Thursday, May 19, 2011
Seniors’ Day hosts North East EPA
By SUE WATSON
With summer’s heat on the way, more people are interested in knowing what can be done to keep the electric bill down.
Rev. John Parker, pastor at Spring Hill Baptist Church in Waterford, said North East Electric Power Association representatives were invited to talk about power use and rates to help people learn how to lower their bill.
People from a number of faith communities, as well as a smattering of politicians, were present in a crowd of about 50 who were treated to a catfish dinner with all the works in the family life building, Thursday.
Before getting into the particulars of energy conservation, recognition goes to the cooks – Stanley Goodwin, Terry File, Perry Young, Clyde Hillmer, and Milton Whatley – and to Ray Gallager for providing the fish. Gallager is on the board of directors for North East EPA.
Desserts, tea and other amenities were provided by the Spring Hill Church ladies.
Also present with North East were Keith Hayward, assistant manager; James Downs, president of the board of directors; Randle Abel, engineer; Jake Parmer, technician; Tracie Russell, billing supervisor; and Bob Collier, general manager.
Don Hollingsworth, general manager of Holly Springs Utility Department, also attended.
Collier prefaced the session by reporting on trouble following recent tornadoes in Lafayette County and elsewhere on the Tennessee Valley Authority system.
He said TVA issued its first stage two transmission alert ever, with 150 utility structures down and over 300 damaged. TVA had over 4,000 people and outside help trying to get transmission lines back up, Collier said. Ten systems in the TVA service area were without any power and transmission was not restored until Monday, May 9, he said.
In Oxford, the first wave of the storm system swept through the north industrial park area Wednesday, April 27, at 2:30 a.m. to 3 a.m. Pontotoc EPA workers were in Oxford by 8 a.m. helping with downed lines and poles.
Sirens went off all day with an estimated three-quarter mile-wide, nine-mile-long tornado moved through the area about 2:30 p.m. Collier said the F3 tornado was likely more like an F4. Holly Springs Utility Department, Northcentral EPA, Tallahatchie Valley EPA, Oxford and Pontotoc electric departments, and TVA brought in an additional 100 workers to attack the problems in Lafayette County.
Clean-up crews were finishing up in the Lafayette County area last week (May 8-14).
Hayward presented energy conservation tips and discussed the industry from the standpoint of an electric power association.
Any changes at TVA in costs to produce electricity are passed through to the distribution company and then through directly to the customer, he said. Since North East is a non-profit cooperative, it makes no money and charges customers what it costs to deliver electricity to the door - no more, no less.
Some additional talking points, Hayward provided included:
• each customer gets one vote, no matter how large the customer. Ole Miss gets one vote just as a residential customer does.
• North East is the energy highway where electricity is delivered from TVA. As such, it is a service company. The association does not make money or lose money.
• North East was the second largest, fastest growing co-op in 2010.
• the TVA ACT of 1933 established TVA as a corporate agency of the United States. Rate payers pay for TVA, not the government.
• TVA does not make money or lose money.
• nine million people over a seven-state area are served by TVA.
• North East EPA was founded in 1938. Cost of electricity since it was founded until 2010 has gone from two cents per KWH to 9.5 cents at North East. A gallon of gas went from 10 cents a gallon to almost $4 a gallon. A loaf of white bread cost 10 cents then and was $1.37 in 2010.
• in recent years some people, such as those in Oxford, have built big homes without realizing that their electricity bill could become a burden later. Large homes were built during five cents a kilowatt electricity. Now the cost to heat and cool those large homes are coming home to haunt the buyer. Some customers recently found their bills at $600, $900 and $1,100 a month last winter.
• the national average cost of electricity is 12 cents per KWH. The average in Mississippi is 10.46 cents per KWH. North East’s rates have been at 9.5 cents per KWH.
• residential rates have increased by 49 percent. Rates in January 2005 were 6.5 cents per KWH and in January 2011 are at 9.5 cents per KWH at North East.
• North East EPA leadership is concerned about new energy-on-demand charges that TVA will put in place this year for large energy users like schools, industries and big box stores.
• to help prevent rates from going up, North East wants to get people to think about the way they use electricity, not just how much. Electricity costs the cooperative more during peak demand hours than off-peak hours. To conserve money for the cooperative, and ultimately to keep rates lower for residential customers, the association wants to educate customers on when to do certain household chores such as running the dishwasher, the washer and dryer, the stove and other appliances such as televisions. Off-peak hours are in the early hours of the day while on-peak hours begin about noon and go on until about bedtime. When everyone uses a lot of electricity at the same time, it costs more to produce.
• for every $1 spent in electricity costs, TVA gets 79 cents and North East gets 21 cents.
• nuclear is the cheapest way to produce electricity once the generating plant is in place. Coal is next, however, the government is not allowing any new coal plants to be built. Hydropower is a inexpensive but unreliable due to fluctuations in rainfall. About half the electricity in the United States is produced from coal-powered plants. Less than one percent of the electricity in the U.S. is generated by petroleum-based fuel. Natural gas powered electric plants are the most expensive to operate.
• the only person with skin in the game across the TVA system is the customer. Learn and let your voice be heard to your power distributor and to TVA (through your elected officials).
• check air filters on heat/air every 30 days. Dirty filters run the power bill up.
• turn off lights and also the little “phantom” lights on appliances.
• ask for an energy audit of home or business.
• vacuum the dust off the refrigerator coils every three months. Close drapes during the day to keep the house cooler.
• leave air conditioner off if you are gone for an extended period.
• set thermostat at highest setting during summer that you can tolerate. Keep it as low as you can tolerate in winter.
• turn off heat and close doors to unused rooms if you have individual room heat. Same for air conditioning window units.
• don’t waste hot water. Twenty cents of every dollar spent on electricity goes to the hot water heater. Set electric water heater at 140 degrees and dishwasher to 120 degrees. Run dishwasher only when full. Turn off water heater if you are going to be away for more than a weekend.
• wash full loads of clothes in the coolest water possible.
• fix leaky faucets.
• use daylight.
Churches, organizations or clubs are encouraged to call Ray Gallager at 662-544-3420 to request a presentation from North East EPA officials.
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