×

Two job openings at RECC

RECC is looking to fill two positions at our Auburn office – Accountant and GIS/Mapping
Technician. The job announcements can be seen here, with links to the full job descriptions. Applications are due May 2, 2014.

Accountant

Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative Co. (RECC) in Auburn, Illinois, is seeking a highly qualified individual for the position of Accountant. This position reports directly to the Manager of Finance & Administration. RECC is a member-owned electric utility and provides electricity to 5,752 accounts. The cooperative maintains over 1,347 miles of line in parts of five counties, and has annual revenue of $15.3 million.

Candidates should have three or more years of progressive experience in the accounting field, and a working knowledge of finance, budgeting and accounting software. A Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, Finance or a related field is required.

For a full job description click here.

RECC offers a competitive salary and benefit plan. Please e-mail a resume, salary history and three references (PDF) by May 2, 2014 to:

RECC Accountant Position, Attention: Matt Sheerin
recc@recc.coop

 

GIS/Mapping Technician

 Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative Co. (RECC) in Auburn, Illinois, is seeking a highly qualified individual for the position of GIS/Mapping Technician. This position reports directly to the Manager of Operations & Maintenance. RECC is a member-owned electric utility and provides electricity to 5,752 accounts. The cooperative maintains over 1,347 miles of line in parts of five counties, and has annual revenue of $15.3 million.

The primary objective of the GIS/Mapping Technician is to operate the Cooperative’s
SCADA, Load Management and Mapping systems. Other objectives include assisting
with electrical operations and AMI support. All candidates should have three or
more years of progressive experience in the GIS field and a working knowledge
of SCADA, digital mapping and GIS software. At least a two-year degree in
engineering or computer disciplines is required.  A Bachelor’s degree is preferred.

For a full job description click here.

RECC offers a competitive salary and benefit plan. Please e-mail a resume, salary history and three references (PDF) by May 2, 2014 to:

RECC GIS/Mapping Technician, Attention: Dean Fuchs
recc@recc.coop

 This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer


Energy Action

A new video has been released by the nation’s electric co-ops that disagree with the President’s climate proposal using the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide during a fragile economic recovery. The two-minute video is the first action in a coordinated campaign that underscores the dramatic impact new regulations could have on much of the country’s electric generation and calls on consumers to join the united campaign

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) created the video to give a voice to the 900-plus electric cooperatives and their 42 million consumer members.

“Rural communities have a great story to tell about how they are innovating, using new technologies and leading in energy efficiency. It’s our responsibility to communicate the importance of affordable energy to the communities cooperatives serve and tell their story on how we are pursuing our energy future,” said Jo Ann Emerson, CEO of NRECA. “The next few months are a critical time to unite behind that message and let policymakers know where we stand on the issues, as well as how important affordable energy is to us and the American economy.”

See the video and campaign announcement at www.action.coop. Please register to encourage EPA to consider the cost of regulations to electric consumers!

Climage Change Strategy

 


SmartHub now online!

The new SmartHub communications tool is now in place for
RECC members’ use, providing more information than ever before on your computer, smart phone, or tablet. SmartHub lets you view or pay your monthly electric bill, but it also offers so much more information and convenience:

• Quickly pay your bill

• Review past payments

• Receive bill reminders

• View your hourly, daily, and monthly electric use

• Update your account or contact information

• Get outage information

• Receive alerts from RECC

Watch a short video introduction about SmartHub

SmartHub can be used on a computer website, and that’s where you should register and set up a secure password. Members registered for our previous e-bill site will use the same sign-on information as before.
Click here to register

We’re also offering a free SmartHub app, which can be downloaded for Apple and Android mobile devices. Just go to the Apple Store® or the Android® Market, and search for SmartHub.

After downloading the app on your mobile device, the installation will prompt you to find your electric co-op. You can type in “Rural Electric Convenience” or just search through the list to find it.

 We’re excited about SmartHub and the many features it offers to our members. We hope you’ll give it a try, and keep your information about Rural Electric and your account close at hand!

SmartHub Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

 

 


Home Energy Audit

Have you had your home checked out, to see if it’s ready for another grueling Midwest winter?Crawl Space Foam A home energy audit determines how much energy your home consumes and assesses what measures you can take to make your home more efficient. Just because “nothing’s broken” doesn’t mean your home may not have a serious energy problem, or several small areas where you could be saving energy every month.

Several RECC members had their homes checked out in the past year, under the HomE program that offered insulation and heating system rebates with funding from the State Energy Office. They often found that their attic insulation was below today’s construction standards, along with installation deficiencies and obvious air leakage paths.

Audits were performed by RECC and local contractors, and efficiency projects included fiberglass, cellulose and spray foam insulations along with rigid foam board, in addition to caulking and sealing materials.

While RECC does not have insulation rebates available at this time, you can still take advantage of federal tax credits for qualifying insulation and high-efficiency heating system projects completed before Dec. 31, 2013.

Here are several local insulation contractors you can contact about checking your home’s weatherization needs. We always suggest getting more than one bid on any major project to help you determine the best plan for your home.

Anders Insulation                All Green Contractors          Pioneer Homes

New Berlin                             303 Williams Lane                 430 S. Spresser St.

Springfield                              Chatham, IL  62629                Taylorville, IL 62568            

(217) 306-2300                       (217) 483-7803                       (217) 820-0481

 

R Factor Insulation               Capital Weatherization      Prairie Insulation

433 N. Broad, P.O. Box 198   300 S. Church St.                   3501 Mayflower Blvd

Carlinville, IL  62626              Mechanicsburg, IL  62545     Springfield, IL 62711

(217) 415-3315                        (217) 364-8026                       (217) 787-9388

 

EnviroFoam of Illinois          ProFoam

PO Box 15                               327 Goby Trail

Chatham, IL 62629                 Waggoner, IL 62572

(217) 553-8661                        (217) 710-5375

 

 


Annual Meeting held June 13

President/CEO David Stuva (left) congratulated re-elected Directors Clayton Bloome, Chris Wilcox and Jimmy Ayers after the RECC Annual Meeting on June 13

President/CEO David Stuva (left) congratulated re-elected Directors Clayton Bloome, Chris Wilcox and Jimmy Ayers after the RECC Annual Meeting on June 13

 

 Three members of RECC’s Board of Directors were re-elected, and two long-time employees were recognized for their milestones of service at RECC’s Annual Meeting on June 13.

Lou DeLaby, Manager of Operations and Maintenance, and Dean Fuchs, Manager of Finance and Office Services, have both been with RECC for 40 years. Lou started out as a ground man on the line crew in October 1972, after working as a summer part-time helper while in high school. He worked his way up as a journeyman lineman, line foreman, and was named as department head in 1997.

Dean Fuchs joined the co-op as bookkeeper in June 1973, after graduating from Illinois State University. He took over the office manager job in 1977.

There were 220 registered members at the meeting, held at the Glenwood Elementary School in Chatham. The Mid-Illinois Pork Producers served a pork chop supper to nearly 500 members, employees and their families before the business meeting, while local vendors talked with visitors and kids enjoyed face painting and other activities.

During the meeting Clayton Bloome of Pawnee (District 1), Chris Wilcox of Waverly (District 2), and Jimmy Ayers of Rochester (District 3) were re-elected to new three-year terms on the board of directors.

Lou DeLaby (left) and Dean Fuchs enjoyed a moment at the RECC Annual Meeting, where they were recognized for their 40-year anniversaries with  the co-op.

Lou DeLaby (left) and Dean Fuchs enjoyed a moment at the RECC Annual Meeting, where they were recognized for their 40-year anniversaries with the co-op.

Treasurer Mel Repscher reported that revenue for 2012 totaled $14,507,303, with a decrease in electricity sold of more than five percent from 2011, due mainly to mild weather. Net margins of $524,529 were an improvement over 2011, however. Repscher pointed out the co-op has made great strides in managing its operating costs and has used technology to improve productivity and overall efficiency of the cooperative.

Chairman of the Board Jimmy Ayers provided updates on programs including the HomE Lite rebates that helped 34 members make energy efficient upgrades to their homes totaling $29,607.

President/CEO Stuva discussed how members could receive co-op updates via Facebook, Twitter and You-Tube, and with “My Energy Tracker” on the RECC website, they can monitor and analyze their energy usage on a daily basis.

“This was our first meeting at the new Glenwood Elementary School, and we weren’t sure how all the details would work out,” Said David Stuva, “Overall, we were very pleased with the facilities and the member involvement, and with the additional parking area that’s already been started at the school, we anticipate returning next year for an even better Annual Meeting!”

 


RECC restores power after May 30 and 31 storms

Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative  restored power by Saturday night to virtually all of its 1,600 members who were out of power after severe storms hit the area Friday night, May 31.

President/CEO David Stuva said all line outages had been repaired, while a few accounts may need wiring or other work completed to resume normal service. He said there were 15 homes near Virden that can’t be re-energized because a damaged Ameren transmission line was lying across the co-op’s line. Those members were notified that they would receive service on Sunday, and that did occur on Sunday morning.

Major pole replacements were completed near Waggoner and Thomasville, with a total of 25 new three-phase poles being installed. Other problems were repaired around Edinburg, Pawnee, New City, Lowder, Girard and Sunset Lake.

Stuva said additional crews arrived Saturday morning to help in restoring power, from Adams Electric, Illinois Rural Electric, Spoon River, McDonough Power, M.J.M. Electric and Western Electric Cooperatives. Croft Electrical Contractors from Troy, Missouri also sent crews to work with the cooperatives.

“We could not have restored power so fast without the assistance of these dedicated linemen,” Stuva said. “I truly appreciate the effort they made, along with our own crews and office staff, to get service back on to our member-owners by this evening.”

Second storm in two days

This followed another concentrated storm recovery effort after high winds blasted through Girard, Lowder and Loami just before dark on May 30. Farms and grain businesses suffered some damage, and the worst location for electric utilities was Lead Line Road near Route 104.

Ameren lost 17 transmission poles along that intersection, which is also where RECC’s Lowder substation is located. Power was knocked out to Ameren’s customers in Auburn and Waverly, and the co-op’s Lowder and Palmyra substations were left with out power. RECC crews were able to back feed power from other substations, but several of our distribution circuits were damaged as well.

The worst was one mile north of the Lowder substation, along Auburn Road, where 10 poles were snapped off on the 3-phase feeder line going to Waverly. Other damage was done at Sunset Lake, the Virden area and Loami.

 RECC crews worked through the night on May 30 to get power back for the members affected. A construction contracting crew joined them on Friday morning, and the last services had been connected for les than an hour before the next storm hit on Friday night.

 To see photos of storm damage and repair work after the May 30 and 31 storms, click here.

          

 

 


Electric Aggregation Is Hot Topic Across Illinois

Click To Read Our Aggregation Fact Sheet

Many communities and counties across Illinois have begun aggregating their citizens’ buying power for electricity from Ameren or Commonwealth Edison companies, but co-op members are not affected by the power marketing programs. Under the 1997 Illinois electric deregulation law, not-for-profit electric cooperatives and municipally owned utilities were treated differently than for-profit, investor-owned utilities.

Because of their consumer-owned structure and aggregated buying power, the not-for-profit and locally owned and controlled electric cooperatives were allowed to maintain their local decision making authority on whether or not to maintain their aggregated buying power as a group, or to enter the deregulated market with both its risks and potential rewards.

The towns and counties that have approved aggregation plans are doing what Illinois electric cooperatives have already been doing for their member-owners for 75 years. They are basically creating power purchasing cooperatives. But, they’re signing one- or two-year contracts for power supplies, compared to the long-term contracts that RECC and other cooperatives have to assure a reliable, reasonably-priced electricity source for years to come.

RECC’s board of directors does not believe that the small short-term savings offered by some power marketers will offset the risks of abandoning our existing secure power supplies. That’s one reason why we’re not participating in the “deregulated” power program set up by the state.

Investor-owned Utility Deregulation

In 1997 the Illinois General Assembly enacted legislation that deregulated investor-owned utilities in Illinois. This legislation was motivated at the time largely by the desire of large commercial/industrial entities to have alternative options for wholesale power.

The original 1997 electric utility deregulation legislation was entitled “The Customer Choice and Rate Relief Act.” As the title implies, investor-owned utility customers were given a choice to continue to purchase their wholesale electricity from the traditional investor-owned utility or from an alternative supplier based on the then prevailing market price. These alternative suppliers were termed Alternative Retail Energy Suppliers (ARES). The 1997 legislation set out a timetable for the investor-owned utilities in the state to allow customers to purchase from an ARES. 

The 1997 electric utility deregulation legislation treated the not-for profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives and municipal systems differently than for-profit, investor-owned utilities. For municipal electric utility systems and electric cooperatives, all decisions relating to entry into a deregulated market were delegated to the governing bodies of each local system (in the case of municipal utilities, the elected city council; in the case of co-ops, the member-elected board of directors). A couple of electric cooperatives tested the new deregulation law’s changes, but later reversed their decision and left the deregulated market. None of the state’s municipal utilities have entered the deregulated market.

Being a commodity, wholesale electricity is traded like many other commodities. Just as corn prices rise and fall with supply and demand, wholesale electricity costs rise and fall. Hot weather, generator outages and the state of the economy all impact wholesale electricity prices. A weak U.S. economy where major manufacturing is in the doldrums will depress wholesale electricity prices. As our economy improves in the next few years, electricity demand and prices are expected to increase.

Deregulated Electricity Service is More Complicated

Up until 1997 all utilities in Illinois provided electricity in “one-bucket.” Everything necessary for electricity service to the home or business was sold in a single package and billed on one simple bill, often with only a line or two describing the electricity service charges.

Electricity service to a home or business is made up of three distinct parts:

  • Wholesale Electricity Generation (Electricity Supply) – The conversion of fuel, sunlight or wind to electricity in a generator of some type.  
  • Transmission Services – The cross-country delivery of electricity by high voltage lines greater than 100,000 volts.
  • Distribution Services – The local delivery of electricity by local wires, poles and transformers to the meter at the home or business.

Under the 1997 law the investor-owned utilities were required to “unbundle” their one-bucket service into these distinct parts. The investor-owned utility would continue to provide the distribution services or the wires to the home or business. The consumer would continue to call the investor-owned utility to arrange for service and report outages, and would receive a bill from them. The bill though would contain the three new line items, one for each distinct part plus additional charges for metering, uncollectable accounts and other charges.

Alternative Retail Energy Suppliers

Today, there are over 30 ARES registered to sell wholesale electricity in Illinois. Most of ARES have their primary business headquarters located outside of Illinois. For customer service inquiries many ARES employ call centers located out of state or overseas. 

An ARES may assemble a portfolio of generation and contracted power purchases designed to form the basis for marketing and selling wholesale electricity. This is analogous to a closed-end mutual fund assembling a portfolio of investments and then offering shares to an investor until the fund is filled or closed. Today it is unusual for an ARES to offer contracts for the sale of wholesale electricity exceeding two to three years. These contracts at times include early termination or cancellation costs, presenting a unique challenge for some customers. Consumers must carefully read and understand the fine print these contracts.

Marketing To Residential Customers

ARES activity targeting residential consumers in Illinois was minimal until around 2008. The financial crisis and subsequent collapse of the economy has resulted in significant shuttering of industrial manufacturing capacity. This has led to decreased demand for electricity and an abundance of electricity supply being thrust on the market. Responding to the laws of supply and demand the price of traded wholesale electricity declined substantially through 2011 and continues to be “soft” today. 

The shuttering of industrial manufacturing capacity has also impacted the demand for natural gas. At the same time, advanced natural gas recovery technologies such as “fracking” have brought unprecedented natural gas supply onto the market. Both of these factors have worked to collapse natural gas prices in recent years. This presented the ARES marketers with an unprecedented short-term opportunity to market low-priced wholesale electricity to Illinois consumers, and also helps one understand why ARES’s are reluctant to offer contracts of longer than two to three years. 

Aggregation

In one of the 2007 adjustments to the original deregulation act, the Illinois General Assembly enabled home-rule entities to organize aggregation groups. The legislation gave municipal and county governments the ability, with the passage of essentially a referendum, to arrange for the sale of wholesale electricity to their citizens. Provided the referendum passed, all citizens in the community or county would then buy their electricity through the community or county unless they opted-out.

The prospect of an ARES making a large sale by doing business through the channel of the community or county has greatly increased their attention to aggregation. However, even with the prospect of thousands of new aggregation customers in these communities and counties, the ARES marketers currently appear reluctant to offer contracts of longer than two to three years. 

Electric Cooperatives Take the Long Term Approach

Electric cooperatives were started 75 years ago by farm families wanting electricity for their farms and homes. They saw the benefits and labor savings offered by electricity when they went to town and wanted the same for their families. Investor-owned utilities typically served those towns. The rural people approached these utilities asking for electricity services. They were refused or offered service at a cost that was prohibitively high. It simply wasn’t possible for the for profit utilities to make enough money serving rural areas with only a few farms or homes per mile of electric line.

After several years of buying wholesale electricity from investor-owned utilities, most member-owned cooperatives eventually banded together to “aggregate” their wholesale electricity needs. They formed generation and transmission cooperatives (G&T’s) to pursue resources that were more economical because of the combined larger size. (RECC has a power contract with the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency, which is similar to a G&T to supply wholesale power for 32 municipal-owned electric systems across the state.)

Electric cooperatives still sell electricity service in “one bucket.” Everything a member needs for electricity service to their home or business can be arranged with one phone call. The charge for electricity service by a cooperative is straightforward and easy to understand. 

The employees of the cooperative live in the community, supporting the tax base and local economy. They serve on local charity boards, serve as church elders and serve on school boards. The manager of the cooperative lives in the community. Many know the manager and the manager knows where the buck stops.

Cooperatives’ Risk Management Approach

Cooperative members value reliable, local service and stable prices over the long term. Cooperatives have never had a policy to pursue the lowest possible electricity price in the near term at the expense of the long term. The 75-year history of cooperatives is a testament to the success of this strategy. 

Of course it is natural for all consumers, no matter what the product, to want to enjoy a low price.  There are instances though where consumers make a decision not to pursue the lowest price in the near term simply because it prevents them from securing a more stable price in the long term. The home mortgage is an example of this. The house payment could be potentially made lowest over the next two to three years by entering into an adjustable rate mortgage contract. Despite the opportunity to save money in the short run by using an adjustable rate mortgage, most homeowners still opt for the long term, fixed rate mortgage. They know the risks beyond the two or three-year term of the adjustable rate mortgage are likely to outweigh the potential short run savings.

Electricity deregulation and aggregation are complex topics, with profound effects on the future of Illinois consumers. 


Be Prepared For Winter Storms

We enjoyed a very mild winter last year, with little snow and no ice storms. Are you willing to bet that we’ll have another easy winter this year?

If not, then you should be taking steps now to prepare for winter storms and possible extended electrical outages that might result. Heavy accumulations of ice and snow can bring down utility poles, trees and limbs with the ability to disrupt power for days on end. With this comes a threat to property and also to life itself.

Safe Electricity stresses the importance of being prepared for dangerous winter storms and the power outages they may cause. Preparing ahead of time in order to have the right supplies and the knowledge to stay warm safely are keys to weathering a winter storm emergency.

  • Always keep a battery-powered radio or TV, flashlights and a supply of fresh batteries in case of an emergency. Test these ahead of time to make sure they are operational. 
  • Know where to find extra blankets.
     
  • Fill spare containers with water for washing, and keep a supply of bottled drinking water on hand.
     
  • Keep a supply of non-perishable food items, along with a hand opener for canned food.
     
  • Switch off lights and appliances to prevent damaging appliances and overloading circuits when power is restored. Leave one lamp or light switch on as a signal for when your power returns.
     
  • To prevent water pipes from freezing, keep faucets turned on slightly so that water drips from the tap. Know how to shut off water valves just in case a pipe bursts.
     
  • Check on elderly or disabled friends and neighbors.
     
  • Do not use charcoal grills or gas ovens to heat your home; this could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. 

If you use a standby generator, make sure it has a transfer safety switch or that your power is cut off at the breaker box before you operate it. This prevents electricity from traveling back through the power lines, or what is also known as “back feed”. Back feed creates danger for anyone near power lines, particularly crews working to restore power. Be sure to let your electric utility know that you have a generator.

Safe Electricity is an electrical safety public awareness program created and supported by a coalition of hundreds of organizations, including electric utilities, educators and other entities committed to promoting electrical safety. For more information visit www.SafeElectricity.org.


Lou DeLaby Reaches 40-Year Anniversary

Lou DeLaby is the longest-serving employee at RECC, officially at 40 years, but he can add even a couple of more summers to that total. He worked two summers while in high school as a temporary groundman, before joining the co-op full-time in October 1972 as a groundman. He’s worked ever since in the line department, and now heads that department as Manager of Operations and Maintenance.

In 1976, Lou became a Journeyman Lineman, learning the skills of overhead and underground electrical systems. He was one of the many linemen working tirelessly after the April 1978 ice storm to rebuild the lines after every member had lost electric power. He went on to work as a service man for six years, installing meters and security lights and other small jobs.

When Delbert Boston retired from RECC in March 1997, Lou was named as department manager. He has helped guide the co-op through the introduction of new technologies including automated meter reading, outage management system, and digital mapping. His department also took over responsibility for the co-op’s nine substations and 22 miles of transmission line that were purchased when RECC changed power suppliers in 2009.

 Lou is a member of the Job Training and Safety Committee for the Association of Illinois  Electric Cooperatives, and has completed the NRECA Management Intership Program. He is a certified Loss Control professional.

 Lou is also heavily involved in the National Utility Training & Safety Education Association (NUTSEA), an organization comprised of utility safety and training professionals from various backgrounds throughout the United States. He serves on the Board of Directors for the distribution section.

Congratulations to Lou on reaching this significant milestone at RECC! It’s becoming a rarity to stay in one industry for an entire career, but he has been with one company, in one location, since his high school days!


Tackle home projects safely

Cooler weather is here at least, and the urge to get some home projects done may be returning also. As you gather up your trusty tools, remember that safety items are also essential for DIY tasks. Read and follow directions on every power tool you use. Wearing eye and ear protection and gloves, as well as tying back loose hair and securing loose clothing, are all important to keeping you safe. If renting a tool, ask the store for safety tips.

For outside projects, first check the area where you will be working. Identify potential hazards and take time to avoid or correct any problems. Don’t forget to look up for power lines, and avoid using long poles or ladders within 10 ft. of overhead wires. Will your project involve any digging? Call 811 before you dig even if you think you know where underground lines may be. The 811 service will mark all underground lines in your area for free before you start work.

If a job seems like it might be too much to handle, leave it to a professional. Take into consideration heavy lifting, expensive tools that will only be used once, and whether you really have the time. That way, you won’t be temped to skip safety measures.