Newsroom

  • The EPA’s Clean Power Plan

    In June 2014, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implemented the United States Clean Power Plan (CPP) as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. If successful, the CPP will reduce carbon emissions in the United States 32% below 2005 levels by the year 2030.

    According to the EPA, “the Clean Power Plan is a historic and important step in reducing carbon pollution from power plants that takes real action on climate change (source).”

    The CPP’s historic relevance isn’t entirely positive, though. It’s the first-ever federal regulation on carbon emission from power plants, and thanks to federal overreach, it might also be the country’s most debated environmental ruling ever.

    Tracy Lester, Professor of Environmental Law and Emerging Technology at University of Houston, Texas, said in a Forbes.com blog post that the CPP rules, “are already probably the most aggressively contested environmental rules in U.S. history (source).”

    Missouri is among the dozens of states, coal companies, electric companies, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that have filed or joined existing lawsuits against the EPA. The CPP would cost Missouri consumers an estimated 6 billion dollars — or one-quarter of the state’s annual budget — to implement. That’s not a cost the Missouri Electric Cooperative Member-Owners can afford to pay.

    According to Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster:

    “Assuming the EPA’s final compliance standard is even possible, it’s clearly not affordable. . .Not affordable for senior citizens in small towns across Missouri, where Social Security is often the primary source of income. . . Not affordable for Missouri’s economy, whose major competitive advantage in the fight for jobs is our significantly lower energy costs relative to other states (source).”

    On February 9, 2016, the Supreme Court stayed implementation of the Clean Power Plan pending judicial review. That’s a step in the right direction for Missouri, but your Missouri Electric Cooperatives know that it’s not enough. We will continue to advocate at the state and federal level for policies that enable us to provide you, our Member-Owners with the reliable, affordable power that you’ve come to expect.

    You can 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.

  • What is a GFCI?

    Even if you don’t recognize the name GFCI, you’ve probably seen GFCI outlets in — among other places — hotel bathrooms. GFCIs are the electrical outlets that have the little red “reset” button on them, and they’re most commonly found in bathrooms, kitchens, and other rooms with a water source. If you’ve ever wondered what these “reset” outlets are or why they’re important, keep reading.

    What Does GFCI Stand For?

    GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. A GFCI is a special kind of electrical outlet that can help prevent electric shock in a way a “normal” outlet can’t. According to the Electrical Fire Safety International website, “GFCIs have saved thousands of lives over the last three decades.”

    To better understand how a GFCI works, let’s break it down a bit.

    What is a Ground Fault?

    Think back to middle school science classes and you’ll remember that electricity always wants to find its way back to the Earth (the ground) as quickly and efficiently as it can.

    Your home is wired so that electricity can find its way back to the ground along an intended, safely wired circuit. A ground fault occurs when, for whatever reason (accidental or intentional), that circuit is broken and the electricity leaves its intended path.

    When electricity leaves its intended path, it will use anything — water, metal, or a human body — to get itself to the ground as quickly and efficiently as it can. This can result in electric shock or even electrocution.

    How a GFCI Works

    A GFCI recognizes when electricity has left its intended path (circuit). In a fraction of a second, the GFCI will trip the power to that outlet, preventing an electrical current from flowing through an unintended path (like a human body) to reach the ground. In other words, a properly-installed GFCI can save a life.

    Where Should GFCIs Be Used?

    The National Electric Code published the first GFCI regulations in 1971. Since that time, those regulations have expanded considerably to include GFCI regulations for residential, commercial, and other property types.

    Generally speaking, GFCIs should be used in any location on your property where there’s a water source. Outlets in your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room should all be GFCI protected. Outdoor outlets (even those under the eve of your home) and any outlet where a power tool is likely to be plugged in should also be protected by a GFCI.

    Your Missouri Electric Cooperatives encourages you to consider hiring a licensed, bonded, and insured electrician if you’d like to install GFCI outlets in your home according to the National Electric Code.

    For more electrical safety recommendations from you Missouri Electric Cooperatives, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

  • Missouri Invention Could Prevent Dock Shock

    The Electric Shock Drowning (ESD) deaths of three swimmers at Lake of the Ozarks over Fourth of July weekend in 2012 made national news. The tragedies also inspired Missouri inventors to put products on the market that help alert swimmers to the presence of electricity in the water around Missouri’s docks.

    The Dock Lifeguard system is one of those inventions. It’s an audio-visual alarm that lets dock owners and swimmers know if electricity is present in an approximate forty-foot radius of the dock where the device is installed.

    The system can help alert dock owners and swimmers if unsafe conditions — like faulty wiring or flood damage — are present, but it isn’t designed to replace dock inspections or other safety precautions.

    What is Electric Shock Drowning (ESD)?

    Electric Shock Drowning (ESD) occurs when even a low level of AC current goes through a person’s body while he or she is in the water. Even a tiny amount of electricity can paralyze a victim, causing him or her to drown.

    According to Ohio-based news station WHIO, “it only takes a small amount of leaking AC to incapacitate or electrocute a person. As small as 15 milliamps can cause paralysis, 100 milliamps — or a third of the amount of electricity needed to light a 40-watt light bulb — can kill a person in seconds (source).”

    Water conducts electricity, so Missouri’s waterways can take on any electrical charge that they are exposed to. The water near docks is especially dangerous because electricity enters the water through boats and docks, both.

    How Does Electricity Enter Missouri’s Waters?

    Boats can leak electricity into the water when they’re out in the lake, and also when they’re docked and charging. When several boats are in the same area, a dangerous electrical field can occur in the water that makes the water incredibly unsafe for swimmers.

    Docks can pass electricity into the water, too. Faulty and damaged electrical equipment including exposed wiring, improper wiring, and absent or malfunctioning ground fault protectors are just a few ways that electricity can leak from a dock, making the surrounding waters dangerous for swimming.

    What Can Missourians Do to Prevent Electric Shock Drowning?

    There are several things that Missouri boaters and dock owners can do to keep Missouri’s waters safer for swimmers.

    Your Missouri Electric Cooperatives strongly encourage you to hire a qualified, bonded, and insured electrician to do any and all wiring and electrical work along your shoreline and on your dock. Always ensure that your dock has a ground fault protector, and discourage swimming on your dock or anywhere on the water where several boats are present at the same time.

    We suggest having your dock inspected annually by your fire protection department, and that you visually inspect your property on at least a monthly basis. Anytime there’s been bad weather, choppy waters, or flooding, you should re-check your dock’s wiring, and if you have any doubts at all about your dock’s electrical safety, you should shut down power and contact a professional electrician.

    If you own a boat, you should test it, too. According to Boatus.com, $150 will pay for the tools you need to test your boat for electricity leakage:

    “Figuring out if your boat has a problem requires two specialized tools — a basic circuit tester and a clamp meter — that together cost about $150. If you keep your boat in a freshwater marina, the marina owner should have both and be using them to check the boats on their docks (source).”

    Extra Peace Mind for Missourians

    Even if you’ve followed all of these precautions, it’s still possible for electricity to enter the water near your dock from leakages on neighboring docks and boats. Dock Lifeguard and similar products can give you extra peace of mind, alerting you to the presence of electricity in the water around your Missouri dock.

    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. You can learn more about Dock Lifeguard here.

  • Energy Efficient Appliances Can Earn Your Family Tax Credits

    If you’re shopping for new appliances, roofing, doors, windows, or insulation for your home, ENERGY STAR products can help you save money twice-over: first, by using less energy, and second, by qualifying you for federal tax credits.

    Products That Use Less Energy

    ENERGY STAR products are independently certified to save energy. They use up to 30% less energy than comparable products, which means your family could cut your electricity bill simply by upgrading to an ENERGY STAR product when you’re shopping for replacement appliances or building a new home.

    Get Federal Tax Credits

    In addition to the money you can save at home by using less energy, there are several federal tax credits available to families who purchased ENERGY STAR products in 2015 or who purchase them before December 31, 2016.

    According to energystar.gov:

    “The Consolidated Appropriations Act, signed in December 2015, extended the expiration date of tax credits for some energy efficiency measures that previously expired at the end of 2014. The eligible incentives cover residential energy efficiency improvements, builder incentives for energy efficient new homes, and energy efficient new and retrofitted commercial buildings for measures installed by December 31, 2015 (source).” 

    Three Federal Tax Credits for ENERGY STAR Products

    There are three federal tax credits available that are valued at up to 30% of the cost of residential ENERGY STAR products like solar energy systems and wind turbines. Even everyday home products like windows and doors can earn you as much as 10% of the product’s value.

    Credit #1: 10% of Cost for Residential Updates

    The first tax credit is for 10% of the cost (up to $500) of products, or a value ranging from $50-$300, and it must be applied to an existing residential property (no new construction) that is your primary residence.

    Qualifying products include biomass stoves, air source heat pumps, central air conditioning systems, hot water boilers, furnaces and fans, insulation, roofs, water heaters, and windows, doors, and skylights.

    Credit #2: 30% of Cost for Existing Homes and new Construction

    The second tax credit is for 30% of the cost of the product, with no upper price limit. Qualifying products include geothermal heat pumps, small residential wind turbines, and solar energy systems.

    All of the other tax credits in this post expire December 31, 2016 except for the 30% tax credits for solar energy systems, which are available through December 31st, 2019. Solar energy system credit drops by 4% in 2020 and again in 2021, expiring in 2021.

    Credit #3: 30% of Cost for Existing Homes and New Construction

    Finally, a 30% federal tax credit is available for residential or microturbine fuel cells for existing homes and new residential construction, as long as the home is your principle residence.

    To find out more about how your family can save energy and money by shifting to energy efficient products at home, visit energystar.gov.

    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.

  • Blackouts & Brownouts: What’s the Difference?

    Your Missouri Electric Cooperative does its best to provide you with reliable, affordable power all year long, but blackouts and brownouts that affect your service can still occur, especially when there’s high electricity demand or severe weather. Here’s what you need to know about blackouts and brownouts and what causes each.

    What is an Electrical Blackout?

    An electrical blackout is a complete loss of power, no matter how long it lasts or how far spread the outage is. A blackout can last a few minutes and cover just a small area or it can last for days and cover several states.

    Blackouts are exactly what they sound like: they’re a time all power goes dark because there’s no electricity at all. Blackouts can be dangerous, especially during winter, when many Missourians rely on electric power for home heat. 

    What is an Electric Brownout?

    An electrical brownout is a temporary reduction in voltage to a power supply system or a temporary reduction in the system’s total capacity. A brownout lasts minutes or hours, and it can cause lights to flicker or to go dim (or “brown”).

    Brownouts can happen when there’s an unintentional disruption to the grid, or they can be intentionally triggered by your Cooperative to reduce load and prevent a total power blackout (source). 

    What Causes Blackouts and Brownouts?

    Severe weather, a short circuit, an overloaded grid, power station faults, damaged power lines or other major disturbances cause electrical blackouts. Blackouts usually occur without warning, but your Cooperative may produce a brownout deliberately in an attempt to prevent a blackout.

    Electrical blackouts and brownouts are most likely to occur at times of the year when electrical demand is the highest — like on Missouri’s hottest summer days and during our coldest winter months — and during severe weather like tornadoes, lightning storms and ice storms.

    You can learn more about your Missouri Electric Cooperatives, and how we work to provide reliable electricity even during peak usage and severe weather, by following us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

RSS Feed
Top