National Preparedness Month
Now 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.
- 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 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
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.
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 email@example.com.
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, near Tarkio, Mo.
Thomas Hill Energy Center
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.
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.
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.
Gary Lezak, Channel 41 weather forecaster did live remotes from South Valley Middle School in Liberty.
Above, welcome to the Crowley farm, est. 1942 and site of a 2017 Total Solar Eclipse watch.
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 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.
A 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Platte-Clay is an equal opportunity employer.