2021 March NAECI Arkansas Living Center Pages

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north arkansas electric cooperative

Qualifying members can receive help with electric bills


MARCH 2021


Always call 811 before digging so that buried utilities may be marked. The free service can prevent injury or death and save costly repairs or fines.

Stay safe: Call 811 before digging Before building a fence, planting a tree or beginning other projects that require digging, remember to dial 811 first. Underground utilities, such as buried electric and water lines, can be a shovel thrust away from turning a project into a disaster. Stay safe by dialing 811 to find out where utility lines run on your property. Your call will be routed to a local “one-call” center. Tell the operator where you’re planning to dig and what type of work you will be doing, and affected utilities will be notified. In a few days, a locator will arrive to designate the approximate location of any underground lines, pipes and cables. These areas will be marked with flags or paint, so you’ll know what’s below. Then the safe digging can begin. Although many people are aware of “Call Before You Dig” services, the majority don’t take advantage of the service. A national survey showed that only 50 percent of homeowners called to have their lines marked before starting digging projects, according to the Common Ground Alliance. Even simple tasks like installing a mailbox post can damage utility lines, disrupt service to an area, harm diggers and might result in fines and repair costs. Never assume the location or depth of lines. There’s no need: the 811 service is free, prevents the inconvenience of having utilities interrupted and can help avoid injury.


The federal government’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program provides help for qualifying members with their energy costs during the summer and winter months. LIHEAP is administered by community action agencies. The two in NAEC’s service area are Ozark Opportunities and Northcentral Arkansas Development Council. Members are encouraged to contact the agencies directly for more information. Numbers by county include: • Baxter — 870-425-5118 • Fulton — 870-895-3628 • Izard — 870-368-4329 • Marion — 870-449-6250 • Sharp — 870-994-7353 • Stone — 870-269-4381 The amount of assistance available is based on a member’s income, number of people in the household and other factors. Members with questions or concerns about their account may reach an NAEC member service representative by emailing info@naeci.com or calling 870-895-3221 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Please note: NAEC’s suspension of disconnections for nonpayment is not a bill waiver.

NEXT wins $27.5 million for fiber network construction

More co-op news on page 26

Applications for scholarship due by April 13 NAEC is accepting applications for the 2021-2022 Operation Round Up® scholarship program. The application is available at naeci.com or through high school counselors’ offices. Applicants must mail or deliver the typed application to NAEC by April 13. They must include a high school transcript and three letters of recommendation. To be eligible for the scholarship, high school seniors must graduate at the end of the 2021 school year, and their parents or guardians must be NAEC members. Applicants also must have a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale through the first semester of senior year. The scholarship must be used to attend an accredited institute of higher learning on a fulltime basis. Call 870-895-6210 for more information. NORTH ARKANSAS ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE


my co-op

North Arkansas Electric Cooperative’s fiber subsidiary NEXT won $27.5 million in the recent Federal Communications Commission auction. The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I award will help NEXT bring gigabit internet and phone services to more unserved rural areas. “The past year has underscored the need for our members to have access to the economic, educational and recreational benefits high-speed internet allows,” said Mel Coleman, CEO of NAEC and NEXT. “We know high-speed internet access improves our members’ quality of life.” NEXT has reached more than 5,500 subscribers so far. Construction of the fiber-optic network continues throughout NAEC’s service area and is expected to be complete by the end of 2023. “NAEC was committed to the expansion of NEXT to all members even before winning $22.6 million in the FCC’s Connect America Fund auction in 2018,” Coleman said. “This $27.5 million from RDOF only strengthens our position.” During the RDOF auction, telecommunications companies bid on areas based on Census block groups. NEXT won 47. The more than 10,000 homes and businesses in those groups currently have access to internet download speeds of less than 25 Mbps. As with the CAF funding, NEXT will receive the $27.5 million over 10 years. The first payment is expected in late summer 2021. “NAEC and NEXT are not only bringing true gigabit internet to our communities but also injecting about $125 million into our economy,” Coleman said. The RDOF auction will award $9.2 billion to bring highspeed internet to 5.2 million unserved homes and businesses in the United States. Arkansas companies won more than $424 million to serve more than 200,000 locations. NAEC members can visit mynextfiber.com for more information on NEXT internet, television and phone services.

north arkansas electric cooperative

Scammers again targeting NAEC members


Youth Tour goes virtual in 2021; applications due by April 12 The Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., was canceled for 2021, but North Arkansas Electric Cooperative and the state’s other electric cooperatives will provide a web-based opportunity for select high school juniors in June. This virtual experience will consist of: • Learning about electric cooperatives and the cooperative business model; • Hearing from lawmakers on Capitol Hill and the Arkansas State Capitol; • Hearing from Arkansas business, education and faith leaders on the pandemic and related processes; • Electing a Youth Leadership Council representative to NRECA's YLC program; and • Learning how students could earn a $5,000 college scholarship by planning and executing a public service project in the local community. (Students will not be required to perform a project to participate in Youth Tour.) The virtual experience will be conducted via Zoom in a twohour time slot each day June 18 and June 21-25. Download the application at naeci.com/youth-tour. It also is available through high school counselors’ offices. Applicants must be high school juniors during the 2020-2021 school year, and their parents or guardians must be NAEC members. Deadline to apply is April 12. For more details, call 870-895-6210. NAEC’s winners each will receive a $250 scholarship mailed to their college or vocational/technical school after graduation.

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MARCH 2021


NAEC members regularly report being contacted by phone scammers. The usual ruse is to state your bill is overdue and the electricity will be disconnected if payment is not made immediately. Sometimes a person is on the line, and sometimes it is an automated message that ends encouraging the member to press a number to make a payment. Please note that scammers can manipulate caller ID to show the co-op’s name and number. NAEC does not threaten our members in this manner, and any communication regarding an outstanding balance first is communicated by letter. If you receive a suspicioussounding call regarding your account, hang up immediately. You always may call NAEC at 870-895-3221 with any questions regarding your service. Sadly, scammers often target the elderly. NAEC encourages members to speak with their loved ones about ways to handle these calls before they lose money or become a victim of identity theft.