Northland Connection

September 2016

Platte-Clay Northland Connection Newsletter September 2016

30% Federal geothermal tax credits to expire Dec. 31

Geothermal IllustrationWhoops. My bad. No kidding?

Apparently several Senators and Representatives have said something along those lines when energy industry representatives mentioned that the Federal tax credit for renewables didn’t extend the tax credits for geothermal units.

Who knew Congress could forget something as important as geothermal heat pump tax credits when members passed a bill extending the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) in December, 2015.

Those two tax credits will benefit solar and wind through 2020, which is expected to encourage the fledgling renewable energy industries until the production prices drop. And like training wheels, the two industries are expected to take off and make it on their own after that.

In exchange, because there’s always trading going on in legislation, Congress did away with the 40-year ban on crude oil exports put in place during the 1970s oil embargo crisis. The industry tax breaks also remain in place.

For those who are too young to remember, or weren’t here, in the ‘70s we wanted to hold on to every last barrel of oil if we couldn’t get it from the Mideast. Long lines at the gas station and running out of fuel demanded fast and drastic action.

Unless Congress acts before the end of the year, Platte-Clay members have only until Dec. 31 to install a geothermal heat pump that meets the Federal Energy Star criteria.

The Federal program information is on the web at www.energystar.gov—do a search for geothermal heat pumps. The web site also provides specifications and buying guidance.

For maximum savings, the time to act is now.

Platte-Clay continues to provide a $750 a ton rebate on new geothermal units and a $150 a ton rebate on replacement units.

Rebate qualifications for Platte- Clay members include:

  • Home must have R-38 insulation in the attic and R-13 insulation in the walls
  • Member must have only an electric storage water heater
  • Member’s account must be in good standing to receive a rebate, issued in the form of a check, not an energy bill credit.
  • Member must supply appropriate documentation, including dated sales receipt or invoice
  • Member must fully complete the rebate application form
  • Maximum rebate is for 10 tons
  • Member must include the Manual J calculation

The complete rebate form is on
the co-op web site, www.pcec.coop

 

Hot enough?

Message From CEO

Mike Torres

From the CEO

Been hot enough for you?

If you ask me, the answer is yes. And then some.

In May, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted a hotter than normal summer for most of the United States. That’s on top of the records set in 2015–the hottest consecutive 12 months in the climate administration’s history.

We think they got it right: it’s been hot in Missouri.

The good news is that within a couple of weeks we should be more comfortable and able to sleep with the windows open. Personally, I’m looking forward to that.

Many of us have had the air conditioner going full time since June because the temperatures have stayed for the most part at 80° or above. And the days when the thermometer went to 90° to and close to or above 100° were even more uncomfortable, and for some, even dangerous.

For now we can look for temperatures to moderate and to start enjoying Indian summer.

And that brings us to the changes we’ll see in our bills.

I want to briefly review the new three-part billing, which will take effect with the November bills, October usage.

Your co-op will look back over the past year and find the month with the greatest demand. Generally speaking, that month tends to be either the hottest or coldest month of the year—when homes require more energy for heating or cooling.

Demand will be the new component on our three-part bills, along with the customer charge, which we see now, and energy use, calculated at the new lower rate of .079/kW.

The co-op web site, www.pcec.coop, has a calculator so we can get a reasonably good idea of what makes up individual household demand—our appliances, tools and household devices.

The calculator will provide a fairly good idea of how much energy each device “demands,” or requires and what that adds up to when using several at the same time. It’s a great exercise and an especially good learning experience for those of us with children at home.

For those without internet access, or who want a personalized energy review, please stop by or call the co-op during regular business hours.

As always, if you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.

 

Q and A Three Part Billing

 

Help bring back the Monarchs

In September we’ll begin to see Monarch butterflies starting to head south, many from as far away as Canada, to their winter home in Mexico.

Unfortunately, it’s likely we’ll see fewer Monarchs than in the past, as their habit and availability of their prime food, milkweed, has been declining. Pesticides kill the Monarchs and weed killer kills their food, the milkweed.

A group based at Kansas University (easy, Tigers), called Monarch Watch, started a nationwide landscape restoration program called Bring Back the Monarchs.

With volunteer Monarch enthusiasts, the goal of the organization is to restore about 20 milkweed species that the Monarch caterpillars require for food and additional habitat.

Although adult Monarchs eat nectar from a variety of flowers, eggs are deposited on the milkweed plant, and the caterpillars eat the milkweed leaves as they grow.

The nonprofit group hopes to establish more certified Monarch Waystations for Danaus plexippus, the Monarch’s scientific name, along their route from Mexico to Canada and back.

In the Midwest, the Monarch flight follows a broad path on either side of I-35, making Missouri, and Platte-Clay’s service area, prime locations for Monarch Waystations.

Some of the 5,000 certified Monarch Waystations are in schools, churches, home gardens, parks and along roadsides. A Monarch Waystation can be placed in other places that aren’t sprayed with herbicides or pesticides.

Monarch Watch has a variety of programs for students and resources for teachers and classroom projects, including tagging Monarchs.

Monarch Watch suggests buying native plants from them or Milkweed Market Vendors— see http://monarchwatch.org/milkweed/market.

Help Bring Back The Monarchs
Above left, Common milkweed. Above right, Monarch butterflies. Courtesy monarch-butterfly.com

When buying plants from any other nursery, it’s critical to make certain that no systemic insecticides or other pesticides were used on the plants. And unfortunately many nurseries don’t have that information available—and instead of supporting Monarchs, we could be killing them.

Also, for those with some space, Monarch Watch offers free milkweed plugs to installations of at least two acres. Find online forms on the Monarch Watch web site, monarchwatch.org

This is a perfect time to plant perennials, so an abbreviated list of recommended plants, along with their Latin names follows.

  • Bronze fennel, Foeniculum vulgare
  • Butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa
  • Chrysanthemums, C.leucanthemum ‘Sheffield Pink’ and Bolero
  • Common Milkweed, Ascelpias syriaca
  • Joe-Pye weed, Eutrochium spp.
  • Milkweed, Asclepias spp.
  • New England aster, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae
  • Prairie milkweed, Asclepias purpurascens
  • Purple coneflower, Echinacea purpurea
  • Spicebush, Lindera benzoin
  • Tartarian aster, Aster tartaricus ‘Jindal’

The complete recommended plant list is on the Monarch Watch web site, www.monarch.org

These plants were selected for Monarchs and their general nectar value.

 

Short and sweet info in your e-mail for busy people

Email NewsletterGo anywhere, or maybe just look across the table, and you’ll find people bent over their smart phone or tablet.

The good news is that they’re probably reading.

In an effort to keep up with the mobile and small screen crowd, Platte-Clay now will begin providing co-op members with short e-mail notifications.

Key to success: an accurate co-op member e-mail address.

There are two ways to sign up.

Sign up using the link from the slider on the home page of the web site, www.pcec.coop. For those with smart phones and a data plan, simply text pcecnews to 22828 to sign up.

Each month, Platte-Clay will send Northland Connection highlights and link and a separate e-mail with a link for the Rural Missouri. Members will receive the e-mail around the first of the month.

In addition, from time to time, the co-op may send out urgent co-op announcements, such as information on a major outage to supplement Facebook posts, special event invitations and co-op member offers.

So just like other major retailers, your co-op is jumping into short and fast information.

All we need is your favorite e-mail address.

 

Student News

Additional info, rules, forms at www.pcec.coop – click on Education

2016-17 Youth Tour theme – How Co-ops Benefit the Community

It seems like only days ago the Platte-Clay Youth Tour winners got back from Washington, D.C., and from the leadership conference in Jefferson City.

Summer just flew by.

The Youth Tour theme this year is “How Co-ops Benefit the Community.”

Sophomore and junior students will write a 600-750 word essay or produce a two to three-minute video on rural electric cooperatives.

Some teachers make the essay/video contest a class project, while others leave it up to students to work on their own or parents to encourage participation.

Either way, students have many resources at hand, starting with the co-op web site, www.pcec.coop, the National Rural Electric Coopertive Assoc. (NRECA) web site and as always, Google.

Again this year Platte-Clay will host six students, with the two top placing students going on an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., in mid-June and the remaining four sent to the award-winning conference in Jefferson City in July.

Deadline for the essay or video is January 12. Questions–write mail@pcec.coop

$1000 scholarships from Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative

Platte-Clay will provide three $1,000 scholarships, one to a student in each co-op district, North, South and West.

The funds are for students who are permanent residents of the co-op’s service area: Buchanan, Caldwell, Clay, Clinton, Platte or Ray Counties.

Students eligibility starts with those who are pursuing a degree that can be used in the electric power industry at an accredited school.

Students will need to provide a typed, one-page essay highlighting achievements, school activities, community service and career plans.

In addition, the student will need two current lettrs of recommendation from counselors, teachers, employers or other non relatives.

The application must include an official high school or college transcript for students with a GPA of 2.5 or higher.

The deadline is March 24.

 

Platte-Clay helps save time and money

Platte-Clay Helps Save Time And Money Time and money are two elements that make our worlds go around.

Families go out to dinner because we don’t have time to cook a meal–we have an evening meeting and the kids need to get to after-school activities. And we’re driving the carpool.

Then it’s back home, toss a load of clothes in the washer, make sure the kids have brushed their teeth and have finished their homework, and off to bed.

So we can start all over again.

For families concerned about balancing time and money, your co-op offers online bill payments.

It’s easy to sign up: go to www.pcec.coop, on the top tabs, go to Services, then Billing Information, then Pay Bill Online to register or to pay your bill.

Paperless billing can help members by sending a notification to your e-mail account.

Then really put technology to work and make automatic payments using a checking, savings or credit card.

We know that families are busy, and Platte-Clay makes it quick and easy to simply pay a bill online using a smart phone and a debit or credit card.

Everything members need to sign up for electronic billing or payments is on the web site in the Services – billing section, or call 816-628-3121 for assistance.

 

Hello?

TelephoneKeeping up with co-op members’ landline telephone and cell phone numbers is a moving target.

How often have we changed carriers when our contract was up to get a better deal, to add more family members to a plan, or simply passed along a phone to a child and upgraded ours?

Or maybe work decided we need to be available 24 x 7 and gave us a company cell phone.

To provide quality member service, it’s important that Platte-Clay have all of the correct cell phones and landline telephone numbers for all of the members on an account for these reasons.

  1. Platte-Clay will call members when there is a planned repair—a planned outage so members can decide how they will manage the household when they will be without electric service.
  2. Some examples include repairing a damaged pole, to upgrade electronics, to move a line so it would be easier to repair if necessary or to update equipment.

  3. To double check, after making area repairs, that each member who requested a call back to make certain that service was restored, and if not, to send a crew out to a member’s home.
  4. In the event the crew would need to call the homeowner about getting access to co-op equipment—locked gate, dangerous dog or blocked access.
  5. If there was massive damage to the co-op’s infrastructure, Platte-Clay could proactively call members in the affected area to share specific information on estimated time of restoration—which could be hours, days, weeks.
  6. And then there are the account issues such as the debit or credit card for auto payments needs updating, which happens every two years or so.
  7. Reminder calls when the Platte-Clay account is past due; and if there’s no action taken, a subsequent call that is the shut off notice.

We know that no one wants to be without electric service, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to call in and update all telephone numbers.

Simply call 628-3121 and update the information, for those who use the internet, go to the web site, www.pcec.coop and click on Services, then Account Services and scroll down to Update Account.

It will only take a few minutes, and looking ahead, will help when calling in to report an outage since your number will be in the system.

 

Energy in the Classroom

summer grad class

Energy In The ClassroomFor the past four years, Platte- Clay has offered a free graduate degree credit to a teacher interested in learning more about where and how we get electric power. The class, hosted by Central Electric Power Cooperative, is held at the University of Missouri in August. The university helped develop the program for the graduate level class.

This year Platte-Clay hosted Jennifer Chrane (right), a gifted and talented facilitator for the Kearney School District. This is her report on the class:

I had the opportunity to spend two days learning from researchers and experts in the field of energy at the University of Missouri.

I was surrounded by other Missouri teachers who were motivated to learn about the changing field of energy so we could provide our students with the most accurate and up-to-date information. We learned about topics ranging from the basics of electricity, safety, economics, and the various types of energy.

We also went on field trips to Boone Electric Cooperative to learn about the solar panels that they were installing and we toured the University of Missouri’s power plant.

I am excited to share what I learned with my students as they design a futuristic city this year and one of the aspects they will research and design for their city is an energy source.

This experience will definitely stick with me better than just reading articles or books.

I love that the University of Missouri and the electric cooperatives have worked together to make sure that today’s students receive the most accurate information and they know that the best way to do that is through their teachers.

Watch for announcements after the first of the year for the 2017 Energy in the Classroom program. Platte-Clay and the other rural electric cooperatives cover the cost of meals, lodging and the one-credit graduate class.

 

Platte-Clay announces new rates, 3-part bills

Rates effective with November bills, October usage

  1. Customer charge $25.38 – (Currently shown on bill)
  2. Energy – .079 /kWh – (New lower rate effective w/Oct. usage)
  3. Demand – $2.50/kW – (New, will be shown on November bills with October usage instead of included with energy)
 

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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2 Comments

  1. Marie Steiner September 17, 2016

    I love the articles but especially the opportunity to make a comment regarding any of the articles. This helps as the comment is fresh on my mind and the tool available to make my comment.
    Thank you

    reply
    • Platte-Clay September 18, 2016

      Hi Marie,

      Thanks for your comment and for taking time to post.

      reply

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