Northland Connection

February 2017

Platte-Clay Northland Connection Newsletter February 2017

Disruptive technology

There’s nothing quite like a bunch of engineers taking on a challenge.

And boy, did they.

First, the automobile industry. Today Tesla is a success story of a car built in Silicon Valley, a premium electric-powered car.

Second, it’s sleek and faster than many gasoline-powered cars with long pedigrees and legendary racing successes.

And third, they took on the electric power industry via a home-based battery pack for powering the electric Tesla or to provide home back up power.

A Tesla isn’t just pretty, it’s fast. Teslas accelerate from 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds, right in the same ballpark as the high-end Ferraris. By comparison, a Ford Focus RS, around $37k, will get you to 60 in 4.6 seconds.

Disruptive Technology Cars
Above left, Ford Focus RS. Above Right, Tesla.

Electric vehicles, EVs, can use area charging stations or plug in at home; the Tesla delivers a range of around 200 miles between plug ins.

Not content with pushing a major shift in the automotive industry—most major manufacturers now are building at least one electric vehicle—Tesla is producing renewable energy storage systems, home battery packs, called the Powerwall, which may prove to radically change the electric power industry.

The Tesla Powerwall is especially attractive for those with electric cars. A solar array can generate power during the day to charge the Powerwall, which will recharge an electric vehicle overnight.

The rechargeable lithium-ion battery, housed in an attractive cabinet also can be used to power a home.

A single unit, Tesla says, will provide limited power for critical appliances and lights. It’s a bit pricey at around $6,000; and will take two or three units to provide full power for a home.

With all major automobile manufacturers now developing electric vehicles, home battery packs may become more commonplace.

Tesla also has announced solar roof tiles, now estimated to cost about $70,000 per home. The appeal, Elon Musk, Tesla founder, says is that they look “normal” and will be generally be accepted in subdivisions, ending a common complaint about residential solar arrays.

So in planning for the future, it’s very possible your co-op will provide the back up, rather than primary power as individual homes create their own “mini” powerplant.

While today living off-grid in a battery-powered home with an electric car or self-driving vehicle still seems futuristic and even impractical, the future is near and is coming quickly as new products and services are integrated into our homes, businesses and lifestyles.

 

The future is now

Dave Deihl Platte-Clay Electric Coop General Manager

Dave Deihl
General Manager

From the General Manager

Now that we’ve had a couple of months of demand billing, I thought we could review how and why we got here. The decision was a year of research, an extensive cost of service study to ensure fairness and a year of communications to the membership.

For many members it is a matter of simply developing an awareness about how our household creates our individual peak demand; when we use power, how many things we have plugged in at once.

Because Platte-Clay pays for wholesale power, in large part, on demand, it makes sense to allocate the cost of demand to each household according to the power cost the household creates.

Platte-Clay’s new billing helps manage disruptive technology, a current and colorful business phrase we can see affecting any number of industries.

For a moment, let’s consider how cell phones have taken over landlines, and how we now expect everyone from grandparents to school children to be connected at all times.

Sprint is an excellent example. A local success story, Sprint now is a leading cellular company with roots in the traditional telephone companies, General Telephone Company, GTE, and United Telecom that provided telephone services in rural Midwestern communities. Fast forward through building a comprehensive fiber optic long distance network, strategic alliances and moving into wireless and today most think of Sprint as a cellular telephone company.

As a result of major changes in the telecommunications industry, the former landline companies now are primarily cell phone companies with new bundled revenue streams from internet, data, cable and to a lesser degree, traditional landline services. Those major telecommunications industry changes have taken place since 2000.

Another example is that many of us have moved from desktops to laptops to tablets and some even rely on their cell phone for most electronic communications; again, disruptive technology.

Looking at the growing demographics of both a tech-savvy and busy population, Ford will be building primarily self-driving and electric cars, including a hybrid Mustang in its highly-automated Flat Rock, Michigan, plant. “The era of the electric vehicle is dawning,” said Ford chief executive Mark Fields, “and we at Ford plan to be a leader in this exciting future.” Ford will invest $4.5 billion in electric vehicles by 2020.

“Each iteration of a facility becomes less like old school manufacturing and more high-tech,” said Brett Smith, an auto analyst at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. “The people will have to keep learning throughout their careers. It won’t be like the old days, when you do the same thing for 40 years.”

He could have been talking about the electric power industry.

The U.S. Department of Energy said that the energy revolution is now. In fact, their 2016 report is called “Revolution…Now.”

The report reviews trends that will affect the power industry, some sectors sooner than others. For Platte-Clay and the other rural electric cooperatives the changes already in place include using wind, solar, microgrids, LEDs, home battery storage and electric vehicles.

We’re familiar with these technologies and understand that those costs will drop over time.

The issue for Platte-Clay, and all other energy providers is recovering the fixed costs, which are the cost for the poles, transformers, substations and the miles of lines along our rural roads. All power providers have a responsibility to build in the capacity for high demand for those times like the holidays or the hottest and coldest days of the year, when we “demand” maximum energy to heat or cool our homes. These are all driving factors of the demand component.

The Future Is NowFor Platte-Clay and 56 other rural electric co-ops’ power provider, Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AECI), the fixed cost includes maintaining the power plants, hundreds of miles of high voltage transmission lines, upgrading the coal-fired power plants to cleaner standards and gradually increasing natural gas and renewables.

AECI now is working on a long-term strategic plan that takes into consideration disruptive technologies, such as renewables as those costs drop and transmission partnerships.

While preventative maintenance, planning ahead and moving to cleaner energy sources sounds like common sense, it’s common sense spelled with a B—the cost to maintain and operate a vast energy network generating power to serve rural families from Oklahoma to Iowa runs into the billions each year.

Like all economists and any number of industry experts, including Brett Smith, who said, “It won’t be like the old days, when you do the same thing for 40 years,” we are all learning and adapting to change.

And that brings us back to demand, the capacity to meet member demand. Each member paying for demand is fair, and it’s one of the steps your co-op is taking to manage disruptive technology so Platte-Clay will be here serving you for another 79 years.

 

Let’s talk about our heart

Lets Talk About Our Heart

We tend to think of heart attacks as a condition that affects men, in large part because of the lack of general information and data on what causes female heart attacks.

Clinical trials tend to skew heavily toward both men and male animals. But we’re different, right down to the cellular level: women have two X chromosomes and men have an X and a Y chromosome.

Drug companies, supported by the FDA which funds industry drug trials, tend to avoid women of child-bearing age because of varying hormone levels and the fact that they may become pregnant. Both are issues in determining the efficacy of drugs and the possibility of adverse effects.

Fortunately that’s slowly but surely changing.

Necessity is the mother of invention–and organizations

Founded in 1924 by six cardiologists, the American Heart Assoc., started as a scientific society. The nonprofit reorganized in 1948, evolving into an organization with a focus on research funding, community programs, and education, including CPR training.

Because more women than men die of heart attacks and there were comparatively few resources available, in 1999 three women in their 40s who had heart attacks found they had multiple common issues: misdiagnosis, inadequate treatment and social isolation.

National Coalition For Women With Heart DiseaseToday their organization, WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, remains the only patient-centered organization focused exclusively on women’s heart disease.

Although it’s a club no woman wants to qualify to join, WomenHeart has 20,000 members. In Missouri, WomenHeart has two support groups in Kansas City and five in St. Louis.

To help women manage after a heart attack, the local groups meet monthly and offer peer-to-peer support, information and encouragement.

In addition to helping women manage both the physical and emotional aspects of heart disease, the group fields speakers to share information and meets with state and federal officials to explain the need for adequate research funding.

Women’s Heart Attack Symptoms

  • Discomfort, tightness, uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes, or comes and goes
  • Crushing chest pain
  • Pressure or pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck, upper back, jaw, or arms
  • Dizziness or nausea
  • Clammy sweats, heart flutters, or paleness
  • Unexplained feelings of anxiety, fatigue or weakness – especially with exertion
  • Stomach or abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing

Because healthcare providers may not recognize these symptoms as a heart attack, thinking it could be perhaps indigestion, it’s important to have an EKG test or an enzyme blood test—which could save a woman’s life.

Being prepared for a health emergency

Because life, and our health, throws us any number of unexpected “opportunities,” it’s good to be prepared.

If there’s a history of heart disease in the family, it becomes even more important, as every minute counts.

First, have medical documents where they can be easily found. Some suggested locations are keeping a set at home and at work, carried in a purse or glove box or on a USB drive in a purse.

Second, a list of all medications, including over the counter medications and herbal or dietary supplements.

Third, a list of all allergies.

Fourth, a copy of our resting electrocardiogram (ECG), available from the hospital or doctor where the test was performed. That will help the ER doctors better diagnose a heart attack.

Fifth, emergency contact(s).

Have aspirin (one normal or two baby aspirin, if not allergic) on hand. Others may want to have a nitroglycerin pill available.

It’s the usual suspects

Along with every other organization associated with health, WomenHeart says it’s important to eat right and exercise to maintain the correct weight.

Thinking ahead

The best time to plan for the end of life is before it’s necessary to think about our death. Some of the basic decisions we’ll need to make include funeral / cremation arrangements, determining organ donation, burial plans, flowers or financial contributions to a charity, and if so, which ones.

In the meantime, most of us have work to do for our best heart health.

 

Platte-Clay annual meeting May 11

The Platte-Clay annual meeting will be held Thursday, May 11 at the Kearney office, 1000 W. State Route 92. Doors will open at 4.

The co-op will have a display area and an opportunity to register for prizes and learn about products and services Platte-Clay provides.

In addition, representatives from area communities will be on hand for those who would like to know more about our towns and attractions and the many resources available in our own backyard.

 

Board of director candidate filing deadline Tuesday, Feb. 21

Each year Platte-Clay members elect three members, one from each district, at the annual meeting, this year May 11, to serve as their representative. The term is for three years.

Members who wish to run for the Board of Directors must contact Angie Kinard (angiek@pcec.coop) or call the office, 816-628- 3121 and speak with Ms. Kinard by Tuesday, February 21.

She’ll get prospective Board member’s information and share with the appropriate members of the Nominating Committee who will explain Board responsibilities.

The Nominating Committee will have their final meeting Feb. 23 to place candidates into nomination.

Co-op members who miss the February 21 deadline may submit a petition at either office with 15 co-op member’s names not less than 70 days prior to the annual meeting.

A member also may be nominated from the floor during the business meeting, May 11, 7 p.m.

 

Capital credit checks distributed at Platte-Clay annual meeting May 11

Now is the time to make sure that all of the owners of the Platte- Clay account have their name on it.

Your Platte-Clay electric account is an asset—for many there will be a check to pick up at the annual meeting.

Because of that, only the individual(s) whose name is on the account may get the capital credit check.

 

Comparing apples to apples

It’s hard to compare electric service bills from month to month, year to year without factoring in the weather.

On a mild day we’re just not using as much power; on a cold day it seems like the furnace never goes off.

And then there’s that problem with physics.

Heat goes to the cold, so every crack, every crevice, every window and every plug on an outside wall is begging your furnace, fireplace and space heater air to warm them up.

We can even feel that sensation, almost like a draft, when sitting by a cold window. And that drafty feeling is more noticeable when it’s cold, as the greater the temperature difference, the faster heat moves.

Feeling cold in our home plus trying to figure out why our bill is different month-to-month just adds insult to injury.

There’s help.

First, it’s important to compare the kilowatts used for each month. We hear people saying that they didn’t do anything different, but their bill is higher. There are any number of variables, starting with the temperature.

Infrared Image Showing Heat Loss
Infrared image showing window heat loss. Because windows have a low R value, simply using the plastic film insulation kits will help keep heat in.

Most members had higher January, 2017, usage than December, 2016, usage. That information is shown as a bar graph on our bills for easy year-to-year comparisons.

By way of comparison, December, 2016 was 9.6 degrees colder than the average December, 2015, temperature.

Because every degree difference can mean a 3 percent difference for utility bills, that (rounding) 10 degrees would mean a 30 percent increase in our bills.

We’ll have to see how this winter shakes out, but in the meantime, we’d like to suggest warmer clothes and a programmable thermostat to help control energy costs.

In addition, Platte-Clay’s energy auditor can conduct a before-and-after energy audit. The contrast is amazing, as seen in the photos below. Plus Platte-Clay rewards members who make the recommended improvements by helping with the cost of qualified improvements, up to $500.

If you’re interested in seeing where your heating and cooling dollars are going, call Platte-Clay for an energy audit, 816-628-3121.

 

Insulating for comfort and savings — by the numbers

Insulating For Comfort And Savings By The Numbers

Before and after a Platte-Clay member’s energy audit.

Basement walls, in the red-to-purple show where the walls are coldest, at 37.4° when the thermostat was set on 68° and the outside temperature was 21°.

After having the basement spray-foam insulated, the walls came up to 59.4° with the thermostat set on 60° and the outside temperature had dropped down to 13°.

Bottom line: this member’s basement is warmer and they’re using less energy.

 

Directors Corner

Welcome to the first Directors’ Corner.

Once a quarter, more if issues warrant, we will touch base on those that affect you. We will cover issues and resources your Board considers as we make decisions on your behalf.

Our primary concern, as always, is safety of our most valuable resource—our employees.

We are proud to share that Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative was a recipient of a state association award for 144,135 hours of an accident-free record for 2016. This in addition to previous years’ safety record is a source of pride for PCEC.

Even though our primary purpose is to make sure that when we flip the switch the lights come on, which sounds simple, at times it can get a bit complicated.

For instance, what will the future bring, and how should Platte-Clay prepare for it?

Because we are a rural electric cooperative with our roots in our communities, and our primary concern is our friends and neighbors your co-op serves, we rely on organizations closer to where laws, rules and regulations are being proposed: Jefferson City, Mo., and Washington, D.C.

The Association for Missouri Electric Cooperatives, AMEC, monitors the legislation proposed and debated at the state house. Some long-time members will remember the name Barry Hart, who worked for Platte-Clay in economic development and who now heads the state organization. He is active on the state and national level, which brings us to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Assoc., NRECA. The mission of the national organization that represents nearly 900 rural electric cooperatives supplying power to 40 million members is “to power communities and empower members to improve the quality of their lives.”

Because of the complexity of an electric service provider and the industry as a whole, both organizations offer updates and training—a valuable opportunity for continuing education, where we can learn about the workings of rural electric cooperatives and concerns that we face on the local and national level.

Going forward, some of the issues we’ll be evaluating and monitoring include the Clean Power Plan and how the new administration will oversee the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for example.

Platte-Clay has a reputation for being a progressive rural electric cooperative and that’s important—it means that your Board and your co-op plans to be providing your electric power for the next 70 plus years, as it has done since it was formed in 1938.

Thanks for reading, and let us know if you have questions or issues you’d like to see discussed. Write the office, PO Box 100, Kearney, 64060 or directorscorner@pcec.coop or call 816-628-3121.

 

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.

Posted in: Newsletters

Leave a Comment (0) ↓

Leave a Comment