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

Roanoke Electric Newsroom

Free test drives for National Drive Electric Week

In recognition of National Drive Electric Week, Roanoke Electric Cooperative will offer member-owners the opportunity to take a test drive in a Tesla Model 3.

National Drive Electric Week, Sept. 25 – Oct. 3, is billed as a nationwide celebration to raise awareness of the benefits of all-electric and plug-in hybrid cars, trucks, and motorcycles.

“If member-owners are considering an electric vehicle or are just curious and want to test drive one, we encourage you to participate in this event,” said Patrice Jordan, the co-op’s coordinator of community relations and engagement.  “Participants will also have the opportunity to speak with staff about our EV Pilot Program.”

Test drives will be by appointment-only from Sept. 27 – 30, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the co-op’s headquarters.

Member-owners wishing to participate must have the following items:

  • A valid driver’s license
  • Proof of insurance (liability and collision)

Contact Patrice Jordan at 252-539-4601 to schedule a test drive.  

Roanoke Center News, Roanoke Electric Newsroom

Co-op’s Electric Vehicle Pilot Program offers new $5,000 incentive to prospective EV owners

Roanoke Electric is ramping up its EV Pilot Program, now offering prospective electric vehicle owners up to $5,000 towards the purchase of an EV.

“We recognize that not all member-owners who are interested in EVs can bear the upfront cost of purchasing one,” said Curtis Wynn, president and CEO of the co-op. “The program enhancement is in keeping with our strategic efforts to promote inclusivity to ensure that the benefits of EV ownership are accessible to all member-owners.”

The $5000 incentive is available to 17 low-to-moderate income member-owners who are very interested in purchasing an electric vehicle. The funding opportunity is the result of 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.

Who is eligible to receive the grant?
  1. Member-owners with a length service at participating location of at least three years.
  2. Recipients of payment subsidies credited on the electric bill within the past 12 months (LIHEAP, CIC, WAP).
  3. Member-owners who have been declared eligible (whether funded or not) for energy crisis assistance programs from local departments of social services.

What vehicles are eligible for the grant funding?

  • Any battery electric vehicle
  • Must be no older than 10 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 an application for funding and it is approved, the co-op will buy down cost of 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 grant 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 purchasing an EV, participants also have the benefit of “re-charging” at home with the new charging station that will be professionally installed at no upfront cost to member-owners – a $1,700 value.

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 EV’s 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’s historic virtual annual meeting recap

More than 200 member-owners participated in Roanoke Electric Cooperative’s recent annual meeting, the first one conducted virtually   in its 82-year history.

“I am extremely pleased with the amount of engagement we received from our membership during such an unprecedented time,” said co-op’s President and CEO Curtis Wynn.

During the Aug. 28 meeting, six board members were reelected. More than 1,100 member-owners cast ballots by mail and online for this year’s election.

Those who will be maintaining their board seats are listed as follows:

  • Columbus Jeffers (District 1): two years
  •      Delores Amason (District 2): three years
  •      Kenneth Jernigan (District 5): two years
  •      Millard Lee (District 6): three years
  •      Allen Speller (District 8): three years
  •      Chester Deloatch (District 9): two years
    Grand prize winner, Joel Earley of Ahoskie.

Meeting highlights also included updates on several of the co-op’s key initiatives, including the EV Pilot Program, Upgrade to $ave, and Roanoke Connect.

Participants were also entered into a door prize drawing for a variety giveaways. Member-owner Joel Earley of Ahoskie was the lucky winner of the $500 grand prize.

 Check out the full video of this year’s meeting.

Roanoke Electric Newsroom

Co-op to host Energy Solutions Expo, Oct. 1

Come experience the latest energy-saving technologies at Roanoke Electric Cooperative’s first Energy Solutions Expo on Oct. 1 at the Ahoskie Amphitheater.

“This special event is one of the ways the co-op is doubling down on addressing the pocketbook issues of great concern to many in our community,” said Roanoke Electric Co-op President & CEO Curtis Wynn. “It will present opportunities for us to learn about the latest innovative technologies that can help all of us save money and energy.”

Event highlights will include guest appearances from elected officials and a technology showcase, featuring everything from an EV school bus to an array of smart energy-efficiency devices for the home.

The outdoor expo, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., is free and open to the public.

Roanoke Electric Newsroom

Back to School: Webinar offers information, updates on COVID-19’s impact on local education

Now that in-person learning has resumed, what is the risk of my child becoming sick with COVID-19? Are teachers required to get vaccinated?  Is remote learning still an option?

Back by popular demand, this month’s Power Hour webinar is turning the spotlight once again on education in the era of COVID-19. The Oct. 14 presentation will feature a panel of top local education officials, who will address the ongoing challenges and lingering questions that have emerged since the start of the new school year.

Leading the discussion are Dr. Barry Williams, superintendent of Gates County Schools, and Dr. Eric L. Cunningham, superintendent of Halifax County Schools.  They will provide an update on the state of local education and what parents and students can expect moving forward.

The hour-long webinar, which is free and open to all community members to attend,  will begin at 2 p.m.

Register for the webinar.

Missed part one of this series?  Check out the video

Roanoke Center News, Roanoke Electric Newsroom, Roanoke Forestry News

Federal Financial Assistance Available for Farmers and Woodland Owners; Application Deadline is Oct. 29

AHOSKIE, N.C., August 25, 2021—Farmers and woodland owners who want to take advantage of the latest round of conservation assistance available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service have until October 29 to apply. Financial and technical assistance is available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which provided approximately $26 million to eligible North Carolina farmers, ranchers, forest landowners and private landowners in the federal government’s latest fiscal year.

EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality. It supports forestry practices that include tree planting, site preparation to plant trees after harvest, timber stand improvement such as prescribed burns, pre-commercial thinning of overcrowded pine stands, and wildlife habitat improvement practices. It also offers assistance to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water and increased soil health.

Eligible land includes cropland, pastureland and non-industrial private forestland. In North Carolina, EQIP will pay approximately 75 percent of the cost to implement conservation practices for eligible producers, and up to 90 percent of the cost for historically underserved farmers, beginning and limited resource, American Indian tribes and veterans.

Alton Perry, director of the Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project that partners with the NRCS in northeastern North Carolina, encouraged the region’s woodland owners to contact him if they have questions about the assistance opportunity or the management of their forestland.

“EQIP is a highly beneficial program that has proven its value,” Perry said. “It is important that farmers and forest landowners know there is technical and financial assistance available to them. I hope that woodland owners considering ways to enhance their property will pursue this assistance opportunity and be mindful of the October 29th application deadline.”

NRCS accepts EQIP applications year-round but makes funding selections at specific times throughout the year. NRCS is encouraging producers and private landowners to submit their applications as soon as possible because funding is limited.

“NRCS works hard to help eligible farmers and private landowners plan and carry out conservation practices that can benefit all North Carolina’s residents by providing clean air and water, healthy and productive forests, and healthy soils,” said Timothy Beard, state conservationist for NRCS in North Carolina. “EQIP provides crucial funding to help producers carry out these practices on their agricultural land.”

SFLRP is operated through Roanoke Electric Cooperative’s nonprofit subsidiary, The Roanoke Center. The center offers a range of education, application and financial assistance to forest landowners throughout the co-op’s seven-county service territory. Perry can be reached at 252-539-4614 or aperry@roanokeelectric.com.

More information about financial and technical assistance available to help North Carolina farmers and other landowners improve and protect their land can be found at www.nc.nrcs.usda.gov.

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Roanoke Electric Newsroom

Co-op’s ‘Back to School’ Power Hour webinar set for Aug. 19

North Carolina’s public school system plans to bring students back into the classroom for in-person instruction later this month. Roanoke Electric Co-op will host a special “back-to-school” Power Hour to address what changes are in store for the upcoming school year. The webinar, which is open to the public, is scheduled for 2 p.m., Aug. 19.

“For many students, this will be the first time they will step foot inside a classroom since last year,” said Curtis Wynn, the co-op’s president and CEO. “With the new Delta variant spreading and vaccination rates lagging in the state, there is still plenty of uncertainty about the 2021-22 school year. While many districts are still working out exactly what the return of students will look like, we want to use this platform to address any concerns or questions.”

The featured guest speakers are as follows:

  • Dr. Vanessa Wrenn, NC Department Public Information Chief Information Officer
  • Dr. Barry Williams, superintendent of Gates County Schools
  • Dr. Eric L. Cunningham, superintendent of Halifax County Schools

Join Zoom Meeting

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Roanoke Electric Newsroom

Roanoke Electric Co-op adds two new executives to its team

Roanoke Electric Cooperative has added two new executives to its leadership team.

Robert “Bo” Coughlin is now serving in the newly created position of vice president of broadband operations. In this role, he will be responsible for directing the co-op’s broadband subsidiary’s activities and buildout of the broadband service In his previous role, he served as executive vice president and chief technology officer for Knight Broadband LLC, a leading provider of turn-key communications and infrastructure services throughout the United States.

Dennis McFee also recently joined the co-op’s team as the new vice president of member services, marketing and public relations. For the past 12 years,  he served as the member services manager at Yazoo Valley Electric Power Association in Yazoo Valley, Miss.

“I’m excited to welcome Dennis and Bo to the Roanoke team,” said Curtis Wynn, the co-op’s president and CEO. “I know that our broadband, member services, marketing and public relations departments are in very good hands under their leadership.”

View the full press releases for Coughlin and McFee.

Roanoke Electric Newsroom

Operation RoundUp awards nearly $3,800 to Como Volunteer Fire Department

Roanoke Electric Co-op has allocated nearly $3,800 in support of Como Volunteer Fire Department in Como, N.C., as part of its Operation RoundUp program.

At its July 21 quarterly meeting, the co-op’s Care Trust Board awarded the $3,779.24 grant to the fire department so it can upgrade its self-contained breathing apparatus. These devices provide firefighters breathable air in hazardous conditions.

“I’d like to thank Roanoke for this grant,” said William Turner, captain for the volunteer fire department, adding that the grant will help the department stay in compliance with the National Fire Protection Association standards. “Without you all, we couldn’t make this happen.”

Through the Operation RoundUp program, member-owners can round up their electric bills to the next highest dollar each month to help charitable programs and initiatives in the community. The co-op estimates that the average co-op member donates 50 cents per month, or $6 annually.  Grants are allocated quarterly.

“We are incredibly grateful that our member-owners are able to support this type of charitable endeavor and make such a significant difference in our community,” said Patrice Jordan, the co-op’s coordinator of community relations and engagement.

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

Roanoke Center News, Roanoke Electric Newsroom, Roanoke Forestry News

Biden Administration to Invest $67 Million to Help Heirs Resolve Land Ownership and Succession Issues

WASHINGTON, July 29, 2021 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced during a press conference with U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock, U.S. Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr., and U.S. Congresswoman Cheri Bustos that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing $67 million in competitive loans through the new Heirs’ Property Relending Program (HPRP), which aims to help agricultural producers and landowners resolve heirs’ land ownership and succession issues. Intermediary lenders — cooperatives, credit unions, and nonprofit organizations – can apply for loans up to $5 million at 1% interest once the Farm Service Agency (FSA) opens the two-month signup window in late August.

After FSA selects lenders, heirs can apply directly to those lenders for loans and assistance. Heirs’ property issues have long been a barrier for many producers and landowners to access USDA programs and services, and this relending program provides access to capital to help producers find a resolution to these issues.

“While those affected are in all geographic and cultural areas, many Black farmers and other groups who have experienced historic discrimination have inherited heirs’ property,” Vilsack said. “USDA is committed to revising policies to be more equitable and examining barriers faced by heirs’ property owners is part of that effort. This helps ensure that we protect the legacy of these family farms for generations to come.”

The Heirs’ Property Relending Program is another example of how USDA is working to rebuild trust with America’s farmers and ranchers. HPRP is a loan and will need to be repaid as directed by the 2018 Farm Bill.

The program’s benefits go far beyond its participants. It will also keep farmland in farming, protect family farm legacies and support economic viability.

Eligible Lenders
To be eligible, intermediary lenders must be certified as a community development financial institution and have experience and capability in making and servicing agricultural and commercial loans that are similar in nature.

If applications exceed the amount of available funds, those applicants with at least 10 years or more of experience with socially disadvantaged farmers that are located in states that have adopted a statute consisting of enactment or adoption of the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act (UPHPA) will receive first preference. A list of these states is available at farmers.gov/heirs/relending. A secondary preference tier is established for those that have applications from ultimate recipients already in process, or that have a history of successfully relending previous HPRP funds. When multiple applicants are in the same tier, or there are no applicants in tier 1 or 2, applications will be funded in order of the date the application was received.

Selected intermediary lenders will determine the rates, terms, and payment structure for loans to heirs. Interest rates will be the lowest rate sufficient for intermediaries to cover cost of operating and sustaining the loan.

Additional information for lenders, including how to apply for funding, can be found in the HPRP final rule (PDF, 387 KB). A webinar will be held Tuesday, August 3, 2021 regarding applying for funding. Interested re-lender should register through the FSA Outreach and Education webpage.

Relending to Heirs
Heirs may use the loans to resolve title issues by financing the purchase or consolidation of property interests and financing costs associated with a succession plan. This may also include costs and fees associated with buying out fractional interests of other heirs in jointly-owned property to clear the title, as well as closing costs, appraisals, title searches, surveys, preparing documents, mediation, and legal services.

Heirs may not use loans for any land improvement, development purpose, acquisition or repair of buildings, acquisition of personal property, payment of operating costs, payment of finders’ fees, or similar costs.

Intermediary lenders will make loans to heirs who:

  • Are individuals or legal entities with authority to incur the debt and to resolve ownership and succession of a farm owned by multiple owners;
  • Are a family member or heir-at-law related by blood or marriage to the previous owner of the property;
  • Agree to complete a succession plan.

More information on how heirs can borrow from lenders under HPRP will be available in the coming months.

More Information
Heirs’ property is a legal term that refers to family land inherited without a will or legal documentation of ownership. It has historically been challenging for heirs to benefit from USDA programs because of the belief that they cannot get a farm number without proof of ownership or control of land. However, FSA provides alternative options that allow an heir to obtain a farm number. In states that have adopted the UPHPA, producers may provide specific documents to receive a farm number. To learn more about heirs property, HPRP, or UPHPA, visit farmers.gov/heirs/relending.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.