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  • Holiday Electrical Safety

    'Tis the season for decking the halls and lighting up the tree!

    Part of the fun and festivity of the holiday season is decorating your home with a beautiful display of electric lights. However, electrical accidents typically increase during the holiday season. 

    Your Missouri Electric Cooperatives wants all our Member-Owners to have a fun and safe holiday. So, keep in mind these important precautions to keep your season merry and bright!

    • Never throw holiday lights or other decorations into trees near power lines.
    • Do not staple or nail through light strings or electrical cords, and do not attach cords to utility poles.
    • Be especially careful when working near power lines attached to your house. Keep ladders, equipment, and yourself at least ten feet from all power lines.
    • Match plugs with outlets. Do not force a three-pronged plug into a twopronged outlet or extension cord.
    • Make sure extension cords are in good condition, are UL-approved, and rated to carry the electrical load you connect to them.
    • Do not let children or pets play with light strings or electrical decorations.
    • Cords used outdoors should be plugged into outlets equipped with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs).
    • Avoid decorating outside on windy or wet days. Choose to decorate in favorable weather conditions and during daylight hours.
    • Always unplug lights before going to bed or leaving your home.

    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.

  • Can I Save Money By Installing a Wind Turbine?

    This question is being asked more and more as members are looking for ways to reduce energy costs. The answer is maybe, depending on many factors, and how fast you want to see a return on your investment.

    Start with energy efficiency

    Before installing a wind energy system, consider reducing your energy use by making your home more energy-efficient. Many energy efficiency measures have a faster return on investment, and the initial investment is less than that of a renewable energy system.

    Is wind energy right for me?

    If you have made your home as energy efficient as possible and now want to install a wind turbine, contact your local electric cooperative in the initial planning stages. Be sure to conduct thorough research on all aspects of the system before making the investment. Determine what your goal of installing a wind system is. Do you want to install wind energy because you believe it is the right thing to do? Or are you looking to save money? If you want to save money, look at the financial considerations first.

    Financial considerations 

    The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) indicates that in Missouri, it is difficult to buy and install a wind energy system at your home, farm or business that will “pay back” its cost (recover the investment cost through utility bill reductions during the life of the system). DNR states that in most of the United States, in order for small wind energy systems to be economically attractive:

    1. The site must have an average annual wind speed over 12 mph at 80 to 120 feet. Based on the map below, the majority of the state does not meet that requirement.

    2. Retail cost of residential electricity must be above the national average. Recent Department of Energy data reports the Missouri average at over two cents per kilowatt-hour less than the national average.

    Given the above information, the Missouri DNR states that use of small-scale wind turbines to generate electricity at homes, businesses or farms is often economically marginal, even on the most promising sites. [1]

    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

  • Natural Gas is Important in Mix of Resources

    Since your Missouri Electric Cooperatives built its first natural gas power plant in 1999, gas has become an increasingly important generation fuel for members.

    The diversity of your Cooperatives' generation, coupled with flexible, negotiated fuel supply contracts, helps the cooperative take advantage of lower gas prices to serve member load reliably. In fact, when not needed for member load, your Missouri Electric Cooperatives' gas plants can competitively generate for off-system sales. This brings in revenue to help keep member rates as low as possible.

    The flexibility of switching between gas and coal, depending on price, supply and demand, has enabled your Cooperatives to sell power to members at a lower average cost than nonmember distribution cooperatives pay in the surrounding eight states.

    The selling points of gas add up:

    • Plentiful domestic natural gas supply, lower prices and less volatility make gas attractive for generating electricity.
    • In addition to its competitive price, gas is the cleanest of the fossil fuels, producing the least carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter emissions.
    • Gas plants are less costly to build, operate, maintain and staff than coal plants, which face increasing costs due to new and uncertain environmental regulations.
    • Peaking gas units can start in nine to 15 minutes – much, much faster than coal units – to meet peak energy demand, the fluctuations that come with wind energy and federal reliability standards set by North American Electric Reliability Corp.
    • A combined-cycle gas plant can produce a kilowatt-hour of electricity more efficiently than a coal plant.

    Your Cooperatives gets in the gas business Natural gas traditionally was a fuel for heating homes, but in the mid-1990s that changed as wholesale generators began building lower-cost, gas-based power plants.

    Needing to diversify its power supply and add peaking generation, you Cooperatives saw these indicators and worked with a consultant to broker the construction of St. Francis Power Plant in 1999. In rapid order came Holden, Essex and Nodaway peaking plants; expansion of St. Francis; addition of Chouteau and Dell power plants; and expansion of Chouteau. Today, your Cooperatives' gas fleet is a highly valuable asset that gives the cooperative great flexibility for providing clean, affordable, reliable electricity for members.

    Your Cooperatives' gas supply comes from domestic sources connected to the country’s vast pipeline network, ranging from small, locally owned producers to some of the world’s largest energy companies.

    Contracts with pipelines also help stabilize delivered cost of gas. Vast new deposits of shale gas – estimated at more than 100 years – being drilled are expected to continue to stabilize gas prices.

    How does price affect costs?

    Like most commodities – think oil, wheat, corn, livestock – natural gas trades daily on exchanges such as the Intercontinental Exchange Inc. and New York Mercantile exchange. These trades, influenced by supply and demand, establish the price of gas for a given day or future timeframe. Your Cooperatives' fuels department procures and manages gas supply, seeking terms that reduce risk, provide reliable deliveries and minimize costs.

    Of course, your Cooperatives must consider current and future prices for all generating resources. The cooperative uses the lowest-cost resources and power plants available to supply members.

    Typically, hydropower and wind generation are used first, and that’s partly due to your Cooperatives' contracts that require taking all wind power produced. Then coal, gas or even purchased power, if its cost is lower than your Cooperatives can generate, are used.

    Your Cooperatives' diverse resource mix keeps its wholesale rates among the lowest in the country.

    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

  • Your Extensive Guide to Electrical Safety

    Learn how to keep you and your loved ones safe around electricity

    Each year, many people are injured or killed in and around their homes due to unsafe conditions that create fire and electrical shock hazards. Your Missouri Electric Cooperatives wanted to share information to create a safe indoor and outdoor environment for you and your family.

    Indoor electrical safety

    Electrical outlets – Check for loose–fitting plugs, and replace missing or broken wall plates so wiring and components are not exposed. If you have young children in your home, cover outlets with plastic safety caps.

    Plugs – Never force them into outlets. Don’t remove the grounding pin (third prong) to make a three-prong plug fit a two-prong outlet, and avoid overloading outlets.

    Cords – Make sure they are not frayed or cracked, placed under carpets or rugs or located in high traffic areas. Do not nail or staple them to walls, floors or other objects.

    Extension cords – Use them only on a temporary basis, not as permanent household wiring. Make sure cords have safety closures to protect young children from shock and mouth burn injuries.

    Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) – Make sure GFCI outlets are installed in your kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, workshop, basement and garage as well as on outdoor outlets. Test them monthly to ensure they’re working properly.

    Appliances/Electronics – If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse, trips a circuit breaker or has given you an electrical shock, immediately unplug it and have it repaired or replaced. Look for cracks or damage in wiring and connectors. Use surge protectors to protect expensive electronics.

    Electrical wiring - Wiring defects are a major cause of residential blazes. Check periodically for loose wall receptacles, loose wires or loose lighting fixtures. Immediately shut off, then professionally replace light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that spark and flicker.

    Service capacity – As you add more lighting, appliances and electronics, your home’s electrical service capacity may become overburdened. If fuses blow or trip frequently, have a licensed electrician determine the appropriate service requirements.

    Outdoor electrical safety

    Remember the following when working or playing outside to stay safe.

    • Teach children to stay away from electric utility equipment. Never enter a substation; don’t play on pad mounted transformers; fly kites safely away from overhead power lines.
    • If you see a downed or sagging power line, stay far away, warn others to stay away and call the utility company or 911.
    • If you are involved in a vehicle accident and your vehicle is touching power lines, stay in the car until an electric utility worker tells you it is safe.
    • Don’t use electric yard tools if it’s raining or the ground is wet.
    • Make sure your outdoor outlets have ground fault (GFCI) protection; use a portable GFCI if your outdoor outlets don’t have one.

    Watch out for overhead power lines...

    In many neighborhoods overhead electric lines are part of the landscape, and may be overlooked because we are so familiar with them. Failure to notice electric lines can be a deadly mistake. Some overhead power lines can carry thousands of volts of electricity. Keep yourself and equipment at least ten feet away from power lines and service connections.

    • Always look up before using long tools like pruning poles, ladders or antennas.
    • Never place tall items like a ladder or antenna near a power line or electric service connection to your home.
    • When trimming trees, be aware that broken or dislodged branches may have also become tangled in overhead electric lines, or pushed the wire closer to the ground.
    • Be especially aware when working near backyard swimming pools. Pool cleaning equipment, like long metal poles on leaf skimmers, will conduct current to the person holding it.
    • ...And be aware of underground lines

    When you plan your next project such as building or remodeling a deck, planting trees or shrubs or anything else that requires digging, protect yourself first and call before you dig! Underground utilities, such as buried gas, water and electric lines, can be a shovel thrust away from turning a project into a disaster.

    To find out where utility lines run on your property, dial 811 from anywhere in the country, or visit www.call811.com a few days prior to digging. Indicate where you’re planning to dig and what type of work you will be doing, and affected local utilities will be notified. In a few days, a locator will arrive to designate the approximate location of any underground lines, pipes and cables with flags or marking paint so you’ll know what’s below. Then the safe digging can begin.

    Never assume the location or depth of underground utility lines! The 811 service is free and can help you avoid serious injury.

    Learn More About Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives 
    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.

  • Saving Energy in the Laundry Room

    Whether you like it or not, the laundry has to happen! What our Member-Owners may not realize is how much your appliances might contribute to your electric bill. Your Missouri Electric Cooperatives shares helpful tips to savings in your laundry room.

    Find the right washer for you

    When shopping for a clothes washer, use the EnergyGuide labels to purchase the most efficient model. The Federal Trade Commission requires a yellow EnergyGuide label on most home appliances that estimates a yearly operating cost, along with estimated electricity or gas usage.

    The label also shows the highest and lowest cost estimates of similar appliance models. Energy use for a standard top-loading washer, for example, ranges from 267 kWh per year for the most efficient model to 1818 kWh for the least efficient.

    Also look for an ENERGY STAR logo, either on the EnergyGuide label or the clothes washer. The logo signifies that an appliance meets strict energy-efficiency criteria established by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.* Most full-sized ENERGY STAR-qualified washers consume 40 percent less energy than standard washers and use about half the water per load.

    ENERGY STAR-qualified models extract much more water from the clothes—meaning that time in the dryer will be reduced and take less energy. Most laundry loads can be washed in cold or warm water, significantly reducing the amount of energy used to heat water.

    Just as important, look for models with multiple settings for water-level and water-temperature controls. Since up to 90 percent of the energy needed to wash clothes is used to heat water, look for controls that allow settings for smaller loads and cooler water. Remember, however, that one large load uses less energy than two small loads.

    Consider a front-loading machine; this type of washer is more efficient and uses less water and detergent, significantly reducing monthly operating costs. Some front-loaders use only 15 gallons of water per cycle, compared to 30 to 40 gallons for top-loading machines. Front-loading machines are also gentler on washable items, as there is no central agitator.

    Always use High-Efficiency detergent, as front-loading clothes washers are designed to use only this type of detergent. Using regular detergent in a front-loading washer will create too many suds, leading to decreased washing and rinsing performance. The lowered performance can lead to mechanical problems and foul odors.

    Choose an efficient dryer 

    Energy Guide labels are not required on clothes dryers. The one sure way to save money on dryer energy is to buy an ENERGY ST AR-labeled washer that spins out most of the excess moisture. To buy the most efficient dryer, look for energy-efficient features such as an automatic temperature control, a moisture-sensor control, a cool-down cycle, and a no-heat cycle. These features can be found on both gas and electric dryers.

    The dryer may have several selections based on type of fabrics being dried; regardless of the number of these options, dryers have either two or three heat settings. Since pilot lights increase annual gas consumption, save money by selecting a dryer with electronic ignition.

    Moisture sensors automatically turn the dryer off as soon as the clothes are dry, and typically cut energy use by 10 to 15 percent. With a timer only, the dryer may run longer than necessary. Look for a dryer with an alarm announcing the end of the drying cycle and a post-heat tumbling cycle to prevent wrinkling.

    Dryer operation 

    The most important way to save energy and money with clothes dryers is to shorten the drying time. Set the dryer moisture sensor and automatic temperature control to keep drying time to a minimum and to prevent over-drying. Over-drying not only wastes energy, it also shortens fabric life, causes wrinkles, and generates static.

    Remember that the clothes-dryer exhaust removes air from the home and can be a factor in reducing the amount of combustion air available for furnaces and other fuel-burning appliances. A shortage of combustion air can cause backdrafting of dangerous gases into the home, so it's important to ensure an adequate combustion air supply.

    Energy-Saving Tips

    • Two small loads will consume more energy than one large load; be careful not to overload the dryer, however, since this causes wrinkling and uneven drying.
    • Clean the lint screen before each load. Lint restricts air movement, which can mean longer drying times per load.
    • Twice a year, disconnect the exhaust hose and clear out the lint. Always use smooth metal ducting for the dryer exhaust. Flexible exhaust hoses increase operation time and trap lint, increasing fire risk. Tape all seams in the metal ducting.
    • Check the dryer exhaust vent periodically to make sure it operates properly and doesn't leak. The flapper on the outside should open and close freely; if it remains open, it allows heated air to escape from the house during the winter. Check the flapper once a month and remove lint buildup.
    • Always vent dryers outside to prevent moisture damage to the home and to keep laundry contaminants out of the household air.

    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

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