Everything listed under: Electricity

  • How Your Missouri Electric Cooperatives Use Base Load and Other Resources to Power Your Home

    Have you ever wondered how your Missouri Electric Cooperative figures out how much power your family, your business — and the whole Cooperative — needs each day, month, or year, to live and work comfortably? And even more importantly, have you ever wondered how your Cooperative actually supplies that power to you when your needs aren’t exactly the same from one day to the next?

    Base Load Power
    The minimum amount of power you and your community need in any given 24-hour cycle is called your base load, or your base load requirement.

    Your base load requirement is met largely using the energy that’s generated at coal-burning power plants. These plants are large, reliable, and inexpensive to operate, which means that your Cooperative can provide you with the minimum power you need on a day-to-day basis reliably and affordably.

    Base load power plants don’t fluctuate their production in response to your usage, though, so if the weather gets exceptionally hot or cold (and you use more power), they might not be able to meet your needs. Base load plants aren’t designed to be adaptable — they’re designed to be large and reliable; the backbone of Missouri’s rural power supply.

    Adaptable, Intermediate Power Plants
    So what happens when your needs exceed the power generated by base load plants? Maybe the temperatures are higher, and you’re running your air conditioner more often. Or maybe you use more power before school each morning than you do at other times of day. What does your Cooperative do then?

    Your Missouri Electric Cooperative still relies on base load plants for some of your power generation, but when you need more than those base load plants can provide, your Cooperative also pulls from an additional type of power plant: the natural gas-powered intermediate plant.

    Intermediate plants are smaller than base load plants are, and they’re better able to respond to your usage fluctuation, too. They can be turned on and off to meet your needs, making them an important part of your Cooperative’s power mix. The downside of intermediate plants, though, is that they’re more expensive to operate than base load plants are.

    What Happens When Peak Load Spikes? 
    When your peak load spikes exceptionally high, like it does on the very hottest summer days and the very coldest winter ones, Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives use a third kind of power plant to generate electricity: Simple-cycle gas plants.

    Simple-cycle plants are incredibly agile, and they can be started up (or turned back off) very quickly to help meet your peak needs. They’re also the most expensive of the three primary kinds of power plants we use in rural Missouri.

    Your Cooperative uses a mix of base load resources, intermediate natural gas plants, and simple-cycle plants to provide you with reliable power during base and peak usage, both: Base requirements are met inexpensively using base load plants, while peak load can be met at higher rates using adaptable intermediate and simple-cycle plants.

    Learn More
    To learn more about how your Missouri Electric Cooperatives are able to provide safe, efficient energy to you in rural Missouri by following us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

  • The Rural Electric Dictionary

    Your Missouri Electric Cooperatives advocate every day for the state and national policies that will help us to provide you, our Member-Owners, with safe, reliable, and affordable electric power. What follows is a list of key terms and phrases that you might hear us use when we’re talking about energy legislation.

    We hope this index of terms will help you to understand some of the nuances of energy policy, and that it will make you more likely to feel comfortable advocacy for your own community’s electricity needs. 

    Base Load Resources: According to Wikipedia, “Base load power sources are power stations which can consistently generate the electrical power needed to satisfy minimum demand (source).” Nuclear power and coal power are examples of base load resources.

    Coal Power: Coal generates electricity when it is burned. Coal power is reliable, plentiful, and inexpensive, but environmental and health concerns have put the use of coal power in steady decline.

    Distributed Energy: “Distributed energy resources (DER) are smaller power sources that can be aggregated to provide power necessary to meet regular demand (source).”

    Distribution Expenses: The costs your Cooperative incurs as part of providing you, our Member-Owners, with reliable, affordable power. Examples of distribution expenses include administration, operations, maintenance, depreciation, interest, and margins.

    Demand Costs: Your Cooperative’s overhead costs of owning and maintaining energy transmission and generation facilities.

    Grid: The interconnected network that Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives use to deliver electric power to you, our Member-Owners. The grid includes power generation stations, transmission lines, demand centers, and distribution lines (source).

    Hydropower: Clean, renewable electricity that’s produced by moving water.

    Intermittent Renewable Energy: A renewable energy source, like solar power, that isn’t always available. Solar power is only able to be generated, for example, when the sun is shining.

    Kilowatt Hour: A measure of electrical energy equivalent to a power consumption of 1,000 watts for 1 hour.

    Kilowatt Hour Charge: The Kilowatt Hour Charge on your power bill is made up of three parts — energy (kilowatt hour), demand (kilowatt), and distribution system expenses. The majority of revenue needed to cover your Cooperative’s distribution costs comes from you bill’s kilowatt hour charge.

    Member Charge: The Member Charge is a fixed fee on your monthly electric bill that helps your Cooperative recover a small amount of the fixed distribution costs of serving you, including expenses like administration, operations, and maintenance.

    Net Metering: Net metering is a process that enables Missouri’s Electric Cooperative Member-Owners with a solar or wind system on their home or business to export power that is in excess of their immediate on-site needs. If a Member-Owner generates more power than he or she purchases from your Cooperative during the monthly billing period, your Cooperative issues the Member-Owner a credit.

    Nuclear Power: Nuclear power is a base load power resource that provides continuous (not intermittent) electricity that is generated at nuclear power plants.

    Peak Load: The times of day when you, our Member-Owners use the most electricity. Across Missouri, our Member-Owners are “on peak” during the hottest and coldest summer and winter months, and at the hours of the day when your family is home from school or work.

    Renewable Energy: Renewable energy is energy that comes from a source that isn’t depleted when the energy is used. Examples of renewable energy include hydro, solar and wind.

    Solar Array: When solar panels are wired together, they’re called a solar array. Solar arrays produce intermittent, clean, renewable energy.

    Take Control & Save: An initiative of your Missouri Electric Cooperatives that helps you, our Member-Owners to save power (and money) at home and at work. Learn more here.

    Time of Use (TOU) Rates: TOU rates are variable rates. Using TOU rates, you’re charged for the power that you use at the time of the day (on peak or off peak) that you use it.

    Wind Energy: Clean, renewable electricity that’s produced by wind turbines, better known as windmills.

    Have questions about words or phrases that you don’t see on our list? Leave a comment or drop us a note on Facebook, and we can add new definitions to this list!

    Learn more about Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives, and how we work to provide safe, efficient energy to rural Missouri by following us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

     

  • Digital Devices Impact Energy Use

    By Tom Tate

    Ah, the Digital Age. We have gadgets galore, the ability to manage our homes in new and innovative ways, brilliant images and captivating sounds of modern entertainment options and of course, the internet. Clearly, digital devices reign supreme. Yet these cool new capabilities come with a couple of pitfalls; vampire loads and the issue of “technology reincarnation.”


    Over the course of the Digital Age, electricity use has continued to increase. Families have multiple televisions. Computer prices have plummeted, meaning many homes now have multiple computers. Everyone in the family needs a cell phone. Gaming consoles and set top cable/satellite boxes satisfy our desire for entertainment.

    Major appliances aside, most digital devices do not use 120-volt power, which is the standard voltage of a home outlet. They actually use a lot less. So, trying to plug your brand new smartphone directly into an outlet is going to lead to a fried device and lots of tears from someone. This is why low-voltage devices come with a power adapter. These “wall warts” as some term them, take the 120-volt electricity supplied by your Missouri Rural Electric Cooperative and convert it to say, five volts. 

    Unfortunately, most folks leave their adapters plugged in to make recharging easier. The problem with this approach is that the seemingly innocuous wall wart uses power even when it isn’t charging a device.

    This invisible energy consumption is often called “vampire load.” Studies show that 5 to 10 percent  of the average home’s energy use is from vampire loads. The only way to stop this is to unplug the power adapter when it is not in use or employ smart power strips. These look like the typical power strip but with a twist––only one socket gets power all the time. When the device or appliance connected to it turns on and starts using power, the remaining sockets receive power too. This is perfect for entertainment systems, computer set ups and a variety of other situations.

    Technological advances have steadily increased energy efficiency and reduced purchase prices. On its face, this seems like a good thing. Unfortunately, when replacing a product at the end of its life, the tendency is to go bigger, or continue to use the old tech. This is the second issue I noted––technology reincarnation.

    For example, flat screen television prices have plummeted as technology has evolved––and so has the amount of electricity they use. Consumers wander into the big box store and are dazzled by walls of giant, brilliant televisions. What they used to pay for the paltry 32” model now might net them a 50” giant. And who doesn’t want to see their favorite show or sports event in near life size? But if you spring for the bigger TV, you won’t benefit from the increased energy efficiency of the newer technology. The bigger model uses as much juice as the older, smaller TV, which likely ends up in another room (reincarnated in another setting) still using power.

    Or refrigerators. These are the showpieces of the evolution of smart appliances. Many new models include touchscreens and cameras; they communicate over the internet and probably even keep food cold and make ice. Yet what often happens is the old refrigerator ends up in the basement or garage, reincarnated as a dedicated beverage unit or overflow.

    I’ll offer a couple words of advice to help you avoid––or at least reduce––the effects of vampire loads and technology reincarnation. Invest in smart power strips or make a point to use outlets where you can conveniently unplug power adapters when not in use. Don’t oversize your replacement appliances and entertainment gear unless family needs dictate the larger capacities. And recycle the replaced appliances and equipment to stem technology reincarnation. You will enjoy the Digital Age for a lot less.

    Tom Tate writes on cooperative issues for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.

  • What Do I Replace My 60 Watt Light Bulb With?

    If you’ve been shopping for light bulbs recently, you’ve probably noticed a shift in store displays and retailers’ selections. Traditional incandescent light bulbs used to line the shelves, but now there’s a wide range of energy efficient LED and CFL light bulbs for sale.

    Learn More: What’s the Difference Between LED and CFL?

    Learning a whole new way to shop for lights can be confusing and frustrating, so how do you know what kind of energy efficient light bulbs to buy when it’s time to replace your traditional incandescent ones? And how can you be sure you’re getting a good value? Keep reading to find out.

    Replacing Your Incandescent Light Bulbs

    Let’s take one your home’s overhead light fixtures for example: if you’ve been using a 60 Watt bulb, then you might not be sure what you’re shopping for now that bulbs are sold by Lumens, not Watts.

    The short answer is that you should replace your 60 Watt incandescent bulb with at an energy efficient bulb that puts out at least 800 Lumens of light. Similarly, a 40 Watt bulb should be replaced by 450 Lumens, a 75 Watt bulb by 1,100 Lumens, and a 100 Watt bulb by 1,600 Lumens.


    Image Credit: Take Control & Save

    Lumens and Watts

    It’s important to realize that Watts and Lumens aren’t just two different ways to measure the same thing. In fact, Watts measure how much energy it takes to power a light bulb, and Lumens measure how much light the bulb emits.

    “In the past we bought light bulbs based on how much energy, or watts, they use,” says Energy.gov. “Wouldn't it make more sense to buy lights based on how much light they provide?”

    In other words, wouldn’t it make more sense to buy a racehorse based on how he races, instead of paying for the how much hay he eats? 

    Do Energy Efficient Light Bulbs Pay Off?

    Now that you know that there’s a fundamental difference between Watts and Lumens, and now that you know that you should replace your 60 Watt bulb with an 800 Lumen one, you’re almost ready to go shopping. Almost.

    Before you head to the store, though, we should warn you that energy efficient CFLs and LEDs are more expensive than your old bulbs were: incandescent bulbs only cost about $1 each while energy efficient ones can cost 5-10 times that much. LEDs and CFLs last longer and burn cleaner than traditional bulbs do, though, which saves your family a lot of money in the long run.

    CFLs and LEDs Last Longer and Burn Cleaner
    CFLs last about ten times as long as incandescent bulbs did, and LEDs last about twenty-five times as long. That means that you’ll buy and change less light bulbs than you used to.

    CFLs and LEDs are also more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs were, so your electricity bill will be lower once you’ve switched to energy efficient bulbs. Some estimates say that you could save as much as $50 annually by upgrading just 15 of your home or business’s light bulbs to CFLs or LEDs (source).

    Take Control & Save says that an “an ENERGY STAR® qualified LED light bulb can last 25,000 hours. That means based on normal use, a bulb installed in a newborn’s nursery won’t have to be changed until he or she graduates from college (source)!”

    How Much Can You Save: Use the Take Control & Save Lighting Calculator to Find Out!

    Replacing your traditional incandescent light bulbs — like that 60 Watt bulb in your overhead light — with newer, energy efficient ones, doesn’t have to be confusing or frustrating. Your Missouri Electric Cooperatives are here to help.

    Come back to the blog often or contact your local Cooperative to learn more about making the switch to energy efficient bulbs, and to learn more about how energy efficiency can save money on your family or business’s utility bill.

    Learn more about Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives, and how we work to provide safe, efficient energy to rural Missouri by following us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

  • Why Should I Have a Home Energy Audit?

    “I know I could save energy,” you might be thinking, “but I don’t think an energy auditor can tell me anything I can’t figure out for myself.”

    You might be wrong. According to Energy.gov, if you make a professional energy auditor’s recommendations, you can save as much as 30% on your home electricity bills. The site explains that a professional energy auditors has tools and knowledge that the average homeowner doesn’t have. Your home energy auditor will check for leaks, run a blower door test and even use infrared cameras (source).


    Special Training & Tools

    Your auditor will examine every room in your home to check for leaks and look for ways you can improve your home energy efficiency. They should even look over past electric bills with you to find areas where your family can save money.

    Blower door tests, which use powerful door-mounted fans to lower the air pressure inside your home, do more than identify leaks; they can tell the auditor how airtight, overall, your home is. The more leakage there is in your home, the less efficient it is and the more expensive your energy bills will be.

    Thermographic scanning, which uses infrared cameras, can be done from the inside or the outside of your home. The scans will show your auditor where temperature variations exist in your home. Your auditor will use the results of the scan to determine what areas of your home need more insulation than they currently have.

    Your Home Energy Audit is 100% Tax Deductible

    If the cost of a home energy audit is intimidating to you, keep in mind that most home energy audits are 100% tax deductible in Missouri, as long as you hire a certified auditor.

    Search for a certified home energy auditor here or contact your local Cooperative.

    The Missouri Department of Economic Development explains that “for a home energy audit to be deductible on Missouri state income tax, the auditor must be certified by the Division of Energy (DE) as required under SB1181 (RSMO 640.153) (source).”

    Missouri’s home energy audit deduction is available through December 21, 2020. Almost every Electric Cooperative in Missouri offers a home energy audit program, so be sure to contact your local Cooperative today to find out what audits they offer, how much they cost, and what Cooperative rebates apply.

    Your Missouri Electric Cooperatives are here to provide you with safe, efficient, and affordable power every day, all year long. Learn more about your Cooperatives by following us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

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