Operation RoundUp awards nearly $13,000 in support of community efforts

Roanoke Center News, Roanoke Electric Newsroom

A Perfect Storm: Supply chain shortages, rising costs don’t weaken co-op’s commitment to service reliability

Cathy Davison is Roanoke Electric Co-op’s chief financial officer.

When the COVID pandemic hit the scene, we were delivered a brutal one-two punch across the globe; many of us were forced to pivot and create a new normal. Two years into this pandemic, Roanoke Electric continues to deliver reliable service in the face of unprecedented supply chain shortages and rising costs. As the co-op’s Chief Financial Officer, I recognize what I refer to as a “perfect storm” occurring in our industry. The pandemic not only spurred a heightened demand for reliable electric and high-speed internet services; it also hampered production of equipment and products required to meet these demands.

For Roanoke Electric and Roanoke Connect, the most significant shortages we’ve seen have been transformers, substation equipment, broadband equipment, and office supplies. The situation is made even more challenging by the costs for most of these items having increased significantly. Further, with the latest hike in fuel costs, we are starting to receive separate invoices for fuel and delivery charges.

Rest assured, despite these challenges, Roanoke Electric is committed to being good stewards of its finances; our member-owners’ money. We are committed to NOT compromise the integrity of our distribution system or the services our member-owners receive. Reliable service is paramount to us and our member￾owners. We will continue to ensure that we deliver on our commitment to our member-owners to provide reliable electric service as we have done since 1938.
The co-op has adjusted to our “new normal” by repurposing equipment where possible, budgeting for essential items only, collaborating with other co-ops when possible, and reducing controllable costs while still maintaining reliable service. We have also increased our efforts to work with local vendors for materials, equipment, supplies, and services, which also boosts the local economy.
If you are interested in being a vendor with the co-op, please do not hesitate to reach out to us with your business, type of equipment, supplies and services you provide, and we will add you to our vendor list.
I foresee the supply chain issues continuing through the end of this year, if not beyond. However, I am confident that Roanoke Electric will continue to weather this “perfect storm” – a testament to our longstanding resilience in the face of unprecedented challenges.

 

Roanoke Center News, Roanoke Electric Newsroom

Co-op to host summer energy efficiency workshop on May 25

The summer heat can be brutal on energy bills.  How can you set up custom daily alerts to send you notifications when you consume a certain amount of energy?  What times of day will allow you to pay a discounted rate?  These are just a few burning questions the co-op will answer at its virtual Energy Efficiency Workshop on May 25.

Speak with co-op staff and hear from guest speakers sharing helpful energy savings tips and tricks and valuable information to help keep money in your pockets this summer.

The following guest speakers will be sharing information about exclusive offers available for member-owners to serve their financial needs and resources available through local help agencies:

  • Wanda Edwards, Halifax County DSS Program Manager for FNS, Energy & Fraud
  • Norma Wesson, Self-Help Credit Union Branch Manager

The hour-long event will begin at 5 p.m. via Zoom.

Register for this event today.

Roanoke Center News, Roanoke Electric Newsroom

Looking to make upgrades to your home? Upgrade to $ave to reap the savings this summer

“Summer months are brutal on energy bills,” said Susan Williams, the co-op’s community programs coordinator.  “Air conditioners run almost constantly as temperatures soar, and member-owners are faced with the financial challenge of affording a higher than normal bill.  This is often a result of air escaping unnecessarily from the home.”

That’s where Upgrade to $ave comes in.  Upgrades available through this program include insulation, duct, and air sealing, heat pump improvements, water heater wraps, and LED lighting.

In three simple steps, here’s how the program works:

  1. First, the member-owner contacts the co-op and signs up for a free energy assessment simply as a benefit of co-op membership.
  2. The co-op will send and pay for a certified energy assessor to the participant’s home and conduct a full energy assessment to determine the efficiency upgrades that will result in the most cost savings on the participant’s monthly power bills.
  3. The co-op will then schedule a follow-up appointment to send a weatherization crew back to the participant’s home to install the energy efficiency upgrades at no upfront cost.

More than 1,500 member-owners have participated in the program and are reaping the savings of making weatherization improvements to their homes and businesses.

For more information on how to request your free assessment today, visit our Smart Energy Savings page.

Roanoke Center News, Roanoke Electric Newsroom

Co-op awards more than $20,000 to local organizations

Many local organizations are excited to positively impact our communities when the opportunity presents itself.  At Roanoke Electric Cooperative, part of our mission is to create those opportunities within the communities we serve.

For those efforts, Roanoke has allocated $20,867 to support eight community initiatives as part of its Operation RoundUp program.  At its recent quarterly meeting, the co-op’s Care Trust Board designated charitable grants to the following local organizations:

  • Relay for Life of Bertie County (Aulander): Awarded $700.00 for their annual Cancer Survivor reception and survivor recognition gifts
  • Kelford Vol Fire Dept. (Kelford): Awarded $5,000.00 to purchase communications equipment for emergency services.
  • Roanoke Rapids Public Library (Roanoke Rapids): Awarded $300.00 to purchase 20 kits for students at their upcoming summer reading workshop.
  • Bertie Co YMCA (Windsor): Awarded 1,300.00 to purchase program supplies for the 9-week “Camp Happy” summer camp. Items include sanitizing supplies to ensure that the summer camp is as safe as possible for the children of Bertie County.
  • Blue Jay Vol Fire Dept. (Windsor): Awarded $4,995.00 to purchase new safety gear and boots for their firefighters.
  • Como Vol Fire Dept. (Como): Awarded $2,370.00 to purchase two sets of mobile turnout gear lockers to make access to their gear lockers easier for firefighters.
  • Northampton County Local Government (Jackson): Awarded $1,220.00 to help rehabilitate the W.S. Creecy School into a usable facility for recreation and business incubation.
  • Bertie County Hive House (Lewiston): Awarded $4,982.00 to purchase 18 touch screen chrome books. The chrome books will be used to provide services for special needs students at the Bertie Hive House Lewiston Woodville Educational Vitality Center’s Lego Mentoring Afterschool Mentoring / Tutorial Program.

Grants from this charitable program have helped local nonprofits for years, aiding in expanding economic development and meeting the community’s health, safety, educational or recreational needs.

“We truly believe in giving back to the community,” said Patrice Jordan, the co-op’s community relations and engagement coordinator.  “After all, we were created by the community, and we want to continue to invest in initiatives that will help our region thrive.  Through the charitable donations of our membership, we provide meaningful assistance for local organizations that make life better in northeastern North Carolina.”

For more information about participating in Operation RoundUp, please call 252- 209-2236 or visit our Operation RoundUp page.

Roanoke Electric Newsroom, Uncategorized

National Electrical Safety Month: Tips to keep you safe

Glenn Brown, Coordinator of safety and loss control

At Roanoke Electric Cooperative, we recognize Electrical Safety Month every May, but we also know the importance of practicing safety year-round.  From our co-op family to yours, we realize that everyone has a part to play in prioritizing safety.

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, thousands of people in the U.S. are critically injured or electrocuted due to electrical fires and accidents in their own homes.  Many of these accidents are preventable.

Electricity is a necessity, and it powers our daily lives.  But we know first-hand how dangerous electricity can be because we work with it 365 days a year.

To me, safety is more than just a catchphrase.  As the safety and loss control coordinator, it’s my responsibility to keep co-op employees safe.  Additionally, we want to help keep you and all members of our community safe.  That’s why you’ll see Roanoke hosting safety demonstrations at community events and in schools throughout the year, to demonstrate the dangers of electricity.  We discuss emergency scenarios, such as what to do in a car accident involving a utility pole and downed power lines.  We caution students on the dangers of pad-mounted transformers and overloading circuits with too many electronic devices.

Electricity is an integral part of modern life.  Given the prevalence of electrical devices, tools, and appliances, I’d like to pass along a few practical electrical safety tips.

  • Frayed wires pose a serious safety hazard. Power cords can become damaged or frayed from age, heavy use, or excessive current flow through the wiring.  If cords become frayed or cut, replace them, as they could cause a shock when handled.
  • Avoid overloading circuits. Circuits can only cope with a limited amount of electricity.  Overload happens when you draw more electricity than a circuit can safely handle––by having too many devices running on one circuit.
  • Label circuit breakers to understand the circuits in your home. Contact a qualified electrician if your home is more than 40 years old.  You’ll need to install multiple large appliances that consume large amounts of electricity.
  • Use extension cords properly. Never plug an extension cord into another extension cord.  If you “daisy chain” them together, it could lead to overheating, creating a potential fire hazard.  Don’t exceed the wattage of the cord.  Doing so also risks overloading the cord and starting a fire hazard.  Extension cords should not be used as permanent solutions.  If you need additional outlets, contact a licensed electrician to help.

I encourage you to talk with your kids about playing it safe and smart around electricity.  Help them be aware of overhead power lines near where they play outdoors.

Our top priority is providing an uninterrupted energy supply 24/7, 365 days per year.  But equally important is keeping our community safe around electricity.

Roanoke Electric Newsroom

The Power Behind Your Power

By Jimmy Liverman

If someone told you that your job was to play a vital role in helping thousands of people live their lives, you might feel overwhelmed.  But some people do that daily: our line technicians.  And they’ve done it for over 80 years.   

We rely on many great men and women to help build and maintain the vast system of wires, poles, substations, and other equipment that makes life as we know it possible. 

You’ve likely noticed Roanoke Electric Cooperative’s crews out and about, working on more than 2,000 miles of power lines, 12 substations, and other electrical equipment in our community.  It’s no secret that a line technician’s job is tough. It’s a job that’s essential and must be done, often in challenging conditions. This month, as we celebrate National Lineworker Appreciation Day on April 18, I thought I’d share some interesting facts about our electric line technicians. 

The work can be heavy in more ways than one. Did you know the equipment and tools that a line technician carries while climbing a utility pole can weigh up to 50 pounds? That’s the same as carrying six gallons of water. 

Speaking of utility poles, line technicians must climb poles ranging anywhere from 30 to 120 feet tall.  Needless to say, if you have a fear of heights, this likely isn’t the career path for you. 

Lineworkers must be committed to their career, because it’s not just a job. It’s a lifestyle.  The long hours and ever-present danger can genuinely take a toll. In fact, being a line technician is listed in the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the United States.  

They often work non-traditional hours outdoors under challenging conditions.  While the job does not require a college degree, it does require technical skills, years of training, and hands-on learning. 

Did you know that to become a journeyman line technician can require more than 7,000 hours of training (or about four years)? That’s because working with high-voltage equipment requires specialized skills, experience and ongoing mental toughness. Shortcuts are not an option, and there is no room for error in this line of work. 

Our line crew is committed to powering our local community despite the many challenges. During severe weather events that bring major power outages, they are usually the first ones called. They must be ready to leave the comfort of their home and families unexpectedly, and they don’t return until the job is done, often days later. That’s why the line technician’s family is also dedicated to service. They understand the importance of the job to our communities. 

Nationwide, there are approximately 120,000 electric lineworkers. Here in our service territory, Roanoke Electric has a total of twenty-one line technicians responsible for keeping power flowing 24/7, 365 days a year. In addition to the highly visible tasks line technicians perform, their job today goes far beyond climbing utility poles to repair a wire. Today’s line technicians are information experts, who can pinpoint power outages from miles away. Line crews now use laptops, tablets, drones, and other technologies to map outages, survey damage, and troubleshoot problems. 

Being a lineworker may not seem like a glamorous job, but it is essential to the life of our community.  Without these hardworking men’s exceptional dedication and commitment, we would not have the reliable electricity that we need for everyday life. And they do it all with safety as their guide. 

So, the next time you see a lineworker, please thank them for the work they do to keep power flowing, regardless of the time of day or weather conditions. After all, lineworkers are the power behind your power. Please join us as we recognize them on April 18 and follow “#ThankALineworker” on social media. 

Jimmy Liverman is Roanoke Electric Co-op’s VP of Operations.

Roanoke Center News, Roanoke Electric Newsroom

Open to all: Co-op offers up to $5,000 towards the purchase of electric vehicles

When Roanoke Electric Cooperative announced that it would be offering prospective electric vehicle owners up to $5,000 towards purchasing an EV in September 2021, it was to assist the first 17 low-to-moderate-income member-owners.  However, the co-op is ramping up its EV Pilot Program once again, opening this offer to all member-owners interested in purchasing an electric vehicle.

“With effects lingering from the fuel crisis, we recognize that our member-owners feel the financial burden of pulling up to the gas pumps,” said Marshall Cherry, the co-op’s president and CEO.  Cherry continued that this enhancement furthers the co-op’s strategic efforts to ensure that the benefits of EV ownership are accessible to all member-owners – especially at a time like the present.

The funding opportunity comes from an $85,000 grant awarded to the co-op by the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, a philanthropic organization seeking to alleviate poverty and increase social and economic justice in 11 southern states.

“We are greatly appreciative of the grant from Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation and want to make sure our membership takes full advantage of this valuable opportunity that lessens the burden of the upfront costs of EV ownership,” Cherry stated.

Cherry projects that ten to fifteen percent of the co-op’s membership will own at least one EV by 2030.  “This funding opportunity not only creates a huge savings opportunity for our member-owners, but it pushes us one step closer to reaching our overall goal for EV ownership in our region.”

Member-owners with a length of service at their participating location of at least three years are eligible for the $5,000 incentive.

What vehicles are eligible for the grant funding?

  • Any battery-electric vehicle
  • Must be no older than ten years old
  • Less than 75,000 original miles
  • No modifications to chassis or emission control systems
  • Clean title
  • No open recalls
  • Able to provide vehicle history report and vehicle inspection

Member-owners are encouraged to contact the co-op’s office and coordinate with staff on vehicle selection.  Once a member-owner submits a funding application and it is approved, the co-op will buy down the cost of the vehicle with the dealer.  The grant will be paid directly to the dealer to lower the overall cost of the new or used vehicle.  The maximum available for funding toward purchase is $5,000.

The grant offering is available until Dec. 2022.  Member-owners who receive the grant must also participate in the co-op’s EV Pilot program.

These savings add up even more for participants in the pilot.  For a $50 per month flat rate, they can drive a range of nearly 1,500 miles on a full charge.  That “subscription rate” compares to about $185 it would cost to drive a 20-miles per gallon vehicle the same distance.  In addition to a $1000 cash incentive upon enrolling in the co-op’s EV Pilot program, participants also benefit from “re-charging” at home with the new charging station that will be professionally installed at the home with no upfront cost to member-owners – a $1,700 value.

The financial aspect isn’t the only barrier the co-op seeks to address in this effort.  “We recognize another real concern for our membership is range anxiety,” Cherry explained.  The co-op has installed various public charging stations in Herford and Halifax counties and is expanding the installments to other surrounding counties, including Gates.

Those interested in learning more about electric vehicles and the EV Pilot Program are encouraged to contact the co-op.  Roanoke Electric’s staff will share more detailed information about how EVs work and the cost-savings potential.  Member-owners may also schedule a test drive in the co-op’s electric vehicle.

For more information about the co-op’s EV Pilot Program, call 252-209-2236 or visit our Electric Vehicles page at www.roanokeelectric.com/ev.

Roanoke Electric Newsroom

Co-op announces removal of coal-ash fee

As of April 4th, Roanoke Electric Cooperative’s member-owners will not pay the coal-ash fee for the remainder of the year.  This comes after more than three years of the cost appearing on member-owner’s bills following the 2014 Duke Energy coal ash spill where a broken pipe flooded the Dan River with coal ash waste.

In the last three years, the co-op has reduced the initial percentage member-owners paid from 0.544 percent in November 2018 to 0.08 percent this year.  While the complete clean-up for the spill per the NC Public Utilities Commission has been extended until 2032, the fee removal results from the co-op’s wholesale power coast allocation credit.

Cathy Davison, the co-op’s chief financial officer, stated “The co-op’s wholesale power cost allocation credit is an accumulation of the decreased amount of power the co-op purchased over the forecasted amount.  For the last two years, the co-op’s strategic focus on reducing the amount of electricity we have to purchase through various initiatives allows us to pass along those savings to our member-owners.”

The co-op will provide the credit back to the member-owners for the entire year.

When asked if she foresees the fee returning, Davison stated that she “does not foresee it returning for many years down the road, as long as the NC Public Utilities Commission does not change the coal ash clean up requirements again. Roanoke Electric Cooperative is doing everything we can to relieve our member-owners from having to pay the coal-ash fee related to Duke Energy’s coal ash clean-up.”

Roanoke Center News, Roanoke Electric Newsroom

Co-op to host outdoor Earth Day event Apr. 22

Roanoke Electric Cooperative invites member-owners to join its annual outdoor Earth Day celebration at its headquarters on April 22, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

The annual celebration recognizes how we can make our world a happier, healthier place to live.  The co-op’s celebration will feature a small vendor showcase, giveaways, a meet-and-greet with co-op representatives, and a food truck.

Participants can also test-drive the co-op’s electric vehicle, a Tesla.  However, the test drives must be scheduled in advance, and a valid driver’s license is required.

“We are excited for our member-owners to join us at this year’s celebration,” said Patrice Jordan, the co-op’s coordinator of community relations and engagement.  “Our planet is an amazing place, but it needs our help to thrive!  Together, we can all demonstrate our shared support for protecting the environment.”

To learn more about the event or sign up to test-drive the co-op’s Tesla, contact Patrice Jordan at 252-209-2236.

Roanoke Electric Newsroom

Co-op gives drivers life-saving tips following a string of fatal motor vehicle accidents

A texting driver is about to run over a pedestrian at an intersection which shows how dangerous texting and driving is. Stop the text and stop the wrecks.

With the increase of recent fatal motor vehicle accidents throughout the area, Roanoke Electric Cooperative is making a special plea to member-owners in observance of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

“Distracted driving has become a deadly occurrence on our roads,” said Glenn Brown, the co-op’s safety and loss control coordinator.  “Something as simple as sending a quick text can rob you of seconds that you may need to avoid a close call or deadly crash.”

Brown explained while texting behind the wheel seems to be at the top of the list of endless distractions, other risky actions include talking on your phone or to passengers, setting your navigation, adjusting your radio, drinking coffee, and applying makeup.

“Regardless of the distraction, nothing is as important as another life,” Brown expressed.  “That’s why this month is a good time to regroup and hold ourselves accountable for our choices when we’re on the road.”

Follow these safety tips for a safe ride every time:

  • Need to send a text? Pullover and park your car in a safe location.  Only then is it safe to send or read a text.
  • Designate your passenger as your “designated texter.” Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.
  • Do not scroll through apps, including social media, while driving. Cell phone use can be habit-forming.  Struggling to not text and drive?  Put the cell phone in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of the vehicle until you arrive at your destination.

Take action and hold friends and family accountable by:

  • Remind your friends and family: If you’re in the driver’s seat, it’s the only thing you should be doing. No distractions.
  • If your driver is texting or otherwise distracted, tell them to stop and focus on the road.
  • Ask your friends to join you in pledging not to drive distracted. You could save a life.  Share your pledge on social media to spread the word — #JustDrive.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (https://www.nhtsa.gov/es/distracted-driving/april-distracted-driving-awareness-month)