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

Roanoke Electric Newsroom, Roanoke Forestry News

Forest Landowner Conference turns spotlight on climate change

The recent Forest Landowner Conference underscored the critical importance of well-managed forestland and farmland in addressing some of challenges posed by climate change.

The two-day virtual conference, presented by The Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project in late October, offered woodland owners and farmers insights and tips on cultivating their land to nurture ecosystem resilience, as well as improve land retention and intergenerational wealth.

Approximately 50 people attended each session, highlighting some of the key takeaways below:

  • Soil health is fundamental to the long-term sustainability of farmland and woodland, and it is also a key factor in addressing climate change.
  • Woodland owners should look at their property through “rose-colored glasses” to gain a different perspective and mindset on their circumstances and the opportunities that their land offers.
  • Multiple benefits can result from effective forestland management, including healthier woodlands and habitats and cleaner air and water.
  • Discrimination has contributed to massive land loss over the past century among African Americans and socially disadvantaged communities and remains an issue of concern. This is most evident among woodland owners and farmers with smaller acreages who lack access to resources and economies of scale.
  • Landowners with smaller tracts of land must think “outside the box” and be open to multi-cropping and niche markets that provide them a better return on their investment of money, time and labor.
  • Landowners are urged to become involved in livestock registries, such as The Livestock Conservancy that protects endangered livestock and poultry breeds.
  • At the state and federal levels, there are many forestry, natural resource and agricultural agencies and programs that can help landowners identify and implement practices that will improve the sustainability and economic strength of their property.
  • The project continues to partner with an array of agencies and organizations that can help owners achieve their objectives for their land. For example, under a new partnership with the NC Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation, the forestry project is helping to create a Carbon Farm Plan for a property owner in Halifax County that will include schedules for crop and grazing rotations and other conservation practices.

Roanoke Electric helped establish the project in 2013 to help families increase the income and asset value of family-owned forestland and encourages forest health, land retention and the opportunity to create intergenerational wealth.

In his opening remarks at the conference, Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., said he strongly supports the program’s mission.

“I share the project’s vision of building a robust system of forest owners in eastern North Carolina and ensuring that African-American landowners have access to the information and tools needed to adopt more sustainable forest management practices and resources offered by federal and state agencies.”

More information about the conference and recordings of its two sessions are accessible on the project’s website.

Roanoke Center News, Roanoke Electric Newsroom

LIEAP funding available for heating assistance starting Dec. 1

Funding will soon be available through the North Carolina Low Income Energy Assistance Program to help member-owners struggling to cover their heating costs.  Applications will be accepted starting Dec. 1.

The federally funded program offers a one-time vendor payment to help eligible households pay their heating bill through March 31, 2022.

“According to the Energy Information Administration, heating costs are expected to soar this winter,” said Dennis McFee, the co-op’s vice-president of member services, marketing and public relations.  “As a result, we recognize that member-owners may need some additional assistance with paying their heating bills.”

Member-owners needing LIEAP assistance should first reach out to their local county department of social services. The Roanoke Electric Co-op’s Care Team will work with the agency to provide the required documentation needed to complete the application process

Wanda Edwards, program manager for Halifax County DSS, said there have been some modifications to the qualifications this year. “Something new this year for LIEAP will be households with a member 0-5 years old and/or 60 or above will be able to apply for LIEAP beginning Dec. 1,” she explained.  “Automatic payments will also be applied to accounts again this year for individuals who received assistance last year.”

To be eligible for assistance, applicants must meet the following criteria:

Have at least one U.S. citizen or non-citizen who meets the eligibility criteria

Meet an income test

  • Have reserves at or below $2,250
  • Be responsible for its heating costs

Households with a family member aged 0-5 years and/or 60 or older, or an individual receiving disability benefits and services through the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services, are eligible to sign up for assistance from Dec. 1- Dec. 31, 2021.

All other member-owners can apply from Jan. 2 – March 31, 2022, or until funds are exhausted.

Applications may be taken over the phone, in person, fax, email or by going to www.epass.nc.gov.

Member-owners are also encouraged to reach out to the co-op for additional information about programs and services that may help them lower their energy costs.

To contact the Roanoke Electric Co-op Care Team, please call 252-209-2236, email info@roanokeelectric.com, or visit our Payment Assistance page.

 

 

Roanoke Center News, Roanoke Electric Newsroom

Co-op offers member-owners free home energy efficiency assessments

Cooler temperatures tend to amplify the lack of energy efficiency in our homes that often bring about higher-than-normal electric bills. To help reduce the season’s heating costs, the co-op is encouraging member-owners to take advantage of a free home energy assessment it is now offering through its Upgrade to $ave program.

“Member-owners are often surprised after they receive their first winter bill,” said Marshall Cherry, the co-op’s chief operating officer. “That’s because heating your home is one of the largest monthly expenses during this time of year.”

The free assessment requires a skilled energy auditor to visit your home or business to determine what energy efficient upgrades could save you the most money. From there, as part of the Upgrade to $ave program, a trained weatherization crew will come out to make the necessary upgrades.

Available upgrades through the program include insulation, duct and air sealing, heat pump improvements, waters heater wraps and LED lighting.

“Not only are member-owners able to save in the long-term, but the program saves participants on the front end as upgrades are done at no upfront cost,” Cherry said. “Visit the co-op’s website to request a free energy assessment.”

 

Roanoke Center News, Roanoke Connect News, Roanoke Electric Newsroom, Roanoke Forestry News

Curtis Wynn steps down as CEO of Roanoke Electric Cooperative to take the helm at SECO Energy

AULANDER, N.C. – After more than 24 years as the chief executive officer at Roanoke Electric Cooperative, Curtis Wynn is stepping down to assume to role of CEO at SECO Energy, an electric co-op serving over 200,000 member-owners in Central Florida.

Wynn’s last day at Roanoke Electric will be Dec. 13, 2021. The board of directors has appointed the co-op’s chief operating officer, Marshall Cherry, to serve as interim CEO.

A Florida native, Wynn, 58, began his career washing trucks for his rural hometown electric co-op in Graceville, Fla. He said the decision to make a career transition at this time stems, in part, from his desire to be closer to his family and home, where he plans to eventually retire.

“It’s been a pleasure serving Roanoke Electric’s member-owners for the past 24 years,” Wynn said. “This has been the highlight of my 42-year career in the electric co-op industry… I am not saying goodbye. A part of me will always be a part of this region and connected to this co-op.”

An innovative trailblazer, Wynn has spearheaded a variety of cutting-edge, high-impact initiatives in the co-op’s long-standing battle against energy poverty in the region.

During his tenure, Wynn developed the co-op’s highly successful Upgrade to $ave energy efficiency program. It provides member-owners “on bill” financing to make much-needed, cost-saving upgrades in their home.

In partnership with the U.S, Department of Agriculture, the co-op also established its sustainable forestry program. It has helped hundreds of local landowners by providing information and resources to help them better manage and retain their land for the purpose of building generational wealth.

Most notably, under Wynn’s leadership, the co-op embarked on what many consider its most ambitious undertaking in its 86-year history. Called Roanoke Connect, the initiative set out to bridge the digital divide by bringing broadband connectivity to the region for the first time. After years of laying the groundwork, connections to high-speed internet service are now underway.

“I would say my proudest accomplishment is the growth I have seen in our team, and how they have stepped up to address the many challenges the industry has thrown our way over the years,” Wynn said. “They did so by embracing our core values beyond anyone’s expectations, really wanting to make a difference in the community we serve. Leaving that behind makes me feel good about what lies ahead for Roanoke Electric.”

In addition to his leadership role at the co-op, Wynn has served on various boards including immediate past president of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association; past president, vice president and secretary-treasurer of North Carolina Electric Membership Cooperative; board member of the North Carolina’s Association of Electric Cooperatives; board member of Meridian Cooperative (formerly Southeastern Data Cooperative, SEDC); and past nominating committee member for CoBank. Earlier this year, he was appointed to serve as a board member for National Cooperative Bank, a leading financial services company.

In January, Wynn will take the reins at SECO Energy, the third largest not-for-profit electric co-op in Florida and the seventh largest in the nation. He succeeds longtime SECO Energy CEO, Jim Duncan, who plans to retire.

Roanoke Electric Cooperative provides service to 14,500 members in Bertie, Hertford, Halifax, Northampton, Gates, Perquimans, and Chowan counties. Chartered in 1938 to provide light and power to farms, the co-op today serves as an engine of economic development and provides educational, recreational and community assistance services to enhance the quality of life of its member-owners throughout the diverse communities it serves. Roanoke Electric Cooperative news for journalists available at REC Newsroom. Roanoke Electric Cooperative is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Roanoke Electric Newsroom

Co-op to host Energy Efficiency Workshop to address member-owner concerns

Why is my daily energy use so high when I’m not home during the day? Will using my space heater add that much to my bill this winter? Get the answers to your burning questions at the co-op’s virtual Energy Efficiency Workshop on Dec. 1.

Speak directly with the co-op staff as they share useful energy savings tips and tricks and valuable information to help keep your heating costs low.

“One of the most common questions we get from member-owners throughout the year is how they can lower their electric bill,” said Curtis Wynn, the co-op’s president and CEO.  “This workshop will allow member-owners to hear firsthand from experts on how to do just that.”

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

  •  LaConda Rogers, Branch Supervisor of ElecTel Credit Union
  • Patricia Nixon-Vann, Supervisor for Food and Nutrition
  • Jacqueline Porter, Supervisor for Daycare/Medical Transportation/Work First/General Assistance/Energy Assistance/CIP

The hour long event will begin at 5 p.m.

The co-op will also give away $300 in bill credits to member-owners who join the virtual event.  You must be present to win.

Register for the workshop today.
Roanoke Connect News, Roanoke Electric Newsroom

How to protect your internet-connected devices

How is your digital hygiene? National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is a good time for a digital checkup as a preventative measure against cyberattacks and scams.

“With people spending more time at home on their computers and smartphones, hackers and scammers have increased opportunities to exploit users for criminal gain,” said Seville Sanford, Roanoke Electric Co-op’s coordinator of technical services. “Our homes, well-being, and the nation’s security are all impacted by the internet. We all have a part to play to make sure we’re safe with the data we transmit online.”

Below are some valuable tips on how to protect your internet-connected devices:

  • Make a long, unique passphrase.
  • Use 2-factor authentication or multi-factor authentication whenever offered.
  • Limit what you do on public Wi-Fi and avoid logging in to key accounts like emails and financial services.
  • Configure privacy and security settings for information sharing on news accounts and when downloading a new app.

For more information about cybersecurity, visit staysafeonline.org/cybersecurity-awareness-month/.

Roanoke Electric Newsroom

Co-op’s Energy Solutions Expo highlights technology innovations

More than 200 community members gathered for Roanoke Electric Co-op’s recent Energy Solutions Expo, showcasing cutting-edge technologies and the many energy-saving benefits they stand to offer this region.

From electric-powered vehicles to smart energy devices, the event underscored the importance of utilizing a variety of energy solutions to reduce costs and electricity consumption for member-owners.

“Those pocketbook issues create burdens for our families, and that’s something we’re trying to help alleviate,” Co-op President and CEO Curtis Wynn said during his opening remarks. “Cost containment for the cooperative is also important, making sure we keep our costs down so that we can maintain our rates. And on top of all that, we want to be good stewards of the environment.”

One of the many highlights of the Oct. 1 event at the Ahoskie Ampitheater was the showcase of electric vehicles, including the co-op’s Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model 3.

Perhaps the biggest attraction was a 77-passenger electric school bus, compliments of Thomas Built Buses. Mark Childers, a company representative, said the manufacturer has already delivered 96 electric buses throughout the country, with plans to deliver some to school districts in the Roanoke-Chowan area soon.

The co-op event, the first of its kind, shined a new light on many of innovative solutions and strategies the co-op has undertaken, as the transition toward a clean energy future gains momentum nationwide.

“The work that we are doing is consistent and in concert with Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order on Clean Transportation as well as our federal government, which has the strong prospect of passing major legislation into law that supports clean transportation.”

Wynn noted that this legislation comes with major financial incentives that make doing so affordable for everyday citizens – not just those who enjoy high incomes. “At Roanoke, we believe that no one should be left behind from the energy transformation that is happening right in front of us.”

Roanoke Electric Newsroom

Co-op Month: A Cause for Celebration

CEO Message

National Co-op Month is an annual celebration of the positive impacts cooperatives have on the communities they serve. This year’s theme, “Build Back for Impact,”  takes on special meaning on this occasion, as we recover from one of the biggest challenges we ever faced as an electric co-op: a global pandemic.

While we are forging ahead with efforts to “build back” our community, we still have reason to celebrate this month. In honor of Co-op Month, we invite our member-owners to join us in recognition of values and principles that have guided us throughout these unprecedented times, as they have done nearly eight decades.

We have set aside each Friday this month, as a time for you to stop by our Ahoskie office so we can personally greet you and offer free grab-and-go snacks and giveaways.

The reasons to celebrate are many.  

Roanoke Electric is part of a network of 26 electric co-ops in North Carolina. We share a vision to build a brighter future for our member-owners and communities through our commitment to reliable, affordable and sustainable electric service, as well as community and economic development.

By bringing a variety of innovative services and programs to our member-owners, we’re continuing to make significant impact in this community, despite the challenges associated with the with the pandemic.

The Cooperative Principle of “concern for community” is woven deeply into many of our programs like Bright Ideas Education Grants, which supports innovative learning opportunities for local students. Also making a major impact is the co-op’s Operation RoundUp  program supports a variety of charitable endeavors throughout the community.

Despite all the challenges we faced during the pandemic, the co-op continued efforts to connect our member-owners to resources that otherwise might not be available. Roanoke Connect is making great strides in bringing much-needed high-speed internet to the region.

Our EV Pilot program is now broadening its potential impact in our community, by offering financial incentives to those who might not otherwise afford an electric vehicle. Likewise, the co-op’s Community Solar Access (SolarShare) program is now providing significant and sustained financial assistance to several low-and-moderate income member-owners.

While the co-op’s ongoing efforts to “build back” are by no mean quick fixes, we are in it for the long haul with our unwavering commitment to the community empowering what we value as the cooperative difference.

**In recognition of Co-op Month, please drop by our Ahoskie office, where we will be offering special treats every Friday in October, between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. To ensure everyone’s safety, visitors are required to wear face masks and follow safe-distancing guidelines.

 

Curtis Wynn

President & CEO

Roanoke Center News, Roanoke Electric Newsroom, Roanoke Forestry News

Virtual conference for region’s forest landowners scheduled for Oct. 26-27

AULANDER, N.C., Oct. 1, 2021 – Forest landowners in northeastern North Carolina have the opportunity in late October to learn about the role of conservation practices in forestry and agriculture to address the challenges of climate change. The Forest Landowner Conference will be held on Oct. 26 and 27.

The conference will be held as a virtual event due to the coronavirus pandemic and is free to the public. It is being organized by the Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project (SFLRP), which is supported in part by Roanoke Electric Cooperative.

The conference will feature two sessions as follows:

  • Session 1. 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Oct. 26
    The keynote speaker is Dale Threatt-Taylor, executive director of The Nature Conservancy’s South Carolina chapter. Other Session 1 speakers are Kevin Harnish, forest analyst for The Conservation Fund’s Resourceful Communities Program, and Michael Gavazzi, coordinator for the U.S. Forest Service’s Southeast Climate Hub.
  • Session 2. 10 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Oct. 27
    SFLRP Director Alton Perry and Amanda Egdorf-Sand, executive director of the NC Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation, will provide an overview of the Carbon Farm Planning Project. Other Session 2 speakers are Renard Turner, owner of Vanguard Ranch in Gordonsville, Va., and Steve Woodruff, state agronomist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s East National Technology Service Center in Greensboro.

This conference is sponsored through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s North Carolina Natural Resources Conservation Service. Register at: https://ncsu.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_xWIkUfgOSK6OP7T2fgUPlQ. Forest landowners do not have to live in the region to participate. Phone charges and/or data rates may apply if participating via phone or over a mobile network. Logistical support is being provided by N.C. State Extension Forestry.

The Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project began in 2013 as a partnership between the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Forest Service and, more recently, the American Forest Foundation. The program works to restore and conserve threatened forestland in Roanoke Electric’s Cooperative’s service area by increasing forest-owner income and land asset values. All landowners owning at least one contiguous eight-acre parcel of woodland are eligible to participate. See www.recforestry.org for more information on the program.

###

Contact: Alton Perry, SFLRP Director

aperry@roanokeelectric.com

252-539-4614

Roanoke Electric Newsroom

Time-of-Day Rate set to adjust in October

Roanoke Electric Co-op member-owners who participate in the co-op’s Residential Time-of-Day Rate are scheduled for a rate adjustment next month, reflecting the change in the season.

Participants in this program  pay a lower rate for using energy during off-peak hours.

Beginning on Oct. 16 and through April 16, on-peak hours when rates are higher, are  6:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m., Monday-Friday.  From  April 16 – Oct. 16, on-peak hours are 2 p.m. – 6 p.m., Monday-Friday. All other time periods are considered off-peak, when participants will be charged a lower rate for energy consumed.

“Times when people in our community are using more electricity at the same time are called ‘peak’ hours,” said Dennis McFee, the co-op’s vice president of member services, marketing and public relations.  “The cost for the co-op to provide power is higher during these times because of the additional demand for electricity.”

Member-owners participating in the program get the most out of Time-of-Day Rate savings by making minor adjustments to their daily routines, including the following:

  • Adjusting the thermostat a few degrees during peak hours.
  • Washing full loads of clothes in cold water during off-peak hours.
  • Running the dishwasher right before going to bed, or air-dry dishes by opening the dishwasher instead of using the heated dry cycle.
  • Turning off lights and electronics when not in use.

“Contact us if you have questions about your energy bill or to sign up for the Residential Time-of-Day Rate,”  McFee said. “We’re here to help.”


Member-owners can call 252-209-2236 to speak to a representative or visit the co-op’s Rates page for a full list of rate schedules.