Northland Connection

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February 2018

Platte-Clay Northland Connection Newsletter February 2018

We think you’re special

While we’re thinking warm thoughts about love and flowers, it’s also the month to take a few minutes to think about hearts.

In fact, our heart.

Because 1 in 5 of us has heart disease, it’s a great month to call the doc and get our heart checked out.

It’s February so they’ll be expecting us.

Valentines Day Banner

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

Dave Deihl Platte-Clay Electric Coop General Manager

Dave Deihl
General Manager

From the General Manager

Since absence makes the heart grow fonder, we thought we’d talk about someone who will be out of the office, in fact out of the country through early February.

Jake Fain, a journeyman line worker, is part of a Missouri electric cooperatives crew building electric lines in the mountains of Bolivia, near a village called Chapisirca. He’ll be working at an elevation of more than 11,000 ft. with five other line workers from other Missouri cooperatives in the project called “Brighter Bolivia.”

In December, an earlier group of Missouri cooperative crews worked with villagers, who dug 100 holes for the poles.

Jake will be part of the second group from Missouri to follow this crew.

Over the past 50 years, NRECA, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Assoc., has built the electric infrastructure to serve more than 126 million people in 43 developing countries. The mission is clear: to design and implement successful, sustainable, scalable rural electrification programs that improve education, healthcare, safety and economic opportunity.

Established in 1962, the international program initially was part of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The late President John F. Kennedy signed the inaugural cooperative agreement which began the program to share best practices learned and perfected from building electric lines in rural America.

As in America, those living in rural areas in other countries with electricity now enjoy a higher quality of life, increased agricultural productivity, improved healthcare and new jobs from developing businesses.

For many in rural areas, having light after dark is a dream delivered by hard-working and committed Americans.

If you have questions or concerns, please e-mail me at generalmanager@pcec.coop

 

How cold is it? AECI sets record peak demand

Associated Electric Cooperative set peak production records on January 1 and 2 when temperatures dipped below zero. Members may find that they too have set peak demand.

Platte-Clay bills on half of the highest peak set over the past 11 months or the full amount for the current month, whichever is more. The former simple billing method divided the cost of demand, the largest factor in Platte-Clay’s wholesale energy costs, among all members. That meant that small households careful with costs were subsidizing households with high demand.

With each member paying for demand, and a lower per kWh rate, it’s possible to have lower bills.

Manage demand by not using all appliances at one time. Check the co-op web site, www.pcec.coop and follow the links to the demand calculator. The demand calculator will provide a good idea of the amount of demand each appliance creates and help with ideas on how to manage demand.

 

International electrification program assists Bolivian village

Just another day at the office at 11,500 ft. in the Cordillera Real mountain range

Jake Fain

Jake Fain

A new crew of linemen and safety staff from six Missouri rural electric cooperatives and the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives (AMEC) will work for two weeks in the mountain village of Chapisirca, in the state of Cochabamba in Bolivia through early February.

Platte-Clay journeyman lineman Jake Fain volunteered to be a part of the second group of co-op employees working to build electric lines to the remote village.

Jake joins a group of experienced line workers that includes Brian Robbins, Barry Electric Co-op; Adam Helton, Central Electric Power Co-op; Joe Cartwright, Crawford Electric Co-op; Hunter Ivie, Pemiscot-Dunklin Electric Co-op; and Stetson Shirkey, OsageValley Electric Co-op.

The crew will be working at 11,000 to 13,000 ft. above sea level in the Cordillera Real mountains building lines to bring electric power to a village sustained primarily by potato and onion farming.

Brazil And Bolivia Map
The Village of Chapisirca is about 1900 miles south of Kansas City International. The crew will fly into La Paz, the capital city and travel south and east by car. Bolivia is about the size of California and Texas combined.

Local residents have helped by hand digging holes for the poles that carry the distribution lines.

The crew will be working with the construction supervisor for ELFEC, the distribution utility for the area.

The National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corp. (CFC) International Projects is providing a matching grant to fund the project.

“Our matching grant assistance, exclusively channeled through statewide organizations like AMEC that sponsor an overseas electrification project, allows more skilled electric co-op volunteers to participate in international endeavors and experience what it’s like when someone flips a switch and watches the lights come on for the first time,” said CFC CEO Sheldon C. Petersen.

The next opportunity for Platte-Clay to participate in an international project will be 2020.

 

Solartech Community Solar Array

SolarTech Clean Renewable Energy

The Platte-Clay pilot community solar array, Solartech, continues to reliably generate renewable energy for co-op members.

Platte-Clay was among the first 100 co-ops in the U.S. to build a pilot community solar array for its members after three surveys said that a majority of co-op members were interested in solar energy.

The first inkling that members were truly interested in renewables and solar energy was the result of the 2013 American Consumer Index Survey (ACSI).

More than half of the members responding, 60 percent, said that Platte-Clay should develop “renewable energy sources like solar and wind, regardless of cost.”

Also during that time, Platte-Clay was routinely fielding calls requesting information on solar energy from members, many of whom wanted to buy home solar arrays from Platte-Clay.

That came as a surprise to co-op management, and high member interest resulted in a second spot survey taken during the 2014 annual meeting where again there was majority support for solar energy.

To confirm solar interest without question, a third comprehensive survey went to all co-op members where again members said they support solar energy.

In fact, the third survey found that 80 percent of the members who responded said they would support a pilot community solar project.

Platte-Clay then convened a Solar Committee to review how the renewable energy would be integrated into the co-op’s power generation. More than 500 co-op members applied to be a part of the Solar Committee with the number whittled down to around 50.

Since those early days Solartech has provided a number of tangible benefits to Platte-Clay members.

  1. The co-op met the majority of member requests to become involved with renewable energy.
  2. Platte-Clay worked with the USDA and received a grant to offset a portion of the cost of the solar array, thus reducing the overall cost of the project.
  3. Co-op employees built the solar array, giving both management and line crew workers a thorough understanding of how a solar array operates and what’s involved with safely connecting to and disconnecting from the grid.
  4. In-house construction has saved co-op money, both with the initial cost of construction and with practical knowledge in the field as members install home solar arrays.
  5. Since Solartech became operational, it has generated enough energy that equals 369 tons of CO2 saved. Or the amount of CO2 that more than 9,000 trees would have absorbed. The live monitor is on the co-op web site, www.pcec.coop Scroll down to Solartech. (We recommend looking at it in the daytime.)

Although in surveys half of Platte-Clay members said they would be willing to pay varying amounts for renewable energy, $1 to $24 a month, panel leases or buying Solartech energy at approximately $2.50 a month per panel remains sluggish with 30 percent of panels committed to members.

The solar energy contract is available on the web site, from the home page, scroll down to the Solartech area and follow the links.

Solar industry update
A Pew Research Center survey conducted in January, 2017, found that 75 percent of the 18-29 year-olds, 72 percent of the 30-49 year-olds and 59 percent of the 50-64 year olds surveyed support alternative energy sources. The Social Security set was well-represented too: 50 percent favor alternative energy sources such as wind and solar.

 

Move Over law now includes utility workers and vehicles

Legislation passed in the last session added utility workers to the “move over” law that requires drivers to vacate the lane nearest the utility vehicle, and if that’s not possible, to slow down.

Drivers who fail to give police, firefighters and now utility workers room to safely work are subject to a misdemeanor ticket.

Utility Workers And Vehicles

 

Pros And Cons Of Driving Electric Vehicles

Pros And Cons Of Driving Electric Vehicles

 

Degree days help explain high energy costs

National Weather Service LogoMost of us are going to have higher bills this winter. Even with our best efforts and longer days, our bills will increase. The cold has been brutal.

For the number crunchers among us, it’s a great opportunity to determine the “heating degree days,” those days when the temperature was way below 65 degrees.

The National Weather Service (NWS) bases its assumptions on a 65 degree day–one when we didn’t need cooling or heating.

To determine just what the NWS “degree” is for a specific day, take the difference between the daily temperature mean (high temperature plus low temperature divided by two) and 65 degrees. If the temperature mean is above 65 degrees, we subtract 65 from the mean and the result is a cooling degree day. If the temperature mean is below 65 degrees, we subtract the mean from 65 and the result is heating degree day.

We use heating and cooling degree days to help understand why our bill is so high. On one level we understand that when it’s very cold or very hot, our energy use will be more. On another level we want to see the numbers in black and white.

Those who have added insulation and made other energy efficiency improvements can compare their home’s performance year-over-year by calculating the degree days during the hottest and coldest months and reviewing energy consumption. To find the daily highs and lows, visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin. (NOAA) at https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov

In the meantime, this winter could be a great time to break out a warm sweater or fleece jacket.

 

First deadline for Board candidates

Members of the Nominating Committee will cover requirements with the co-op members who have expressed an interest in running for the Board before Feb. 22 or by petition by March 1.

For information on Board requirements, visit the co-op’s web site, www.pcec.coop and review the by-laws in the About section.

Then members who are still interested in serving on the Board must call Ms. Kinard, 903-7302 or e-mail her at angiek@pcec.coop and let her know of your interest.

The co-op by-laws prescribe three-year terms for the three Directors who represent the three Districts.

The terms are staggered, which means that each year there is one member from each District up for re-election.

A member of the Board nominating committee will discuss the requirements and time commitment involved.

The final deadline for a member’s name to appear on the ballot for the 2018 election is March 1, with candidates’ names posted April 20.

The annual meeting this year is May 10 at the Kearney office, 1000 W. State Route 92, 64060, on the west side of I-35.

Although not recommended, because members won’t have a chance to learn about an individual, a member may be nominated from the floor as a write-in candidate.

 

The Northland Connection is published monthly by Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative, Inc., 1000 W. 92 Highway, Kearney, MO 64060. Postmaster: Please send address changes to: Northland Connection, PO Box 100, Kearney, MO 64060 or mail@pcec.coop.

Platte-Clay is an equal opportunity employer.

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January 2018

80 Year Anniversary – 1938-2018

80 Year Anniversary 2018A lot has changed in the 80 years since Platte-Clay began building that first line north of Platte City in 1938. We won’t even hazard a guess about what the next decades will bring. But we do believe it will involve providing reliable, low-cost electric service. Happy New Year.

 

Happy New Year

Dave Deihl Platte-Clay Electric Coop General Manager

Dave Deihl
General Manager

From the General Manager

Every New Year is like starting over with a clean slate. And for the Gen Zers out there, those in their 20s who’ve always had the Internet and cell phones, it’s like getting a new phone and installing the latest apps that will only work on a more powerful piece of equipment.

Starting anew.

Each year at Platte-Clay is a bit like that.

We build on our previous experience and make improvements to provide better or faster member service. Each year the co-op develops a comprehensive business plan that blends both long range capital requirements and annual objectives to reach those goals. For example, in 2018, Platte-Clay will be rebuilding older electric lines, replacing 30 miles at a cost of $4.2 million. By gradually replacing aging lines and re-routing them when appropriate, such as when roads are straightened, members will enjoy increased reliability and quicker restoration time. This measured approach allows the co-op to wisely manage capital resources while improving reliability.

While building new lines in 2018 is important, we’ll also be building our communities, working through various civic, educational and economic development groups.

In addition to support geared to youth—scholarships, Youth Tour and CYCLE (Cooperative Youth Conference and Leadership Experience)—Platte-Clay traditionally reaches out to work with many other organizations.

Based on the last American Consumer Survey Index (ACSI) survey feedback, it appears that some members aren’t aware of the extensive community organization funding and support Platte-Clay provides.

Although the co-op’s score from the most recent survey was a high rating, in fact members ranked Platte-Clay among the top five co-ops in Missouri at 8.57 on a 10-point scale, we think that it’s important to take a look at some of the ways Platte-Clay gives back to our communities.

Representative examples include assisting communities through organizations and activities such as helping sponsor after-prom events at area schools, youth sports teams, civic organizations, such as the Lions, V.F.W., American Legion, garden clubs, Special Olympics and area Chambers of Commerce.

In 2018 we’ll be working with the focus group for suggestions to target other opportunities.

And while we’re rooted in our communities by our poles and lines, from time to time we reach beyond our boundaries—in fact, to the moon.

On August, 21, 2017, we had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience a total solar eclipse here. And as part of that once-in-lifetime, Platte-Clay provided a supporting role in a live broadcast covering the solar eclipse that stretched across the U.S. and right across the Platte-Clay service area.

The Smithsonian Institution’s online educational show, STEM in 30, is a program that encourages learning about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

The show host, Marty Kelsey was livestreaming major segments with KSHB Channel 41’s Gary Lezak from Liberty, Mo., on Aug. 21, 2017. Platte-Clay provided a bucket truck for aerial shots for the Solar Eclipse Special: Live from the Path of Totality.

80 Year Anniversary 2018To see the program, visit https://airandspace.si.edu/events/solar-eclipse-special-live-path-totality. You’ll get a brief glimpse of the Platte-Clay bucket truck and enjoy several cutaway aerial shots.

So while we remain rooted in our communities, we’ll see what 2018, our 80th year, brings.

We’re up for it.

Happy New Year.

If you have questions or concerns, please e-mail me at generalmanager@pcec.coop

 

Manage household demand to manage cost

The very, very easiest way to manage demand is to not use all devices at the same time.

Most families create high demand in the mornings, when everyone is getting ready for work or in the evening, when we’re cooking the evening meal, doing the laundry—using both the washer and dryer–and opening and closing the refrigerator door.

There’s also the time in the shop when we’re using our power tools, which, when combined with other appliance demand, adds to our overall demand and at times, creating new peak demand.

Not plugging in or using everything, or many things that use electricity at the same time will keep demand down.

Truly, it is that simple. And by contrast, at $2.50 per kilowatt for not managing demand, it can become a pricey component of the bill.

This is the time of the year when members are concerned about high bills, in general, and demand in particular.

Platte-Clay’s rates dropped when the co-op separated demand from consumption, and now members pay .079/kWh, down from .11/kWh, the blended rate before November, 2016.

Some of the prime culprits include space heaters, which draw 1500 watts.While a delightful device that will warm us, a pair of warm socks and a fleece throw or sweater is much more practical and less expensive.

The glowing electric furnaces and electric fireplaces also create high demand.

Add that to a couple of 1500 watt hair dryers and the regular appliances we always use, such as the refrigerator, and before long we’re talking real demand.

Manage Demand To Manage Cost

Above Left – space heaters can spike demand, especially when other appliances are in use. Above Right – microwave ovens are quick and efficient. Below – At .079/kWh, Platte-Clay’s rates are lower than the U.S. average of .1255/kWh and among the lowest in the U.S. This map does not show the co-op’s current lower rates, which went into effect Nov., 2016, when the co-op separated the changes into kWh, demand and the customer charge.

Average Prices For Residential Electricity

To help members manage costs, the co-op bills on half of the highest preceding 11 month’s demand or current demand, whichever is more.

One easy way to sort out how much demand your household is creating is by using the co-op’s demand calculator on the web site, www.pcec.coop There’s a link from the home page.

Using the demand calculator is a great exercise for kids who seem reluctant help control costs.

 

Electric vehicles coming to a home near you

We are hearing more and more about electric vehicles (EV)and wondering what it means for us. We now know that in general, it means cleaner and cheaper to operate vehicles.

Platte-Clay was early in supporting electric vehicles by building a charging station at the Kearney Platte-Clay Fuels station, just west of I-35 on Sam Barr Drive. The charging station is on the national charging map, and like many other things, “there’s an app for that.” Just Google electric vehicle charging stations to find a number of resources.

Occasionally we’ll see a Nissan Leaf or a Tesla charging, usually with the owner working on a laptop or reading.

Members have wondered about demand and time of use rates. The co-op does not have time of use rates. And by charging an EV off “household peak,” co-op members may see a minimal change in demand.

But are electric vehicles pie in the sky?

Probably not, and we have new words to learn. Battery operated vehicle, BEV. Fuel cell electric vehicles, FCEVs.

Ford is developing 13 new EVs to be introduced within the next five years including a hybrid F-150 and a Mustang.

Ford is building two hybrid police vehicles and a Transit. Also in the works is a small electric SUV with a 300-mile range.

Stepping into the future, Ford is working on an autonomous hybrid vehicle to be used for ride hailing or vehicle sharing.

So those of us who can’t or who don’t want to drive can tell the car where we want to go. Driving Miss Daisy will take on a new meaning when this Ford gets off of the drawing board and pulls into our driveway.

Looking ahead, Toyota plans to have an electric version of every model by 2025. In addition, it is entering into a joint venture with Mazda build EVs.

Most other major manufacturers also are gearing up now and offering consumers some version of an electric or hybrid vehicle. Tesla, in fact, is working on an electric semi truck.

Ford Focus EV And Tesla 3

Above, Ford Focus EV, from $29,120. Above right, Tesla 3, from $35,000. Below left, all electric Chevy Volt powered by two electric motors with a range of some 400 miles. Below right, Tesla X, starting at $135,000 with gull-wing doors, reminiscent of the classic Mercedes 300 SL built in the mid ‘50s.

Chevy Volt And Tesla X

Below, the Tesla semi. Below right, the Chevy Bolt at a charging station.

Tesla Semi And Chevy Bolt

 

Plan now for shade and blooms

Tree and flower nurseries know how to tickle our fancies.

Especially now when most of us are looking out our windows at a mostly tan landscape punctuated with skeletons of trees and if we’re lucky, some evergreens.

Or maybe a coating of snow or ice, which adds a chill to the winter view.

Hooray for evergreens to remind us of the color of summer.

While we’re looking at a blank slate, it’s a good time to plan for next year’s garden(s) and what we’d like to see.

When planning the co-op’s Monarch butterfly gardens, we were impressed with the Missouri Wildflowers Nursery catalog and web site. The photos are beautiful.

In addition, we learned that they, along with Family Tree Nursery and Soil Service do not use neonicotinoids (insect poisons) in the soil of their plants.

We understand that some of the big box stores have committed to selling plants without the toxins that kill butterflies and beneficial pollinators, along with everything else, although many employees say they do not know about their growers’ practices.

Buyer beware.

For those of us who would like to develop a green thumb, we recommend the Master Gardeners of GreaterKansasCity(MGGKC), which includes our area.

The group, which includes several Platte-Clay members, hosts events throughout the year and holds classes for aspiring gardeners. In addition, MGGKC has demonstration and partnership gardens providing a rewarding volunteer opportunity and practical experience. The Master Gardeners are associated with the University of Missouri Extension offices. For more information, visit MGGKC.org

Plant Trees In Right Place

 

PCEC Security

PCEC Security Logo

Keep your family and home safe with a PCEC Security system.

Get an alert when your children get home from school, use the video capabilities to see who’s at your door.

Call 628-3121 for more information on how PCEC Security can give you peace of mind.

 

Interested in serving on the Board?

Your co-op offers several ways of being involved beyond flipping on a light switch and paying for service each month.

One of the ways, in addition to serving on a committee, is to run for and if elected, serve on the Board of Directors.

The co-op by-laws prescribe three-year terms for the three Directors who represent the three Districts.

The terms are staggered, which means that each year there is one member from each District up for re-election.

For information on Board requirements, please visit the co-op’s web site, www.pcec.coop and review the by-laws in the About section. Then call Ms. Kinard, 903-7302 before Feb. 22 and let her know of your interest.

A member of the nominating committee will discuss the requirements and time commitment involved with serving on the board.

Members who miss the Feb. 22 deadline may submit a petition, signed by 15 co-op members, by March 1 to appear on the ballot.

The annual meeting this year is May 10.

Although not recommended, because members won’t have a chance to learn about an individual, a member may be nominated from the floor as a write-in candidate.

 

Interested in serving on the Focus Group?

We think what you have to say is fascinating.

We think you’d be great on the focus group.

The group will discuss co-op activities and marketing campaigns, for example, and provide feedback and member insight.

Ideally, we’ll have a representative mix of older and younger members from across the co-op service area–generally Weston to around Richmond and Hwy. 152 to Cameron.

It’s a fast-paced evening that starts with a meal at 6:00 p.m. and discussion until 8:30 p.m. at the latest. The group meets quarterly and members of the group receive a $50 stipend.

If it sounds interesting, there’s a form on the web site, www. pcec.coop or call the office, 628- 3121, and we’ll mail one to you.

 

The Northland Connection is published monthly by Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative, Inc., 1000 W. 92 Highway, Kearney, MO 64060. Postmaster: Please send address changes to: Northland Connection, PO Box 100, Kearney, MO 64060 or mail@pcec.coop.

Platte-Clay is an equal opportunity employer.

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December 2017

Platte-Clay Northland Connection Newsletter December 2017

Best Wishes For Holiday Season

 

A year of transition

Dave Deihl Platte-Clay Electric Coop General Manager

Dave Deihl
General Manager

From the General Manager

We wanted to take this opportunity to take a look back over the past year, one that has seen many changes and activities that help Platte-Clay continue to provide reliable, low-cost energy to members.

To put this column in perspective, I am the fourth general manager in the history of the co-op. It’s an honor, it’s a challenge and there’s been a lot to learn and accomplish.

I thought I’d share some of what we’ve been working on.

You’ll be familiar with some of the activities, but we want to give you an idea of what your co-op has been doing during this year of transition.

One of Platte-Clay’s annual activities is to develop a comprehensive business plan with a detailed budget.

We know that an electric utility’s revenue is driven in large part by weather: the colder or hotter it is the more energy we use, so we, like farmers, use long-term projections to help develop our budget. Other budget factors, for example, include area growth, projected to be modest to slow this year. In spite of the flat revenue projections, I am pleased to share that we do not anticipate any rate increases in 2018.

Platte-Clay continues to participate in numerous community activities and works to make a difference in the Northland. The co-op is involved in various Chambers of Commerce economic development activities because ultimately that means more jobs closer to home for co-op members and more co-op members.

Power For Progress LogoNew this year, Associated Electric Cooperative Inc. (AECI), the co-op’s power producer, is working with the University of Missouri Extension and has started a regional community economic development program called Power 4 Progress. In 2018, co-op employees will be trained on how to best assist and encourage targeted businesses to locate in our communities.

We also continue to assist businesses with a generous commercial lighting incentive that helps existing businesses.

On a more personal note, at the Holiday Open House and during the month of December we collect coats and canned goods to be distributed through area food pantries. That program peaks during December, when the temperatures drop and food pantries need help meeting requests. In addition, co-op employees adopt two families and provide gifts for them.

Annual community projects have included working with Rebuilding Clay County, planting trees in parks and this year planting two Monarch butterfly gardens, one at each office.

Platte-Clay has hosted a successful blood drive at both locations during October, Co-op Month, with donations exceeding the Community Blood Bank’s projections. Our sincere thanks to all who participated.

And we don’t leave out education. The Youth Tour essay contest encourages sophomores and juniors to stretch their thinking—and earn a trip to Washington, D.C., in the summer.

Teachers can earn one free graduate degree credit by participating in Energy in the Classroom. The two-day event introduces teachers to our power sources and an overview of the energy industry with expenses covered by Platte-Clay.

This year the annual focus group reviewed the co-op’s environmental activities in response to a motion made at the annual meeting. Their report will be given during the 2018 Annual Meeting, May 10.

Because so many of us rely on our smart phones, the co-op is working with its software vendors on an app that will allow members to go directly to their account, similar to apps used by many banks and financial institutions. We anticipate the new app will be rolled out during the first half of 2018. We’ll keep you posted.

Behind the scenes, we’ve been working on plans to revamp the co-op web site.

In terms of personnel, we saw long-time general manager Mike Torres retire following the annual meeting in May. He was responsible for several projects that during his tenure gave Platte-Clay a well-deserved national reputation for innovation and we will continue to embrace new ideas and technology.

In 2017, the co-op rolled out demand billing. A new concept to residential members, it is how the co-op has billed large industrial members for many years. Taking the logical next step, now residential and smaller commercial accounts are billed on demand, making the co-op’s billing fair to all members – from the largest industrials to the smallest households.

Platte-Clay representatives now are speaking on panels to other co-ops about demand billing benefits and sharing information as part of Touchstone Energy co-ops’ best practices.

And last, but not least, in August the Board of Directors and staff participated in a two-day workshop to identify the co-op’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats—commonly called SWOT analysis—and from that list, established goals for not only 2018, but for the foreseeable future.

Safety, for instance, ranked at the top and always has been and will be a cooperative goal. Other goals are member-focused and practical, for instance, developing and implementing a plan focused on the long-term reliability of electric service for all members, improving the co-op infrastructure and making certain that the co-op’s assets are safe, among others. And during the course of the year, the Board reviews policies and procedures to keep the co-op current on issues.

As we’re wrapping up a whirlwind 2017, I think we’re off to a good 2018, Platte-Clay’s 80th Anniversary.

Best wishes for the Holidays and Happy New Year.

If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at generalmanager@pcec.coop

Christmas Lights Banner

 

New Printing For Rural Missouri

Rural Missouri LogoWe are pleased to tell you that Rural Missouri, the monthly publication sent out by the Association of Missouri Cooperatives, AMEC, is moving to a glossy paper, similar to the Northland Connection from newsprint.

And, more good news, it’s being printed in Liberty at LSC Communications. We understand some of their employees also are co-op members, so we think we’re in good hands.

We aren’t as pleased to tell you that we will be in the center of the publication — flip it open to the staples and the Platte-Clay page will be the one to the left.

We’ll continue to send out the Northland Connection with the bills, as it’s the most cost-effective method for staying in touch with co-op members.

The Rural Missouri magazine will continue to serve as the official annual meeting notice, since it is sent to all members at the same time, within the by-law requirements.

Finding a new printer after 29 years at the other one was a bit difficult.

Unfortunately, Tribune Publishing was sold to Gatehouse Media which has been consolidating printing operations, causing layoffs, a decline in employee moral and loss of service for Rural Missouri and the co-ops.

We hope you enjoy the new look.

 

‘Tis The Season For Students

How About a Scholarship, a Trip To Washington, D.C., or a Graduate Degree Credit?

Attention Sophomores and Juniors – Earn a free trip to Washinton, D.C.

Platte-Clay’s annual Youth Tour essay / video contest is open to sophomores and juniors who would like to take a chance on earning a trip to Washington, D.C., June 8-14.

Many of the Missouri rural electric cooperatives sponsor students, who will be a part of the trip. Two area students will be with other high-achieving students who will visit memorials, monuments and museums, including the Newseum. A national program, students from other states also will be in the capitol June 8-14.

For more information, take a look at these sites: http://www.amec.coop/content/youth-programs and https://www.electric.coop/our-organization/youth-programs/

CYCLE, which stands for Cooperative Youth Conference and Leadership Experience, is a three-day program designed for students to have fun, teach students about rural electric cooperatives, have fun, learn leadership skills, spend a day at the state Capitol, learn and have fun. The co-op covers the program, lodging, meals and transportation to and from Jefferson City, if necessary.

Attention Seniors – Platte-Clay will award three $1,000 scholarships
Deadline March 20

Seniors – start your scholarship application. Platte-Clay will award three $1,000 scholarships, one for each District. The application is online at www.pcec.coop

The scholarship will be paid to your school. Scholarship applications are due Tuesday, March 20.

Attention teachers – Earn a free graduate degree credit while learning about energy 2 days in July

Platte-Clay will sponsor one teacher who will earn one graduate degree credit. Free. The class, called Energy in the Classroom, will be held at the University of Missouri-Columbia July 25-26, 2018, and will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday and conclude at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday.

The co-op scholarship covers all expenses including tuition, meals, instructional material and lodging if needed.

Here’s what you need to know for the Energy in the Classroom (ASM 7370) qualifications and details.

The program is open to middle or high school instructors who have a background in or are teaching agriculture science, building trades, life skills, math or science.

Platte-Clay will award one scholarship and select an alternate instructor in the event the first instructor is unable to participate. The alternate will have the first opportunity for 2019.

Participants will have 15 hours of lively classroom training over the two days, for 15 hours of professional development.

Instructors also will receive a free classroom kit to use in the classroom. The kit includes reference guides and tools plus several hands-on demonstration tools to spark the learning experience.

In addition to the co-op paid graduate degree, participants have the opportunity to earn an additional graduate course credit at the teacher’s expense. Energy in the Classroom instructors will share details at the end of the class.

To apply for the class, go to https://applygradmissouri.edu/apply/?sr=7a956bbc-c8c6-4e4b-8ba-3-80c279556e3e

Scroll to the bottom of the application home page and click on Create an account under First Time Users.

Please check your calendars for birthdays, weddings, vacations and other activities which could prevent participating in the July 25-26 program and earning a free graduate degree.

Deadline is Monday, April 23, 2018.

 

Christmas Lights Banner

Shop Platte-Clay for gifts that people will really appreciate.

Let’s start with the monster in the basement, the one we’re afraid of: the water heater. Nothing puts dread in a homeowner’s heart like a cold shower or a leaky water heater. So if Mom and Dad’s water heater is on its last legs, head for Platte-Clay.

Your co-op handles energy efficient Marathon water heaters. The super-insulated Marathons are plastic and guaranteed for life.

And, along with water heaters, the co-op requires a water heater service agreement for $2.50 a month with a minimum three-year agreement, or $90. For that $90, members get peace of mind and a licensed plumber to take care of any and all problems associated with water heaters, including unit replacement.

While we’re talking water, let’s talk about Ritchie Waterers. The Farmers’ Almanac is calling for a mild winter, but that’s relative when the temperature is in the teens or twenties—because that’s below freezing. And who wants to break ice on the pond or haul buckets of water to water tanks? Or pay for expensive stock tank heaters?

Energy efficient Ritchie waterers to the rescue.

The very best time to install a Ritchie is before the ground freezes, as it will be necessary to run a water line and an electrical line to the fountain or fountains.

Next in the peace of mind category is a generator large enough to power homes, neighborhoods or businesses.

Platte-Clay is an authorized Kohler dealer and can provide turn-key service, from proper sizing and sale to installation. Generators can be powered by propane or natural gas, if it’s available. The units conduct a self-test each month and provide a warning if something is out of kilter.

Call 628-3121, visit www.pcec.coop or stop by either office for assistance.

Christmas Lights Banner 180

 

Board of Directors

Debi Stewart

Debi Stewart

Each month when the Board meets with management and reviews the co-op’s activities we learn something new. It is a joy to come to the meetings and work with a talented group of individuals who for that day share the co-op’s best interests—and your best interests–with one another.

It is because of both the Board and employees’ commitment to working for the membership that after 79 years we have such a strong and vibrant co-op.

One of the first milestones during the 80th anniversary year will be the Youth Tour essay contest deadline, Jan. 25. The essay can be written or students can produce a short video on the topic, “What it Means to be a Servant Leader.”

We see the benefits of servant leadership at Platte-Clay, and it makes for a smoother, kinder management style. It also dovetails with the cooperative model.

While there are several definitions, the one I like is “Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world.” That’s from the Greenleaf Organization. I think we can agree that it’s exactly the kind of communities and cooperative we want.

Sophomores and juniors are at a great age to start learning about what it takes to be an effective leader, especially a servant leader.

As an educator, I want to encourage this opportunity for students to think about the kind of a world they want to create. For students, today that includes family, friends, school and any other organizations in which they’re involved. And as our sophomores and juniors mature, their family, their children, their business, their community.

This is a great time of the year to think about caring for others. Plus this opportunity comes with reward: an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., in June, or to Jefferson City, Mo., in July.

We hope sophomores and juniors will step up and participate in this year’s Youth Tour essay contest and use the theme of servant leadership as a positive learning experience.

On behalf of your Board of Directors, we wish you the best for the Holidays and the New Year.

 

SolarTech Logo

 

The Northland Connection is published monthly by Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative, Inc., 1000 W. 92 Highway, Kearney, MO 64060. Postmaster: Please send address changes to: Northland Connection, PO Box 100, Kearney, MO 64060 or mail@pcec.coop.

Platte-Clay is an equal opportunity employer.

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November 2017

Platte-Clay Northland Connection Newsletter November 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy ThanksgivingIn the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, the Platte-Clay offices will be closed Thursday, Nov. 23 and Friday, Nov. 24

For emergency service
24 x 7 x 365
please call
816-628-3121

For general information or to pay your bill, please visit www.pcec.coop

 

Holiday Open House Friday, Dec. 1

Please join us Dec. 1 and help those in need.

Please help by bringing current, non-perishable food, no glass containers. New or gently-used coats for distribution through area food banks.

Chili lunch served 11:30 – 1:30 p.m. – Calendars while supplies last.

 

Broadband: been there, done that

Dave Deihl Platte-Clay Electric Coop General Manager

Dave Deihl
General Manager

From the General Manager

From time to time we get requests to provide broadband service in areas where Platte-Clay provides electric service.

In fact, we’ll be seeing a lot more information about providing broadband services in rural areas from Federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and closer to home, the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives (AMEC) which is working to help other rural co-ops get funding to help pay for that service.

Most co-op members know that Platte-Clay tends to be among the first co-ops to offer new products and services. It makes good business sense, especially when a product or service benefits members or when it’s a good competitive move.

Platte-Clay’s operating philosophy could be characterized a bit like the Wayne Gretzky quote: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” One of hockey’s greatest players, it’s not a bad philosophy when tempered with good business practices.

Platte-Clay put that philosophy into play in the the late 1990s and early 2000s when there was concern about deregulation, which would have allowed other electric companies to come in, use Platte-Clay lines and “cherry pick” members for their business, ultimately financially harming the co-op.

In an effort to protect the co-op, the Platte-Clay management and Board looked to build on its strongest asset—its relationship with co-op members—and diversify into other types of businesses. Including broadband.

Some members will remember Sky Link, a satellite-delivered broadband service Platte-Clay offered. And most subscribers will recall how unhappy they were with the service. There were outages and signal degradation when it rained or snowed, just the times when we’d like to lean back in our recliner and enjoy a good game or movie.

There were just too many complaints and no way for Platte-Clay to help the subscribers. Although we can and do restore electric service in a rain or snow storm, we couldn’t fix a satellite signal.

As a result, Platte-Clay got out of the business. After that the co-op referred members to United Electric Co-op, based in Maryville, Mo., for service, although they too got out of satellite-delivered services.

One of the most important reasons Platte-Clay hasn’t proposed getting back into the business is that technology is changing too fast.

To go back to hockey, we can’t skate to where the technology puck is going because it’s moving too fast. It will be gone when we get there in spite of our best planning.

For example, whoever thought we’d be talking to someone on our front porch through our doorbell with our smartphone. We could be in the Bahamas, for all they know. That’s how much the security business, with new technology, has changed.

Here are some additional reasons Platte-Clay doesn’t consider broadband a good business proposition, looking at just Clay and Platte Counties, which are the most populated in our service area.

  • First, it’s expensive to provide broadband services.
  • Second, there’s lots of competition in our area and in the state.
  • There are 236 internet providers in Missouri.
  • There are 20 internet providers in Kearney and Platte City providing residential and business services of varying speeds via telephone landline, DSL, cable, fiber and mobile telephone network.
  • Almost 60 percent of Platte County residents have access to a fiber optic network, in Clay County, it is 65 percent.

None of these providers gets high marks: on a five scale only a couple get to the third star for customer satisfaction.

So between the expense of rolling out a service with only limited opportunity for a return on investment—the co-op’s investment—and the known problems with product delivery, we have decided that keeping the lights on is where we need to put our energies. Thanks for taking time to write and call.

Have a great Thanksgiving.

Please feel free to write generalmanager@pcec.coop or call 628-3121 if you have questions or concerns.

Thanksgiving Banner

 

2017 employee community / environmental project supports Monarch butterflies, native plants

Monarch ButterflyFor the past several years Platte-Clay management and employees have done two things to benefit the co-op service area: put a community outreach project in the annual business plan and then went to work to make that goal a reality.

This year the community project was to build a Monarch butterfly garden.

When the question of “where” came up, the co-op decided to build a garden at its offices, one in Kearney and one in Platte City.

The last two years the co-op planted a number of trees at area parks, Platte Ridge Park, north of Platte City and in the camping area below the Smithville Lake Dam.

Monarch Butterfly Map

It’s a long way from Kearney north to the next certified waystation, shown on this Monarch Watch map.

The year before the trees, employees brought out tools and worked with Rebuilding Clay County, helping rehab a house for a family dealing with the primary breadwinner’s disability from a fall, his inability to work full time and to do routine and deferred home maintenance.

Kearney Monarch Garden Plant Installers

Kearney employees who installed the plants. Front row L-R: master gardeners Judy Eickhoff, a Platte-Clay member and Sara Scheil, with Jennifer Grossl. Middle row: Rhonda Nash, Julie Morrison, Becky Pendleton, Angie Kinard, Carol Fitz, Jamie Lawson. Back row: Ken Brown, Cheryl Barnes, Tim Hill, Jan Mansil, Tracy Archer, Dave Deihl, Brenda Mitton, Doug Conner, Roger Mick, Tony Neland and Bob Stephenson.

Monarch Garden

Platte City Monarch garden. The native plant list in the Platte-Clay garden includes: Butterfly Milkweed (Ascleplas tuberosa), Common Milkweed (Ascleplas syriaca), Missouri Primrose (Oenothera macrocarpa), New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Purple Milkweed (Ascleplas purpurascens), Rattlesnake Master (Erynglum yuccifolium), Rough Blazing Star (Liatris aspera), Showy Goldenrod (Solidago speciosa), Swamp Milkweed (Ascleplas incarnata), Whorled Milkweed (Ascleplas verticillata) and Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum). And along the borders, sedge.

Each activity was a way of giving back to the community.

This year the community, if you will, is the environment.

Monarch butterflies, and in fact, many butterflies and other pollinators are dying and endangered because of the extensive use of pesticides and the loss of habitat.

Monarchs have it tough.

Many times we don’t even know that we’re killing butterflies when we buy plants from nurseries: we can’t see neonicotinoids, commonly called neonics and most growers don’t label the plants and the retailers aren’t necessarily up on the dangers of neonics.

Some of us may recognize these neonics from other products we use: acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, nithiazine, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam.

The chemicals are absorbed by plants and then found in the pollen and nectar, making them toxic to bees and butterflies. These chemicals also can leach into groundwater and be taken up by plants, again creating toxic pollen and nectar.

And then there are those of us who like the manicured garden look and spray dandelions, for example, with herbicides, killing and reducing nectar and pollen sources., important in early spring.

So Monarch butterflies, with an almost 4” wingspan and weighing less than a sheet of paper, are at our mercy as they migrate some 1,200 to 3,000 miles from their southern hibernation sites in central Mexico through the U.S. on to Canada.

When we think about it, nature is remarkable.

Because the adult butterflies live only four or five weeks, successions of generations travel north in the spring and south in the fall. Females lay their eggs on milkweed, a Monarch caterpillar’s only source of food.

The fall generation of Monarchs that hatch in our area, called the “super generation” because of their longevity, migrate on to central Mexico. There they overwinter in the mountains northwest of Mexico City, a UNESCO World Heritage Center, called the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. Or, in Spanish, Reserva de Biosfera de la Mariposa Monarca.

In the U.S., Monarchs come through the Midwest on their way north and south. In fact, there’s a long-range plan—at this point a long-range hope–to establish an I-35 corridor with Monarch Waystations—gardens with milkweed—planted in sufficient quantities to help the species get off of the endangered list.

While it sounds a bit daunting to save a species, actually it’s a simple matter of establishing a pesticide and herbicide-free area and planting varieties of milkweed and other blooming native plants and let them do the rest.

So with that in mind, the co-op met with an area landscaper, Misty Riley, of Chris’ Lawn Care & Landscape, a co-op member, to discuss the garden.

Also at the meeting were two master gardeners: Judy Eickhoff, a co-op member who lives near Platte City and Sara Scheil, with the double distinction of being both a master gardener and a master naturalist.

Former board member Ron Adam, also a master gardener, recommended the co-op contact the Master Gardeners of Greater Kansas City for experience and input.

Armed with a list of native plants, including several varieties of milkweed and other natives that will bloom throughout the summer, the co-op contacted area nurseries.

While some nurseries still had a few natives in September, the bulk of the plants came from Missouri Wildflowers Nursery, located near Jefferson City. The group had referred to their web site, color photos and descriptions to help determine which plants to use.

On planting day the master gardeners got out a construction tape measure and determined the spacing for plants. Employees followed behind, some digging, some placing, some planting, followed by mulching and watering them in.

The Kearney Monarch garden is near the entrance to the building, next to the driveway. The following week employees at the Platte City office planted a smaller garden on the west side of the District Office on Bethel Road.

The two Monarch gardens join Monarch Watch’s list of certified Monarch Waystation Networks, which seem to have a concentration of Monarch gardens in cities, although not as many in the rural areas.

So what will two little patches of milkweed do? We don’t know, but we’re willing to bet we’ll see Monarchs in both gardens next summer. And maybe a few more safe gardens.

At a time of the year when we’re thinking about the bounty of the harvest and sharing a meal with friends, we’re happy to report that we’ve prepared a meal for next spring’s flight of Monarchs and their caterpillars.

 

Monarch resources

Missouri Department of Natural Resources
http://dnr.mo.gov/ – search for Monarch butterfly

Missouri 4-H
http://4h.missouri.edu/

Monarch Watch
www.monarchwatch.org

Based at Kansas University in Lawrence, Monarch Watch is a comprehensive resource and includes information on how to get free milkweed seeds for schools and nonprofits. There is an online application for the Spring, 2018, distribution.

Monarch Joint Venture
www.monarchjointventure.org

A diverse group of organizations supporting Monarch habitat, the Monarch Joint Venture (MJV) is a partnership of federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations and academic programs that are working together to support and coordinate efforts to protect the Monarch migration across the lower 48 United States.

Missouri Prairie Foundation
www.grownative.org

Native plant sources

Now is a good time to touch bases with Santa about gift cards and to plan a spring garden.

While these aren’t all of the nurseries in our area, our understanding is that these do not use neonicotinoids, which are toxic to butterflies and other pollinators, on their plants.

Critical Site Products
www.critsite.com

Family Tree Nursery, Liberty
www.famlytreenursery.com

Missouri Wildflowers Nursery, Jefferson City
www.mowildflowers.net

Penrod’s Greenhouse & Nursery, Kearney
www.penrodsgreenhouse.com

Soil Service Nursery, Kansas City
www.soilservice.com

 

PCEC In Our Communities

Platte-Clay Holiday Open House

Coats And Cans

  • Platte City – 15055 Bethel Rd., 64079
  • Kearney, 1000 W. State Route 92, 64060 *
  • Friday, Dec. 1 – Calendars while supplies last
  • Enjoy chili for lunch 11:30 – 1:30, plus light holiday refreshments all day
  • Enter a drawing to win one of four $50 Platte-Clay Fuels cards

To help those in need, please bring gently-used or new coats and current non-perishable foods, and please, no glass containers.

* Google maps has our location wrong, we’re on the west side of I-35. Look for the Platte-Clay Fuels sign.

 

PCEC Blood Drive

PCEC Blood DriveThanks to the co-op members and employees who donated blood during the co-op’s October 11 blood drive. There were 12 first-time donors and a total of 70 units of blood collected. The Community Blood Center said Platte-Clay participants can save more than 250 lives with our donations.

The $100 Platte-Clay Fuel cards winners are Laura Flinn, of Kearney, and James Pemberton, of Smithville.

 

Any teachers interested in a free graduate degree credit?

Yes, you read that right. Free graduate degree credit.

The program is first come, first served.

We will have an alternate in the event we have more applicants and if a space becomes available because another instructor is unable to attend.

Go to https://applygrad.missouri.edu/apply/?sr=7a956bbc-c8c6-4e4b-8ba3-80c279556e3d

Scroll to the bottom of the application home page and click on create an account under first time users.

Platte-Clay will sponsor a teacher interested in spending July 25 and July 26 in Columbia to learn about where and how our power comes from.

Topics include energy basics, energy sources, power generation and transmission, economics and energy production, energy efficiency and tours of the university’s multi-fuel power generation station and Boone Electric Co-op’s community solar array.

To receive a credit for the 2018 session, teachers must apply for admission and be admitted by the Office of Graduate Studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Questions? Contact Mizzou Graduate Admissions at 1-800-877-6312 or via e-mail at gradadmin@missouri.edu

 

We have company coming –
pole inspections through end of year

Pole Inspections

Platte-Clay’s pole inspection company, Lee Pole Inspection, will be working on the west side of the service area, in the Dearborn and Camden Point area through the end of the year. The pole inspection program is part of the co-op’s routine maintenance program.

The pole inspectors will be in a marked vehicle with identification. From time to time, they will need access to your property to inspect the power poles, and for some locations they may be on a four-wheeler so they can reach the poles in a timely manner.

By methodically checking the co-op infrastructure, we are able to reduce both the number of outages and the length of time required to restore service.

We think everyone will agree that replacing poles in the daylight and in good weather is both safer and cheaper than replacing a failed pole in a rain or snow storm at 3 a.m.

If you have any questions about the pole inspector, please call the office, 628-3121 24 x 7.

 

Youth Tour Essay Contest

Youth Tour Essay ContestSophomores and juniors. Write a 600-750 word essay or produce a video on “What it means to be a servant leader.” True, you may never have heard of it, but that’s part of the adventure of learning.

Deadline is Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018.

Get cracking: two students will earn a trip to Washington, D.C. Four students will earn a trip to a leadership conference in Jefferson City. This is a great opportunity for area students. And you can be one of them. More info at www.pcec.coop in the educational section.

 

The Northland Connection is published monthly by Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative, Inc., 1000 W. 92 Highway, Kearney, MO 64060. Postmaster: Please send address changes to: Northland Connection, PO Box 100, Kearney, MO 64060 or mail@pcec.coop.

Platte-Clay is an equal opportunity employer.

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October 2017

Platte-Clay Northland Connection Newsletter October 2017

Who Powers You Contest

Touchstone Energy Cooperative LogoHonor a co-op member for a chance to win a cash prize

  • First Prize $5,000
  • Second Prize $2,000
  • Third Prize $1,500

Touchstone Energy, a national alliance of more than 700 rural electric cooperatives, including Platte-Clay, is sponsoring a contest to honor local co-op members who are making a positive impact on their community.

The individuals nominated must be a rural electric cooperative member and be a local hero–an individual who is making a difference in our community.

To enter, co-op members will need to share a digital photo of their nominee and provide a short description of how the individual makes a difference.

Co-op employees are not eligible, but may submit a nomination.

The 2016 finalists included:

  • Two women, Karli Crenshaw and Brittani Clegg, who started Grass Roots Rescue, a nonprofit, volunteer organization that rescues and finds homes for displaced animals in Delaware and Maryland. They are members of Delaware Electric Cooperative.
  • The Morris family, of Whitesville, Ky., has been building wheelchair ramps and making homes wheelchair accessible through an organization called the Angels for Ashley Foundation.
    In addition, the Morris’s have raised $200,000 for other organizations that support local families, St. Jude, Trinity High School and a Haiti mission. They are members of Kenergy Corp., a rural electric co-op based in Marion, Ky.
  • The Southwells, of Hondo, Texas, have spent more than a decade helping neglected and abused kids.
    They also formed an organization called Helping Abused and Neglected Kids — HANK — to help place the children in foster homes. In addition, the couple built foster homes to provide shelter and protect children in their town.

Primary eligibility:
To enter, you must be the legal age of majority where you reside and a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident. Any individual nominated in your entry also must be the legal age of majority in his/her place of residence and a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident.

By nominating an individual, you:
(1) represent and warrant that you have the individual’s permission to feature the individual and his/her name, image, and/or likeness in your entry, and
(2) the individual has granted permission for your entry to be publicly posted in any form, manner or media and for Touchstone Energy to use your entry and the individual’s name, image, or likeness for any commercial or non-commercial purposes.

There is one entry per person and the deadline is Nov. 4. Visit www.whopowersyou.com for the complete rules and entry form.

 

Co-op Month – a reason to celebrate

Dave Deihl Platte-Clay Electric Coop General Manager

Dave Deihl
General Manager

From the General Manager

In a digital age, when our children and some of us of a certain age are called digital natives—those who have always had cell phones and computers—a rural electric cooperative may seem old fashioned. But Platte-Clay delivers the best of both worlds–old fashioned, yet nimble and tech savvy when it comes to providing high quality member services.

It’s part of our value structure, it’s part of our heritage.

Platte-Clay is old fashioned in that when a member calls in with an outage, a crew goes out to restore service, day or night, no matter the weather.

Old fashioned in that Platte-Clay’s members elect other members to serve on the Board of Directors. These members aren’t outsiders making important decisions on our behalf—they’re our friends and neighbors who have gone to work to learn about the industry and each month review co-op activities and make important decisions on our behalf.

Recently the Board of Directors and staff met to conduct a thorough top-down analysis and review of the co-op’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, abbreviated in business circles to SWOT.

Out of more than 200 items, the management group narrowed its focus to a three-year plan that will include objectives to meet these goals:

  • Focus on and enhance the culture of safety within Platte-Clay
  • Craft and implement a plan focused on developing and sustaining a long-term, quality workforce
  • Review and recommend changes to the long-range financial plan, providing strategic guidance on equity, financial coverage ratios, plant investment and capital credit distribution
  • Develop and implement a plan focused on maintaining and/or improving the long-term reliability of electric service for all members
  • Create and execute a plan focused on increasing the co-op’s involvement with all communities within its service territory
  • Perform an overview of present and potential affiliated businesses

I’m pleased to say that in general, Platte-Clay is doing a really good job, and we see that in the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey scores that members give the co-op.

We want to build on our strengths as we move to meeting the needs and expectations of co-op members by integrating technology and becoming a stronger, more efficient and more resilient utility.

By being aligned with the membership, by managing costs, by looking ahead and planning for the future, your co-op will continue to meet its promise to deliver low cost, reliable service and, in a digital age, embracing technology to provide the speed, convenience and service that digital natives, and in fact, all of us expect.

We think that’s a lot to celebrate. Happy Co-op Month.

If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at generalmanager@pcec.coop.

 

Reduce demand and save

Save money by reducing demand, by not using as many “plugs” or items at the same time.

By pulling out demand and billing accordingly, families now can determine when and how they create high demand. For those who want to reduce costs, it’s an easy change.

For other families, it’s a constant challenge to manage the household schedule.

For those who like to review costs and play around with how to save, we suggest using the demand calculator on the co-op web site, www.pcec.coop There’s a link from the home page.

The demand calculator includes summer and winter appliances and devices to help get a reasonable picture of household demand.

The bottom line on how to reduce demand is to simply not use all appliances or devices at the same time. Please feel free to call the office, 628-3121, or stop by if you have questions or concerns.

 

Co-op Month

Co-op Month is a good time to acknowledge, appreciate and remember how a co-op operates and benefits its members.

Every year at the annual meeting we see many of the 7 Cooperative Principles in practice, others aren’t as apparent.

1Voluntary and Open Membership
Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

2Democratic Member Control
Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. The elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and cooperatives at other levels are organized in a democratic manner.

3Members’ Economic Participation
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership.

Members Running For Board Of Directors

Co-op principles by the numbers. Above, 1, Co-op members running for the Board of Directors. L-R: Debi Stewart, North District; Robert Ray, West District; and Gary Shanks and George Schieber, both South District. The co-op attorney, Chris Kirley, ran the election.

Paper Ballots And Capital Credit Checks

Above left, 2, Members used paper ballots for the election. Above right, 3, Members picked up capital credit checks at the annual meeting.

4Autonomy and Independence
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.

5Education, Training and Information
Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public, particularly young people and opinion leaders, about the nature and benefits of cooperation.

6Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

7Concern for Community
While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members.

Power Contract Requires Lowest Energy

Our power contract requires lowest-cost energy from Associated.

Lathrop Career Day

Lathrop Career Day

Restore Electric Service After March Tornado

Crews from area co-ops came in to rebuild lines and help Platte-Clay restore service after the March tornado. This is near Lathrop.

Planting Trees At Smiths Fork Campground

Platte-Clay employees planted 25 trees at the Smith’s Fork Park Campground near the Smithville dam as part of the co-op’s 2017 community service project.

 

Because parents can’t be everywhere

Securtiy Hardware Provider

There’s always something going on with technology, and your co-op tends to be right there working to integrate it into its operations.

Alarm.com, the co-op’s security hardware supplier, has added two-way audio to its indoor wi-fi cameras and that capability now is available to PCEC Security customers.

Aging parent home alone?

Kids bring home an extra friend or two and playing video games instead of doing homework?

Want to know what caused the sound of breaking glass?

Now it’s possible for parents, homeowners and businesses to better monitor activities from anywhere.

The new audio feature uses the Alarm.com mobile app which allows customers to hear sound and respond via the camera.

Customers without cameras may call in to have the advanced cameras and audio feature installed.

Customers with video-only cameras who wish to upgrade will need to:

Log into your personal Alarm.com home page. Click on video devices. Click on Video Device information. Check to make sure the firmware version is greater than IP8168 ALAM0 100 B9 to add the video plus voice capabilities. Depending on the internet provider, the advanced service may require additional bandwidth.

For additional information, assistance or to upgrade the security system, call 816-628-3121.

 

Demand meter changeouts to continue through 2019

Digital MetersPlatte-Clay crews will continue changing out the old meters for new digital models, shown here. The new meters use the same technology as the older meters, so only the meter needs changing.

The new meters have additional features that will allow the co-op to improve internal billing efficiencies.

To minimize the cost of changing out some 20,000 meters, crews are working between maintenance activities and service calls, which take precedence.

The co-op anticipates the work will continue through 2019. Crews always wear co-op clothing and drive official, marked co-op vehicles.

Members do not need to be at home as all work is done outside of the home. Employees will need access to the meter location.

 

Directors’ Corner

Oh, the places you’ll go

Debi Stewart

Debi Stewart
Board President

Dr. Seuss was right: “The more that you read the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

For your Board of Directors, an August retreat held on site in Kearney was an adventure in learning about Platte-Clay’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats — commonly called SWOT.

Using the process of identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, SWOT, is one of the ways organizations develop a plan for moving into the future—the more places we’ll go together as a co-op, blending in new technology, member interests and maintaining a strong financial operation.

Most of us don’t give the industry a second thought—we don’t have to–because when we flip the switch we have electricity.

But there’s a lot going on and I am happy to report that your Board and your co-op management are involved and working on your behalf.

The engineering, finance, human resources, information technology, member services and operations staff, along with the general manager, were on hand to share information and to be a part of the priorities and co-op goal setting.

Some of the discussion included current topics such as cyber security; the effect of distributed generation, which in other businesses would be called “churn,” or losing customers; the possible effect of electric vehicles on the grid, the price of wholesale power.

Opportunities your Board will be reviewing and learning more about include future trends in energy, opportunities in technologies, implementing member digital communications, and working to keep abreast of innovations in our industry that benefit co-op members, especially helping control costs and continuing to deliver the lowest-cost electricity.

While there were a number of topics, the management group distilled them into a funnel with the top priority the Industry Update, followed by developing a Mission Statement, prioritizing the SWOT items followed by Strategic Issues. From this staircase of topics, your Board will develop goals. Staff will help craft a plan and way to monitor objectives on the way to meeting the co-op goals.

This won’t be a S.P.O.T.S.—a Strategic Plan On The Shelf; it will be a working, lively document incorporated into the co-op’s business plan.

Going forward and making progress toward reaching these goals will be success markers for both the co-op, as a nonprofit rural electric cooperative, and the membership as power consumers.

 

The Northland Connection is published monthly by Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative, Inc., 1000 W. 92 Highway, Kearney, MO 64060. Postmaster: Please send address changes to: Northland Connection, PO Box 100, Kearney, MO 64060 or mail@pcec.coop.

Platte-Clay is an equal opportunity employer.

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September 2017

Platte-Clay Northland Connection Newsletter September 2017

National Preparedness Month

National Preparedness MonthNow that students are settling into school and parents into the routine for the year, it’s a good time to think about what our household will do if there’s a destructive storm that creates an extensive or lengthy outage.

We are so accustomed to always having power that some members move into panic mode if the lights are off, even for a short time.

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has these recommendations.

The only thing we would add, because of our blended exurban-rural area is to remember pets and our livestock, which will change this list a bit.

FEMA says to store items in airtight, plastic bags, placed in a duffle bag—consider one with wheels—or several bins, ideally numbered and with the same color of tops, so they’re easy to identify as emergency supplies in the event we need to leave our home and seek shelter elsewhere.

Families may want to have an individual tote for each person.

Families with members who have special needs such as oxygen or diabetic supplies, or even something as common as contact lenses will need to plan accordingly.

If the roads are out and the power is out, it’s very possible we’ll be on our own for several days.

Basic checklist

  • Prescriptions, medications and glasses.
  • Extra medical supplies, such as oxygen tanks.
  • Backup batteries / back up power sources, including, for some, a generator.
  • Solar chargers for various devices.
  • Infant formula and diapers.
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items for each family member.
  • Towels / paper towels / wipes.
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper. Dilute nine parts water to one part bleach to use it as a disinfectant.
  • Treat water using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Don’t use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
  • Fire extinguisher(s).
  • Matches in a waterproof container.
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils.
  • Aluminum foil, zip lock bags.
  • Paper and pencils, books, games, puzzles, colors and children’s activities.
  • Cash / travelers checks – if there’s no power, ATMs won’t operate, and further, we may not be able to get to one, depending on the roads.

And when there’s a dangerous storm warning, it’s good to have a full tank of gas—again if there’s no power, the gas pumps won’t work.

Basic Emergency Supply KitBasic Emergency Supply Kit
(Please adjust for your household)

  • Water – at least a gallon of water/person/day, with supplies for at least three days plus pets.
  • Food, a three-day supply of non-perishable supplies. Fall, when the weather is good, is a perfect time to find and try nonperishable foodstuffs so if there is a need, everyone will be relatively happy with their meals.
  • Battery operated or hand crank radio.
  • Weather information – NOAA Radio with tone alert
  • NOAA, or other weather app on phone – however if the cell towers have been damaged or destroyed, it’s possible we won’t have service to get updates.
  • Extra batteries for everything, for example, oxygen machine.
  • Solar lights – kept in south-facing windows to remain charged.
  • Solar chargers – also kept in south-facing windows to remain charged.
  • First aid kit.
  • Moist towlettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
  • If sheltering in place, a 5 gallon bucket with a plastic garbage bag makes a suitable “portapotty,” and kitty litter may be useful.
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.

Now is a good time to make signs and a checklist for what utilities need to be shut off, the location and how to turn them off. A run through at least twice a year—before winter and spring storms—is good training.

Please add the warning – never touch a downed electric line, it could be live, to home training.

  • Hand-operated can opener.
  • Local maps – paper and on phone. Download maps in advance and if there’s no cell service, we’ll still have the convenience of an electronic map–so long as our devices are charged.

FEMA also recommends having two kits, one in the home and a smaller, portable kit at work, in our vehicle(s) or other locations so no matter where we are when a storm strikes, we have some resources to tide us over.

So that’s our assignment and the first step to managing our household in an outage.

 

Leading with cooperative principles

Dave Deihl Platte-Clay Electric Coop General Manager

Dave Deihl
General Manager

From the General Manager

The Cooperative Principles are an excellent template for doing business: they help foster and define leadership.

One of the marks of a leader is that we’ll see others following the path they’ve taken. And because there’s pushback and discussion, at times it may appear that it may not have been the best decision until the dust settles.

Long-lasting and important leadership positions tend to be validated when we see others making the same choice, following in our footsteps.

I’m pleased to share that Platte-Clay is one of the U.S. rural electric cooperatives that has taken and continues to take important leadership positions. Speaking for all, we are both proud and humbled by the belief that other co-op managers place in Platte-Clay’s decisions.

Solartech LogoSolartech
Platte-Clay was among the first 100 rural electric cooperatives in the United States to build a community solar array, and the first in Missouri.

The decision wasn’t made lightly: members were asking about renewables and Platte-Clay responded to their interest. As a result of extensive research, including three surveys to determine the level of member commitment in alternative power, Platte-Clay built a community solar array in the spring of 2015.

We continue to find benefits, in addition to generating clean energy, to building Solartech. The community solar array is like any educational experience with some benefits paying off immediately and others to be seen in years to come.

One of the benefits is real energy production numbers versus projections.

Members can get an up-to-the-minute look at production on the co-op web site, www.pcec.coop Simply scroll down to Solartech and follow the links to the dashboard—all of the solar array’s reporting systems.

We’ve also seen other near-term benefits. Platte-Clay used in-house crews to build the solar array. That start-to-finish hands-on experience has paid off and will continue to pay off if or when members install their own solar array.

Crews know what to look for and can explain and discuss features and elements of a home solar array and how it needs to connect safely to the co-op infrastructure.

Platte-Clay has a reputation for being easy to work with, and having employees familiar with the technology benefits both the co-op and members.

In addition to benefiting Platte-Clay members, Solartech is a resource for co-op management in Iowa, Missouri and Oklahoma whose co-ops buy their wholesale power from Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AECI).

Platte-Clay worked with AECI, the co-op’s power provider to develop an auxiliary all-power requirements contract that in essence allows Platte-Clay to generate renewable energy and send it to the grid. That new contract now serves as a template for any other of the 51 co-ops in three states that AECI serves.

In addition, Platte-Clay hosted several meetings with management of other rural electric cooperatives interested in learning about a community solar array.

Solartech is a great example of several Cooperative Principles: Cooperation Among Cooperatives; Education, Training and Information, and Concern for Community.

You’ve got the power – demand billing
Demand billing is another example of cooperative leadership. Platte-Clay was one of the first two Missouri rural electric co-ops to give members the ability to manage their bills by simply not “demanding” a lot of power at one time.

By focusing on demand—the amount of energy required at one time and one of the most important factors in wholesale pricing—Platte-Clay now separates demand costs from consumption costs.

This billing system allows members with high demand, those who use many devices at one time, to pay their fair share of the cost of co-op demand, rather than combining the two elements and simply calling it the kWh cost.

As important, breaking out consumption from demand allowed the co-op to reduce electric rates from the blended rate of just under .12 cents/kWh to .079 cents/kWh.

Finding ways to lower electric rates is a great example of Cooperative Principle 7, Concern for Community.

These are examples of how Platte-Clay demonstrates leadership—in our industry, in our state, but more important, day-in and day-out to co-op members.

If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at generalmanager@pcec.coop.

 

Environmental Focus Group Meeting: where our power comes from

The 2017 Focus Group August meeting featured Associated Electric Cooperative Inc. (AECI) presentations to learn about where Platte-Clay’s power comes from. Joe Wilkenson, vice president of member services and corporate communications and Dave Ramsey, manager of member energy services provided comprehensive information.

Wilkenson reviewed the history of the power producer, formed in 1961, to generate electricity for the growing rural electric cooperatives—today 875,000 members in 51 distribution cooperatives served by six regional generation and transmission cooperatives.

AECI’s power–and as a result, Platte-Clay’s power–comes from diverse resources: coal, natural gas, wind and hydropower from Table Rock Dam. In addition, Platte-Clay’s community solar array, Solartech, provides about enough power for 14 co-op homes.

Because of AECI’s commitment to provide clean, low-cost, reliable electricity for members, most of the power is produced by the two coal-fired power plants, followed by six natural gas plants, wind from six contracted wind farms and a limited amount of hydropower because of fluctuating water releases.

Platte-Clay power sources

Cow Branch Wind Farm
Cow Branch Wind Farm, near Tarkio, Mo.

Thomas Hill Energy Center
Thomas Hill Energy Center

Table Rock Dam
Table Rock Dam, Branson, Mo.

In 2008, the power producer rolled out an energy efficiency plan called Take Control & Save with rebates to encourage members to save energy. As a result of members becoming more energy efficient and insulating homes and businesses, AECI now has capacity to serve its 51 cooperatives through 2035 with no new power generation sources.

Associated Electric Cooperative now is in a process of a 25-year long-range plan to project what its needs will be in the early 2040s.

Mr. Wilkenson noted that AECI has invested $1.1 billion in its power plants to reduce emissions and improve air quality, with many improvements made years ahead of finalized EPA regulations.

Dave Ramsey talked about the innovative Take Control & Save program, optional to co-ops, in which Platte-Clay participates. As part of the power producer’s long-range plans, management determined that it would be less expensive to help co-op members save money than to build new power plants.

As a result, a new industry term was born: negawatt. A unit of energy not needed and not used. It’s a win-win proposition for everyone.

For more information on the co-op rebate programs, please visit the co-op web site, www.pcec.coop and click on Energy in the top tab, then scroll down to Take Control & Save.

 

Eclipse 2017

Eclipse 2017

Platte-Clay staking engineer Ed Crowley found his farm in the path of totality and made a day of it, hosting friends, family, a group with a weather balloon and Victoria Rocha, a writer for the National Rural Electric Coopertive Assoc. (NRECA) and her two children.

She came back for the solar show and decided that the Crowley eclipse watch gathering would be a great co-op story.

Fortunately the clouds broke just as the moon began to pass in front of the sun, giving everyone the chance to experience a total solar eclipse.

The three-generation Crowley farm began in 1942 and got power from Platte-Clay in 1948 when the lines were first built along Powell Road, which runs parallel to I-35.

Platte-Clay provided a bucket truck for a live NASA TV webcast during the solar eclipse, STEM in 30, produced by the Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum.

See airandspace.si.edu for information on STEM in 30 (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) available on NASA TV.

Shauna Edson
Host Marty Kelsey (above, right) is related to Platte-Clay members, who asked for the co-op’s help for the historic event. Above left, Shauna Edson, one of three astronomy educators for the Air and Space Museum, during the webcast with Marty Kelsey.

41 Storm Tracker
Gary Lezak, Channel 41 weather forecaster did live remotes from South Valley Middle School in Liberty.

Crowley Farm
Above, welcome to the Crowley farm, est. 1942 and site of a 2017 Total Solar Eclipse watch.

Bucket Truck
Above, Chase Tyne, (L), apprentice journeyman lineman helps Rick Wiloughby, the webcast camera operator, button down the camera before the rain fell. The aerial shot was for cutaways to students during the live webcast. The clouds cleared in time to see the total solar eclipse.

 

Youth opportunities

Youth Tour Essay Contest

Youth Tour Essay Contest

Sophomores and juniors. Write a 600-750 word essay or produce a video on “What it means to be a servant leader.” True, you may never have heard of it, but that’s part of the adventure of learning. Deadline is Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018. Get cracking: two students will earn a trip to Washington, D.C. Four students will earn a trip to a leadership conference in Jefferson City. It’s a great opportunity for area students. And you can be one of them. More info at www.pcec.coop in the educational section.

Schools win grant for public service announcements (PSA) videos

Four area middle schools were honored and awarded grant funds for a public service announcement (PSA) video their students produced to encourage energy efficiency.

The Missouri schools were Plaza Middle School, $3,500 and Kearney Middle School, $2,500. Kansas school winners were Spring Hill Middle School, $3,500 and Piper Middle School, $2,500.

The contest is open to sixth, seventh and eighth grade students attending accredited public or private schools in the metro area including Cass, Clay, Jackson, Johnson (Kans.) Platte, Ray and Wyandotte Counties.

Huee LogoA consortium of utilities that includes Atmos Energy, Independence Power & Light, Kansas City Board of Public Utilities, Kansas Gas Service, Platte-Clay Electric Co-op and Spire (formerly Missouri Gas Energy, MGE) sponsors the contest. For more information on the organization, visit the Heartland Utilities for Energy Efficiency web site, www.huee.org/

Funds contributed by the utilities are administered as grants through the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation.

Public Service Announcements School Grants
Kearney students who worked on the winning public service announcement are L-R: Mya King, Kymon Warman, Tyson Hodge, Nate Meachum, Heidi Eberhardt and teacher, Ulrike Hayes.

HUEE representatives will be in touch with area middle schools for details on the 2018 contest.

 

The Northland Connection is published monthly by Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative, Inc., 1000 W. 92 Highway, Kearney, MO 64060. Postmaster: Please send address changes to: Northland Connection, PO Box 100, Kearney, MO 64060 or mail@pcec.coop.

Platte-Clay is an equal opportunity employer.

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August 2017

Platte-Clay Northland Connection Newsletter August 2017

School bus basics

School Bus BasicsThe thing about school buses is that they’re carrying, picking up or dropping off children.

And there’s almost nothing more unpredictable than a child.

The U.S. Department of Transportation says that the most dangerous part of a trip to school is when a student approaches or leaves the bus.

And the thing about children is that thinking about safety and being aware of their surroundings and watching out for cars is probably pretty far down their list of concerns on any given day.

That leaves it up to drivers to be prepared for almost anything when around a school bus.

So being alert, with or without that first cup of coffee is a top priority.

Yellow flashing lights mean that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload students. Motorists must slow down and prepare to stop.

Red flashing lights along with the mechanical stop sign means just that – kids will be getting on or off the bus, perhaps crossing the street.

Vehicles must wait until the red lights are turned off, the sign pulled back against the bus and the bus begins to move.

Many of us live in neighborhoods with an abundance of children; it’s why we live there. When it’s back to school, it’s important to watch for kids walking or bicycling to school.

School zones require heightened attention, as there are parents dropping off children, who may decide to dart in front of the vehicle, and the parents may be distracted with last minute instructions and concerns.

Getting kids off to school generally is controlled chaos, and it’s up to all drivers to be on our toes and to help keep everyone safe.

 

Cooperative Principle 5

Education, training and information

Dave Deihl Platte-Clay Electric Coop General Manager

Dave Deihl
General Manager

From the General Manager

This month we have great examples of Cooperative Principle 5, Education, Training and Information because it fits right in with all of the things we’ve been working on to keep Platte-Clay running safely and smoothly.

When looking back, the thunderstorms over the weekend of June 16-17 that knocked so many members off line and before that, the March 6 tornado that damaged, and even destroyed many homes seems like ancient history.

We’re glad that now, for the most part, they’re faint memories because we had service restored in a reasonable amount of time.

I do want to take this opportunity to thank all of the members for their patience and thoughtfulness during the two weather emergencies. We understand many members were experiencing difficult and frustrating circumstances.

Platte-Clay crews wrapped up the June 16 and 17 thunderstorms on Sunday, June 18, by working long days and nights. It was a tired, but proud group that reported for work on that Monday.

On Thursday, June 22, crews visited two substations for a training and safety review with a checklist to review ways they could help N.W. Electric Cooperative, the generation and transmission cooperative responsible for delivering high voltage power to the substations.

Working with high voltage electric power is especially dangerous and with our tornado season followed by the possibility of ice storms this winter makes the training especially relevant.

In Missouri, we’re always in a season when Mother Nature can throw damaging storms our way. And when that happens, line crews don their safety gear and go to work rebuilding the lines.

In spite of dealing with two tough weather situations with hundreds, at times thousands of members without service, Platte-Clay’s reliability statistics remain excellent.

Counting the two major storms, the tornado and the violent thunderstorms, the co-op holds an average outage of only 90 minutes per member. Taking out those major events, the co-op has an even better average outage time of only 20 minutes per member. Either number is excellent from both a member standpoint and an engineering standpoint. It’s a tribute to the overall commitment to the Platte-Clay infrastructure through reinvesting in the lines and poles that deliver our power.

Although the line crews are more visible, inside employees attend industry or function-specific seminars and training to stay current on software, refresh member service skills and learn about industry issues.

When all is said and done, a day at the co-op is an opportunity to provide high quality member service, to put training to good use and to provide affordable, reliable electric service.

If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at generalmanager@pcec.coop.

 

Safety first

Based in Cameron, Mo., N.W. Electric Cooperative provided substation training for all of the Platte-Clay crews. During an emergency, Platte-Clay crews may be called on to assist N.W. crews to help restore service.

N.W. is responsible for the high voltage 7.2 kV lines that serve the substations. From area substations, the power runs on Platte-Clay distribution lines to co-op members.

Safety First Substation Training

N.W.’s Relay Technician Monty Adams provided the training. In addition to working with the seven northwest Missouri rural electric cooperatives served by the generation and transmission cooperative, Monty provides training at the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives (AMEC) overhead lineman school in a state-wide refresher course.

Platte-Clay’s equipment gets the once-over too.

Bucket Truck Testing

The Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, AMEC, came to the Platte-Clay office to test the strength and integrity of all of the bucket trucks fiberglass arms.

Sophisticated software records test results so the co-op has year-to-year results and comparisons.

Test Results Software

Platte-Clay routinely checks and updates equipment down to the rubber gloves the line crews wear when working near the electric lines.

 

The trip of a lifetime

Youth Tour 2017

Above, L-R: Regan Seba, home school student and Christine Folck, North Platte High School.

Every year the Youth Tour trip is memorable, “the trip of a lifetime” for students. For many it’s the first time on a plane, even being miles from home in Missouri. This year the trip will be etched in participants’ memory in yet another way: the day the Missouri Youth Tour group visited the capital, June 14, was the day Rep. Steve Scalise (La.) was shot. As a result, the Rep. Graves visit got re-arranged and the tour changed to include a visit to the House Gallery. The students saw Rep. Paul Ryan come into the House, call Congress to order and the students, along with Congress, said the Pledge of Allegiance. He then gave his response, a speech, to the shootings. Rep. Scalise continues to recover.

 

Energy Efficiency Awareness Contest

HUEE, the Heartland Utilities for Energy Efficiency, sponsors an annual public service announcement (PSA) contest to create awareness and share information on how to improve energy efficiency.

This year Kearney Middle School took second place winning $2,500. Videos and information on the HUEE web site, www.HUEE.org

The Energy Villains

Part of the crew of the Kearney Middle School video which included Danielle Barnes, Katie Byrd, Macy Higgins, Emily Shepherd, Ryley Erzen, Christina Rickenbaugh and Mykla Stevens. Shown, three of the stars of “The Energy Villians.”

 

Solartech, a model for integrating renewals in the 21st century grid

A group of eight national renewable organizations has developed a joint statement outlining their vision for a 21st century electric grid.

The group notes that they represent thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of U.S. employees working in a variety of energy technologies.

The group statement calls for national action:

  • Market structures that appropriately value new and existing technologies for the attributes they bring to the grid, including energy, capacity, flexibility, dispatchability and other essential reliability services.
  • Tax reform that protects the current incentives for renewable energy, includes extension of the renewable tax credits that have already expired, and levels the long-term playing field to support investment in the electric power infrastructure.
  • Expansion and modernization of the power grid to support the operation and integration of renewables and a more dynamic system of meeting reliability needs, including expanded transmission and greater connectivity between balancing areas, distributed generation, more responsive load and community power systems.

The organizations include the American Council on Renewable Energy, the Biomass Power Assoc., the National Hydro Power Assoc., the American Biogas Council, the Energy Recovery Council, the Solar Energy Industries Assoc., the American Wind Energy Assoc. and the Geothermal Energy Assoc.

The renewable organizations note that for the U.S., low, stable natural gas prices, flat electricity demand, and for Platte-Clay, even dropping household demand, are creating changes in the overall electric power system.

For Platte-Clay, an electric power distribution cooperative, decisions are much easier and generally that flexibility already is in place: 1) because power source decisions are made by the co-op’s power generator, Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AECI), and 2) Platte-Clay already supports member-owned renewables.

Platte-Clay members who wish to install solar or wind can simply go to the co-op web site, www.pcec.coop and click on the top tab for Services, scroll down to the Net Metering Application, touch bases with the co-op engineering group, download and complete the application and agreement.

Because not everyone can have or wants solar panels on their roof, members can sign up to be a part of the co-op’s community solar array, Solartech, the first co-op owned community solar array in Missouri.

Members have two options. The first is to sign up for the output of one to several panels and pay monthly for the energy produced. The other option is to enter into a long-term lease at $815 per panel, with no monthly energy charge, but a monthly general distribution rate of 5.24 cents cents/kWh and 0.83 cents/kWh for maintenance.

The contracts for both monthly solar energy and the long-term lease are on the co-op web site, www.pcec.coop. Simply scroll down to Solartech at the bottom of the page and follow the links.

Members can be justifiably proud of the co-op’s commitment to renewable energy and support for co-op members who embrace diverse resources.

We can also assure you it is much easier to work with Platte- Clay than moving the Federal government.

 

Focus Group an extension of Town Hall

We want to thank the following co-op members for agreeing to be a part of 2017 focus group. This year the group, including the members who stayed after the Annual Meeting for that Town Hall meeting, will review Platte-Clay’s environmental initiatives and activities and develop a report to be shared with the membership. The first meeting included an overview of the cooperative structure. Members have committed to meeting through the end of the year on a variety of related topics.

Focus Group 2017 Members

The co-op members participating in the focus group include (alphabetical order): Terry Banks, Alberto Briseǹo, Lee Brown, Muriel Daniels, Catherine Dunn, J. Brent Gerling, Mark Hasse, Richard Hartnett, Jarry Hearne, Jack Huddart, Bryan Ivlow, Kris Karnes, Catherine Lueckenotte, Sarah McKinley, Steven Robinson, Jeff Saxton, Bill Shelley, James Shrimpton, Tom Smith, Duke Snider, Marie Steiner, Allan Tison, Leona Vest and Steve Williams. (Note: not all members were able to attend the first meeting and are not pictured.)

 

Eclipse Celebrations

Many area communities are planning eclipse celebrations. Check area town and chamber web sites for activities.

Eclipse 2017 Missouri Map

 

The Northland Connection is published monthly by Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative, Inc., 1000 W. 92 Highway, Kearney, MO 64060. Postmaster: Please send address changes to: Northland Connection, PO Box 100, Kearney, MO 64060 or mail@pcec.coop.

Platte-Clay is an equal opportunity employer.

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July 2017

Platte-Clay Northland Connection Newsletter July 2017

We’ll always have Paris

Interesting that when Humphrey Bogart said, “We’ll always have Paris,” to Ingrid Bergman in the 1942 film Casablanca that their brief romance could be a bit like the Paris international climate agreement, called the Paris accord, a brief romance. Both realized that world events meant they would move on.

For those who missed the movie, YouTube has that final parting scene and for those who want a better understanding of what has been called one of the best movies ever made, YouTube also has “Ask the Professor: What’s So Great About Casablanca?”

But back to Paris, and the Paris accord and what that means for Platte-Clay co-op members.

Both signing the Paris accord in December, 2016, and then withdrawing from the Paris accord in May, 2017, did a lot and did a little.

Coal
First, coal production is at it’s lowest since 1984—a 35 percent decline since 2008, reports the Energy Information Agency (EIA). The Paris accord had nothing to do with that.

While we are most sympathetic to coal miners who work in another one of the most dangerous jobs, along with electric utility line workers, coal companies, like many other industries, have introduced a high level of mechanization.

That trend will continue and that doesn’t mean more jobs. It does mean that now many workers need specialized, skilled training.

Like many other positions, computers and machinery, including robots, are changing the nature of the work place. No amount of jawboning is going to cause companies to increase their operating costs and lower net profits.

Another reason for the lower amount of coal consumed is because of energy efficiency; we simply are using less electricity and power producers are turning to wind and solar.

Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AECI), Platte-Clay’s power producer is projecting slow to modest growth for the 51 rural co-ops it serves.

Other utility companies are moving away from coal to wind and solar. The EIA reports that with the change from coal-fired power to the less carbon-intensive energy sources of renewable energy and natural gas that the U.S. is becoming cleaner.

AECI, Platte-Clay’s power producer has spent $1.1 billion since 1994 to reduce emissions at its power plants. That’s good news, and as co-op members become more energy efficient, the carbon emissions will continue to drop.

Oil
One of the biggest benefits of the Paris accord is the general awareness that the climate is changing.

We all know that there is less snow in the winter and our winters in Missouri are milder. We’re seeing different animals in our area, including, for example, armadillos. The nocturnal, prehistoric-looking little mammal makes the familiar possum look downright cute.

Armadillo

The nine-banded armadillo (above) now ranges as far north as Nebraska.

While there are some who spend time pointing fingers at who and what’s to blame, energy company shareholders are concerned about their money as well as the environment.

Recently, Exxon shareholders by a 62 percent (non-binding) vote at their 2017 annual meeting, said the company must begin providing information explaining the bottom-line financial risk the company faces because of new technology and climate change.

For example, looking ahead, how will self-driving electric cars affect oil companies? What happens to profits as vehicles become more energy efficient? Is the company being responsible regarding the environment?

Exxon shareholders, including two major Wall Street financial institutions, supported the initiative, which began in 1990 with shareholder requests for that type of data.

Other investors want fossil fuel companies to move toward a low-carbon economy with or without U.S. participation in the Paris accord. Exxon joins other energy companies in the spotlight of shareholder environmental concerns.

Wind
Utility-scale wind farms continue to grow and, for some utilities is the “fuel of choice,” says Ben Fowke, the chief executive of Xcel Energy which serves some 3.5 million customers in eight Midwestern and Western states.

AECI, Platte-Clay’s power provider, serving members in Iowa, Missouri and Oklahoma, agrees with the large investor-owned utility.

AECI provides members with 600 MW of wind energy from five wind farms in Missouri and Kansas, or the equivalent of one good-sized power plant.

Long-term plans call for more wind for baseload power when needed.

The American Wind Energy Assoc., AWEA, shows strong growth: the industry installed 2,000 MW of power during the first quarter of 2017, a 385 percent increase over the first quarter in 2016.

Responsive to good business practices, the environment and members and customers, rural electric cooperatives and utilities now represent 95 percent of the wind under contract.

Solar
The Solar Energy Institute Assoc. (SEIA) says that 250,000 Americans work in the solar industry in 9,000 companies located in all states. SEIA says the sunshine industry provides enough power for 8.3 million homes and represents 39 percent of all new electric power capacity added to the U.S. grid, ahead of natural gas, at 29 percent and wind, 26 percent.

Missouri, which ranks 25th in solar energy, has the equivalent of 16,000 homes powered by the sun, a combination of utility scale solar farms, community solar arrays, like Solartech and individual homes. The state is projected to grow 288 MW over the next five years and still rank in the bottom half of solar states.

Solartech, sized to power 14 Platte-Clay homes, to date has generated 403,601 kWh and saved 289 tons of CO2. As a point of information, the average amount of electric energy members use is about 1,200 kWh a month,

So while many were overjoyed at the U.S. pulling out of the Paris accord, the trend is increased energy efficiency, reducing power costs, and lower greenhouse gases from fossil fuel industries.

Like Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, we may not be together, but it looks like we’ll always have Paris.

 

Education, training and information

Dave Deihl Platte-Clay Electric Coop General Manager

Dave Deihl
General Manager

From the General Manager

Continuing our series on the Seven Cooperative Principles, this month I’m going to talk about how each of them form the template for how Platte-Clay operates. In a way, it’s back to the basics, yet on the other hand, it’s a path to the future, as the principles guide the co-op’s operation. Today, Platte-Clay is one of the most progressive co-ops in Missouri and among the most progressive in the U.S.

This month’s Cooperative Principle is Education, Training and Information. The full text is “Cooperatives provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative. Members also inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives.”

Those of you who attended the annual meeting had an opportunity to learn about the cooperative, to learn how we’re doing financially, to learn about products and services that both the co-op and area organizations offer.

For those who weren’t able to attend the annual meeting, the same educational and informational opportunities are available online on the co-op web site, www.pcec.coop and day in and day out by calling or stopping by the office.

Following the annual meeting, the Board, staff and I had an opportunity to meet with members in a Town Hall session which was a wonderful learning opportunity and exchange for everyone.

Another opportunity for Education, Training and Information is the 2017 Focus Group. The members who participated in the Town Hall have agreed to be part of the group this year, with a different assignment.

In response to a motion made and passed during the annual meeting, the Focus Group will learn about and discuss environmental issues and how they relate to Platte-Clay. The outcome will be an environmental report to be shared with members next year, another opportunity for Education, Training and Information.

I hope everyone enjoys their summer.

If you have questions or concerns, please e-mail me, generalmanager@pcec.coop

 

Platte-Clay calendar photo contest – Life in Rural Missouri

Again this year Platte-Clay will produce an annual calendar with co-op members’ photos.

The theme this year is “Life in Rural Missouri.” Photos will be accepted until July 31, and judged by popular vote.

For rules, more details and to submit a photo, please go to the co-op web site, www.pec.coop and follow the links or go directly to https://www.pcec.coop/calendar-photo-contest/

Winners will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Platte-Clay fuels gift card that can be used at either the Kearney or Platte City station.

Good luck.

 

Capital credit checks

Capital credit checks, for amounts more than $15, were mailed out the end of May and beginning of June to the individuals and addresses of record.

 

Premium No Ethanol

 

Managing summer energy costs

It’s summer, and whether or not the weather predictions are correct, it’s Missouri, and it’s going to be hot. For many families, that means cranking up the air conditioner and higher than normal electric bills.

There are several ways to help manage costs for the hottest and coldest months of the year.

Budget billing
Levelized, or budget billing takes the average cost of monthly service over the past year and divides the amount by 12. It’s one of the best ways to manage energy costs.

Members can even put the amount of the bill on a debit or credit card or a checking or savings account.

There are a few qualifications:

  • Members must have had service in the same location for 12 months
  • Members must have had 6 months of on-time payments
  • Members who don’t keep the monthly budget bill current will go back to standard monthly billing

Landscaping to stay cool
Another way to keep energy costs down is to keep the house from heating up in the day time. Some of these suggestions can be implemented right away, others, such as planting trees, will be more effective years from now.

Plant trees on the south and west side of your home. It’s important to take into consideration how fast the tree will grow and how big it will become. We may want the sun to warm the house in the winter, making the best bet a deciduous tree.

Landscapers say that trees planted within 40 feet of the south side or within 60 feet of the west side of the house are the best locations because of the shadows they create. For suggestions, visit www.pcec.coop and see the section on planting the right tree in the right place.

For those concerned about the Paris accord – trees are a remarkable resource for reducing net carbon emissions.

A vine idea
Plant fast-growing vines to shade the south and west sides of the house. Here are some general guidelines; a local nursery may have suggestions for you too.

Vines will need the proper support, and it’s important to have them where you want them.

For instance, the Virginia creeper has rootlets that act like suction cups that we may not want attached to the house. Vines need air space because they will help retain moisture and can create mold and mildew, defeating the idea of saving money on energy and other costs.

Some vines are more user friendly—morning glories, mandevilla, and moonflower vine, for instance, will twist around a trellis or other support. The trellis or other structure should be a few inches away from the wall of the house to allow ventilation and avoid moisture build up.

A wisteria, which grows well in our area, provides spring flowers and shade through frost, but it is a sturdy plant that gets mixed reviews.

We can keep our house cool and get more bang for our vine bucks by planting food. Climbers include pole beans, climbing peas, cucumbers, gourds, squashes and zucchini. Rodale’s Organic Life says that anything with fruit smaller than a volleyball can be trellised, so the trellis will need to be built or bought with the weight of the vegetables in mind.

A Google search will provide any number of trellis designs and DIY plans.

Wisteria

Wisteria, above, draped over a pergola provides shade in the summer and beautiful blooms during the spring. Below, pumpkins can be grown on a trelllis or a pergola and provide garden color and shade.

Hanging Pumpkins

For immediate window shade, an awning will help reduce solar heat gain by as much as 65 percent on southern exposure windows and 77 percent on western windows.

Make it a retractable awning and it will do double duty, allowing warm solar gain in the winter.

It makes sense to shade windows and southern and western exposures in the summer: it’s cheaper to keep the heat out of a home than paying to cool it.

For those who are re-roofing this summer, go with light colored shingles, which will reflect UV rays instead of absorbing heat and help keep energy costs down.

And finally, some homeowners are even painting their roofs white to help keep summer energy costs down.

 

Dog days of summer

PuppyActually, the dog days of summer are in August, but it’s summer now, so it would be a good time to get a dog.

For some families, the kids are home and they could start training a new dog and learning the responsibilities that go with owning a pet. The days are longer, so for parents who work outside of the home it’s easier to get out and go for a walk.

The numbers reinforce the importance of spaying and neutering pets: Petfinder says it has more than 260,000 adoptable pets from nearly 12,000 adoption groups in the U.S. In fact, there are more than 1,600 dogs available through shelters and rescue groups within 100 miles of the Platte-Clay service area. Local vets also help place unwanted animals.

Although there are a number of no kill shelters, in many cases there are more cats and dogs available than families, and shelters are forced to euthanize animals because of space or other factors.

There is hope.

One area rescue group, Paws Crossed, steps in to pull animals from high kill shelters and places dogs in foster homes until they can be adopted, that is matched with a family that seems to be a good fit with the dog.

The group, which doesn’t rescue specific breeds, has an online adoption and foster application to start the process, which is typical of most organizations.

Paws Crossed volunteers will review the application and discuss the household, including number in the family, if there are other pets, veterinarian’s name and contact information. References are required and checked.

For some families, fostering a rescue dog is a good way to socialize it before finding the right family and its “furever” home.

Another positive from helping a dog in need — fostering helps teach children empathy, something missing on most computer games.

Other families foster dogs to see if they will be a good fit—everything from monitoring allergies to getting along with the family cat. It’s much like an extended trial. If all goes well and the dog fits in, then the family is complete. If not, perhaps it wasn’t a good fit because of the activity or age level of the dog or the humans.

The adoption application is similar to the foster application as the rescue group wants to get a sense of how responsible the adopter will be. And for some dogs there will be qualifications, such as a fenced yard.

A 501(c) 3 nonprofit, Paws Crossed, Inc., places animals that are spayed or neutered, microchipped, up to date on vaccines and have had full veterinary care.

In addition to foster families, the group can use other assistance, such as volunteers for special events that create awareness and help with fund raising.

How about adopting a horse?
Petfinder has almost 2,000 horses available for adoption—from young colts and weanlings to seniors who make good companion animals. Some of the closer horse rescue locations are in Aurora, St. Louis and Union, Mo.; Pittsburg and Wamego, Kans.; Crete, Des Moines and Malvern, Iowa. Find all of these horse rescue groups on the Petfinder web site.

Close to home in Union, Longmeadow Rescue Ranch has all the animals needed to establish a farm: chickens, ducks, goats, a miniature horse (at the time of the article) and an Appaloosa/pony mix described as a “good riding partner for a confident beginner or a more experienced rider.”

Black Bashkir Curlie Gelded Colt

Also of interest at Longmeadow is a horse called Jax, a “handsome black Bashkir Curlie gelded colt,” above.

With Jax comes a bit of horse lore and a geography lesson: the origins of the breed are unknown, but they are descendants of the steppe horses from western Asia, south of the Ural Mountains, according to The Equinest. In the U.S. they are called American Curlies—which may or may not be related to the Asian breed.

The breed is named after the Bashkir people in Bashkortostan, also known as Bashkiria, a republic in the Russian Federation.

The horses are relatively small at about 14 hands and in their home country are raised for milk, meat, packing and farm work. For the weavers in the crowd, their winter coat can be made into cloth.

For those looking for a specific breed, Petfinder starts with, for example, Appaloosas, with 60 horses, runs through draft horses, 18; donkeys, 62; mules, 35; Shetland ponies, 12; and 21 Warmbloods.

For those who enjoy online shopping, Petfinder makes it a bit easier to find almost any animal to match a family.

 

The Northland Connection is published monthly by Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative, Inc., 1000 W. 92 Highway, Kearney, MO 64060. Postmaster: Please send address changes to: Northland Connection, PO Box 100, Kearney, MO 64060 or mail@pcec.coop.

Platte-Clay is an equal opportunity employer.

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June 2017

Platte-Clay Northland Connection Newsletter June 2017

79th Annual Meeting mixes fun with business

PCEC Annual Meeting 2017

Kid Stuff

Ryen Crain
Excelsior Springs
Samsung Galaxy Tab A

Ali Gonzalez
Lathrop
Contixo Quadcopter Drone

Alondra Gonzalez
Lathrop
32” LED HDTV

Ilona Haney
Kearney
XBox One

Ismayla Haney
Kearney
Parrot Mambo Drone

Mason Throm
Smithville
Kindle Paperwhite

Ellie Mayne
Lawson
Girls Power Wheels Jeep

Dylan Winkelbauer
Our youngest winner at 3 months old, Kearney
Boys Power Wheels Jeep

 

Cooperative Principle 3 – Members’ economic participation

Dave Deihl Platte-Clay Electric Coop General Manager

Dave Deihl
General Manager

From the General Manager

Thanks to everyone who attended the 79th Annual Meeting held at the Kearney office, May 11.

Congratulations to our lucky prize winners, whose names were drawn. Tara Burgess won the year or $1500 in electric service and Carol Huntsman and Glen Stone who each won $750 or six months of electric service.

Although there is fun and games at the annual meeting, there also was important business conducted.

Members elected three members to the Board of Directors: Debi Stewart, North District; Gary Shanks, South District; and Robert Ray, West District.

The Board met after the Annual Meeting and elected Debi Stewart president; Kendall Davis, vice president; Theresa Wren, secretary; and Larry Leachman, treasurer.

We appreciate the talent, skills and commitment the board members bring to Platte-Clay.

In response to member requests, this year the co-op gave those attending the meeting the option of picking up their capital credit check, in amounts of more than $15, or having it applied to their account.

Members who registered for the annual meeting also received a $10 credit on their bill.

In keeping with the 7 Cooperative Principles, Members’ Economic Participation, the co-op returned $1.1 million in capital credits to members.

Those who were not at the annual meeting will be receiving their capital credit checks (of more than $15) in June.

The Annual Meeting is always a good time to take stock of where the co-op has been and where it’s going.

Electric power sales fluctuate, depending on the weather. Sales are down a bit, and that’s because of milder winters and summers. We’re beginning to see a bit of growth in the Northland.

Members play an important role in keeping overall demand down, one of the major drivers in the cost of power, and as important, in managing individual household demand costs.

We’ve seen a drop in energy use—the average co-op member now pays for 1,230 kWh a month, down from 1,428 kWh a month in 2010. It’s a tribute to both members managing energy use by using more efficient lighting, heating and cooling plus simply making saving energy a household focus.

We want to thank all of the members who spent May 11 with the co-op and who participated in Annual Meeting activities.

I especially want to thank the members who stayed for the first Annual Meeting Town Hall that followed the business meeting. Both the Board and staff had a great discussion with the members who participated. We believe it was time well spent and anticipate additional Town Hall meetings throughout the service area.

We hope to see you at next year’s Annual Meeting.

If you have questions or concerns, please e-mail me, generalmanager@pcec.coop

PCEC Board And Staff Members

Board and staff members stayed after the Annual Meeting for the Town Hall session.

 

79th Annual Meeting

PCEC Annual Meeting Grand Prize Winners

Dave Deihl, far left and Debi Stewart, far right, presented electric service prize checks. Above: 1, grand prize winner, one year or $1500 maximum electric service, Tara Burgess shown with her family; 2 and 3, six months or $750 electric service, 2, Glen Stone; and 3, Carol Huntsman, all of Kearney. Winning the Cummins Onan Generator, Mary Brown, of Holt, who entered the Board of Directors booth drawing.

Electronic Voting Machines

Above Left: Members used new electronic voting machines this year. Above Right, a member checks her capital credit check records. The co-op returned $1.1 million in capital credits this year.

PCEC Annual Meeting Tram And Carnival

Above Left, convenient trams picked up members at or near their vehicles and brought them to the headquarters warehouse. Above Right, say cheese. Kids enjoyed a light picnic supper before registering for prizes and enjoying the carnival.

 

Thanks, Mike

Mike TorresMike Torres officially retired May 12, the day following the co-op’s Annual Meeting.

“Retire” is a funny word and doesn’t at all describe Mike Torres.

He has an active, full and rich life, including any number of hobbies and board positions outside of his role as Platte-Clay’s chief executive officer. And most important, a wife and five children and several grandchildren to fill his days and help plan his trips.

His time at Platte-Clay started 20 years ago. After a national search, the Board of Directors named Mike Torres the third general manager in 1997.

He had managed a Colorado rural electric cooperative, Delta-Montrose Electric Assoc. (DMEA) based in Delta, Colo., after serving as its controller for two years. In his management role he pulled the struggling co-op back from the brink of bankruptcy to solvency and increased member satisfaction from 76 to 98 percent in the time he was there, 1983-1996.

His time at Platte-Clay is highlighted with a number of industry challenges that marks him as an industry leader and Platte-Clay as one of Missouri’s most progressive cooperatives.

Of note —
He started an aggressive, yet fiscally-responsible capital improvements program to replace the oldest and most unreliable parts of the electric distribution system.

A rolling, five-year, methodical brush and tree trimming program in each of the three co-op districts now keeps blinks and outages to a minimum, reflected in the co-op’s American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) score for reliability: 9.18 compared to the ACSI regional co-ops’ combined score of 9.10.

His commitment to integrating technology, including an interactive voice response unit to handle multiple member calls, a GIS system identifying every component that makes up the distribution system and laptops in all of the service trucks add to the co-op’s speed and reliability in determining and repairing damage.

Today Platte-Clay is Missouri’s top-ranked rural electric co-op for providing reliable service.

He strongly supported and encouraged energy efficiency—to save member’s household dollars and to avoid the cost of building an additional power plant with projected costs of at least a billion dollars.

Truly a “numbers guy,” Mike used numbers—generated by the American Consumer Service Index surveys–to better understand what co-op members feel is important and worked to meet those needs and as a result, improve those numbers.

More recently, for example, he insisted on three surveys to affirm interest in solar energy. As part of the solar project, Mike sent staff members to industry meetings to meet with suppliers and to gain a broader understanding of how a community solar array could be integrated into co-op operations.

In addition, because of member interest and requests for Platte-Clay to sell residential solar applications, co-op employees constructed the 100 kW solar array co-located at the co-op’s headquarters. Their understanding has paid off when employees check a member’s solar site before signing off on the net metering agreement.

In 2016, Mike proposed and the Board of Directors approved a move to demand billing, again placing the co-op among the first in Missouri and an early adopter among all U.S. utilities making that significant operational change: a decision based on numbers and innovation.

Mike personally led the charge and the co-op started a comprehensive member communications plan that included monthly manager’s columns, newsletter articles, advertising, interviews, a web site-based video, a special demand booth at the annual meeting in 2016 and 2017, a personal pre-business meeting review and community meetings in each of the co-op districts.

Today members understand how to manage demand to keep their costs down. As a result of moving to demand billing, whatever the future brings, higher- or lower-cost energy, fairly recouping costs via demand charges will pay for maintaining the co-op infrastructure.

Interesting, although not entirely surprising, the demand rate structure now is becoming a trendy topic of seminars, webinars and workshops.

Mike has been good for co-op members, for the communities and organizations in the service area and for other Missouri co-ops and their members.

We’re certain that his family, friends, hobbies and organizations are going to happily fill his days.

Thanks, Mike, it’s been a great 20 years.

 

Directors Corner

Monarch Butterfly

Our shared commitment

One of the best things about Platte-Clay is how we keep in touch with one another so we all gain an understanding of important issues. And one of the best ways to get a measurement of how members feel is through surveys.

Every three years the co-op paticipates in an American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey. In the last survey, there were a couple of environment-related questions. The questions asked members to share their feelings on climate change, it asked how much members would be willing to pay to support the Clean Power Plan to fight climate change and if climate change was an issue.

Not long after that, the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute also conducted a survey asking its participants about climate change and how much more they would be willing to pay on their electric bill to help the environment.

The results were almost identical: 40 in 100 in the University of Chicago survey said they wouldn’t pay a dollar more to combat climate change; 50 in 100 Platte-Clay members said they wouldn’t pay more to combat climate change.

Interesting, also in the a large majority, 77 out of 100, in the University of Chicago survey said climate change is happening, and the government should take steps to address it. Platte-Clay’s question was “are you concerned about the environment/climate change,” and an identical 77 out of 100 said yes.

Because of the strong response found in both member and national surveys, the co-op continues to work on environmental issues and has taken important steps to address climate change.

The most obvious co-op response to environmental concerns is Solartech, the first co-op community solar array in Missouri, and one of the first 100 in the U.S. Providing energy generated by the sun is one sure way to combat climate change and demonstrate the co-op membership’s support for the environment.

Although the Solartech dashboard is constantly updating, since it was built and began operation in the spring of 2015, the energy it has generated has saved 268 tons of CO2 – while generating more than 373,500 kilowatt hours of energy. As a point of information, the average Platte-Clay member uses 1230 kWh a month. For those interested in data, the Solartech dashboard can be found on the co-op web site, www.pcec.coop

And there are more benefits from the solar array. Building Solartech using the Platte-Clay line crews, technicians and engineering staff provided a practical learning experience so employees now have a thorough understanding of the complexities involved with installing a solar array, including safety features and interconnection issues.

Solartech is the most obvious result of the co-op’s concern for the environment and in fact, its environmental policy.

Although the co-op always has followed state and federal environmental rules and regulations, in 2005 the Board developed a formalized environmental plan that has been revised and updated three times, in 2011, 2015 and 2017, as part of routine policy reviews.

The goals and objectives of the plan are clear:

“As a consumer-owned utility, Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative Inc. (PCEC) is committed to a meaningful dialogue with our members concerning the protection of the environment. PCEC will provide affordable, reliable electricity for its customers and also be a good steward of our shared environment. In furtherance of the foregoing, PCEC will:

  • Comply with environmental laws and regulations that apply to our operations
  • Seek regular member input regarding environmental issues and share such views with N.W. Electric and Associated Electric Cooperative (AECI) (Platte-Clay’s generation and transmission cooperative partners)
  • Consider environmental factors in planning and managing our business
  • Periodically evaluate our environmental goals and policies

Platte-Clay will be a good member of the community in connection with environmental matters. We hope that our members and affiliates will join us in this effort.”

This policy explains our shared commitment to the environment and to the community we serve.

One of the things we’ll be doing this fall is planting a monarch butterfly garden at the Kearney headquarters. The monarch is endangered because of loss of habitat.

The monarch garden was included in the 2017 business plan—and that is based on the environmental plan – to consider environmental factors in planning and managing our business.

We think that helping an endangered species is a good way to help the environment and is good for our soul.

 

Operating by the book

Board Of Directors 1

Jerry Hagg, West District Board representative and long-time Platte City community leader, retired with the 2017 Annual Meeting. He had been elected to represent the West District since 1991.

Board Of Directors 2

Elected to serve a three year term (above, L-R), Debi Stewart, North District; Robert Ray, West District; and Gary Shanks, South District.

New for the 2017 meeting, Platte-Clay members used electronic voting machines to tabulate the three minor by-law amendments and the South District election results.

The electronic voting was a first for the co-op and reinforced the one vote per membership, part of the co-op by-laws.

This year the by-law amendedments included adding electronic communications for directors’ meetings, one saying that the co-op would file required notices with the appropriate governmental agencies and the third saying the co-op will maintain a complete accounting system that complies with all applicable laws, rules and regulations.

Two of the board candidates were uncontested, Debi Stewart (North) and Ray Roberts (West), and were elected by acclaimation.

George Schieber and Gary Shanks were on the ballot for the South District, with long-time Board representative Gary Shanks getting the most votes.

Other meeting notes: energy sales are down because of both mild weather and members are becoming more energy efficient.

The complete annual report is on the web site, www.pcec.coop

 

The Northland Connection is published monthly by Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative, Inc., 1000 W. 92 Highway, Kearney, MO 64060. Postmaster: Please send address changes to: Northland Connection, PO Box 100, Kearney, MO 64060 or mail@pcec.coop.

Platte-Clay is an equal opportunity employer.

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May 2017

Platte-Clay Northland Connection Newsletter May 2017

Planning for your summer demand

We have no way of knowing if the Old Farmer’s Almanac summer weather prediction is going to be accurate, below,

May 2017 Forecast

And really it doesn’t make any difference unless we’re planning on leaving town because of the weather.

But what does make a difference is how we manage our household power, because that makes a difference in our budget, which we can control.

Demand billing

Platte-Clay now has three components in the monthly bills:

  1. The customer charge, which helps pay for the infrastructure of lines and poles that connect us to the grid.
  2. The energy charge, now $.079 per kWh–down from the previous $.1165 for the first 200 kWh and $.0828 for all usage above 200 kWh. The old blended rate was $.1125/ kWh, so $.079 is a considerable savings.
  3. The demand charge is $2.50 per kilowatt.

The unbundled rate helps members save money by not using all appliances or devices at the same and lowering the demand rate.

One of the easiest ways to see how demand can affect the monthly bill is to go online, www.pcec.coop and use the demand calculator. Use the link from the home page to reach the Energy Demand FAQs and scroll down to the gold bar.

No internet? Great opportunity to visit one of the local libraries or stop by the Platte-Clay office for a demonstration.

If there are kids in the house, the demand calculator is a great opportunity for them to learn how to save on demand costs if that’s important to your family.

Some families are just too busy to set appliance timers and for them, the reduction in energy cost will be the best part of the new Platte-Clay rates.

The reason for making the change to unbundle the elements of the electric service bills is because Platte-Clay is billed in part, based on demand.

Our power provider has to be able to meet our collective demand, which could mean additional power plants or firing up “peak” plants to meet demand, both on the expensive side.

Demand billing is fair to all members. With the old combined billing, members with low demand were in essence subsidizing members who created high demand.

Using timers and a programmable thermostat will help manage demand and home energy expenses.

While temperatures are moderate in May it’s a good time to start managing devices, learning the demand they create and how to use…

 

Cooperation among cooperatives

Dave Deihl Platte-Clay Electric Coop General Manager

Dave Deihl
General Manager

From the General Manager

Every day at Platte-Clay we see examples of the Seven Cooperative Principles which guide the organization, but perhaps not as vividly as in early March when an EF2 tornado churned destructively through the area.

That tornado was one from a line of storms that wreaked havoc from as far south as Arkansas and Oklahoma north through Missouri and on to Wisconsin and Minnesota. By Saturday the National Weather Service had confirmed 53 tornadoes from that storm system.

In addition to the EF2 tornado that ripped up Platte-Clay members homes and co-op infrastructure, Missouri had seven EF1 tornadoes. The tornado that spun its way east through the Platte-Clay service area had winds of up to 132 mph, putting it just under the EF3 category.

Platte-Clay immediately started calling in crews as members began calling to report their lights were out. In short order, as the extent of damage became known, it was all hands on deck, with crews working overnight, assessing damage and repairing what could be fixed.

The next morning dawned with cloudless blue skies and two things were clear: there was much work to be done and people—members and employees—were hard at it.

Homeowners were out picking up debris to make burn piles and touching bases with neighbors to see how they fared during the storm.

The Platte-Clay management group, working through the state co-op association, requested assistance from other co-ops that could spare a crew.

Neighboring co-ops, Atchison- Holt, in Rockport; Boone Electric, Columbia; Grundy Electric, Chillicothe; and United, in Savannah, which hadn’t suffered as much damage, sent crews to help.

N-W crews started replacing downed poles and the high voltage lines that stretch out from substations to the lower voltage Platte-Clay distribution lines that ultimately serve members.

The Red Cross sent in teams to assist.

In many cases, members said that Platte-Clay crews were “first responders,” the first group of what would become many over the next few days as the community started to rebuild, replace roofs, windows, doors, siding, fences, lives.

In some cases, the home was completely gone, and at that point crews noted the information in the database and moved to the next address.

Although the storm delivered a blow to our sense of safety and security, it also brought out the best, cooperation among cooperatives, which helped Northland families gain a sense of normalcy and power to rebuild their homes.

I am both humbled and proud to be a part of Platte-Clay Electric and the rural electric program.

Together we’ll move forward.

If you have questions or concerns, please e-mail me, generalmanager@pcec.coop

 

Cooperative Principle 6

Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

 

Lights Out August 21

Total Solar Eclipse to Cross Area

The thing about a total solar eclipse is that even though they occur about every 18 months, it’s not an everyday occurrence, especially in northwest Missouri in particular, and the U.S. in general.

But this year is different. On August 21, the moon’s shadow will create a path about 70 miles wide from west to east and leave Missouri in the dark for just about 2 and a half minutes as the sun continues to revolve around Earth.

And that’s a generous experience, according to eclipse experts.

What’s all the fuss? Well, according to Belgium’s Jean Meeus, a spherical and mathematical astronomist, we’ll only see a total eclipse on Earth every 375 years on average.

Earlier astronomists, H. N. Russell, R. S. Dugan and J. Q. Stewart in 1926 said the chance to see a total eclipse is once every 360 years. And we only see total eclipses on Earth because of the position of the sun in relation to the moon. The last total solar eclipse that graced Missouri was in 1869, when the moon’s shadow crossed the northeast corner of the state.

So it’s a big deal. Especially when it’s in our backyard, literally. Plus there are activities all along the path, from St. Joseph to Cape Girardeau so expect company, perhaps long-lost cousins and grade school pals to be in touch.

For many of us, the eclipse is simply a natural phenomenon gift. For others, it is the chance to cross off a bucket list nature adventure—which we may not even have known we had.

So, first things first: in Missouri, the eclipse is projected to begin at 11:40 a.m. at Lewis and Clark State Park, near St. Joseph, so that means we need to be where we’re going to watch, parked, seated and in place and situated way before then.

The eclipse will start in the northwest corner of the state and angle south and east, leaving the continental U.S. in South Carolina.

According to Front Page Science, an astronomy magazine hosting an eclipse watching event in St. Joseph at Rosecrans Memorial Airport:

  • The eclipse begins at 11:40:34 a.m. with the Sun 54.1º high in the southeast.
  • The total eclipse starts at 1:06:19 p.m. when the Sun is 61.9º high in the south.
  • Maximum eclipse occurs at 1:07:38 p.m. when the Sun is 61.9º high in the south.
  • The end of totality is at 1:08:57 p.m. with the Sun 61.9º high in the south.
  • The eclipse ends at 2:34:27 p.m. when the Sun is 57.9º high in the southwest.

Experienced eclipse watchers will be comfortably seated, some with their cameras on tripods or telescopes to see or get the best photos and we’ll want to be wearing our special eclipse glasses—available from most of the area communities’ web sites. Experienced eclipse watchers report that because we’re watching the sun and moon that only eclipse glasses are needed to appreciate the event.

Since for many there’s camping available, there won’t be any excuse for not being up and about and in place by that time.

And for many of us it will only be a matter of going outside of our home or office and pulling up a lawn chair.

Missouri has a lot to offer its eclipse guests. The total eclipse can be seen from 42 of the state’s parks and historic sites. Plus, for bicyclists, 22 of the KATY Trailheads will go dark for a little more than 2 minutes.

Closer to home, area communities are preparing activities and rolling out the welcome mat.

Excelsior Springs is planning a two day Solar Fest along with a barbeque and Fly-in on the River, the annual downtown festival.

Lathrop is planning a four-day celebration, which will include the double opportunity of celebrating the community’s sesquicentennial—150 year birthday and the eclipse—complete with souvenirs.

The Lathrop fairgrounds has full RV hookups available for eclipse fans, while other landowners are offering tent camping and space for self-contained RV camping.

Neighboring Plattsburg is opening up Perkins Park for guests, offering food and souvenirs through vendors that will be located on the north end of the park. Visitors will be parked to allow tailgating while waiting for the moon’s shadow to darken the sky. Groups and tour busses must pre-register with the city for park space.

Some local property owners are planning to open their fields for eclipse viewing. For more information, visit www.plattsburg-mo.gov

St. Joseph will host an eclipse-viewing event at the airport, which expects to attract some 100,000 sky watchers, including guests from other countries who will fly in on chartered aircraft.

Front Page Science will have astronomers available to explain the phenomenon and provide free safe filtered telescopes for viewing.

For more information and to reserve parking or RV space, visit stjosepheclipse.com

For more information on other locations, visit regional community or chambers of commerce web sites, the local Astronomical Society of Kansas City,

https://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/event-list.cfm?Club_ID=452 which hosts local meetings and the NASA site, https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse.html

 

How to Watch an Eclipse

Eclipse

To best enjoy the eclipse, the expert eclipse watchers at Front Page Science have these recommendations:

1. Plan now to take eclipse day, Aug. 21, off
The point to consider is that August 21, 2017, may turn out to be the most popular vacation-day request in history.

2. Make a weekend out of it
Eclipse day is a Monday. Lots of related activities in locations touched by the Moon’s inner shadow will occur on Saturday and Sunday. Find out what they are, where they’re being held, and which you want to attend, and make a mini-vacation out of the eclipse. Events like cruises to exotic locations will allow you to experience the full social impact of the eclipse.

3. Attend an event
You’ll enjoy the eclipse more if you hook up with like-minded people.

4. Get involved
If your interests include celestial events and public service, consider volunteering with a group putting on an eclipse event. You’ll learn a lot and make some new friends in the process.

5. Watch the weather
Meteorologists study a chaotic system. Nobody now can tell you with absolute certainty the weather a specific location will experience on eclipse day. And don’t get too tied up in the predictions of cloud cover you’ll see for that date.

6. Stay flexible on eclipse day
There may be heavy traffic on eclipse day. Reports are our small towns will have 20,000-40,000 visitors. Each.

7. Don’t plan anything funky
Totality will be the shortest two and a half minutes of your life. All your attention should be on the Sun. You may want to consider enjoying a professional photographer’s work rather than fussing with a camera and missing the experience. And be considerate of those around you. Please, no music.

8. Have the entire family use the facilities before things get going
Don’t wait until 10 minutes before totality to start searching for a bathroom. Too much is happening then. Make a preemptive trip 45 minutes or so earlier.

9. Notice it getting cooler?
A point-and-shoot camera that takes movies will let you record the temperature drop. Here’s a suggestion: Point your camera at a digital thermometer and a watch, both of which you previously attached to a white piece of cardboard or foamcore. Start recording video 15 or so minutes before totality and keep shooting until 15 minutes afterward. The results may surprise you.

10. Watch for the Moon’s shadow
If your viewing location is at the top of a good-sized hill, you may see the Moon’s shadow approaching. This sighting isn’t easy because as the shadow crosses St. Joseph, Mo., for example, it is moving at 1,584 mph (2,550 km/h), or twice the speed of sound. Another way to spot the shadow is as it covers thin cirrus clouds if any are above your site. Again, you’ll be surprised how fast the shadow moves.

11. View the 360° sunset
During totality, take just a few seconds to tear your eyes away from the sky and scan the horizon. You’ll see sunset colors all around you because, in effect, those locations are where the sunset (or sunrise) are happening.

12. Get a filter in advance
Cardboard “eclipse” glasses with lenses of optical Mylar cost about $2. Such a device — it’s not a toy — will let you safely look directly at the Sun. It filters out most of the light, all of the dangerous infrared (heat) and ultraviolet radiation, which tans our skin.

Buy eclipse glasses well in advance, and perhaps a couple of extra pairs in the event someone misplaces theirs, and you can look at the Sun anytime. Sometimes you can see a sunspot or two. That’s pretty cool because to be visible to our eyes, such a spot has to be larger than Earth.

Another safe solar filter is a #14 welder’s glass, which also will cost you $2. Want to look cool at the eclipse? Buy goggles that will hold the welder’s glass. People have even been seen wearing whole helmets. Either helmets or goggles serve one purpose — you won’t need to hold the filter, so you can’t drop it.

 

How do mothers know these things?

PCEC Security LogoWe used to wonder how our mothers knew what we were doing. She would be in an entirely different part of the house and then we’d hear her say, “Don’t get into the…” whatever it was.+

How did she know?

Times have changed, and in many households, with both parents working outside the home, moms and dads can use a little help.

Technology now gives parents a helping hand and an extra set of “eyes” on the household.

Wireless security systems make for easy installation for homes that haven’t been pre-wired or have stucco or designer walls.

Platte-Clay uses the Alarm.com system, which for a limited time includes a free image sensor, an integrated still camera with a motion sensor.

When the image sensor detects movement, it snaps a photo. It will answer the question, “Who was in dad’s office?” The image sensor knows and will send a photo to mom or dad.

The dashboard works through an Alarm.com app available at the App Store or Google Play site.

The app includes features such as the ability to control temperature settings, to lock and unlock doors, checking on if doors are locked or unlocked, if the lights are on or off.

PCEC Security Mobile App

For more information on PCEC Security, call 628-3121.

 

Premium fuel is back

Back by popular demand, Platte-Clay Fuel stations now are offering premium fuel.

Premium Fuel Is Back

Many manufacturers and enthusiasts recommend premium fuel for their high compression engines, such as:

  • motorcycles
  • boats
  • new Chevy 2.0 engines
  • vintage automobiles
  • heavy-duty vehicles
  • small engines
  • power equipment

Premium gas is available at both the Platte City and Kearney fuel stations.

 

‘tis the season for everyone to be outside working – safely

Because of safety concerns, do not cover, build around or attach anything to the meter or transformers.

Treat the utility meter and transformers like a refrigerator door and don’t block it or put anything in front of it.

Crews need about 3’ around co-op electrical equipment, a shock protection boundary, for a safe work space.

 

PCEC continues meter change outs

Platte-Clay will continue changing out meters for the next three years as part of an integrated system upgrade.

Platte-Clay crews in marked co-op vehicles will change out meters as time allows during regular work hours. Members will lose service for a few minutes when the meters are replaced and crews will leave a door hanger if no one is home.

 

The Northland Connection is published monthly by Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative, Inc., 1000 W. 92 Highway, Kearney, MO 64060. Postmaster: Please send address changes to: Northland Connection, PO Box 100, Kearney, MO 64060 or mail@pcec.coop.

Platte-Clay is an equal opportunity employer.

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