Volume 67, Number 12, December 2013
“The Rural Voice of Nebraska”
Staff Editor Wayne Price Editorial Assistant Kathy Barkmeier
Published by the Visit us at www.nrea.org General Manager Troy Bredenkamp President Gary Dill, Roosevelt Public Power District Vice President/Secretary Randy Papenhausen, Cedar-Knox Public Power District
The Smart Grid Grows Up Public power districts and electric cooperatives continue to make upgrades to the smart grid. Writer Reed Karaim explains how utilities are modernizing electric distribution systems by deploying advanced communications and automation technologies including two-way digital meters to improve reliability, increase efficiency, and help control electricity costs for consumers.
Operate a standby generator wisely
Advertising in the Rural Electric Nebraskan does not imply endorsement for products by the Nebraska Rural Electric Association. Correspondence should be sent to Wayne Price, Editor, Rural Electric Nebraskan, Box 82048, Lincoln, NE 68501. The Rural Electric Nebraskan is printed by Quad Graphics, 660 Mayhew Lake Rd. NE, St. Cloud, MN 56304. Form 3579 should be sent to the Rural Electric Nebraskan, Box 82048, Lincoln, NE 68501. Periodicals postage paid at Lincoln, Neb. POSTMASTER: send address changes to the Rural Electric Nebraskan, 1244 K Street, Box 82048, Lincoln, NE 68501. Publication numbers are USPS 071-630 and ISSN 0193-4937. Rates: $10 for one year; $15 for two years; $20 for three years, plus local and state tax.
The growing popularity of emergency generators has resulted in several million being placed in homes and small businesses. Proper safety precautions must be taken to prevent accidents that could affect you, a family member, neighbor, or utility lineworker.
Treasurer Ron Jensen, Loup Valleys Rural Public Power District Published monthly by the Nebraska Rural Electric Association, 1244 K Street, Box 82048, Lincoln, Nebraska 68501, (402) 475-4988.
Departments EDITOR’S PAGE
SAFETY BRIEFS — Murphy
CUT YOUR UTILITY BILLS by James Dulley
ADULT PEN PALS
On the cover A well thought out winter plan for your farm will prepare you for unexpected emergencies and keep your livestock safe and sound through the winter months. Photograph by Wayne Price.
The Mission of Public Power… Maintaining reliability and affordability in a changing electricity landscape aving been nearly a year since joining the Nebraska Rural Electric Association (NREA), I have had the opportunity to visit nearly all of our membersystems and have learned so much about Nebraska’s public power system and what it takes to deliver electricity to homes and businesses across rural Nebraska. Suffice it to say it is a long journey and process to get electricity to your switch, with hundreds of professionals dedicated to providing power to your home or business reliably and affordably. It is this focus that gives Nebraska an advantage over other states. Many factors and issues are challenging the electric industry as a whole, including calls for more regulation on traditional generation sources along with calls for more generation from renewable resources. While there seems to be an abundance of misinformation out there, Nebraska’s public power providers continue to focus on maintaining reliable electricity at affordable rates.
by Troy Bredenkamp
Electricity Misinformation Abounds Growing up, we were all counseled by parents or other authority figures to not always believe everything we heard. I would argue that this advice is especially true when it comes to today’s electricity generation issues and the agenda of various special interests groups. For example, I recently heard radio ads from the Sierra Club touting that Nebraska ranks high in wind potential, with enough wind to provide our state’s electricity needs 120 times over. The ad went on to state that if we developed Nebraska’s wind resource, we could get rid of “dirty” coal and create local jobs while developing clean energy here at home. The wind certainly blows here in “the Good Life” and I have no doubt that Nebraska ranks 4th in the nation in wind resource potential. I also would agree that if it were possible to direct all that wind through wind
turbines, it could likely generate 120 times the amount of electricity our state needs on a regular basis. What the ad failed to convey was that it is impossible to capture all the wind in Nebraska and convert it to electricity. Sierra Club also fails to admit that the wind does not always blow in Nebraska; as a matter of fact, most wind systems in Nebraska generate on an annual basis, about 40 percent of their name plate capacity. It is important to note that our electricity system will always need dispatchable forms of generation such as nuclear, gas and coal, in order to keep everyone’s lights on 100 percent of the time. Special interest groups also fail to mention that, at least at this time, most renewable generation systems need a substantial federal production tax credit and other state and federal subsidies in order to be cost competitive with existing generation sources. Lastly, most renewable energy proponents fail to admit that here in Nebraska, we currently have enough electric generation capacity to meet our existing and foreseeable future demand. From public power’s perspective, it does not make a whole lot of sense to advance over-production of electricity from any source, especially at a time when the storage of excess power generation is not a viable option. Reliable and Affordable Electricity In rural Nebraska, NREA member-systems provide electricity to over 230,000 meters over 87,000 miles of distribution lines for an average of 2.6 meters per mile. Even with our state’s geographic and population distribution challenges, Nebraska’s public power providers are up to five times more reliable when compared to investor owned utilities. Further, Nebraska’s public power providers continue to deliver electricity at affordable rates – Nebraska ranks in the top 15 overall for states with the most affordable electricity rates. One of the primary reasons reliability Please turn to page 9
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Electric utilities decry Administration’s ‘All-But-One’ energy policy o Ann Emerson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), released the following statement in response to the testimony of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy before the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee on September 18, 2013. McCarthy outlined the Administration’s proposed regulations governing carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants. “NRECA and its member utilities are disappointed to learn that the Administration has abandoned its “all-of- the-above” energy strategy and embraced an “all-but-one” approach that restricts the future use of coal to generate affordable electricity. The anticipated regulations are reported to require any new coalburning facility to capture and store carbon dioxide, a prohibitively expensive technology that is not commercially viable.
NRECA CEO JoAnn Emerson talks at the 2013 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Lousiana. Photograph provided by NRECA “In doing so, the Administration is gambling with the economic wellbeing of future generations and our nation's economy. As not-for-profit, public power districts and electric cooperatives are deeply concerned about maintaining affordable, reli-
able electricity. It’s worth noting that residents of rural communities already spend more per capita on energy than anywhere else. “NRECA urges the Administration to reconsider this proposal and focus on working with electric utilities as we continue to reduce power plant emissions, increase efficiency and develop affordable new technologies. Together, we can improve both the environment and the quality of life for future generations.” Public power districts and electric cooperative members may comment on the EPA’s approach through the Cooperative Action Network, www.action.coop. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned public power districts and electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.
No rate increase in 2014 for NPPD customers here will be no hike in the electric rates of wholesale and retail customers of Nebraska Public Power District, following approval Friday by the Board of Directors during its monthly meeting. President and CEO Pat Pope informed the Board in September a proposed two percent rate increase had been reduced to zero for the upcoming year. Pope told the Board several factors have made this possible, including statewide efforts by management and employees to reduce costs without compromising reliability or safety; strong summer revenues; a reduction of personnel by nearly 50 positions from the District’s annual budget; and ongoing efficiency improvements. “Staff has done an excellent job in reducing unnecessary expenses to
get us to the point we will not need an increase,” Pope explained. “In the past, cost pressures have forced us to raise rates. Today, we are in a period where rigorous efforts to reduce expenses, better than anticipated revenues, and slightly less cost pressures are giving NPPD an opportunity to avoid a rate increase.” Earlier this year, NPPD alerted its wholesale and retail customers it would likely need a projected a 3.5 percent increase. Cost cutting measures, however, were able to reduce that proposed increase to two percent. Continued efficiencies and a strong financial summer closed the gap to zero. Pope added, “The bottom line is we have had a much better year in 2013 than we budgeted, and staff has done an excellent job in scrubbing budgets
and reducing costs without compromising reliability and safety. We will be doing everything we can to keep future rate increases to a minimum and help keep public power in Nebraska as competitive as possible.” As a public power utility, NPPD rates are set to cover costs. Revenues received are used to pay operating expenses and make necessary investments in maintenance, construction, and system upgrades,. Rates do not include a profit margin. NPPD’s wholesale customers include rural public power districts and municipalities that purchase their power from NPPD and distribute it to their end-use electric customers. Retail customers receive an electric bill directly from NPPD and reside in communities served by NPPD personnel.
The Smart Grid Grows Up by Reed Karaim
hen you’re young, lots of careers look appealing. It’s hard to sort out what makes the most sense to pursue. In many ways, the idea of a “smart grid” was like that in its earliest days: so many possibilities, so much to explore. Today, the advanced technologies that make the smart grid possible have been around for a while. The smart grid is maturing, and its future is becoming clearer. In the beginning, many experts felt the smart grid would revolve around enhancing consumer efficiency. There was talk about smart chips in every home appliance enabling the devices to control themselves in response to changing conditions on the power grid, and real-time monitoring systems would encourage homeowners to save power. Today, the picture looks different. “Obviously, home energy efficiency had a large role in the smart grid as it was originally envisioned,” says Craig Miller, chief scientist for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, which represents more than 900 not-for-profit public power districts and electric co-ops nationwide. “Now, that’s not seen as a particularly challenging area. Appliances hitting the market are much more efficient—you can’t buy a new inefficient appliance anymore.” As a result, the brightest possibilities have moved out of the household and onto distribution and even transmission lines, according to Miller. “Across the nation, utilities are modernizing electric distribution systems by deploying advanced communications and automation technologies including two-way digital meters—to improve reliability, increase efficiency, and help control electricity costs for consumers,” Miller remarks. “The smart grid at its core provides electric utilities a better idea of what’s going on out on their lines and a better means of troubleshooting issues.” In substations, for example, the
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ability to switch quickly and efficiently between feeder lines, which carry power to consumers, can maintain system stability, reducing outages and costs. “Automatically controlled smart feeder switching is a big area,” Miller notes. Public power districts and electric cooperatives are finding innovative uses for those capabilities. Snapping Shoals Electric Membership Corporation, based in Covington, Ga., employs smart switching to prioritize the flow of power to critical accounts like hospitals and fire and police stations following service interruptions, such as those caused by a storm. Automated equipment also lets rural electric utilities cut line losses through efficient management of voltage levels from the beginning to the end of a line. “Basically, every volt reduced at a substation translates into a 1 percent reduction in peak demand—the electric utility industry’s equivalent of rush-hour traffic, when power costs run the highest,” Miller explains. “It’s just one way the smart grid helps utilties meet rising consumer expectations regarding reliability and costs—bolstering the commitment to service that’s at the heart of the member-system relationship.” Smart technology is also making America’s transmission lines more efficient. Transmission cables are sized to carry a certain amount of energy, but that can be affected by a variety of factors, including weather. To be safe, transmission systems assume the lowest capacity on any line. But through dynamic line rating, utilities can look at what the real capacity is at any given moment and adjust accordingly. “This offers tremendous potential to make the nation’s grid more efficient and reliable, saving consumers billions of dollars down the road,” Miller comments.
awarded $34 million for half of a $68 million groundbreaking, coast-to-coast initiative under which 23 cooperatives in 12 states are studying more than 225,000 smart grid components. Results are coming in, according to Tom Lovas, a CRN contractor. Even though final conclusions won’t be ready for a few months, some insights are already clear. One is the critical role played by two-way communications in smart grid schemes. Rural electric utilities have found handling the vast amounts of data being generated—as much as 10,000 times more—necessitates a careful reworking of their communication networks. “Every smart grid project has, at its heart, a communications project,” Miller stresses. Another significant finding concerns the prepaid metering systems some public power districts and electric cooperatives have implemented. These programs, by allowing members to pay for electricity in advance, requires them to track power consumption on a home display and adopt wiser energy use patterns to avoid going over the prepaid amount. “That’s been really surprising, the popularity of prepaid offerings,” Miller says. “I think you’re seeing the smart grid, in that mechanism, reaching into behavior and producing more knowledgeable consumers.”
“The smart grid provides electric utilities a better idea of what’s going on out on their lines.”
A national push to get smart In 2009, the federal government made a big push to expand the smart grid by handing out grants through the $821 billion stimulus bill. As always, public power districts and electric co-ops, long recognized as industry trailblazers in crafting cutting-edge ways to boost service and reliability while keeping electric bills affordable, led the way. More than 50 cooperatives and public power districts in 15 states captured $215.6 million in smart grid investment and demonstration grants, amounts that were matched with local funds. In a key effort, the Cooperative Research Network (CRN), an arm of NRECA, was
Moving to a Smarter Future One of the stimulus-funded projects Miller sees as the most interesting was launched by Great River Energy, a generation and transmission (G&T) cooperative based in Maple Grove, Minn., and two of its North Star State member distribution co-ops, Lake Region Electric Cooperative in Pelican Rapids, and Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative in Jordan. In 2012, the three electric cooperatives were awarded a $2.5 million grant that makes it possible for Great River Energy to monitor what’s happening on individual household meters, fostering a new level of demand response and load control. “You see distribution cooperatives and their wholesale power suppliers starting to share data in real time,” Miller points out. “That’s tremendously exciting.” It’s all part of an evolving smart grid, a process that Miller argues will only accelerate as time goes on. To stay abreast of the latest smart grid developments visit www.smartgrid.gov. Source: Cooperative Research Network
What Is The Smart Grid?
lthough there are hundreds of ways to describe what constitutes a smart grid, all center around technologies and tools that help electric utilities better meet consumersâ€™ needs reliably and affordably. This is chiefly accomplished by allowing utilities to more effectively monitor demand and system conditions on a near real-time basis. The smart grid combines digital meters and automated equipment, software applications, and two-way communications that help utilities to track the flow of electricity with great precision; pinpoint outages; identify voltages out of permitted ranges; and transmit messages to transformers, capacitors, circuit breakers, and other distribution equipment to initiate diagnostic or corrective (self-healing) actions that can isolate, reroute power around, or even remotely repair the cause of a power interruption. Utilities can also record consumer electric use in various time intervals, communicate that consumption data among authorized staff, and provide consumers with hourly or more frequent power pricing information so they can respond to changing electricity needs. The U.S. Department of Energy lists seven functions of a smart grid: enabling informed participation by consumers; accommodating all generation and energy storage options; creating new products, services, and markets; delivering power quality for the range of needs in the twenty-first century; optimizing asset utilization and operating efficiency; addressing disturbancesâ€”automated outage prevention, containment, and restoration; and operating resiliently against physical and cyber attacks and natural disasters.
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The Mission of Public Power From page 4
For more safety tips visit SmokeyBear.com
and affordability are achieved here in Nebraska is because every decision made by public power providers in Nebraska is measured through the prism of: “What impact will this decision have on the reliability and affordability of Nebraska’s public power?” As you can see, your Nebraska public power program faces numerous issues and challenges. How do we incorporate more renewables into the system while maintaining affordable rates and high reliability? How do we accomplish these standards into the future when the very fuel sources utilized to maintain affordability and reliability continue to face increased regulatory constraints? These issues and challenges also begs the question – just how important is reliability and af-
fordability to you – a consumer of Nebraska’s public power? Let me be clear, Nebraska’s public power providers do not care which power source is used to generate electricity as long as it can maintain our statutory charge of maintaining low rates and reliability. Even in today’s changing electricity landscape, I am confident that the vast majority of Nebraska’s electrical consumers would not want their public power providers to compromise affordability and reliability for higher prices and more uncertainty. NREA, as the chief advocate for rural electric systems, must work to assure that both consumers and policy makers have the most accurate information available when making electrical generation and other public power related decisions. To do less would jeopardize Nebraska’s electrical reliability and affordability for consumers - now and in the future.
Preventing ‘Cyber-tage’ Rural electric utilities are taking the lead in protecting the nation’s electric grid from cyber attacks
ecurity of the nation’s electric grid has received a lot of attention lately. Reports of high-profile hacking attempts on electrical facilities by parties foreign and domestic, mischievous and nefarious, keep making front-page news. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the energy sector was the target of more than 40 percent of all reported cyber attacks last year. In today’s heightened political landscape, some have suggested that onerous government mandates—as opposed to our existing system that provides flexibility to meet everevolving threats—are necessary to protect the electric grid from cyber assaults. But it’s not certain more regulations will make us safer. Consider these points: • Government mandates can’t keep pace with innovation. Utilities, like public power districts and electric co-ops, are always deploying new
technology—and so are cyber criminals and terrorists. Top-down mandates, by their very nature, will only address known dangers; such a command-and-control approach means we’ll always be fighting yesterday’s battle. • “Gold plated” cyber security measures are not the answer. It’s possible to build a car that will survive any crash. But the cost of such a vehicle would be astronomical. Utilities need the latitude to balance risk and cost for the good of the consumer. • Compliance is not a deterrent. For
some, federal rules create a false sense of w e l l - b e i n g. The reasoning goes like this: “If I’m following all of the cyber security regulations that apply to me, then my system must be secure.” However, bureaucracy can’t promulgate processes that address every contingency. And any complacency opens the door to a possible cyber strike. Fortunately, America’s public power districts and electric cooperatives have taken a lead role on this issue. In addition to thousands of hours spent by public power districts and electric co-ops helping the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the nation’s grid watchdog, write Critical Infrastructure Protection standards, the Cooperative Research Network (CRN)—the research and development arm of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association—has developed the Guide to Developing a Cyber Security and Risk Mitigation Plan. This document,
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touted by the U.S. Department of Energy as a prime example for other utilities to follow (and endorsed by the head of grid security at IBM), provides a set of scalable, online tools that can help public power districts and electric co-ops strengthen their cyber security posture. As perhaps the first approach to advancing cyber security at the distribution level, the Guide to Developing a Cyber Security and Risk Mitigation Plan ties into the innate utility sense of member responsibility and commitment to continuous improvement. While no one suggests it will prevent every possible act of “cyber-tage,” any step at mitigation means a significant leap toward bolstered cyber security. As a result, NRECA has offered the guide and template to others in the electric utility industry free of charge. The bottom line is that over the past few years, the North American electric grid has become more secure because of joint NERC- industry efforts. On the executive-branch level, NRECA has discussed co-op leadership and concerns surrounding this subject in meetings with President Obama and U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. The perils posed by cyber attacks are real. But thanks to CRN and standards fashioned by electric utilities under the current voluntary, collaborative NERC framework, public power districts and electric cooperatives will be better armed to defend against any cyber menace. Source: RE Magazine; NRECA
Two INL cyber security specialists conduct research on an electric utility Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system. Photography provided by Idaho National Laboratories
Clogged, Backed—up Septic System…Can anything Restore It? Dear Darryl
DEAR DARRYL: My home is about 10 years old, and so is my septic system. I have always taken pride in keeping my home and property in top shape. In fact, my neighbors and I are always kidding each other about who keeps their home and yard nicest. Lately, however, I have had a horrible smell in my yard, and also in one of my bathrooms, coming from the shower drain. My grass is muddy and all the drains in my home are very slow.
My wife is on my back to make the bathroom stop smelling and as you can imagine, my neighbors are having a field day, kidding me about the mud pit and sewage stench in my yard. It’s humiliating. I called a plumber buddy of mine, who recommended pumping (and maybe even replacing) my septic system. But at the potential cost of thousands of dollars, I hate to explore that option. I tried the store bought, so called, Septic treatments out there, and they did Nothing to clear up my problem. Is there anything on the market I can pour or flush into my system that will restore it to normal, and keep it maintained? Clogged and Smelly – Omaha, NE
DEAR CLOGGED AND SMELLY: As a reader of my column, I am sure you are aware that I have a great deal of experience in this particular field. You will be glad to know that there IS a septic solution that will solve your back-up and effectively restore your entire system from interior piping throughout the septic system and even unclog the drain field as well. SeptiCleanse® Shock and Maintenance Programs deliver your system the fast active bacteria and enzymes needed to liquefy solid waste and free the clogs causing your back-up. This fast-acting bacteria multiplies within minutes of application and is specifically designed to withstand many of today’s anti-bacterial cleaners, soaps and detergents. It comes in dissolvable plastic packs, that you just flush down your toilets. It’s so cool. Plus, they actually Guarantee that it restores ANY system, no matter how bad the problem is. SeptiCleanse® Shock and Maintenance Programs are designed to work on any septic system regardless of design or age. From modern day systems to sand mounds, and systems installed generations ago, I have personally seen SeptiCleanse unclog and restore these systems in a matter of weeks. I highly recommend that you try it before spending any money on repairs. SeptiCleanse products are available online at www.septicleanse.com or you can order or learn more by calling toll free at 1-888-899-8345. If you use the promo code “NESEPT1”, you can get a free shock treatment, added to your order, which normally costs $169. So, make sure you use that code when you call or buy online.
Operate a portable, standby generator wisely hen Superstorm Sandy knocked out power to millions on the East Coast last fall, many of those affected turned to portable, standby generators to help keep food safe, lights on, and safety and medical equipment operating. The growing popularity of emergency generators has resulted in several million being placed in homes and small businesses across the nation. However, only a small percentage are hooked up or used correctly. SafeElectricity.org urges consumers to understand proper generator safety steps.
“Generators can be a lifesaver for some and can improve the quality of life after a natural disaster such as a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake,” explains Molly Hall, executive director of the Safe Electricity program. “However, it’s critical that proper safety precautions be taken to prevent accidents that could affect you, a family member, neighbor, or utility lineworker.” Generators can be temporarily or permanently installed. A permanent generator is wired into a house by a qualified electrician using a transfer switch. This protects you, your neighbors, and repair crews from
electricity backfeeding onto power lines. This can seriously injure anyone near those lines, especially rural electric utility crews working to restore power. A temporary generator fired by gasoline or diesel fuel should not be attached to a circuit breaker, fuse, or outlet. The improper use of a standby generator can lead to injury or death. When using a generator, SafeElectricity.org urges you to follow these tips to keep you and your family safe: • Read and follow all manufacturer operating instructions to properly ground the generator. Be sure
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you understand them before starting it up. • Standby generators should have a transfer safety switch installed by a professional. Portable generators should never be plugged directly into a home outlet or electrical system— use an extension cord to plug appliances into an outlet on the generator. • Never operate a generator in a confined area, such as a garage. Generators produce gases, including deadly carbon monoxide. They require proper ventilation. • Remember, when venturing outside after a severe storm, stay away from downed power lines and be alert to the possibility that tree limbs or debris may hide an electrical hazard. Assume that any dangling wires you encounter are electrical, and treat all downed or hanging power lines as if they are energized. Warn others to stay away and contact the electric utility.
• Generators pose electrical risks, especially when operated in wet conditions. Use a generator only when necessary when the weather creates wet or moist conditions. Protect the generator by operating it under an open, canopy-like structure on a dry surface where water cannot form puddles or drain under it. Always ensure that your hands are dry before touching the generator. • When you refuel the generator, make sure the engine is cool to prevent a fire, should the tank overflow. • There should be nothing plugged into the generator when you turn it on. This prevents a surge from damaging your generator and appliances. Before shutting down a generator, turn off and unplug all appliances and equipment being powered by the generator. • Be sure to keep children and pets away from the generator, which could burn them.
All-important transfer switch A permanently installed standby generator for a home or business requires a transfer switch to isolate it from the power grid. The main breaker on an electric panel does not qualify as a transfer switch under the National Electrical Code. Transfer switches are critical for two reasons: • They prevent the backflow of current across distribution lines that could electrocute lineworkers trying to restore power during an outage. • They protect the generator from damage when electric service has been restored. An automatic transfer switch senses power interruptions. The switch delays activation for 10 to 20 seconds to determine whether power will resume. This prevents the generator from cycling on and off every time a power “blip” occurs. After power is restored, the transfer switch waits for sustained current flow before shutting off the generator. Permanent installation of a standby generator should be done by a licensed electrician and must comply with the National Electrical Code as well as state and local codes. Notify your local public power district or electric co-op if you are using a generator. During an outage, if a line crew sees your lights are on, they might assume you have power and proceed to work elsewhere. Power requirements Before buying a generator, check the power requirements of each device you want to run. Wattages are marked on the back or bottom of appliances, or on nameplates. Note that some larger appliances, such as refrigerators, require three to four times more power to start than they use during normal operation. Source: Ruralite Services
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Practice holiday electrical safety this season he Electrical Safety Foundation International is reminding those at home and in the workplace to keep electrical safety in mind when decorating for the holiday season: • Before decorating, read and follow the manufacturers’ instructions concerning installation and maintenance of all decorative electrical products. • Use lights and other electrical decorations certified by a recognized independent testing laboratory such as CSA, UL, or ETL. • Outdoors, use lights and other electrical decorations certified for outdoor use. • Carefully inspect each decoration before plugging into an outlet. Cracked, frayed, loose or bare wires, as well as loose connections may cause electrical shock or start a fire. Replace damaged items. • Always unplug electrical decorations before replacing light bulbs or fuses. • Do not mount or support light strings that might damage the cord's insulation.
• Never nail or staple light strings or extension cords. • Do not connect more than three light string sets together. • Light strings with screw-in bulbs should have no more than 50 bulbs connected together. • Do not overload extension cords – they can overheat and start a fire. Keep all outdoor extension cords and light strings clear of snow and standing water. • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become
charged with electricity from faulty lights. • Do not allow children or pets to play with electrical decorations. Even small light decorations can produce a fatal shock if they are misused. • Turn off all electrical decorations before leaving home or going to bed. • Plug outdoor electric lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Portable GFCIs can be purchased wherever electrical supplies are sold.
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CUT YOUR UTILITY BILLS
The Importance of Insulation by James Dulley
My house is chilly and I know it Q :needs more insulation. Will adding more make me feel warmer as well as cut my utility bills? What's the best type of insulation to use for this and a new room addition? It is generally understood that A :adding insulation to the walls or ceiling of a house will reduce monthly utility bills. The actual amount of savings for each home depend upon several factorsâ€”the current level of insulation, your climate, efficiency of your heating/cooling system, and your utility rates. The current level of insulation is perhaps the most important factor in deciding whether or not to add more and how much. For example, doubling the amount of insulation in your attic will typically cut the heat loss through the room ceiling by about half. Your contractor can help you determine the payback from the savings as compared to the installation costs. If you double that amount again and super-insulate the attic floor, it will cut the original heat by only another 25 percent (half of half). This diminishing return is important to keep in mind when determining the amount of insulation to add. Various types of insulation can be used to reduce conductive heat loss and/or radiant heat loss. Standard fiberglass batts, blown-in fiberglass, cellulose, rock wool, foam, all are used to block conductive heat loss. This is the kind of heat transfer that travels through materials, such as drywall, studs, bricks, etc. Radiant heat transfer is the way the sun heats the Earth or how you feel heat standing next to a ranging fireplace even though the hot air is going up the chimney. Your house also
loses heat to the cold outdoor air and nighttime sky by this method. Radiant barrier types of insulation, often an aluminum foil film, are effective for blocking this heat loss. Some standard insulation batts include a foil facing to reduce both types of heat loss.
Fiberglass insulation is encapsulated in a poly vapor barrier cover to make it easy to install and minimize itching while working with it. Photograph provided by Owens Corning You must have been doing your research on insulation because it will also make you feel more comfortable. If you are in a room at 70 degrees with little wall insulation, you may still feel chilly. This is because the exterior walls are cold and your body is losing its warmth by radiant heat transfer to the walls. During the summer, a hot wall makes you feel uncomfortably warm. There really is not one â€œbestâ€? insulation to use in all locations in your house. For example, some effective attic insulation will settle if it is used in vertical walls. Even if there is just a slight amount of settling, the relatively small uninsulated void in a wall will lose a lot of energy. What is important when selecting
insulation is its installed R-value, not just its thickness. Some types of insulation have twice the R-value per inch thickness as others. Also, blown-in insulation can be fluffed up when installed, not necessarily intentionally, resulting in less true R-value. Make sure your insulation contract specifies the final insulation value, not just the thickness. Since you are planning to insulate your house to save money and conserve energy, you might consider an environmentally friendly insulation made of recycled materials. One good insulation is made from scrap blue jean material production. It looks similar to chopped up blue jeans in batt form. It is treated for fire safety and has an insulating R-value similar to fiberglass batts. Fiberglass is made basically from sand so there plenty supply. Some manufacturers use 25 percent recycled glass, so check the packaging if you prefer recycled products. Rock wool insulation is made primarily from waste products. It and fiberglass have an insulation value of about R-3 per inch thickness. If the amount of space available for the insulation is limited, as in a masonry wall, injected foam is a good option. Some polyurethane foams have an R-value twice that of fiberglass, so only half the thickness is needed. The closed cell foam also creates its own vapor barrier and stops air leaks. Look for foam which uses no ozonelayer-damaging foaming agents. Another option to minimize voids is called a blown-in-blanket method which will work well for your room addition. First a special film is stapled up over the wall studs. Next, loose-fill insulation is blown into the wall cavity to eliminate all voids. Then it is smoothed out through the film and the drywall is nailed over it. Send inquiries to James Dulley, Rural Electric Nebraskan, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com.
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EPA Issues New Rules on Power Plants: NREA Needs Your Help he Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a proposed rule capping carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new coal and natural gas based power plants. This rule would effectively outlaw coal as a fuel source for new generation, abandoning the Administration’s “all of the above” energy policy and replacing it with an “all but one” energy approach. We’ve seen this all-but-one game before in our country’s recent history. Concerned about natural gas supplies, in 1978 Congress passed legislation prohibiting the burning of natural gas to generate electricity. As a result, electric generators invested heavily in coal-based generating plants which are still operational today. Nebraska Rural Electric Association supports using a diverse fuel mix including renewables, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, and coal to generate electricity and keep costs affordable. The proposed rule fails to acknowledge the importance of a reliable energy supply, would be prohibitively expensive, and is not in the best interest of our country. We are urging the EPA to work with public power districts and electric cooperatives to find a common sense solution that balances energy needs and environmental concerns. We need your help. Visit the Action.coop website and send a strong message from Nebraska to the EPA. Every voice counts!
Butterfinger Dessert 1 cup soda crackers 2 cups graham crackers 1 cup oleo, melted 2 cups milk 2 packages (regular size) Instant
Vanilla Pudding 1 quart softened vanilla ice cream 1 small carton Cool Whip 4 large Butterfinger candy bars, crushed
Crush crackers. Add melted oleo and mix. Place 1/2 of crumbs in bottom of 9 x 13 inch pan. Mix milk and pudding until thickened. Combine ice cream and pudding mixture. Pour over crumb crust. Spread Cool Whip on top of mixture. Add remaining graham cracker crumbs. Sprinkle crushed Butterfinger candy bars on top of crumbs. Optional: Add a few maraschino cherries for decorations. Keeps well for months. Freeze and serve.
Betty Anderson, Hay Springs, Nebraska
Cabbage and Beef Dinner
Holiday Ham Crescents 1/2 pound brown-sugar fullycooked ham, shaved 1 8 oz-can crescent dinner rolls, refrigerated 4 slices mozzarella cheese, OR Swiss, cut diagonally 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, OR salad dressing 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard Separate package of crescent rolls into triangles; place on waxed paper. Place cheese triangle over each dough triangle. Divide ham among the 8 dough/cheese triangles. Beginning at widest end, roll up to form a crescent. Place on baking sheet that has been coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375 degrees F for 13 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in small bowl, stir together mayonnaise and mustard; serve with Ham Crescents. Makes 8 servings.
Recipe provided by the National Pork Board
1 lb lean ground beef 1/4 cup chopped onion 2 (14 1/2 oz cans tomatoes or 1 quart home canned tomatoes) 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 1 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups chopped cabbage 1 cup elbow macaroni, uncooked 2 Tablespoon minced parsley 1 teaspoon basil 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (optional)
Saute onion and beef in a large skillet until browned. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire. Bring to a boil. Add cabbage, parsley, macaroni and basil. Return to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20-25 minutes or until macaroni is done. Sprinkle with cheese to serve. Makes 4-6 servings.
Arlene Obermiller, Dannebrog, Nebraska
Sour Cream Coffee Cake 1 stick butter 1 cup sugar 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda 1 cup sour cream 1/2 cup chopped walnuts 1/4 cup sugar 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
Cream butter & sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla. Blend flour, soda, baking powder into creamed mixture alternating with sour cream. Mix the walnuts, 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon and chocolate chips together. Pour half the batter into a greased Bundt pan. Sprinkle cinnamon mixture over the batter, then pour in the other half of the batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Alison Otte, Ulysses, Nebraska
Rural Electric Nebraskan
DEC - 1: CF, NS, young 70, lady from north central Nebraska looking for a kind fellow for friendship, maybe more. Enjoy laughter, home life, cards, family, rides, good movies, dining out, cooking, baking, etc. You be my king, I’ll be your queen. Need to be honest, no games, also ready to move on with life. Recent photo please. DEC - 2: Mid 80s, WM, excellent health, love to garden, woodworking, and travel. Seeking female companion, 65-70, with similar interests.
To appear in print The Rural Electric Nebraskan Adult Pen Pal Service is exclusively for member-readers ages 18 and over. To be considered for use, submissions must: (1) Identify rural electric system providing magazine; (2) Include $6 to cover mail forwarding costs; (3) Be 25 words or fewer; (4) Include full name and mailing address (will not be used in magazine); and (5) Be first person, submitted directly by person to receive responses. Acceptance, editing and issue scheduling is at editor’s discretion. Address all submissions to Rural Electric Nebraskan Adult Pen Pal Service, P.O. Box 82048, Lincoln, NE 68501. All responses received by the Adult Pen Pal Service are routed directly, postage paid, to the response number assigned to each submission.
DEC - 3: SWDF, 28, NS, social drinker, mother of 1. Enjoy working as a nurse, outdoors and Nebraska football. Looking for SWM, 25-35, with similar interests and small town values. Send info, picture appreciated.
Husker football, bowling, and fishing. I have a house dog. I am not looking for a serious relationship now; just someone to do things with and have a good time. DEC - 5: DWM, 60, 5’5”, 175 lbs. from northeast Nebraska who is a social drinker and enjoys the outdoors, dining out, NE football, cards, C/W and soft rock music, spending time with family and friends. I have a good sense of humor, seeking a warm fun-loving gal to do things together, who’s honest, and has similar interests. Photo & phone number appreciated. DEC - 6: DWM, NS, 61 looking for a nice petite lady to be in my life. I like to go fishing, short trips, eat out and movies at home. I know how to treat a lady. Hope to hear from you soon.
DEC - 4: WWidF, NS, social drinker, 60, live in small town in northern Nebraska looking for active late 50 or 60 year old man to go places with and like to dance. I like country music,
To write To respond to one of the adult pen pal requests, write letter, place in envelope, seal and affix first class postage. Address to full, correct response #, c/o Rural Electric Nebraskan Adult Pen Pal Service, P.O. Box 82048, Lincoln, NE 68501. Your letter will be forwarded unopened. Do not send money or additional postage; forwarding is prepaid. Enclose your full mailing address for return correspondence. Once again . . . it is very important that all responses carry the full response number—both month and number—to be properly forwarded. Abbreviation Code C — Christian; C/W — Country-western; D — Divorced; F — Female; M — Male; NS — Non-Smoker; ND — Non-Drinker; R&R — Rock and roll; S — Single; W — White; Wid — Widowed
MARKETPLACE/CLASSIFIEDS ll Ca ree F l l To
O es A ther vail a
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Rural Electric Nebraskan