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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.


Helping out the osprey

RECC puts up nesting platforms at Sangchris Lake

The osprey-watch is on at Sangchris Lake State Park! Two new nesting platforms were installed on August 17 by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), with assistance from RECC, to attract nesting ospreys to the area.

Ospreys – a bird of prey listed as an endangered species in Illinois – nest in large trees, on rock formations, or on artificial structures near lakes, ponds, rivers and streams, where the adults feed on fish. Elevated platforms like those installed by RECC at Sangchris Lake have been used successfully by nesting osprey at a number of locations in the Midwest, including at the Lake Shelbyville Sullivan Beach area in central Illinois.

“Park visitors, wildlife watchers and our IDNR site staff and biologists have seen ospreys spending time in and around Sangchris Lake during migrations each spring and fall, and we hope installation of these platforms will encourage more nesting pairs to produce chicks here,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller. “We appreciate the cooperation of RECC in providing the utility poles and platforms and installing them at Sangchris Lake as part of this wildlife restoration effort.”

Adult ospreys – sometimes mistaken for the larger bald eagle – are generally 21-26 inches long with a black upper body and mostly-white head, chest and underbelly. Like other birds of prey, the population of ospreys in the U.S. has rebounded since the use of the pesticide DDT was discontinued in the early 1970s. No osprey nests were seen in Illinois from the early 1950s until the mid-1980s, and efforts like the platform installation at Sangchris Lake are used to attract even more nests in the state.

Co-op crews installed two elevated platforms, mounted on 30-foot poles, beside Sangchris Lake southeast of Rochester. Branches and vines were weaved around the platforms to provide inviting nests for any passing ospreys.

“Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative has always had a good working relationship with the State of Illinois and Sangchris State Park, and we are happy to assist the park with the installations of the osprey nest platforms to help build the population of these beautiful birds,” said Manager of Operations and Maintenance Lou DeLaby.