General Managers MessageEnergy Management just got easier!
You’ve probably seen the announcements for MY METER™ in the pages of Alabama Living magazine for the past few months. We’re excited to be able to offer you an easy way to track your energy consumption.
MY METER™ is a web based application you can sign up for that will provide you daily information on your homes energy use. We hope this daily information will allow you to notice times when you have increased usage in your home and make changes before it drastically affects your power bill. It’s easy to use and will allow you to track your energy use and save!
Since 2011, South Alabama Electric Cooperative has been receiving daily kWh readings on each of our 16,000 accounts. This was made possible through the installation of our Automated Metering system.
With MY METER™, we can now share that information with you. While we can provide your electric usage now, only you can determine what you were doing in your home during a high use period.
MY METER™ takes your energy consumption information, combines that with weather information and billing data and displays it in an easy to follow graphical format.
Sign up is easy. Just visit our web site, click and register. You’ll just need your account number, name and an e-mail address. Be sure to have your last months statement handy because you’ll need to enter the requested information just as it appears on your bill.
The information provided in this portal will allow you to better manage and reduce your energy costs.
Once you’ve logged in, members can:
View a graphical representation of your daily and monthly usage.
Compare your home to other similar homes served by South Alabama EC.
MY METER™ users can receive notifications via text message or e-mail if their usage is reaching a predetermined daily, weekly or monthly energy threshold.
Have the ability to set markers to note energy efficient upgrades. For example, if you buy a new appliance or upgrade to a heat pump, simply mark the date and MY METER™ will track how much energy you are saving.
Take an energy challenge and set an energy saving goal.
Members with multiple accounts will be able to access them under a single sign on.
You can also access the application from your mobile devices and Facebook accounts.
This is just one more way South Alabama Electric Cooperative is looking out for you and putting the technology we have available in your hands.
Additional Capital Credit Allocation On Its Way
The retirement of capital credits is one demonstration of your ownership of the cooperative.
What are capital credits?
Any profits made by the cooperative are referred to as margins. At the end of the year, these margins are allocated to each member based on the amount of electricity they purchased. The more electricity a member purchases, the larger their allocation will be. This allocation is then placed into their capital credit account. When allocated funds are returned as capital credits to our members, we say those capital credits are retired.
Assets of the cooperative are owned collectively by all of the members. From the time the margins are generated until they are returned, the money is put to work within the cooperative minimizing debt financing and strengthening our financial position.
Your cooperative’s rates are set to bring in enough money to pay operating costs, make payments on loans and provide an emergency reserve.
How does the cooperative decide when to return capital credits?
Your board of trustees makes that determination. Before they make the decision to retire capital credits, they must first consider the overall financial condition of the Cooperative.
Didn’t we receive our capital credits in December 2012?
Yes, you did. However, this year, your co-op board of trustees authorized an additional distribution of over $614,000 in capital credit refunds. This money is being returned to members who purchased electricity between 1996-2000 and 2005-2010. And just like always, this allocation will be based on the amount of electricity you purchased during these years.
However, this time we won’t be mailing checks to everyone.. If you had active accounts during the years above and still have an active account now, you’ll see this allocation as a credit on your February bill statement.. Members who no longer have active accounts will receive a check at the last known address we have for them. That’s why it’s very important that you maintain your membership records at the cooperative. Because even if you leave our system, your ownership benefits are still in place.
Honor Electric Safety Month - Prepare!
Every May, we celebrate Electrical Safety Month. It’s a time when we place a spotlight on ways we keep you, our members, safe.
This year, we’re focusing on how to keep safe after a storm rolls through. No matter the type of weather or damage to electrical equipment and infrastructure, resulting safety hazards are generally the same.
To stay safe after a major storm or natural disaster strikes, South Alabama Electric Cooperative urges you to develop a family action plan. Designate a place for everyone to meet after an event. Map out ways to evacuate your home. Create a laminated card with emergency contact names and numbers for each family member. Consider listing a relative or friend who lives far from your community as the point of contact—if your family gets separated, that person can let others know who is safe.
And don’t forget pets in your family action plan—many rescue shelters will not accept pets after a catastrophe of some sort, so it’s important to decide beforehand where Fido or Tabby can take up residence for a while.
It’s not hard to understand why safety remains a top priority for South Alabama Electric—working around electricity is a life-or-death situation every day for many of our employees. As a result, we work hard to instill a culture of safety that our folks can take home with them and live 24/7.
We also strive to raise safety awareness among SAEC members. Look for safety tips in Alabama Living each month, and check http://www.southaec.com for more information. You can also like us on Facebook and Twitter to receive safety information right on your phone.
Pledge to honor Electrical Safety Month by fashioning an emergency action plan for your family today. Learn more about weathering storms safely at http://www.ready.gov.
Your Phone Number is Our Connection to You!!
For the next few month, when you visit or call our office, you’ll be asked to update your account information. With advances in technology and with the software now in place at the cooperative, it more important than ever that we have correct information on file for you.
“We are asking members to register up to three (3) phone numbers associated with your account. For example: your home number, a cell phone number, and your spouse’s cell number,” said Ronald Wade, manager of engineering and operations.
These telephone numbers need to be the ones that you will use when you call SAEC to report an outage. Having your updated emergency outage phone number will provide us with an automatic glance at all the known information concerning your account. That means your name, address, account number, map number, substation, meter number and line section will be available to our on-call employees. They, in return can provide the information to our service crews for faster response time and enhanced troubleshooting capability.
We know that your privacy is important.
We DO NOT sell members’ private information. This information will be used strictly to better serve you!
Our Outage Management System (OMS) recognizes the phone number that you call from and it then tries to match that number to your account. If we do not have your number or if we have your wrong number, information pertaining to your account will not be recognized.”
“Registering your Emergency Outage numbers with us is the key to making sure that you, as a member, are receiving the best service possible,” Wade said. The Outage Management System is a great addition to the cooperative.
“Once your number has been tied to your account, the Outage Reporting System actually communicates with the Outage Management System and we are able to accurately pinpoint your location on our maps,” Wade explained.
“This system, with the correct member phone numbers, will result in faster response time to outages by service crews, as well as, reduce the duration of the outage time for you as a member.”
This is just one more way your cooperative is putting technology to work to better serve you. The OMS system and our automated metering infrastructure in place work jointly to allow our employees to better manage an outage situation. This means faster restoration and less time without electricity for you our members.
Click here to provide the cooperative with your three emergency outage numbers and be entered to win a grand prize of $500 cash!
Small changes can add up to BIG savingsSpring is just about here. And with it comes that list of home improvement chores we’ve all put off during those bitter cold winter days.
While you’re making that list of projects to do around the house, make sure you include energy efficiency on that list. A lot of projects are simple enough for anyone to do. And not only do they save you on your home’s energy use, they also make your home more comfortable all year long.
Heating and cooling accounts for more than half - up to 55 percent - of your home energy usage. Reducing your unit’s run time by just an hour a day can save as much as 72 kilowatt-hours per month.
Did you know that by using a ceiling fan, you can instantly make a room feel a couple of degrees cooler? This allows your air conditioner to remain set at a more efficient temperature. You can also install a programmable thermostat.
These devices are available at most hardware and big chain superstores. Using them correctly (with the time and temperature settings) can save you approximately $100 a year on your energy costs.
Always run your HVAC system fan on “AUTO.” Running it on “ON” uses more electricity and can decrease the units ability to remove moisture.
Keeping your filters clean is another easy energy saver. A dirty or clogged filter can make your cooling system work harder which will cost you more money.
Caulking is one of the most inexpensive energy fixes you can do to your home. A tube of caulk will cost you just a couple of dollars, but the savings can really add up. By sealing gaps around doors and windows, you can keep the outside air out and your conditioned air inside. Be sure to caulk around your foundation and anywhere pipes pass through the wall as well.
Water heating makes up about 15 percent of your home electric usage. Your heater should be kept between 115 and 120 degrees.
To save even more, make sure your pipes in the attic or those in the crawl space are insulated.
Once a year, you also need to drain the water from the bottom of your water heater to get rid of sediment that builds up. This will allow your water heater to work more efficiently.
Other spring energy saving ideas include:
- Clean your refrigerator coils
- Unplug any unused refrigerators or freezers
- Make sure your dryer vent hose isn’t kinked or clogged
- Replace old bulbs with CFLs
- Insulate attic access door
- Verify all outdoor doors (including storm doors) close and seal tightly. If not, add weather stripping for an inexpensive fix.
Using Automated Technology to Benefit YouSo how do you feel about automated technology?
Everyone has called a company and gotten an automated voice on the other line offering so many service selections that you almost forgot why you called in the first place. It can be hard to see the benefit of such technology at first glance, but as someone who has become more educated about automation, I can tell you it has many advantages when meeting customer needs.
Increasing efficiency within a company while improving customer service are two key benefits of an automated telephone attendant. Many times when a member calls SAEC, they simply want to know how much their electric bill is. Others need to speak with a specific employee or they would like to pay their bill over the telephone. Thousands of calls come into the SAEC office every month and the large majority of these calls could be handled more quickly and effectively through automation.
Beginning this month, we’ll be offering another account access tool – the 24/7 Member Account Line. The new Account Line, (877) 566-0611, is an affordable way for SAEC to remain available to members 24-hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week.
Services provided via the new 24/7 Member Account Line include account balance inquiries, last payment received, next payment due, ability to make a payment and update account information. The new 24/7 Member Account Line does not replace our Automated Outage Reporting System, or your ability to contact our office as you always have in the past. Instead, it serves as a way members can access their account information in a fast, easy, secure way - 24 hours a day.
Of course there are other times when you absolutely need to speak with a real person and that option will always be available and easily achieved when calling your cooperative. The automated attendant will
provide more time for our employees to assist you in the responsive manner you deserve.
In all the years that I have been employed with SAEC, there have been many changes. All were embraced with the goal of improving service to better meet the needs of our membership. Today is no different. We are delighted to add this important customer service option for our members. The 24/7 Member Account Line offers a voice-recorded menu, allowing you to receive real-time account information. The new line is part of SAEC’s drive to offer innovative solutions to you that keep costs low, all while continuing to deliver reliable service.
As someone who believes in human connections, treating the customer right, and operating a business efficiently, I can tell you this technology will be effective in supporting those beliefs. This month, make plans to call (877) 566-0611 and experience for yourself the ease of account access at your electric cooperative.
Our Future Rests in Your Hands
If you are new to South Alabama Electric Cooperative (and for those old hands who might need reminding), let me introduce you to one of the Cooperative Principles, “Democratic Member Control.” It’s one of seven guidelines that govern cooperative operations. That means you, as a member of SAEC, have the responsibility of selecting who represents you on the co-op’s board of trustees. This decision ultimately determines the strategic direction of our local, not-for-profit business.
One of the main duties of trustees involves hiring a general manager. Since being hired, I’ve been responsible for overseeing the day-to-day affairs of South Alabama Electric and ensuring that you receive a safe, reliable, and affordable supply of power.
The board and I also are responsible for the stewardship of the cooperative assets.
But that’s not where the trustees’ duties end. Your directors must constantly consider policies affecting the co-op. For example, how much must we spend on right-of-way maintenance? If we need a new substation, how will we build it? How will we finance it? How often do we update our technologies and facilities to stay efficient?
It’s not an easy task. Responsibilities stack up, and time commitments are considerable. Besides attending meetings every month, each trustee must continuously educate himself or herself about the complex business of electricity production and distribution. Trustees also spend lots of their free time studying up on the intricacies of strategic planning and financial decisionmaking.
They voluntarily take a series of courses and receive their Credentialed Cooperative Director Certification to better serve you, our members.
Like any successful democracy, this decision-making process does not operate in the dark. We keep you informed about the financial condition of the co-op, tell you when situations arise that could affect your bill or service, and educate you about the issues involved. We do this through these pages in Alabama Living, Facebook, in letters or other communication included with your bills, and, most importantly, during face-to-face conversations - like at our upcoming annual meeting.
Please pay close attention to the mailings and information you receive over the next few months. Your participation in our annual
meeting helps make South Alabama a successful cooperative.
In a democracy, member participation is crucial. That’s why it is important for you to attend and let us know when issues arise that
need our attention. Co-ops are different than other forms of businesses because of you, our members, and because of the way decisions are made. We welcome and encourage your involvement. After all, it’s YOUR co-op.
Energy Efficiency: Helping You Take a Bite Out of Your Electric Bill
When I go to the grocery store, I carry a list with me. Otherwise, I’m bound to forget something.
The same goes for the hardware store when I want to undertake some projects around the house. What materials do I need? And if the work involves weatherization, will it really help me save money on my electric bill?
Generally, the answer to that last question is a resounding “yes.” Even small energy efficiency measures will save money. For as little as $2, the cost of an outlet and switch plate insulator kit, you can begin to drastically improve comfort around your residence.
What areas should you focus on? Start with the basics: applying weather stripping and caulk around doors and windows; replacing traditional incandescent lightbulbs with compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs); and insulating your water heater. Then look at some bigger expenditures: adding insulation to your attic, installing a programmable thermostat, and sealing ductwork . You can find even more ways to save on the U.S. Department of Energy’s EnergySavers.gov. or visit togetherwesave.com to find out how little changes around the house add up to big savings.
We at South Alabama Electric are committed to doing everything possible to keep your electric bills affordable. And we’re controlling costs through innovation. We also offer energy efficiency programs like or ERC Loan to help you manage your energy use. or more information about these projects and other energy efficiency programs, visit South Alabama Electric at www.southaec.com or call 800-556-2060. It’s just one more way we’re looking out for you.
We’re Different – We’re Looking Out For YouCooperatives are different from other business you deal with. To tell you the truth, I like being different. And the fact that you’re reading this article shows you like that difference, too.
We’re different because we’re Looking Out for You. Now, more than ever, that’s important because we need to work together to keep your electric bills affordable.
Congress did not pass a comprehensive climate bill last year. In January the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began regulating greenhouse gasses—an action made possible by a 2007 Supreme Court decision, followed by rulings allowing the EPA to use the Clean Air Act to curb carbon emissions. Policies dealing with coal ash, even more stringent controls on other power plant emissions, and state renewable energy requirements could also lead to higher costs. It’s hard to predict the future, but one thing seems certain: government regulations are going to increase the cost of doing business.
New regulations won’t be the only culprit. Prices for fuel, materials, and equipment will continue to rise. Although the recent economic slump and corresponding drop in electricity use provided some much-needed breathing room, soon we will need to build new power plants, requiring a significant, long-term investment of time and money.
We’re committed to keeping you informed about policy changes that will impact your electric bill through channels like Alabama Living and our website. We’re going to do everything we can to keep your electric bills affordable.
To accomplish that, we’re controlling costs through innovation. Our energy efficiency programs help you manage your energy use. Our website, and others like TogetherWeSave.com show how little changes like sealing your air ducts, replacing old appliances, or improving your home’s insulation can add up to big savings on your electric bill.
Deploying state-of-the-art solutions like our automated meter infrastructure system helps us control operating costs and improve service reliability. Nationally, co-ops are meeting members’ power needs with a diverse fuel mix, including renewable energy.
While we’re affordable and innovative, above all else we’re member focused. No matter what comes our way we’ll continue to put you, our members, first. South Alabama Electric is member controlled and locally operated. As a member, you have a voice in how your co-op operates. At our annual meeting each year you have the opportunity to elect fellow members to our board of trustees to represent your best interests.
Member control means we are accountable to those we serve, and are dedicated to assisting our communities—your money stays at work close to home. Costs are rising for all of us, but when it comes to your electric bill our rates are set simply to cover the cost of doing business, not to generate profits for distant stockholders.
In fact, as a not-for-profit organization, we give money back to you when our revenues exceed costs. I’m proud to report that in 2010 we returned more than $250,000 dollars to our members in the form of capital credits.
The bottom line? We exist only to serve you and meet your needs for safe, reliable, and affordable power.
As you can see, we’re different. We’re working together to keep your electric bills affordable. We’re controlling costs through innovation. And we’re continuing to put you, our members, first. No matter what the future brings, one thing is certain. We’re Looking Out for You.
Your Money Stays At Home
Ever wonder who owns your power company? If you get electricity from South Alabama Electric Cooperative, the answer’s easy—look in the mirror.
You and other folks who receive electricity from us are the owners. Of course, being an owner doesn’t mean you can drive to a substation and take home a transformer or borrow a spool of wire. Those assets are owned collectively by everyone who has signed up for electric service. A portion of the electric bill you pay each month, in fact, goes into building distribution infrastructure—poles, wires, and substations—that bring you a steady supply of power.
Cooperatives follow a unique consumer-focused business model led by a set of seven principles. The Third Cooperative Principle, “Members’ Economic Participation,” requires all of us to chip in a bit on our monthly bill to keep the cooperative in good shape.
Your cooperative conducts business locally. Investments we make in infrastructure don’t profit someone in an area far away—benefits stay right here in our community.
Paying your monthly bill does more than build lines, buy equipment, and purchase wholesale electricity. You also pay the salaries of our hard-working employees, who live right here in the community. They, in turn, buy goods at local businesses, spreading income around and boosting our local economy.
Your cooperative also impacts the economic welfare of the communities we serve through the taxes we pay. SAEC pays state, county and city sales taxes on the items purchased by the cooperative. We pay county use taxes on materials and equipment we purchase during the construction of our electric distribution system. We also pay payroll and property taxes along with taxes on the fuels we purchase to operate the cooperative fleet of vehicles.
Here’s another advantage: you get money back. We’re not-for-profit, so any funds left over after bills have been paid, infrastructure built, operations, maintenance, debt service and taxes are covered, goes into a capital credits account for each co-op member. Then, when your board of trustees determines the co-op is in good financial shape, this capital is returned to you by check. How much money you get back depends on how much electricity you used. The December issue of Alabama Living magazine will contain information about the 2010 capital patronage declaration made by your board of trustees.
Capital credit refunds are to you what dividends are to stockholders at for-profit companies. Only we don’t aim to make a profit. Our goal is to provide you with electricity at a price that is as close to cost as possible. That way, more of your money stays in your pocket—up front.
In short, you are receiving a vital resource, electricity, from a business owned and operated by you, your friends, and neighbors. Working together, we provide you with the highest level of service we can while striving to keep your electric bills affordable.
And that’s the cooperative difference.
Smart Meters are on their way!South Alabama Electric is putting technology to work for you. SAEC will begin installing smart meters on our electric system this year. The new automated meter reading program offers numerous benefits to our members:
- Automated readings – we will no longer have a company to read meters on our system.
- Daily readings – each billing cycle will have approximately the same numbers of days for each month, so that your electric usage will remain more evenly spread throughout the year.
- Reading verification – should you have a question concerning your usage we are collecting hourly meter reading data and can better verify your electric usage
- Voltage information – the new metering system will allow our engineers to receive instant voltage information from your home or business. Also, we can balance electric load on the distribution lines which helps our system operate more efficiently and safely.
- Outage information – SAEC power lines will be used to transmit information regarding electric outages, blinking, etc, that affects our utility service to you.
- Faster restoration—we will be able to pinpoint trouble and identify areas affected during outages which will enable us to respond more quickly. The new electric meters even allow us to send a signal from the office and the meters will send a report back letting us know if all services have been restored.
- High Bill Complaints – since we will be able to analyze daily and even hourly meter readings, we will be able to help our members better understand their electric usage
Winter Peak shows system strength…
With Spring just around the corner, you may not be thinking about the two weeks of below -freezing weather we endured during the early weeks of January 2010. But those days were a milestone for South Alabama Electric Cooperative. Our system set the biggest peak recorded for the amount of electricity consumed by our members.
You set a peak demand of 90,000 kva in a 45 minute time period (between 6:15 and 7:00 AM). This surpassed our last peak, which occurred in January 2008, which was 79,040 kva. This is a tremendous load but we are pleased to let you know that your electric system met the demand and provided you with the power you needed with only minor problems. This was due to our right-of-way maintenance, line maintenance and system improvement plans which are in place year round at South Alabama Electric.
As more members continue to come on to our system and more of you add appliances and entertainment items that require more electricity, the demand for electricity is expected to grow. We will continue to plan for your future use through load forecasts and surveys so that we will always be prepared for your electric needs. If you are interested in helping us plan for these high usage times, I urge you to call the cooperative and find out about our H20 Plus program.
H20 Plus is a load management program designed to help SAEC make sure our system will meet your electric needs even when your demand on the system is great. This program requires a device to be installed on your water heater which will allow our power supplier (PowerSouth Energy Cooperative) to cycle your water heater off for short periods of time during peak times of energy use. A certified electrician will come to your home and install the device at no charge to you. Although you won’t see a difference in the amount of hot water you have at your home, this program will make a huge difference in the amount of power consumed system wide.
You may wonder how cycling a few water heaters off and on could make that kind of difference. This program is about making sure we are not only able to generate enough power to meet the demands of our members but also meet the needs of our members when that demand is the highest. Those high use times generally only last three or four hours but your cooperative has to have the energy available to meet that need should it happen 24 hours a day. If our peaks ever were to push the limit of what could be generated by our power supplier, then we would have to look at investing in more generation facilities which would increase the cost per kwh.
Anything we can do to lower our peak demands for electricity is beneficial to us all. If you are interested in learning more about this program, please contact a member services representative by calling 1-800-556-2060.
Fuel Adjustment drops to zero
South Alabama Electric Cooperative members have something extra to be thankful for in 2010 — your fuel adjustment is dropping from 4 mills to 0 mills. This reduction will mean an approximate savings of $4.28 a month on your monthly power bills if you use an average of 1,200 kWh.
South Alabama Electric implemented this rate reduction that will be reflected on February’s bills.
“In 2009, SAEC adjusted our rates due to a dramatic rise in fuel prices and purchased power costs, among other increased costs of doing business,” said Max Davis, general manager of SAEC. “However, costs have since stabilized, and South Alabama Electric is passing this savings along to our members.”
“We are in the business for public good rather than for the financial benefit of an individual owner or stockholders,” Davis said. “We don’t profit from our members, rather, we sell electricity to our members at the lowest price possible.”
“South Alabama Electric Cooperative works to keep costs as low as possible, but some things are out of our control,” Davis said. “We will continue to strive to keep electricity a great value, and work to operate efficiently while sticking to our mission of providing reliable and economical energy.”
SAEC encourages members to further reduce the energy costs by using energy efficiently in their homes. Electric bills are based on how much power is used, and each member has ultimate control over their usage.
For ways you can conserve electricity, visit www.myconserve101.com.
South Alabama Electric Cooperative offers a number of options to help members manage their power bills, including energy efficiency programs and levelized billing. To learn more about reducing energy usage, call 800-556-2060 or visit www.southaec.com.
OUR ENERGY PLAN
Predicting future energy use is not an easy job. The stakes keep getting higher and higher because we all depend on electricity now more than ever. And it’s our job as your cooperative to make sure that energy is available to you when you want or need it. Electricity effects our wallets and our daily lives.
Two of the main components we look at are energy and demand. We have to prepare for the potential demand on our system at any time. That means if each of our members should turn on all their heat pumps, computers and plasma televisions at one time, our system has to be designed to handle that extreme. The chart below shows you the difference in the two components.
In this issue of Alabama Living, you’ll find an article that addresses just some of the issues that we look at when planning for your future electric needs. You’ll see just what a utility looks at to determine your future electrical needs. Everything from your appliance and home entertainment equipment choices in your home to the size of your home impacts the decision we have to make.
Since demand continues to increase, your cooperative and our power supplier are making plans to develop additional generation alternatives.
Relatively high costs for construction materials and uncertainty about climate change goals, which could place strict limits on carbon dioxide emitted by power plants, have stalled development of new baseload generation: the large, efficient stations that provide dependable and affordable electric power year-round. New nuclear power plants—sources of clean baseload generation—are stymied by high costs and local political resistance in many areas.
As you make decisions for your home and family, please keep in mind the effects those choices will have on your cooperative. We work hard to keep costs affordable. But through conservation and wise purchases, you can also play a role in shaping the future of your electric cooperative.
Rising Cost of Doing Business
Let’s face it — the economy has hit some pretty hard times over the past year. The last thing consumers want to hear is more bad news about their energy costs, but despite the best efforts of utilities to ‘hold the line,’ the cost of generating and distributing electricity is also on the rise.
Most industry experts agree we could see several years of upward pressure on electric rates.
I think it’s important for you to understand why our costs are rising, and it’s our job to help educate you on the issues impacting not only South Alabama Electric, but also nearly every other electric utility in the nation.
To help our members understand these issues, we have begun a series of articles focusing on a complicated set of factors that contribute to the increases in the cost of making and delivering electricity.
Some of the major factors behind the increased rates include:
- Increased demand, on a local and worldwide level;
- Soaring coal and natural gas prices;
- Escalating environmental compliance costs for power plants;
- Increasing emphasis on renewable energy;
- Capital expenses to build new lines and maintain system reliability (replacing lines, poles, transformers and other equipment; and
- Inflation and local pressures, such as the cost of materials, rising insurance costs, and increased labor costs.
In fact, the cost of coal has increased more than 486 percent over the past eight years. The cost of natural gas has also increased — peaking in July at 433 percent higher than the cost in 2000.
And higher demand isn’t likely to disappear — instead, it’s expected to increase another 30 percent in the United States by 2030. That’s not even taking developing countries like China into consideration. Further increases in worldwide demand could force fuel prices even higher.
While our power supplier, PowerSouth Energy Cooperative, strives to purchase fuel at the lowest possible cost, the basic laws of supply and demand dictate the price. The United States and Canada now use all the natural gas they can pump out of the ground and more, leaving no slack in the system. Even slight changes in supply and demand — such as any significant weather event — can affect the natural gas market.
As much as we regret doing so, we have little choice but to adjust our rates to cover the cost of these increased prices from our power supplier. In August 2008 we informed you of a necessary power cost adjustment due to factors much like those described above. Since the situation with natural gas has not changed we must once again pass along a 6.6 mill increase beginning with your January kilowatt usage. That’s equal to $6.60 per 1,000 kilowatt hours of usage. With this increase, your bill will include $60.03 per 1,000 kilowatts just for fuel costs. So even if you are using the same amount of kilowatts as you did last year, your bill will still be higher.
Although none of us have much say in the fuels market, there are steps consumers can take to control our own energy-usage patterns.
By using energy more efficiently in our homes, we can help reduce demand, lower our monthly power bills and become part of the solution to our energy crunch. After all, power bills are a direct reflection of the amount of energy you consume each month. Reduce your usage to save your energy dollars.
As always, South Alabama Electric will do our best to bring you reliable and affordable energy. Remember, we are all in this together.
Going Back to the Basics: Welcome to Conserve 101
With unpredictable economic times, higher utility and grocery bills, we know its difficult to save money on anything these days. That’s why we’ve developed a new program with your wallet in mind.
Conserve101 offers easy-to-follow conservation tips that require little effort or expensive installation on your part. Your electric bill is largely based on how much power you use each month, and you have ultimate control over your usage. Our goal is to help you reduce your usage by at least 101 kilowatt hours per month — a savings of more than 1,200 kilowatt hours per year that translates into a potential savings of $140.00 a year, or about $11.90 a month.
So what can you do to realize these savings? It’s as simple as making a few changes in the way you use electricity.
One of the most commonly known energy-saving practices is turning off lights when leaving a room. Your parents probably reminded you of this when you were younger, and it’s still a good idea today. Keeping your light bulbs clean can also increase their efficiency. Dust on bulbs can reduce light output by as much as 25 percent, which could tempt you to use a higher wattage bulb or additional lighting to brighten a room.
You can put energy conservation into practice in every room of your home. For example, did you know that by using a ceiling fan in reverse mode, you can instantly make a room feel a couple degrees warmer than the actual room temperature? This allows you to keep your heat pump at a more energy-efficient setting. Running your pool pump one hour less a day provides an approximate savings of 22 kilowatt hours a month. You can also reduce the amount you spend on water heating by nearly 10 percent each month simply by lowering your water heater’s temperature to 115-120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Dozens of other conservation practices are at your disposal from the cooperative. You will find many conservation tips in this month’s magazine, on our Web site or by contacting our customer service representatives. Try a few, or try them all — your savings will depend on how much you conserve.
Conserve101 is easy to follow and does not cramp your lifestyle. We hope that by making a few simple changes, you can lower your power bill and reduce energy waste.
Rising energy costs, climate change, carbon capture – these are complex issues. Lowering your utility bill - it’s just a matter of Conserve101.
Together we can make a difference
South Alabama Electric Cooperative shares your concerns over the rising price of energy in all forms, and we are diligently searching for ways to cut costs while maintaining the level of service our members expect and deserve.
One way we minimize rate increases is through our partnership with other electric cooperatives and systems in Alabama and northwest Florida. We joined together to form our wholesale power provider, PowerSouth Energy Cooperative. South Alabama Electric Cooperative is a member-owner of PowerSouth, much like you are a member-owner of SAEC, giving us a say in how our power supply is managed. By pooling our resources, we gain economies of scale to help cushion the impact of higher fuel prices on electricity generation.
PowerSouth actively weighs the cost of generation with the cost of power available for purchase from other utilities, making market purchases when feasible. PowerSouth staff is also diligent in purchasing fuel in advance, projecting fuel needs, negotiating lower prices and ensuring adequate supply.
An aggressive natural gas hedging program – executing financial hedges for protection from price increases – helps mitigate the impact of volatile natural gas markets.
Similarly, long-term fixed coal contracts ensure adequate supply and predictable costs for PowerSouth’s coal purchases.
Although the cost of electricity generation is largely beyond our control, your electricity consumption ultimately determines your total bill. The typical residence has numerous electricity-consuming appliances and devices, and only you have the power to choose how, when and how much electricity is used in your home.
There are several steps that you can take to reduce your electric bill, and conservation and increased efficiency are the most popular methods.
You can reduce your usage by turning off lights and appliances when they are not being used and adding additional weather insulation to doors and windows if necessary. Be mindful that some appliances use electricity even when they are not in use, such as battery chargers, TVs and computers in sleep mode.
SAEC remains committed to our mission of providing reliable service, maintaining competitive rates and financial strength, and adding long-term value for you – today and in the future.
So while you make wise decisions about your consumption, SAEC will work to achieve greater operating efficiencies as we face cost increases. We also work with our members to ensure you have the information and help you need to use electricity wisely.
Together, we can make a difference.
Awareness Can Save Lives
Date Posted: 2/23/2007 11:56:46 AM
Most electricity-related burns are preventable—especially when children are the victims.
Observe Burn Awareness Week—the first week in February—by taking a few actions to prevent your loved ones from suffering from burns.
- Check smoke detector batteries regularly and keep replacement batteries on hand.
- Keep electrical cords out of reach and away from walking paths.
- Establish a safety zone in front of stoves where children are not permitted.
- Turn pot handles inward and cook on the rear burners so children can’t reach them.
- Supervise children around hot liquids, like hot chocolate, soup and bath water.
- Lower your water heater thermostat to 120 degrees, a comfortable temperature that won’t scald.
- Keep candles out of your child’s reach and avoid lighting matches in front of small children.
- Teach children that matches, lighters and electrical equipment are for adult use only and explain the dangers.
Many of these accidents stem from the misuse of the products.
It’s important to remember the value electricity can add to our lives as long as you respect and use it correctly. Make sure you use electrical products only as directed by the manufacturer. Keep them away from water. Make sure you plug them into outlets with ground fault circuit interrupters. And make sure you repair or discard them if you see damage or if the cords are faulty.
You can find more safety information by visiting our web site at www.southaec.com.
Co-ops: Still Good Neighbors
Date Posted: 11/12/2007 11:26:04 AM
The nation’s nearly 900 consumer-owned electric cooperatives provide electricity for 37 million people in 47 states. But they do much more than that. Owned and governed by the consumers in hundreds of small communities, electric co-ops have been demonstrating strong commitment to their local communities since they turned on the lights in rural America in the 1930s. Today, they generate jobs and income, support local causes through charitable contributions and volunteerism, improve the environment, support education, and invest in new community businesses. Here is a sampling of how South Alabama Electric Co-op contributes to our communities.
Your cooperative has been involved with the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life event for several years. In the past five years, your cooperative has raised over $15,000 for local chapters of the American Cancer Society. Our employees have donated their time and energy to raising awareness and funds in order to fight a disease that affects almost everyone in some way.
The children in our communities are our future. Their education is important to us. Your cooperative continues to support our local schools through donations and by providing free programs schools can incorporate into their classrooms. These programs include safety education, the Cooperative Environment, and the Discovery Channel Get Charged program. We also provide the opportunity for students from all of our area schools to participate in the Montgomery Youth Tour and some even compete for a chance to go to Washington, DC. We also have a $1000 scholarship members’ children are eligible to compete for each year. Since 2001, we have awarded $6,000 to local students in order for them to fulfill their dreams of higher education.
South Alabama Wood Products in Goshen received a $105,000 loan from SAEC’s revolving loan fund which was developed from our involvement with the USDA Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) Program in the late 1990s. This company uses wood chips for bedding in poultry houses.
Crenshaw Community Hospital received a $300,000 REDLG and $100,000 from the revolving loan fund as well. This money was used to expand, renovate and equip the existing hospital.
Omni Marketing in Luverne buys and resells needed parts to companies such as Hyundai, Dell Computers, Wal-Mart, Closet Maid and Zenith. They received $100,000 from our RLF program to expand their warehouse and purchase needed equipment.
H20 Plus: a win-win for everybody
Date Posted: 11/12/2007 11:27:05 AM
Are you frustrated each time you pull up at the gas pumps? Who isn’t? It’s hard to believe the price we’re paying for a gallon of gasoline today compared to 10 years ago.
Through the years, the price of electricity has remained an outstanding value compared to the rising prices of other commodities.
South Alabama Electric Co-op is committed to keeping our costs as low as possible while still providing the level of service you expect. Because of that philosophy, we are proud to announce a new program that will help our members become wiser energy users.
H2O Plus, available January 2008, is an innovative program that uses technology to manage energy usage when demand is high — when you and your neighbors are using the most electricity. This enables us to reduce demand during those times when energy is most expensive.
At the heart of the program is a device that allows our power supplier to cycle your water heater for short periods of time during hours of peak energy demand (a certified electrician installs the device, at no cost to you). Although you should not see any difference in the amount of hot water you have, this program can make a significant difference in the amount of power consumed system-wide.
Instead of discussing the specifics of the program, I wanted to use this space this month to explain how H2O Plus will impact the system as a whole – and how making a little effort today can have a positive effect for your future.
At first glance, you may wonder how cycling a few water heaters could make any difference at all. Consider that our power supplier must be able to not only generate the average amount of power needed on any given day, but also to meet the peak demands. The period when you and your neighbors are using the most electricity each day only lasts three or four hours, but we must have the energy available to meet the demands of all our members during that time.
If those peak demands push the limits of what can be generated with existing facilities, then you know what has to happen. Our power supplier must build more facilities to generate more power, even though the peak demands only make up a percentage of each day.
So you see, anything we can do to lower the demand for electricity during peak hours will ultimately benefit us all. And the H2O Plus program does just that. Your participation will be an important part of the overall solution.
Just as you should notice no difference in the amount of hot water available to you, it will be difficult to discern any difference in your monthly bill. But the impact of thousands of H2O Plus participants across the region will make a real difference.
You will be seeing more information about H2O Plus as we promote the program through this magazine. You will hopefully become convinced that your participation is important, and that we are committed to being this region’s reliable, efficient, responsible energy source.
H2O Plus is a simple way to make a significant impact on future energy costs. I encourage you to participate in the program soon. It’s another way we can work together as a cooperative to benefit ourselves, our neighbors and our communities. That, after all, is the cooperative way.
We need your help planning for the future
Date Posted: 3/23/2006 3:12:44 PM
We need your help planning for the future
South Alabama Electric Cooperative wants to get to know our members a little better because we care about meeting your needs now and in the future.
To help us effectively accomplish these goals, in April, we’ll mail 1,500 residential end-use surveys to co-op members whose addresses were randomly selected from a scientific sample of members’ addresses. We’ll collect the data in April, May and June.
The returned surveys will be combined with those from other cooperatives to help South Alabama Electric Cooperative better understand how our members use electricity in their home. This knowledge is important as we develop programs and services to meet our consumers’ current and future energy needs.
In the survey, we’ll ask questions to help us better pinpoint our members’ current electricity usage and help predict future usage. The more closely we can predict future energy use, the better we can plan for future power system additions. By comparing the responses from surveys over time, we can identify electrical usage trends as they develop.
Survey questions will glean information such as the size of your home, the number of occupants, fuel preferences, number of appliances, types of water heaters, and your heating and cooling habits. We’ll also ask for demographic information about you, such as age and occupation.
Rest assured, all information we gather from the mail survey will be kept strictly confidential and will not be shared with anyone outside SAEC and its energy provider, Alabama Electric Cooperative. However, if you do not wish to answer a particular question, please skip over it. We do not want any information you feel uncomfortable providing.
We appreciate your cooperation in the 2006 residential end-use survey. At South Alabama Electric Cooperative, our goal is not just to provide electricity, but to also serve our members in the most reliable, efficient and economical means possible. This is just one example of how we strive to stay ahead of the curve and plan for the future.
Why We Reach Out To You
Date Posted: 12/28/2006 2:33:18 PM
If you’re reading this message, you’re a member of an electric cooperative. If you’re a member of an electric cooperative, you own your cooperative along with the other members.
Are you aware of the special benefits and advantages you have as a member of a cooperative?
The principles that guide electric cooperatives call for us to educate, train and inform our members about the cooperative way of doing business so that you can contribute effectively to the cooperative’s development. We use a variety of ways to educate, train and inform members about the cooperative difference.
The cooperative difference includes having member-elected directors who are members themselves and serve as the trustees of the members’ business. This takes place each year at your cooperatives annual meeting. That’s why it’s so important you attend.
The cooperative difference also is a commitment to provide highly reliable electric service. That means we invest in the latest technology to ensure reliability and provide you with the highest level of customer service.
Another key difference is our capital credits system. Cooperatives are not-for-profit businesses and exist solely to serve consumers with reliable, affordable electricity – not to earn a profit. Through the capital credits system, your board of directors refunds to you any additional funds left over after all operational expenses are covered.
As local, private businesses, owned by those we serve, cooperatives care a great deal for our local communities. Supporting education, health care, economic development and other areas that contribute to quality of life is an important mission of every cooperative.
And the list goes on. Reaching consumers of various ages and backgrounds to educate, inform and train is a challenge in today’s environment of information overload. Reaching younger consumers is an even greater challenge. This is why cooperatives use a variety of communication tools.
Our magazine is also a way we reach out to member and the research shows most of you read it. The objective is to keep you informed of the business of your cooperative. You’ll find our annual report included with this months Alabama Living. We hope you take the time to see what your co-op has accomplished this year.
We also use our web sites. For example, it allows us to notify you quickly of program changes, you can give us feedback and ask questions online. And many students and teachers are using the safety tips provided on our Web site for instructional purposes --- both at home and at school.
Cooperatives also are reaching younger consumers through programs such as school programs or scholarships. Our Youth Tour program allows students to learn about how government works and also about the cooperative form of business.
Some people ask why cooperatives make such efforts to communicate with consumers when we “don’t have to.” They reason that electric utilities operate in a regulated industry where our consumers are assigned to us. The answer is quite simple. Cooperatives are different from other businesses because we are owned by the members we serve. Instead of answering to stockholders in some faraway city, cooperatives are accountable to our “stakeholders.” These are our members: the individuals, businesses and industries living in the communities served by the cooperative.
Cooperatives understand their responsibility to continue communicating with our members. That’s why you’ll continue to hear from us in this publication, on our web site, and through many other programs and avenues to reach you. It’s the cooperative way.
Energy Conservation Is Back In Style
Date Posted: 3/23/2006 2:49:19 PM
It looks like energy conservation is back in style. There’s nothing like rising fuel prices to make us think harder about when and how we use energy.
The hurricane season has taken its toll on some of the nation’s systems for reaching, refining and transporting our oil and gas supplies.
Demand for petroleum products continues to rise against a supply that sometimes cannot meet it entirely. So we have seen prices rise at the gas pump, which affects any goods and services whose delivery relies on transportation by cars and trucks, trains and planes, even fishing boats. All of us also are seeing prices rise for the fuels that run appliances and systems in our homes, farms and businesses.
These dynamics naturally cause us to adjust and manage our personal use of energy as best we can.
But energy conservation never went out of style in our business. Not a month goes by when this publication doesn’t print something on how to conserve energy: tips for watching and controlling the operation of heat pumps and water heaters, how to plug energy leaks in homes, how to judge the efficiency of appliances, how to build or renovate buildings that require minimal energy consumption.
As the price of energy fluctuates, and as the technology of appliances and vehicles changes accordingly, electric co-ops will continue to pay attention to smart energy use.
Why? It just makes sense. It’s in your interest to make sure your own plans—and by extension those of the co-op—include conservative ways of using electricity and all other forms of energy you pay for.
Touchstone Energy co-ops have been involved for many years in supporting research and testing technology designed to conserve energy and enhance service reliability.
Whether it’s our commercial members, who are always looking for ways to improve energy management, or the residential member who wants advice on the smartest, most efficient appliances, we offer services that can help you use energy wisely.
Some of us remember when the nation’s highway speed limit was lowered to 55 mph. Others may also remember the “oil embargo” of the 1970s and the 45-mpg VW Rabbit diesel automobile, the rising popularity of wood-burning stoves and furnaces, and President Carter’s plea to turn the thermostat down a few degrees in winter and up a few degrees in summer.
We’re not likely to see a return to those specific events and trends, but we are likely to see a stronger emphasis on conserving energy, not only in our own consumption practices, but also in how industry designs and manufactures vehicles, buildings, community infrastructure and appliances. Such a trend can only benefit everyone.
Date Posted: 12/28/2006 2:30:23 PM
South Alabama Electric Cooperative is working hard to ensure the air we breathe is as clean as possible. As it has always been, our priority is to serve our members’ needs by providing reliable, affordable electric service while ensuring our communities are safe and healthy. We take our responsibility to the members and our community very seriously, and our proactive approach to protecting the environment is one important aspect of this commitment.
South Alabama Electric is a distributor of power. We purchase the power we deliver to you from Alabama Electric Cooperative (AEC) – a generation and transmission cooperative headquartered in Andalusia.
AEC provides wholesale electricity to co-ops throughout south and central Alabama and northwest Florida.
In response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Air Rules of March 2005, AEC is implementing state-of-the-art technology upgrades to its coal-fired plant to ensure our operations continue to have a minimal impact on the environment. Half of the energy AEC produces is generated at the Charles R. Lowman Power Plant on the Tombigbee River near Leroy, Ala. Plant Lowman has an excellent history of compliance with EPA regulations and regularly analyzes emissions samples to ensure continued compliance.
The Lowman Power Plant burns approximately 1.7 million tons of coal to produce the necessary steam to make electricity. The plant’s three operating units are equipped with electrostatic precipitators, which preserve air quality by preventing particulate matter from entering the atmosphere. Scrubbers are also used to remove sulfur dioxide (SO2) from smokestack emissions.
Another way our power producer works to provide cleaner air is by maintaining a diversified energy portfolio that includes the hydropowered McWilliams Plant located on Gantt Lake in Andalusia and a clean-burning natural gas-fired plant, also in Andalusia. A Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) plant also produces power by using compressed air stored in caverns beneath the ground’s surface.
Most recently, AEC has developed a Green Power Project that uses the methane gas extracted from a land-fill to produce electricity. You can read more about this new state-of-the- art project on pages 6 and 7 of this issue.
South Alabama Electric and AEC are committed to environmental stewardship while serving our members’ need for reliable, affordable electric service. We believe the production of electricity from landfill methane gas lives up to the promise of being a reliable and economical form of energy while helping to clean up the environment.
We can all do our part by using electricity efficiently and conservatively. You can visit our web site for more information on conserving energy in your home.
Green Power Choice on Horizon
Date Posted: 12/28/2006 2:32:26 PM
I don’t have to tell you that the land is much more than just a beautiful place for picnics and long walks – it is our bread and butter, our way of life. I believe the privileges of enjoying the Earth’s beauty and using its resources carry with them a responsibility that we at South Alabama Electric take seriously.
That’s why we’ve partnered with Waste Management, Alabama Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AEC), and other electric cooperatives in our area to offer the Green Power Choice program to our members. This program gives you the opportunity to purchase electricity generated from renewable resources, preserving our environment and promoting the development of this technology that further diversifies our fuel mix.
The energy produced at Springhill Regional Landfill near Campbellton, Fla., (operated by Waste Management) is produced using methane gas, a by-product of the waste decomposition process – enough energy to power approximately 4,000 homes. Each kilowatt-hour of energy purchased from the facility will offset a kilowatt-hour of fossil fuel generation. It makes up about two percent (2%) of the energy currently generated.
The use of renewable energy not only improves the availability of future fossil fuel supply, but also further diversifies our generation and purchased power resource mix. Greater generation diversity provides a more reliable power supply and a small hedge against increasing coal and natural gas prices.
Beginning in October you can participate in Green Power Choice by purchasing green power in 100 kilowatt-hour blocks for just $2 per month in addition to your monthly power bill. If you purchase just two blocks of green power per month for one year, it is the environmental equivalent of recycling 480 pounds of aluminum (15,322 cans) or recycling 1,766 pounds of newspaper.
As an electric cooperative, we take our role as a responsible corporate citizen seriously. Although we rely on fossil fuels to generate the electricity that powers our homes and businesses, we truly believe that Green Power Choice is an important step toward reducing our dependence on foreign oil and non-renewable energy sources. We take pride in the strides our industry has made to protect our environment, and we look forward to this program’s success as a clean energy alternative.
Look for more information and your chance to sign up in our next issue of Alabama Living. Please take this important step with us to ensure a safe, clean environment for future generations. You may contact us directly or visit our Web site at www.southaec.com for more information on Green Power Choice.
Save Energy Dollars All Year Long
Date Posted: 12/28/2006 2:31:28 PM
Ways to Save Energy Dollars All Year Long!
Fall is right around the corner! But before we can enjoy those cooler temperatures we’ve got to make it through these last dog days of summer.
Did you know there are a number of ways you can reduce your energy bill in the coming months. While South Alabama Electric Cooperative is working hard to minimize the impact rising fuel costs will have on you, here are some easy ways for you to take advantage of some extra savings right away.
- Request an energy audit. This free service allows a trained professional from SAEC to come into your home or business and evaluate your energy use. We’ll look for ways you may be able to save money!
- Implement energy efficiency improvements and activities in your home. Often, relatively simple things like replacing dried out caulk around your windows in the winter, purchasing a high efficiency heat pump (if you’re in the market for a new one), and adjusting the thermostat a notch or two, can add up to big savings. We’re happy to share some of these cost-saving ideas with you.
- Switch to Levelized Billing and/or automatic payment options.
And, you can also have your energy payments automatically withdrawn each month from an account you designate. This not only can save you money, but also time each month!
You can find out more about these programs or sign up for them by visiting our web site - www.southaec.com.
These are just a few ways you can save money. We’d like to visit with you about other options that may be worth considering. Give us a call at 1-800-556-2060 and let us get to work for you!
The Annual Membership Meeting in October is a great way for you, our members, to learn how the cooperative is working hard to hold down costs for you. From our right-of-way maintenance to our system upgrades, we’re working to provide you with reliable, affordable energy. Come see how we’re working to keep the cost of energy down for you.
How the cooperative difference affects your rates
Date Posted: 8/19/2005 11:01:27 AM
How the cooperative difference affects your rates
At South Alabama Electric Cooperative the people who receive electricity are not just customers, they are members of our cooperative. Members enjoy certain rights that customers don’t have with other electric providers. For instance, as a member of SAEC, you can choose to be an active member by attending your annual membership meeting, voting for board members and learning about the programs your cooperative is involved in. Our board is composed of people who live and work in the very territory that SAEC serves.
Many people, however, don’t understand the various ways their membership in a cooperative affects their rates. At South Alabama EC, our rates are based on two main components – the actual cost of the wholesale power we buy from the company that generates electricity, and the cost for us to get that power to you. Our power provider, Alabama Electric Cooperative, (which also is a cooperative), sets wholesale power costs. We have a seat on AEC’s board of directors. As a cooperative, AEC works hard to keep rates low, while guaranteeing a stable supply of electricity.
The second component – the cost for us to get power to you – is all other operational costs, including the cost for poles and lines, the cost and maintenance of trucks and buildings, actual employee costs like wages and benefits, and the costs associated with maintaining records, like the printing and mailing of bills.
One of the biggest advantages of being served by a cooperative is that we work only for you; we don’t have stockholders expecting a big quarterly dividend. We are a not-for-profit enterprise, which means we’re working only to provide you with economical, reliable service. We do collect some money, which is figured into your rates, that is used for capital improvements. It helps us to build many of the improvements we are required to provide.
Any money collected in excess of those required funds is allocated to each customer account as patronage capital. Patronage capital, or capital credits as they are often called, represents your investment in the cooperative and all its assets. Capital credits are returned every year to our members based on your use during a given period of time.
So, when figuring our overall rates, customers need to consider patronage capital in the equation. Returning capital credits to members is a practice unique to the cooperative form of business and represents one of the cooperative principles – members’ economic participation. And perhaps best of all, the benefits of this economic participation benefits our community.
SAEC Offers Tips for Hurricane Season
Date Posted: 4/19/2005 12:01:05 PM
SAEC Offers Tips for Hurricane Season
Every year at this time, people brace themselves for another potentially destructive hurricane season.
Max Davis, manager of South Alabama Electric Cooperative said that the 2007 hurricane season began June 1 and continues through Nov. 30. “Since we can’t stop hurricanes,” Davis said, “the only thing we can do is work on being better prepared and know what to do in case one hits.”
South Alabama EC is offering suggestions on what should be done to protect life and property if a hurricane threatens: Davis is asking the residents of the areas served by the our cooperative to consider these safety tips when a hurricane warning is issued.
Make plans for action: The best way to cope with a hurricane is to always be prepared for one. A hurricane warning is issued when hurricane conditions are expected in a specified area in 24 hours or less. If a warning is given, stay tuned to radio or TV for official bulletins. Secure lawn furniture and other loose material outdoors. Fill the bathtub with several days supply of drinking water. Turn up refrigerator to maximum cold and don’t open it unless necessary. Wedge sliding glass doors to prevent their lifting from their tracks. Check batteries in flashlights, stock up on canned foods and make sure you have plenty of medical supplies. Windows should be secured with either tape, plywood or shutters.
Stay or leave? When a hurricane threatens your area, you will have to make the decision whether to evacuate or ride out the storm in the safety of your home. If local authorities recommend evacuation, you should drive carefully to the nearest designated shelter using recommended evacuation routes. Make sure the house is locked and the water and electricity is shut off at main stations. Leave food and water for pets, since many shelters do not allow them. Take small valuables with you, but travel light.
Freezers/refrigerators: First, open the freezer door as little as possible. With a freezers that’s full, foods can stay frozen up to 72 hours. A half-full freezer can still keep food frozen up to 24 hours after the power goes out. Should the power stay off for several days, dry ice can preserve the food in the freezer.
Be cautious: During high winds, electric lines can be torn down by limbs and trees. Any dangling line or lines on the ground can be deadly. Call the cooperatives office to report a downed line, outage or any hazardous situation.
Simple Checks Around Home Can Lead to Electrical Savings
Date Posted: 6/14/2005 2:24:59 PM
SIMPLE CHECKS AROUND THE HOME CAN LEAD TO ELECTRIC SAVINGS
We know your home is busier than ever during the summer. More company is arriving and the kids are out of school. This means your home is using more energy as well.
We have a few suggestions you can put in place this summer to help you manage your electric bill.
SET YOUR THERMOSTAT FOR COMFORT
Keep your thermostat on 78 degrees or higher in the summer. For every degree below the 78, your cooling costs could increase by as much as three percent.
INDOOR CHECK FOR YOUR HEAT PUMP/ CENTRAL AIR
Heating and cooling is your largest energy user in your home. Proper maintenance on your system can help you save money year after year. Locate your heating and cooling system. Then find the filter. Is the filter soiled? Has it been changed in the last 30 days? We recommend you change the filter at least once a month.
CHECK THE UNIT OUTDOORS
Locate your heat pump unit outdoors. Check to see if it is covered with debris, limbs, children’s toys or anything else that would hamper the air flow. Check for any obvious dents or cloggs.
DO YOU HAVE BATTS IN THE ATTIC?
Attic insulation protects your home against heat gain in the summer. If joists in your attic are visible, you need more insulation. The most common types of insulation are fiberglass batts or blown-in loose fill insulation. The depth of the insulation determines its R (resistance) Value. We recommend 10-12 inches of batt or 13-17 inches of blown insulation. This gives you an equivalent R-Value of 30-38.
COVER UP THOSE WINDOWS
Use shades and curtains to cut down on the sunlight entering your home. Heat gain happens through uncovered windows.
USE CEILING FANS
Ceiling fans help circulate the air throughout your home. This helps your home feel cooler and you’ll be able to keep your thermostat set at a higher temperature while remaining comfortable.
The Source of Our Power
Date Posted: 6/14/2005 2:19:33 PM
The Source of Our Power
Much of our modern way of life relies on the use of electricity. Most of us use dozens of electric-powered tools and appliances each day, but have you ever wondered where that power comes from? The electricity workhorses in the United States are fueled by coal and natural gas - the primary and secondary materials used to produce electricity and fuel for cooking, heating, lighting and running everything from the alarm clock to the elevator. Where these sources come from, how their energy is captured and turned into power, and how that power is delivered to you are the focus of this article.
Coal-fired generation is the largest source of electricity in the United States, and coal is also the United States' most abundant fossil fuel. Geologists suggest that coal was produced from the fossilized remains of decomposed forests. They theorize that over thousands of years, layers of biological material grew and died, and as it decomposed, it released its oxygen and hydrogen but left behind its carbon. The matter was compressed over the years and, as the pressure and heat built up, this carbon was transformed into coal.
Like coal, natural gas is found below the earth's crust. It lies trapped beneath impenetrable sedimentary rock, such as limestone, and is sometimes accompanied by oil. Discovered in the 1800s, natural gas is a highly flammable hydrocarbon gas consisting chiefly of methane and may also include other gases such as oxygen, hydrogen and propane. Natural gas is gaining in popularity because it is safe, efficient and cleaner than coal.
Electricity can be generated from coal and natural gas by similar methods. The coal or gas is burned to release heat, which in turn may be used to boil water. As the water releases steam, pressure builds up. That pressure turns a turbine, which spins a generator to create electricity.
While the use of boilers is the most common and efficient way to generate power, other technology can be used with both fuels. Both natural gas and gas produced from coal can be burned in combustion turbines to create electricity.
Huge amounts of electricity are generated and delivered to homes and businesses throughout the United States through a complicated distribution system that transforms the high voltage energy into usable levels. From the generating station, the high voltage electricity (which can be between 44,000 and 525,000 volts) travels along transmission lines to local substations. Here the voltage is reduced to levels appropriate for neighborhood distribution power lines. A transformer at the point of delivery again lowers the voltage to a level appropriate for home/business systems (approximately 120-240 volts) before the electricity is delivered through more power lines to a utility meter.
Thousands of years of organic processing to form coal and natural gas, followed by mining, transportation and electromagnetic conversion to create the electricity, and a complex system of safe and reliable distribution come together to make turning on the power in your home or business as simple as flipping a switch.
Now that you're no longer in the dark about where your power comes from, you can better appreciate just how much is behind that simple action.