minnkota Power Cooperative, face a more significant battle when the proposed rule for existing power plants comes out later this year, NRECA wants members to sign up and comment at action.coop about the rule and also wants to prepare and get infrastructure in place for the proposed existing power plants rule.

What people are saying about the rule: Jo Ann Emerson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), recently drew attention to the important role access to all fuels plays in the reliability and affordability of electricity in America. She believes coal plants should remain a vital part of the U.S. energy mix.

“We must be deliberate and purposeful with our energy policy to avoid depriving cost-conscious American families and businesses the affordable, reliable energy they count on as a basic component of everyday life,” she said in a NRECA release. “The competitiveness of the U.S. economy depends upon options when it comes to energy and the regional, economic and demographic differences demand flexibility and freedom when deciding which fuels will keep us moving forward.”

John Graves, environmental manager for Minnkota, has said “although the administration has said that coal is part of the energy future, this rule if finalized as proposed, will effectively stop coal from being used as a fuel for new power plants.”

How would it impact the coal-based Milton R. Young Station, Minnkota’s major source of energy?: This rule wouldn’t directly impact the Young Station. It’s only for new power plants. However, regulations for new power plants must be promulgated before proposed regulations for existing power plants can be published and eventually finalized. The proposed existing power plants rule could have a significant impact on electric rates.

Some believe that the purpose of the proposed rule for new power plants is only so EPA can set up for more expansive regulations that will cover the nation’s existing fleet of power plants. After all, EPA says very few new coal-based power plants will be built in the future.

Why the proposed new power plants rule isn’t feasible for coal-based plants: The rule relies on carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. There is no commercially viable CCS technology. EPA is betting that the technology will be developed. However, the Clean Air Act requires that the technology be commercially viable at the time the regulations are put in place.

What’s next: Comments on the proposed rule for new power plants will be taken until March 10. EPA also is working on those proposed NSPS guidelines for GHG emissions for existing power plants, due by June. That is the proposed rule that could potentially have a significant impact on electric rates.

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More than 900 CCEC members have already contacted the EPA through action.coop to tell them to keep electricity affordable by reconsidering their “All-but-one” approach to energy.

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High School Juniors and Seniors: Let Cass County Electric Cooperative Take You to D.C.

Time is running out! Cass County Electric Cooperative is looking for applicants for its annual Youth Tour in Washington, D.C. Each spring we send a high school sophomore or junior (must be a junior or senior in the fall of 2014) to Washington D.C. This year, we will be choosing two students to attend.

The winners will attend the trip with other students from other cooperatives in North Dakota. It is a great opportunity, and our past winners have been extremely pleased with the experience. To be eligible, the students and their parent(s)/guardian(s) must be a Cass County Electric member. To apply, students must write a two-page essay or create a poster on this topic: Cass County Electric Cooperative just celebrated our 75th Anniversary. Describe how rural electrification and rural electric cooperatives have contributed to the quality of life in North Dakota and your local community.

Please share this information with any eligible students you know. The essay/poster deadline is January 31, 2013.

Please contact Stephanie Villella at svillella@kwh.com or 701-356-4534 if you have any questions.

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New Year’s Energy Resolutions

You may have already begun thinking about your new year’s resolutions. Perhaps you are resolving to eat fewer sweets, exercise more or manage your finances better. But for those of you still looking for some ideas regarding the changes you make in 2014, we propose a new resolution: Use less energy. Below, we have provided several actions you can take around your home that require little or no retrofit work to reduce your energy consumption and save on electricity costs.Image

1. Get into the habit of setting back the thermostat when you’re not home or at night when everyone is asleep. The longer it is set back, the more you save. Install a programmable thermostat to make the savings automatic!

2. Unplug second refrigerators and freezers. Some have very little in them and you may be able to consolidate those items into one main cooling unit.

3. Turn your furnace fan to its “auto” setting rather than “on” for significantly less energy use.

4. Change out incandescImageent bulbs for CFLs or LEDs. Start first with rooms where the lights are on the most and make it a goal to eventually swap out every light in the house.

5. Use a surge strip when plugging in office equipment and entertainment centers. When not in use, simply shut off the surge strip.

6. If you use a block heater on your car, consider installing a timer so it is only on for a couple of hours before you plan on starting the vehicle as opposed to being in use all night.

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7. When possible, wash laundry in cold water instead of hot water.

8. Allow your dishes to air dry instead of using the drying cycle on your dishwasher and try to only wash full loads.

9. Sign up for SmartHub on our website, which gives you online account access. There, you can pay your bill, check your use or contact CCEC about any account issues. The information you will find on SmartHub serves as a great tool for helping you break down your energy use.

10. Consider hiring a contractor to help with some more permanent energy-saving projects around the house like air sealing in the basement and attic. Consider adding insulation in the attic if it is poorly insulated or in your basement if it is unfinished. While these bigger projects cost more initially, they will pay off with energy savings in the long run.

Looking for more ways to save? We are here to help! For more energy-saving ideas, visit our website at www.kwh.com and click on Your Home>Energy Saving Ideas. Cass County Electric Cooperative also offers a home energy review, which includes a walk-through assessment and analysis of your home. This energy review will help you make decisions to manage your energy costs and make wise energy improvements.

Call 701-356-4400 and ask for the energy management department for program details. (Energy review availability is limited to staffing and scheduling.)

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Winter Expectations for Off-Peak Members

ImageMinnkota, Cass County Electric Cooperative’s wholesale power supplier, recently published an article in the Minnkota Messenger explaining what off-peak members should expect with regard to control hours during the winter months. The article explained that members who rely on off-peak electric heat should anticipate an average number of load management hours.

Based on a variety of factors, such as weather conditions, market prices and power plant operations, Minnkota is predicting an estimated 245 hours of load control in the winter.

“If our power supply resources perform well, we will have power to serve our loads at almost all hours during the winter season,” said Todd Sailer, Minnkota energy supply manager. “The challenge comes when we have unplanned outages or during extreme cold periods, when the demand for electricity is high.”

Sailer also mentioned that off-peak members should not notice a difference when their primary heating system is controlled and a well-maintained backup system is in use. The benefit of participating are seen by both members and Minnkota. For Minnkota, the program allows plants to operate more efficiently without the power supplier needing to purchase power at a high cost and, in turn, increasing rates. For members, the off-peak electric rate results in significant savings.

“The cost to purchase and deliver power to the associated systems can change at a moment’s notice,” Sailer said. “The load management program protects consumers from the volatility of the market and prevents the need to build new power plants just to serve peak loads.”

If you are a Cass County Electric Cooperative member and want to learn more about our off-peak programs, call us at 701-356-4400.

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