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Thousands take part in Cullman EC’s 2014 Annual Meeting

Cullman EC board chairman Robert Tidwell, standing, is handed a registration card by Caden Wilson, who drew 20 cards from the barrel to determine the winner of the 20 $100 power bill credits

Cullman EC board chairman Robert Tidwell, standing, is handed a registration card by Caden Wilson, who drew 20 cards from the barrel to determine the winner of the 20 $100 power bill credits at the 2014 Cullman EC Annual Meeting.

More than 3,500 people came out on a beautiful morning to participate in activities at Cullman Electric Cooperative’s 78th Annual Meeting on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014 at Northbrook Church.

Three seats on the Cullman EC board of trustees were voted on, and all three were won by the incumbent. In District 7, David Hembree was re-elected, while Sue Reynolds retained her spot as the board’s At-Large member. District 8 trustee Chad Alexander won his seat in an unopposed race. Members could vote by mail, starting in mid-August, or at the meeting. More than 7,000 ballots were cast by co-op members for this year’s election.

It was a perfect morning to be outside, and thousands of co-op members along with their family and friends came out to enjoy bucket truck rides, children’s inflatable games, a rock climbing wall, arts and crafts and free hot dogs, drinks and popcorn. Those who wanted to stay inside were treated to a concert by Southern gospel group Triumphant Quartet and visited the free health fair hosted by Cullman Regional Medical Center.

During the co-op’s business meeting, president & CEO Grady Smith announced that beginning on Oct. 1, 2014, residential members would see a $1 increase in the monthly customer charge. Other rate classes will see a proportional increase. At the same time, TVA has raised the rate the co-op pays for wholesale power by 1.5 percent. That increase will be passed along to members beginning in October as well. The TVA rate increase will amount to an additional $1.70 per month for the average residential account.

Cullman EC member Jerry Turner won the Chevy Colorado pickup truck, while Joseph and Heather Carter won the Chevy Malibu. The 20 co-op members who won a $100 credit on their power bill are:
Robbie E. Lee
Dewayne Creel
Randall Deaver
Cora B. Pitt
Glenda M. Bates
Travis L. White
Charles Hagemore
Susan Adams
Bobby J. Brock
George A. Baker
Tim M. Walker
Martin Rosta
Robert R. Taylor
Arthur A. Smith
Hazel Hammack
Aneta M. Lucas
Joseph Carpenter
Ronald L. Haney
Hosmer W. Cole
Arthur Rutherford

Cullman EC responds to EPA article in Cullman Times

Not-for-profit electric cooperatives work every day to provide affordable, reliable electricity to the more than 42 million Americans. Cullman Electric Cooperative has spent the past 78 years working together with our members to make life better in our community. One of the most important ways Cullman EC does this is by working to slow the rising cost of electricity and find ways to help you save on your electricity bill.

On Tuesday, June 3, 2014, a headline on page 4A of The Cullman Times read, “Obama: Power plant rule will shrink power prices.” The story, written by the Associated Press, detailed plans unveiled on Monday, June 2, 2014, by the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency to enact rules that would limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. President Obama and EPA administrator Gina McCarthy believe the proposed regulations will provide the incentive for America’s best and brightest minds to innovate new sources of electricity that will carry the United States toward a carbon-free energy future.

Electric cooperatives fully support innovation that leads to a better future, but it needs to be done in a way that fairly considers our members, who often times are already struggling to pay their monthly power bill.

Today, close to 40 percent of all the electricity generated in the United States comes from coal-burning power plants. In the southeastern United States, coal provides more than 60 percent of our electricity. Using the technology currently available, the proposed regulations would force most of the coal-burning power plants in the U.S. to shut down without a viable energy source to use in its place.

Reducing the supply of electricity creates more demand, and that means prices will increase, which is why Cullman Electric Cooperative is joined by more than 900 electric cooperatives across the United States in opposing the new EPA regulations.

Environmental regulations already share part of the blame for rising electricity costs. Electric co-ops and our respective power suppliers such as TVA have invested billions of dollars in equipment to reduce air pollution, but greenhouse gases pose a far more difficult challenge to capture. And while new technology is being tested, it just isn’t ready for prime time.

Equally troubling to comprehend, the EPA readily admits that cutting these emissions would not have much global impact on overall greenhouse gas levels.

The bottom line for Cullman Electric Cooperative is protecting the bottom line in the pocket book of our members and their families. These regulations unfairly and disproportionately affect members of electric cooperatives. They target regions of the U.S. most dependent on coal for electricity. And increasing electricity prices could endanger efforts to attract new businesses let alone retain current employers.

By harnessing America’s ingenuity, we can do better.

This debate should be about working together to develop a sustainable energy future. This debate should be about how the government supports utilities in a collective effort to develop technologies that can reduce greenhouse gases at a justifiable and reasonable pace.

That’s why electric cooperatives are pushing an XPRIZE initiative (http://www.xprize.org/prize/tri-state-carbon-xprize) to find technologies that actually can turn greenhouse gases into a useful resource with market value.

Creating a sustainable energy future requires us to make ambitious change, but the approach being taken by the White House and the EPA is wrong. A power plant that closes down will not emit greenhouse gases, but it also won’t incubate a new technology or give a bright young engineer an opportunity or ensure that its community continues to receive reliable, affordable electricity.

Americans count on affordable and reliable energy to power our communities, promote job and economic growth, and keep costs in line for the basic necessities in our family budgets.  To help our communities thrive, we need Washington to recognize the potential harm of these regulations and find a different path to a better energy future. Let your voice be heard by visiting www.action.coop.

Alabama electric utilities to celebrate Alabama Lineman Appreciation Day on June 2

Representatives from Alabama’s 22 electric cooperatives, Alabama Power Company, and the state’s municipally owned electric utilities will gather at 10 a.m. Monday, June 2, at the State Capitol to recognize contributions made by linemen as part of a celebration of the first official Alabama Lineman Appreciation Day. The ceremony will be held at the Circle of Flags on the Washington Avenue side of the Capitol.

In the last session of the Alabama Legislature, both houses designated the first Monday in June as Alabama Lineman Appreciation Day. The joint resolution, HJR 244, was sponsored by Rep. April Weaver of Alabaster, who took a special interest in the legislation because her grandfather was a lineman.

“When the lights go out, our linemen are the first responders,” said Michael Kelley, senior manager of safety and loss control for the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives. “They work with thousands of volts of electricity on power lines, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, often under dangerous conditions far from their families.”

In previous years, Congress had designated April 18 as National Lineman Appreciation Day, but no designation was formally made this year. “By having the Alabama legislature set aside the first Monday in June as a special day to honor our linemen, we can be sure they are formally recognized every year,” said Sean Strickler, AREA vice president for public affairs.

Linemen and trucks from several of Alabama’s electric cooperatives, Alabama Power Company and Electric Cities, a coalition of the state’s municipally owned electric utilities, will be on hand.

Scheduled speakers include State Senator Cam Ward, Rep. April Weaver, and State Emergency Management Agency Director Art Faulkner.

Alabama’s not-for-profit electric cooperatives employ some 600 linemen who help keep the lights on for more than 1 million Alabamians in 64 counties.

Back to the Basics: May is National Electrical Safety Month

May is National Electrical Safety Month, and Cullman Electric Cooperative is joining with the Electrical Safety Foundation International to raise awareness about potential home electrical hazards and the importance of electrical safety. This year’s campaign, “Back to the Basics,” challenges consumers to make home electrical safety assessments a priority.

According to the Consumer Electronics Association, the average home today has a minimum of three televisions, two DVD players, at least one digital camera, one desktop computer, and two cell phones.

“Modern homes run on electricity, but if you don’t properly maintain your electrical products they can create hazards,” warns Kyle Baggett, Cullman EC’s vice president of engineering and operations. “The good news is that eliminating electrical hazards from your home doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.”

Many homes and their electrical systems were built before most modern-day home electronics and appliances were even invented. Today’s increased demand for energy can overburden an older home’s electrical system.

Cullman Electric Cooperative offers the following tips to help identify and eliminate electrical hazards to protect yourself, your family, and your home:

• Make sure entertainment centers and computer equipment have plenty of space around them for ventilation.

• Use extension cords as a temporary solution, and never as a permanent power supply.

• Do not place extension cords in high traffic areas, under carpets, or across walkways, where they pose a potential tripping hazard.

• Use a surge protector to protect your computer and other electronic equipment from damage caused by voltage changes.

• Heavy reliance on power strips is an indication that you have too few outlets to address your needs. Have additional outlets installed by a qualified, licensed electrician.

• Keep liquids, including drinks, away from electrical items such as televisions and computers.

Electrical safety awareness and education among consumers, families, employees, and communities will prevent electrical fires, injuries, and fatalities.

Cullman Electric Cooperative is a member-owned cooperative serving 42,0000 member accounts in Cullman, Winston, Morgan and Lawrence counties. Cullman EC is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) sponsors National Electrical Safety Month each May to increase public awareness of the electrical hazards around us at home, work, school, and play. ESFI is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to promoting electrical safety. For more information about ESFI and electrical safety, visit www.electrical-safety.org.

Earth Day 2014: Electric Co-ops & Renewable Energy

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) harenewables maps created an interactive map to help you explore how electric cooperatives across the country are actively expanding their fuel portfolios to include an array of renewable sources, including wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, manure and hydro.

Celebrate Earth Week at Cullman EC

Cullman Electric Cooperative is helping members celebrate Earth Day (April 22, 2014) with several activities focused on recycling, conservation and energy efficiency during the week of April 22-25.

 

Alabama Smart Yards

Tuesday, April 22, 10-11 a.m.

Cullman EC Training Room

Alabama Smart Yards, presented by Tony Glover of the Cullman County Co-op Extension Office, will share ways people can build an environmentally appropriate landscape plan for their home. The workshop will teach how to landscape while considering a home’s heating and cooling costs; water conservation and management; and intelligent pest management techniques.  The key, according to Glover, is an appropriate design that is functional, cost efficient, visually pleasing, environmentally friendly and has easily maintainable areas. Snacks and drinks will be provided, and all who attend the seminar will go home with a gift from Cullman EC.

 

Document Shredding

Tuesday and Wednesday, April 22-23

Cullman EC offices in Cullman (Eva Road) and Addison (Hwy 278)

Document shredding is a safe and smart way to recycle old paper. Identity theft is a real threat, and can take years to fix credit fraud and recover from financial losses. Cullman EC is working with Alabama Archives to provide secure document shredding barrels so personal documents can be properly and safely disposed.

Bring the materials you need shredded to Cullman EC’s offices in Cullman or Addison on Tuesday, April 22, and Wednesday, April 23. The service is free to our members. Any paper items that include information about credit cards, social security numbers, bank accounts, old bills or other private information should be considered for secure document disposal.

 

Energy Efficiency Seminar

Thursday, April 24, 6-7 p.m.

Cullman EC Training Room

Using less electricity in your home or business is a great way to help the environment while saving money at the same time. Stop by the Cullman EC office on Eva Road from 6 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 24, 2014, to visit with energy efficiency experts and see examples of easy energy savings techniques. Guests can also pick up brochures and videos that teach hundreds of simple steps you can take to save on your monthly power bill. Guests can enjoy hot dogs, chips, drinks and a gift provided by Cullman EC.

 

Electronics recycling

Thursday and Friday, April 24-25

Cullman EC office on Eva Road

Cullman EC is working with JCR Recycling to offer two days of electronics recycling. In today’s world of constantly evolving technology, it’s easy to find small electronics that stop working or simply don’t get used sitting around the house. Don’t throw those items away. Recycle them! Bring your small electronics to the Cullman EC office on Eva Road, and drop them off at our temporary recycling center.

Small electronics include items such as cell phones, digital cameras, desktop and laptop computers, TVs and computer monitors, video game systems and more. (As a general rule, “small electronics” are items that one person can carry. If it takes multiple people to load, unload or move an item, it will not be accepted).

Cullman EC warns members about telephone scam

Cullman Electric Cooperative is warning members about a telephone payment scam that was reported over the weekend.

“If a person who claims to represent Cullman Electric Co-op calls demanding an immediate payment and your credit card information, it is a scam,” said Grady Smith, Cullman EC’s president and CEO. “This is a classic telephone scam criminals have been using for years all across the country. I know electric co-ops in central Alabama fought this scam within the past year, and it appears some bad people are trying it here right now.”

Cullman EC policy does not allow co-op members to make a credit card or check payment over the phone while speaking with a live members service representative. Members must use the co-op’s automated phone system to make those payments.

“That is a security measure the co-op board of trustees put in place a while back to protect our members,” Smith said. “Even when a member calls the co-op to make a payment, they are transferred to the automated system.”

Smith said in some situations co-op members may receive a pre-recorded courtesy phone call if a bill is past due or if the member is in danger of having service disconnected for non-payment. Those calls will include instructions on how a member can contact Cullman EC in order to make a payment.

“Cullman Electric Co-op will never call a member and demand a payment over the phone,” Smith said.

Cullman EC communications manager Brian Lacy said a local business contacted the co-op Saturday after receiving a suspicious phone call.

“The call was from an out-of-state phone number, which was the first clue something was not right,” Lacy said. “The caller told the business owner their electric bill was past due and needed to be paid or their power would be cut off immediately. The co-op does not have employees call members to demand a payment, and we don’t cut off members without prior notice. The caller then insisted the business provide a credit card number to make an immediate payment. Our employees are not allowed to accept credit card payments over the phone, so there were a lot or red flags that this was a scam phone call. Fortunately, the business owner suspected that was the case, so he hung up.”

Cullman EC members who suspect they have been contacted by a phone call scam are encouraged to report it to the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office at 256-734-0342.

Co-op crews working to repair winter storm damage

Cullman Electric Cooperative is working to restore power after a winter storm dumped more than 6 inches of snow across a large portion of the co-op’s service area on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014.

As of 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, power has been restored to more than 5,500 co-op members, and crews are working to restore power to approximately 1,000 members still without power.

Many of the outages were caused by tree limbs that broke due to the added weight from several inches of wet snow, snapping power lines as they fell, or limbs that sagged due to the extra weight and made contact with power lines, causing breakers to trip and create an outage.

Linemen will continue to work around the clock until all service is restored.

For regular updates throughout the day during major power outages, please visit the Cullman EC Facebook page, and follow us on Twitter.

Substation transformers cause of power outage

A transformer at the North Cullman substation failed early Saturday afternoon, Feb. 8, 2014, causing a major power outage across Cullman Electric Cooperative’s service area.
Starting at approximately 1 p.m., more than 13,000 co-op members were without power. The North Cullman substation feeds several of the smaller substation located in different areas of the county which resulted in power outages being spread across the county.
Crews have been working to replace the broken transformer with a back-up unit, but it will take several hours to make the necessary repairs.
Cullman Electric Cooperative is a member-owned cooperative serving 42,0000 member accounts in Cullman, Winston, Morgan and Lawrence counties.

Cullman EC asks members for help conserving electricity

Cullman Electric Cooperative is asking members to voluntarily reduce their electric usage until further notice, starting on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014.

According to officials with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), frigid temperatures are causing high demand for electricity across the Southeastern United States. As a result, TVA is asking all electric power consumers, including residential, commercial and industrial customers, to voluntarily reduce their use of electricity until Friday afternoon.

Any reductions in electricity use can help ensure a continued supply of power to essential services throughout TVA’s seven-state service territory and avoid interruptions of service. All available generating resources are being used to meet the peak power demand.

TVA’s bulk electric system remains secure and stable at this time.

“When it’s below 20 degrees, each time the temperature drops one degree another 400 megawatts of electricity is needed. That’s almost as much as one of our larger hydroelectric dams,” said Tim Ponseti, vice president of TVA Transmission Operations and Power Supply. “Setting your thermostat two to three degrees below normal this evening and Friday morning can really help TVA manage the high power demand during this challenging time.”

Today’s peak power demand is expected to occur this evening when regional temperatures are forecast to drop into single digits and electricity demand is projected to exceed 31,000 megawatts. Another peak demand will occur Friday morning when electric loads are expected to peak around 33,000 megawatts. In comparison, demand was just below 32,500 megawatts during the height of the cold wave on Jan. 7, 2014.

Extremely cold weather is expected through early next week. This prolonged cold period will result in higher electricity use than experienced in early January. Consumers can reduce their power consumption and lower their power bills by:

• Turning down the thermostat. Lowering the temperature just one degree can result in a savings of up to 3 percent.

• Postpone using electric appliances, such as dishwashers, dryers and cooking equipment.

• Turn off nonessential lights, appliances, electronics and other electrical equipment.

Additional tips for saving on your power bill and reducing electric demand can be found on TVA’s EnergyRight Solutions website.