Feb. 2023 PIE&G

Page 1

Iceman The Cometh America’s Coolest Race Is In Northern Michigan Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op February 2023 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES Member Regulation and Home Rule Explained Be Prepared for Winter Outages Fall in Love with Home Energy Savings

THERE’S A TREASURE IN YOUR BACKYARD

You may not realize it, but your home is sitting on a free and renewable supply of energy. A WaterFurnace geothermal comfort system taps into the stored solar energy in your own backyard to provide savings of up to 70% on heating, cooling and hot water. That’s money in the bank and a smart investment in your family’s comfort—and with a 30% federal tax credit1 available, now is a great time to contact your local WaterFurnace dealer today to learn how to tap into your buried treasure.

YOUR LOCAL WATERFURNACE DEALERS

Allendale Allendale Htg & Clg (800) 327-1937

allendaleheating.com

Bad Axe/Ubly Cutting Edge Htg & Clg (989) 551-0986

Berrien Springs

Waterfurnace Michiana (269) 473-5667

gogreenmichgeo thermal.com

Big Rapids Stratz Htg & Clg, Inc. (231) 796-3717

stratzgeocomfort.com

Clifford Orton Refrig & Htg (989) 761-7691

sanduskygeothermal.com

Hart Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665

adamsheating cooling.com

Indian River M&M Plmb & Htg (231) 238-7201

mm-plumbing.com

Lansing Candor Mechanical (517) 920-0890

candormechanical.com

Lowell Arctic Inc. Htg. & Clg. (616) 897-4213

heatingcoolingonline.com

Mancelona Top Notch Htg, Clg, & Geothermal (231) 350-8052

Topnotchheatandair.com

Michigan Center Comfort 1/Air Serv of Southern Michigan (517) 764-1500

airserv.com/southernmichigan/

Mt Pleasant Walton Htg & Clg (989) 772-4822

waltonheating.com

Muskegon Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665

adamsheatingcooling.co

Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517) 647-6906

esiheating.com

Sunfield

Mark Woodman Plmb & Htg (517) 886-1138

mwphonline.com

Traverse City D&W Mechanical (231) 941-1251

dwmechanical.com

Geofurnace Htg & Clg (231) 943-1000

geofurnace.com

visit us at waterfurnace.com WaterFurnace is a registered trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc. 1. 30% through 2032, 26% through 2033 and 22% through 2034

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark

EDITOR: Christine Dorr

GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Karreen Bird

RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey

COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha

CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Emily Haines Lloyd

PUBLISHER: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association

Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591-710, is published monthly, except August and December, with periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Mich., and additional offices. It is the official publication of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933.

Subscriptions are authorized for members of Alger Delta, Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County, Midwest Energy & Communications, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, and Thumb electric cooperatives by their boards of directors.

Postmaster: Send all UAA to CFS.

Association Officers: Tom Sobeck, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op, chairman; Gabe Schneider, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Chris O’Neill, HomeWorks TriCounty Cooperative, secretary-treasurer; Craig Borr, president and CEO.

CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines

201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358 editor@countrylines.com

CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Please notify your electric cooperative. See page 4 for contact information.

The appearance of advertising does not constitute an endorsement of the products or services advertised.

6 SNOWMAN CAM

Ken Borton’s computer camera helped him share the great outdoors with his family ... and then changed his life.

10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN

Cherries: Sweet-tart flavor.

14 THE ICEMAN COMETH

America’s coolest race is in Northern Michigan.

18 SHOULD I CHANGE MY CHARGING HABITS? Four things to know about extending rechargeable battery life.

MI Co-op Community

#micoopcommunity

Instagram contest winner

Even the snow can’t cool down the pup’s excitement to explore the great outdoors! @906explorer (Ryan Peurach)

To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit countrylines.com/community

Instagram Contest

Use #micoopcommunity for a chance to be featured here and on our Instagram account.

Win $100 for photos published!

Recipe Contest

See details on page 10. Breakfast for Dinner due March 1; Polish Favorites due April 1

Win a $100 bill credit!

Guest Column

Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $200 for stories published. Visit countrylines.com/community to submit.

Win $200 for stories published!

Contents February 2023 Vol. 43, No. 2 /michigancountrylines /michigancountrylines countrylines.com
3 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Charles Arbour

23899 M32 S, Hillman MI 49746

989-657-4358 • Term Expires: 2023

Allan Berg, Vice-Chairman

8400 Lost Lake Rd., Hawks, MI 49743

989-734-0044 • Term Expires 2023

Sandy Borowicz, Secretary 5341 Carlson Rd.,Cheboygan, MI 49721

231-627-9220 • Term Expires 2024

John Brown, Chairman 21 W. Devereaux Lake Rd., Indian River, MI 49749

231-625-2099 • Term Expires 2023

Sally Knopf

1849 W. 638 Hwy., Rogers City, MI 49779

989-734-4196 • Term Expires 2024

Kurt Krajniak 7630 Wallace Rd., Alpena, MI 49707

989-884-3037 • Term Expires 2025

Brentt Lucas 15841 Carr Rd., Posen, MI 49776

989-766-3678 • Term Expires 2025

Daryl Peterson, Treasurer

P.O. Box 54, Hillman, MI 49746

989-742-3145 • Term Expires 2024

Raymond Wozniak

6737 State St., Posen, MI 49776

989-766-2498 • Term Expires 2025

President & CEO: Thomas J. Sobeck tsobeck@pieg.com

Communications Director/Co-op Editor: Mairè Chagnon-Hazelman

Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op

3149 Main Street (M-211)

Onaway, MI 49765

Business Office & Billing: 989-733-8515

Toll-Free: 800-423-6634

Gas Emergency Toll-Free: 800-655-8565

Member Regulation and Home Rule What Do These Mean?

Some of you may already know that your electric and natural gas rates and terms of service are determined locally. PIE&G’s board of directors is the ultimate authority for electric rates, and they also approve staff recommendations for the natural gas rates that your township, village, or city officials approve.

These are huge responsibilities, but I’d like to explain what it means to be selfregulated and why it’s so important to you and the organization. For several years, PIE&G was regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) for both electric and natural gas rates and terms of service. State regulation was, and is today, an expensive and inefficient way to determine cooperative utility rates. Specialized regulatory attorneys and our management staff spent countless hours reviewing financial data and compiling the necessary documents to (in regulatory speak) “petition the MPSC for rate relief” when the rate study supported the case. Eventually, after many months and many dollars later, we would ultimately receive approval from the MPSC to adjust rates. In some years, so much time had lapsed before the MPSC made its decision that we were already working to prepare our next rate case. Those delays resulted in lost revenue and budget challenges that included the postponement of muchneeded improvements (e.g., upgrades to the 65-year-old building and garage facilities, and additional hiring to pursue modernization of operations). Today, very little attorney assistance (and expense) is necessary, and our staff’s time is properly dedicated to the calculations and determination of the actual cost of service. If necessary, proposed rate adjustments and their justifications are then presented to the board for approval.

Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Another important aspect of self-regulation is that each director elected to your cooperative board, unlike the staff at the Michigan Public Service Commission, has a personal interest in your electric and natural gas rates. Why? They are members too! They’re your neighbors and friends, and they receive the same services and pay the same rates you do. They have to be prepared to answer your questions face to face, at the grocery store, gas station, or coffee shop. They take their responsibilities seriously and do so with personal concern for the impact on your service and on your household budget. They have no stockholders or investors to answer to. Their focus is only on the members who are looking to them for safe, reliable, and affordable service.

(continued on page 5)

/PIEGCooperative/ pieg.com
PIE&G natural gas rates and charges are not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.
4 FEBRUARY 2023

In 2012, as we took steps to transition away from MPSC jurisdiction and towards member regulation, some skeptics warned that our rates would escalate at an unreasonable pace without state oversight. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The chart below compares a 500 kWh monthly bill for PIE&G and Consumers Energy in September 2012 (when both utilities were MPSC regulated), with rates today, with PIE&G now being a member-regulated electric cooperative.

Once again, your PIE&G natural gas bill went from being 23.4% higher, to 8.0% lower than the MPSC-regulated DTE Energy bill for the same amount of energy.

As you can see, in the 10 years since PIE&G became member regulated, your PIE&G electric bill went from being 8.9% higher than Consumers Energy, to 4.4% lower than the MPSC-regulated utility!

You might now be wondering how member regulation has affected natural gas service. In December 2019, PIE&G left MPSC regulation of its natural gas operations in favor of “Home Rule” or member regulation. The chart below compares a monthly natural gas bill for 100 CCF for both PIE&G and DTE Energy before and after PIE&G’s switch to member regulation.

So, what do Member Regulation and Home Rule really mean to our members? In short, it means you’re paying less for your electric and natural gas service than larger, regulated utilities customers are paying.

Looking ahead, we understand that we cannot rest on our past achievements. Market indications suggest that pressures on energy supply and demand will continue to increase, which, in turn, will affect costs and rates. Our job and commitment to deliver safe, reliable, and affordable energy never ends, and we will continue to explore ways to keep your costs down while maintaining reliable service.

In closing, if you’re interested in joining us in fulfilling our commitment to members, and you’re a permanent resident receiving active monthly electric service*, perhaps a seat on our board might be in your future? Each year, the cooperative holds an election for three seats on the board, and we’re always looking for help!

Your Board In Action:

At its most recent meetings, the PIE&G Board of Directors:

• Reviewed and approved the 2023 board of directors committee assignments.

• Reviewed and approved the 2023 board of directors meeting schedule.

• Authorized CEO Sobeck to sign an amended letter of credit with Sequent Energy.

• Accepted team reports.

Utility Bill at 500 kWh September 2012 November 2022 PIE&G $73.90 $87.70 Consumer’s Energy $67.85 $91.70 Percentage Difference 8.9% -4.4% Utility Bill at 100 CCF December 2019 November 2022 PIE&G $96.47 $102.52 DTE Energy $78.19 $111.42 Percentage Difference 23.4% -8.0%
“So, what do Member Regulation and Home Rule really mean to our members? In short, it means you’re paying less for your electric and natural gas service than larger, regulated utilities customers are paying.”
5 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
*Director qualifications are outlined in our bylaws, available at pieg.com/directors.

Snowman Cam

When Ken Borton moved to Gaylord, Michigan, from the metro Detroit area in 2000 to set up a home office, he couldn’t have dreamed that the tiny eyeball camera that came with his new computer would change his life. Forever.

For years, Borton had visited his uncle who lived in Gaylord to enjoy the snowmobiling and skiing the area offered. He finally came back one summer to discover golf courses and amazing outdoor activities that had nothing to do with snow, and he was hooked.

“I knew it was where I wanted to live one day,” said Borton.

Borton and his wife Brenda, who are Great Lake Energy Co-op members, first bought their place in 1995 and finally moved in full-time in 2000. He was able to work remotely and got to setting up a home office. His new computer came with an eyeball camera. One day he was looking out his office window, enjoying the view, when he thought his family and friends back in the big city might enjoy the peaceful landscape he saw from his office chair.

“The camera couldn’t track, didn’t zoom in. It was nothing special,” said Borton. “It literally just looked out to our back property and the bird feeder nearby.”

As Borton dazzled his family with the natural wonders of northern Michigan, he upped his game in 2006 when he built and installed a wooden snowman that became the featured character in the video feed. The snowman joined the passing deer, turkeys, foxes, coyotes, black bears, flying squirrels, porcupines, and other wildlife that casually hung out and often partook of the fallen birdseed from the feeder.

Eventually, Borton was contacted by EarthCam, a streaming service, that offered to post his video feed for more individuals to enjoy. With temperamental internet and a desire to share the slice of heaven that is northern Michigan, Borton uploaded his Snowman Cam. He was shocked to see the feed gain a worldwide audience— including mentions on The Weather Channel and dozens of television stations—and, ultimately, millions of views year after year. It seems like an idyllic end to a heartwarming story, but that wasn’t the end.

“One day, I get a knock on the door,” said Borton. “It was a conservation officer from the Department of Natural Resources Michigan who had been called in to investigate a report of deer baiting.”

While many deer had partaken in the errant bird feed just eight feet from Borton’s back door, it hardly qualified as

6 FEBRUARY 2023

“baiting.” The officer took one look, apologized, and went on his way.

Borton went back to work and life, but then the offi cer returned and said he needed to give Borton a ticket for the deer baiting. While the two of them were equally baffl ed, the ticket was issued. But that wasn’t the end of the story either.

Borton disputed the ticket and ultimately went to court, where the judge threw out the charges. State officials asked that Borton just take down the Snowman Cam so that they wouldn’t get calls about baiting any more. Borton refused.

“It just seemed wrong,” said Borton. “No one could come up with a good reason to take down the camera and it felt like most of the system agreed. That, in fact, it was the law that should change.”

For someone who had moved to get away from folks, Borton suddenly found himself in an election for county commissioner, which would put him in the middle of people and their daily struggles.

“I had never, not ever, considered running for a political office,” said Borton. “But what I found as I got into community politics is that it wasn’t about the negativity you see on TV, it was about helping people.”

In 2020, Borton’s state representative could not seek re-election because of term limits. He seized the opportunity and made a successful bid to be elected to the 105th District seat in the Michigan House of Representatives. He was re-elected to a second term in 2022.

“If it hadn’t been for the Snowman Cam, I would have never found myself in this position,” said Borton. “And this position allows me to help people every single day. It’s a privilege I never dreamed of.”

Borton has received messages from people around the globe saying how much the Snowman Cam has meant to them. From a cubicle worker in Houston enjoying Michigan snow, to an autistic child who was able to calm down by watching the cam, to Richard Guccini. Guccini and the Bortons became friends via the cam and built a relationship over the years. Guccini helped raise money to offset the cost of the cam, became the voice of Santa Claus on the channel, and built the snowman that you see in the feed today. In 2018, Guccini passed away, and the Borton and Guccini families created a plaque and bench dedicated to him that states simply reads— He waits for the bears.

7 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

Fall In Love With Home Energy Savings

Treat yourself and your loved ones this Valentine’s Day to new, more efficient ENERGY STAR® appliances!

With PIE&G’s Energy Optimization program, you can earn cash rebates on qualifying products now and save on utility costs for years to come. Just look for the blue ENERGY STAR label when shopping for new appliances. You’ll love saving money and energy while staying cozy and comfortable at home!

What is ENERGY STAR?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced ENERGY STAR in 1992 to help consumers identify energyefficient products. The ENERGY STAR label can now be found on major appliances, lighting, and electronics. Even new homes and commercial buildings may receive ENERGY STAR certification.

Did you know? ENERGY STAR products may use up to 75% less energy than standard models!

To earn the ENERGY STAR label, a third-party certification process ensures that all products:

• Contribute significant energy savings.

• Deliver the features and performance consumers demand, plus greater energy efficiency.

• Back up energy savings claims with comprehensive testing.

For complete program details and more ways to save, call 877-296-4319 or visit pieg.com/eo.

Treat yourself and your loved ones this Valentine’s Day to new, more efficient ENERGY STAR® appliances! You’ll love saving money and energy when you upgrade and earn cash rebates on qualifying products. u Induction Range/Stove: $500 u Chest or Upright Freezer: $40 u Refrigerator: $50 u Clothes Washer $40 u Clothes Dryer: $40-$200 u Portable Room Dehumidifier $30 u Room Air Conditioner $30 u Room Air Purifier $50 VISIT pieg.com/eo • CALL 877-296-4319
in love
home energy savings! Presque Isle Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op electric service locations only. Incentive applies to qualified items purchased and installed between Jan. 1, 2023, and Dec. 31, 2023. Other restrictions may apply. For complete program details, visit pieg.com
Fall
with
ENERGY STAR Appliance Rebates Induction Range/Stove $500 Chest or Upright Freezer $40 Refrigerator $50 Clothes Washer $40 Clothes Dryer $40–$200 Portable Room Dehumidifier $30 Room Air Conditioner $30 Room Air Purifier $50

Enter to win up to a $50 energy bill credit!

Submit Your “Furry Friends” Photos By Feb. 20!

Submit your best photo and encourage others to vote! The photo receiving the most votes in our photo contest will be printed in an issue of Country Lines, along with some of our other favorites. Our February theme is Furry Friends. Photos can be submitted through Feb. 20 to be featured in our April issue.

To enter the contest, visit pieg.com/photocontest. Enter your picture, cast your vote, and encourage others to vote for you as well. If your photo is printed in Country Lines during 2023, you will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of four $50 credits on your January 2024 bill.

MOST VOTES ON FACEBOOK

1. Happy family! Karie Kemp

2. Nothing quite like a grandparent’s love! Charlotte Helman

3. Daughter and granddaughters posing with real “green energy.” Good times. Michael Lavens

4. Teaching my son and his cousin how to grow our own food. Shanna Gunter

5. Thanksgiving time break. Debbie Kunard

6. Daughters and grandson look forward to coming to the north woods—this is where they can toss their cares away & enjoy family time! Carol May

7. Annual summer family fun party. Carol Hardy

8. Dad and mini me! John VanCoillie

9. Double trouble! Lisa Branton

5 8 2 9 3 7 1 4
PHOTO CONTEST 6
9 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
Family Time

CHERRIES

Sweet-tart flavor

Recipe Contest

Win a $100 energy bill credit!

Breakfast for Dinner due March 1; Polish Favorites due April 1

Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $100 bill credit and have your recipe featured in Country Lines with a photo and a video. Submit your recipe at micoopkitchen.com , or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to recipes@countrylines.com

WINNING RECIPE!

CHERRY OAT COOKIES

Marie Mercier, Great Lakes Energy

¾ cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup whole wheat flour

¼ cup flaxseed meal

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups old fashioned (preferred) or quick oats

¾ cup butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup sugar

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1½ cups dried tart cherries

¾ cup semisweet mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix together all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder, salt, and oats. Set aside. Mix butter, brown sugar, and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; mix well. Stir in dried cherries and chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 9–11 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand one minute, then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos

MI CO-OP Recipes
Photos by Robert Bruce Photography || Recipes submitted by MCL readers and tested by recipe editor Christin McKamey
10 FEBRUARY 2023

4 cups sugar

CHERRY FREEZER JAM

Deanne Quain, Great Lakes Energy

2 cups finely chopped tart cherries

1 package SURE-JELL Premium

Fruit Pectin

¾ cup water

• small glass or plastic containers with lids

Mix sugar and fruit together. Let stand 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. In a small saucepan, stir SURE-JELL and

water. Bring to a boil on high heat for one minute, stirring constantly. Add pectin mixture to fruit mixture and stir for three minutes or until sugar is completely dissolved. Fill containers, leaving ½ -inch space at top for expansion during freezing. Cover with lids. Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. Refrigerate up to three weeks or freeze up to one year. Makes about fi ve cups. This jam is also delicious when used as a topping over ice cream.

CHERRY OATMEAL MUFFINS

Crystal Riley, Cherryland Electric Cooperative

1 cup uncooked quick or old fashioned oats

1 cup flour

½ cup brown sugar

1½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¾ cup buttermilk

1 egg

¼ cup oil

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup frozen tart cherries, coarsely chopped (do not need to thaw)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Combine liquid ingredients in a small bowl. Pour liquid mixture into dry mixture and stir just to moisten. Stir in cherries. Spray muffin pan or use liners. Fill cups about ²⁄ ³ full. Bake for 15–20 minutes.

THE MICHIGAN COOKIE

Valerie Aspenleiter, Alger Delta Electric

1 stick butter, softened

¾ cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

¼ cup pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup quick-cooking oats

1½ cups flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup dried cherries

²⁄³ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease cookie sheets. Cream butter and brown sugar in large bowl. Stir in egg, maple syrup, and vanilla. Combine oats, flour, baking soda, and salt and stir into butter mixture. Stir in cherries and walnuts. Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheets. Bake 10–12 minutes, until edges of cookies are golden brown. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

1 cup water

CHERRY SALAD

Cathy Lautner, Cherryland Electric Cooperative

1 (3-ounce) package cherry gelatin

1 can cherry pie filling (not “less sugar” version)

• whipped cream (optional)

Bring water to a boil and dissolve cherry gelatin. Put in dish, stir in cherry pie filling and chill. Top with whipped cream if desired.

11 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

PIE&G’s partnership with CoBank’s Sharing Success program provides matching grants to support local causes and organizations and fulfill its service mission to rural America as a trusted energy partner.

Active 501(c)(3) charity organizations within PIE&G’s service territory may apply for grants from $1,000 to $5,000, with a match from CoBank. Applications are available online at www.pieg.com/sharingsuccess and will be accepted from Jan. 1 through March 1. You may mail completed applications to PIE&G Sharing Success, ATTN: Melissa, P.O. Box 308, Onaway, MI 49765, or email mvanschoten@pieg.com. For more information, contact Melissa at 800-423-6634, extension 1011.

Scholarships For Graduating Seniors

Applications due March 1

Last chance to apply for scholarships! The PIE&G Communities First Fund has been awarding scholarships to graduating high school seniors since 1999, and the program includes all accredited colleges or universities in Michigan. The award is $1,000, payable upon successfully completing the first semester. Two additional scholarships are available: the A. Barkley Travis Memorial Scholarship ($500) and the Peterson Vocational School Scholarship ($500).

Eligibility requirements and applications are available online at pieg.com or by contacting PIE&G at (800) 423-6634, extension 1011. Completed applications with all supporting documentation must be received at PIE&G by the close of business on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. Scholarships will be awarded by June 1.

Sharing Success Matching Grant Program

Five Ways To Fight The Winter Chill And Save Energy

We all have our favorite season. Some people love crisp, cool weather and bundling up under a favorite blanket, while others prefer the warm temperatures summer brings and all the fun outdoor activities that go with it.

But there’s one thing we can all agree on: high winter bills are never fun. Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op is here to help you find ways to manage your home energy use and keep winter bills in check.

Here are five tips to help increase your home’s energy efficiency this winter:

1. Mind the thermostat. This is one of the easiest ways to manage your home energy use. We recommend setting your thermostat to 68 degrees (or lower) when you’re home. When you’re sleeping or away for an extended period of time, try setting it between 58 and 62 degrees; there’s no need to heat your home when you’re away or sleeping and less active.

2. Button up your home. The Department of Energy estimates that air leaks account for 24% to 40% of the energy used for heating and cooling a home. Caulking and weather stripping around windows and doors is another simple, cost-effective way to increase comfort and save energy. If you can feel drafts while standing near a window or door, it likely needs to be sealed.

3. Use window coverings wisely. Open blinds, drapes, or other window coverings during the day to allow natural sunlight in to warm your home. Close them at night to

keep the cold, drafty air out. If you feel cold air around windows, consider hanging curtains or drapes in a thicker material; heavier window coverings can make a significant difference in blocking cold outdoor air.

4. Consider your approach to appliance use. When combined, appliances and electronics account for a significant chunk of our home energy use, so assess how efficiently you’re using them. For example, if you’re running the dishwasher or clothes washer, only wash full loads. Look for electronic devices that consume energy even when they’re not in use, like phone chargers or game consoles. Every little bit helps, so unplug them to save energy.

5. Think outside the box. If you’re still feeling chilly at home, think of other ways to warm up—beyond dialing up the thermostat. Add layers of clothing, wear thick socks and bundle up under blankets. You can even add layers to your home! If you have hard-surface flooring, consider purchasing an area rug to block cold air that leaks in through the floor.

If you’re taking steps to save energy but continue to see major increases in your bills, please call us so we can help identify areas and other factors impacting your home energy use and recommend the next steps for savings. (Also see page 8 in this magazine to learn more.)

Winter months often bring some of the highest energy bills of the year. By being proactive about saving energy, you can increase the comfort of your home and reduce monthly bills.

13 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

Iceman The Cometh

America’s Coolest Race Is In Northern Michigan

Every year on the first weekend in November, around 5,000 mountain bicyclists take off down the runway at Kalkaska Airport and barrel through the woods across dirt paths, abandoned railroad beds, and rugged ski trails until they end up—muddied and ecstatic some 30 miles later—at Timber Ridge RV & Recreation Resort in Traverse City. The Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge is the largest point-to-point mountain bike race in the country and happens right here in northern Michigan.

“How would I explain it to someone who’s never been?” asked Kat Paye, executive director of the Iceman Cometh Challenge. “It’s an absolute riot.”

What started as a small “race” of 35 bikers over 30 years ago, with a course staked out by the event’s race founder, Steve Brown, has grown into an annual event that brings out professional cyclists and novice mountain bikers alike.

“It started as almost a dare,” said Paye. “See if you can make it on this crazy trail, and I’ll give you a burger and a beer at the end.”

The scope of the race has expanded since then, with not only 5,000 athletes descending on Traverse City every year, but nearly 10,000 volunteers, spectators, and wellwishers at the Celebration Zone. The event has also seen the addition of shorter and more kid-friendly races like the Slush Cup and the Meijer Sno Cone. Luckily, there is still

14 FEBRUARY 2023

beer at the end, as Bell’s Brewery has been a key sponsor for the past 13 years.

“You can’t help but get caught up in the energy,” said Paye, who has volunteered along the course for the past 10 years herself. “Everyone cheers for everyone else, amateurs, pros. It doesn’t matter your level; you’re a part of the Iceman family.”

The family has been headed by Brown since the beginning, who recruited friends and family to help as the event grew, knowing the more significant the event got, the more impact it could have. Iceman has always had a nonprofit angle, with proceeds helping to promote health and wellness, land stewardship, and the biking community at large.

“Steve is a really giving human,” said Paye. “He loves this industry and saw a way to have a homegrown, feelgood event that feels like a homecoming no matter how big it gets.”

From the beginning, the community in northern Michigan has been as much a part of the race as the course and the riders themselves. Folks staking courses, transporting riders and their bikes, running first-aid and food stations, and cheering wildly all along the way.

Since its inception, Iceman has given nearly $500,000 to youth cycling programs, trail-building organizations, biking associations, and many local nonprofit efforts. It’s amazing what this “little bike race” has done to impact the community and its members since 1990.

Paye encourages anyone who thinks they might be up for the challenge to try Iceman once in their life. Registration begins in March and fills up quickly, with over $70,000 in cash prizes for pro and amateur categories. If you feel like biking crazy terrains through all kinds of weather while you smile bigger the muddier you get isn’t for you, the team is always looking for volunteers and supporters to cheer on the maniacs on bikes.

When asked if there’s something about Iceman that still surprises her after her decade with the organization, whether it’s the course with its ever-changing finish line, the support from the community, the lion-hearted athletes, or even the volunteers and fans who make it all happen, Paye pauses for a moment, almost wistfully, and says...

“All of it.”

If you’re considering signing up for Iceman, keep an eye out on the event website, iceman.com, for registration details. Or, if you’re interested in volunteering, send a note to icemaninfo@iceman.com /icemancomethtcmi

/IcemanTCMI
iceman.com

S

evere winds, lightning, and even squirrels can temporarily cause the power to go out. We understand power outages of any length can be frustrating, especially when your fridge is stocked with perishable foods.

Extended power outages are rare, but when they occur, it’s important to understand food safety measures to take to avoid illness.

Here are a few food safety tips to keep in mind before, during, and after a power outage.

Before an outage

A good rule of thumb is to keep an emergency supply kit on hand. Be sure to include nonperishable food items like bottled water, powdered milk, canned goods, cereal, and protein bars in your emergency kit.

If you have advance warning that an outage is possible, fill a cooler with ice––just in case the outage spans several hours. Having a cooler ready to go can buy extra time for your refrigerated, perishable items.

During an outage

If an outage occurs, do not open the refrigerator or freezer unless absolutely necessary. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours. A half-full freezer will keep food frozen for about 24 hours, and a full freezer for about 48 hours. If it looks like the power outage will last longer than four hours, move your important perishable items to an ice-filled cooler.

After an outage

If refrigerated foods have been exposed to temperatures higher than 40 degrees for more than two hours, the American Red Cross recommends discarding the items. If any foods have an unusual color, odor, or texture, they should be thrown away.

While most perishable foods should be thrown out after an extended outage, there are a few items that are safe to consume after a two-hour exposure to 40+ degrees:

• hard cheeses that are properly wrapped

• butter or margarine that is properly wrapped

• taco, barbecue, and soy sauces

• peanut butter, jelly, mustard, ketchup, and relish

The best way to avoid illness from spoiled food during or after an outage is to follow the four-hour rule of thumb. After an outage, always smell and inspect foods before consuming, and remember: When in doubt, throw it out.

To learn more about food safety after an emergency, visit www.ready.gov/food.

KEEP FOOD SAFE WHEN THE POWER GOES OUT 16 FEBRUARY 2023

BE PREPARED

Our region can produce some extreme weather conditions, regardless of the season. Be prepared with these tips.

Items To Have On Hand

• Water: At least one gallon per person, per day, plus some for pets

• Food: Nonperishable, especially items that don’t require cooking, along with a hand-operated can opener

• Lighting: Flashlights, candles, and matches

• Telephone: Cordless phones won’t work during an outage, so have a corded phone available. Make sure cell phones are fully charged if outages are possible

• Communications: Have your mobile devices fully charged if outages are imminent so you can stay in the know. A batterypowered radio is also helpful

• Medical: First-aid kit ready with any needed medical supplies, and filled prescriptions

• Personal sanitation: Moist wipes, hand sanitizer, and garbage bags

• Tools: Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

• Batteries

• Battery-powered or wind-up clock

• Extra blankets

During A Power Outage

• Stay away from downed power lines and warn others to do the same. Call us immediately to report downed power lines.

• Don’t touch a person or object in contact with a power line; the electric current could flow through you.

• Stay inside your car if it comes in contact with a power line.

• Turn off all appliances during an outage to avoid a circuit overload when power is restored. Leave on one lamp to know when power is restored.

• Never leave burning candles unattended.

• Keep freezer and refrigerator doors closed. Food will stay frozen for 36 to 48 hours in a fully loaded freezer and about 24 hours in a partially filled freezer.

Outage Reporting At Your Fingertips

When you’re in the dark and trying to report your power outage, there’s nothing more frustrating than sitting in a crowded phone queue waiting for the next available rep. We offer easy and convenient ways to report your outage.

SmartHub: SmartHub, our secure online portal and mobile app, is the quickest and easiest way to report your outage. Sign up for SmartHub at pieg.com or download the app from your app store.

Telephone: Our telephone system is equipped with an automatic outage reporting system; dial 800-423-6634 and follow the prompts. We must have a current telephone number for your account. Please update your account information using SmartHub or by calling our office.

We have limited incoming telephone lines. If you call and receive a fast busy signal, please use one of the alternate methods, or hang up and try again.

Please do not use email or social media to report your outage; these platforms are not staffed 24/7.

17 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

Should I Change My Charging Habits?

Four things to know about extending rechargeable battery life

Many of us are so connected to our phones, tablets, and laptops that we panic when their battery nears the dreaded 0% mark. We want our device batteries to perform well for as long as possible. If you ever fret over your device’s power levels, here are tips on striking the right balance between battery health and how you work and play.

Keep your battery about 40% to 80% charged.

There’s a lot of reasonable advice around the internet to keep your phone charged between 20% and 80%, or between 40% and 80%. To understand those recommendations—and why you might want to either follow them or ignore them—it helps to understand how rechargeable batteries work.

Up until about 20 years ago, batteries benefitted from occasional “deep discharges”—running the battery down until the device shuts off. But because of the different materials used in batteries today, that’s not true anymore.

Rechargeable batteries contain two different materials that produce electricity when particles flow from one to the other. They flow in the other direction when being recharged. That process will degrade any battery over time. Keeping both sides of the battery in balance, with the device charged at about 50%, will put the least amount of stress on the battery and make it last longer.

But that’s unrealistic—no one’s going to keep their phone half-charged all the time. So, the experts try to make it easier by recommending 40% to 80% or 20% to 80%. Apple devices offer even more flexibility, pointing out that modern rechargeable batteries are designed to last for years in the various ways you use them. They recommend that rather than worrying about the battery, you just focus on using and enjoying your device.

Overnight charging can add stress to some batteries.

Charging your device up to 100% or letting it drain to 0% until it shuts down does put extra stress on the battery and can shorten its life. That’s why it can make sense to charge your devices occasionally throughout the day rather than keeping them plugged in while you sleep. Newer electronics will actually stop charging at 100%. But then, each time the charge drops to 99%, charging will resume.

Keep it cool, but not cold.

One absolute in battery care is don’t let your device get warmer than 95 degrees. Keep it out of the sun, and never leave it in a hot vehicle. If the device does get hot, don’t go to the other extreme and put it in the freezer. Just place it in the shade or take the cover off for a while.

Use less power.

It sounds simple, but one of the easiest ways to put less stress on the battery is to use less power. You can close energy-draining apps and functions when you’re not using them, and you can activate energy-saving settings like putting the device to sleep sooner. Another easy way to reduce battery use is to activate the “airplane mode” button every now and then.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to turn in their electronics every couple of years for the latest versions, these recommendations likely won’t apply. But if you’re someone who wants your devices to last longer, these suggestions can help prolong battery life.

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Travel to Washington, D.C., to explore monuments and museums, meet with a member o f Congress, and make lifelong friends with other students from across the country. You'll discover leadership lessons from our nation's history and be immersed in the cooperative spirit that built our nation, with all expenses paid by your local electric cooperative. Yeah, that's pretty amazing. Are you up for it?

Tour Dates: June 14-18, 2023

pieg.com /PIEGCooperative
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