The Florida panhandle has seen a large amount of destruction since the Category 4 Hurricane, named Michael, made landfall on Wednesday, October 10th. This is the first category 4 hurricane to strike the Florida Panhandle since records began in 1851. Nearly a dozen electric cooperatives in Florida, Alabama and Georgia are in the direct path of Hurricane Michael. Cooperative line crews from at least 14 states are mobilizing to support power restoration efforts in Michael’s impact zone. Lamar Electric Cooperative will be sending a crew of 7 men with two bucket trucks, a digger truck, ATVs for hauling material and a Skid Steer to aid in power restoration for the Florida Electric Cooperatives. While every one of Lamar Electric’s linemen were eager to help, some had to stay back to continue to maintain the electric lines here at home. Then Lamar Electric linemen that are heading to Florida are Scott Sansom, Drew Conder, Cory May, Dustin Dale, Caleb Walton, Ryan Dean and David Roberts.
There are over 800 rural electric cooperatives in the United States. There is a master mutual aid agreement every cooperative as agreed to assist their fellow co-ops in times of disaster. “In the past, many co-ops have come to the aid of Lamar Electric during ice storms; now we have the opportunity to return the favor.” said Lamar Electric General Manager, Jerry Williams.
The Lamar Electric crew left Thursday at 1PM and will be gone for 10-14 days working hard to restore power to the areas affected by Hurricane Michael. Updates on the crew’s progress will be provided, as possible, on Lamar Electric’s Facebook page.
Conservation is key when it comes to summer electricity usage. An increase in electric usage will increase the electric bill. Try out these suggestions and be more energy aware to avoid a sticker shock when opening an electric bill.
• Set the thermostat to 78-80 degrees. Air conditioning units contribute heavily towards high summer electric bills. Higher temperatures mean the air conditioning unit has to work extra hard to lower the temperature in a home.
• Be a “fan-atic.” While fans don’t replace air conditioners or heat pumps, fans move air and help people feel more comfortable. On milder days, fans can save as much as 60 percent on electric bills. Fans cool people, not rooms, so turn them off when exiting a room.
• Regular maintenance is essential. Lamar Electric recommends that members have their HVAC systems serviced annually. An HVAC professional will check the entire system to make sure it runs efficiently. This will help to extend life of the system and save money overall.
• Cover the windows. In the summer, with sunshine flooding through a home’s windows, the air conditioner has to work harder to keep up. By closing the curtains, the sun’s direct heat is blocked. The less the air conditioner has to work to keep a home cool, the lower the electric bill will be.
• Seal it up. Air leaks in a house could be making the air conditioner work harder to cool the home. Sealing these air leaks can greatly increase the energy efficiency of the air conditioning unit.
• Fill up the fridge. Having a full refrigerator keeps it from warming up too fast when the door is open. A full fridge doesn’t have to work as hard to stay cool.
• Cook quickly. Nothing is more energy efficient for cooking than the microwave. It uses two-thirds less energy than the stove. Using the stove in the summer will heat a house, counteracting the efforts being made to try and cool the home.
• Hang Dry. Instead of using the clothes dryer in the summer, why not hang dry clothes outside in the sun? A dryer gets so hot that it can end up battling an air conditioner for room temperature.
• Turn the breaker off that controls the electric hot water heater if all members of the household are going on vacation. Don’t heat water that no one will be using.
• Use LED lights. LED lights do not burn as hot as regular incandescent lighting. LED lights also use quite a bit less electricity than older light bulb models.
• Close the fireplace damper. Make sure the fireplace damper has been closed. If it is not closed the air conditioning unit will continue to struggle to keep the house warm which can greatly increase the electric bill.
The main thing to understand when trying to lower summer electric bills is how much the outside temperature affects how hard the air conditioning unit works. If the thermostat is set to maintain an indoor temperature of 68 degrees and the outdoor temperature is 100 degrees, the air conditioner is making up for a 32 degree difference. However, if the thermostat is set to 78 degrees the air conditioner is only making up for a difference of 22 degrees. A ten degree difference can go a long way when considering electric usage.
Once again the Lamar Electric Board of Directors have approved the mailing of Capital Credit checks to the members. Within the next few weeks, members that were receiving electric service from 2001 through 2017 will be receiving checks. In 2016 checks were mailed for those current members that received electric service between 1970 and 1975. This time former as well as current members will receive checks. You may recall that in 2006, another general retirement of capital credits was made for everyone who received electric service from 1965 through 1969. This retirement of capital credits will include commercial accounts as well as residential. The average check will be approximately $140. Accounts, like some commercial ones, that use more than the average amount of electricity each month will receive more and those with minimal usage will receive less. You may be asking yourself what are Capital Credits. The short answer is this is your equity in Lamar Electric. When rural electric cooperatives were formed, REA included a provision in all mortgage documents that required all cooperatives to maintain electric rates that would provide enough money to pay the bills, including mortgage payments, plus a little bit more. Since we are non-profit, this “little bit more” is called a “Margin.” All of these margins prior to 1970 have already been returned. This Margin is ultimately paid back to the members in proportion to the amount of money they paid in during the year, but the money is immediately used to pay for electric line extensions, upgrades and improvements to the electric system. We call these projects, Capital Projects. We keep detailed records of exactly how much Margin is allocated (recorded on membership records) back to each account, by year. This is why we call the Margin allocated to each member, their Capital Credits. Lamar Electric is a member of several other non-profit cooperatives that also have margins. These non-profit cooperatives include our liability, automobile and building insurance; our computers and computer systems; and even our mortgage bank. Recently, we were able to switch wholesale power suppliers and included retirement of the 2001 thru 2017 Capital Credits we had in that cooperative, to our members. Since the Capital Credits from our prior wholesale power supply cooperative were previously allocated to our members, we are now able to pay those Capital Credits to our members. Rather than wait for those Capital Credits to be paid to us 20+ years from now, we accepted an amount based on the net present value. This allows us to get the money to each member now and allow you to use it or collect your own interest on it for the next 20+ years. This is another good reason why it makes “cents” to do business with a Non-Profit Cooperative that you own, and another way Lamar Electric is striving to help our members in the rural areas we serve.
Power has been restored. Oncor had two transmission poles down that served our Reno Substation. Oncor was able to quickly switch transmission feeding and restore power to our Reno substation.
Update as of 5:08PM 6/7/18
Oncor has a major transmission line that serves east of Paris that is off.
All Lamar Electric customers served by the Reno substation are off as a result. This includes north Lamar County and east Lamar County.
Lamar Electric crews are trying to help Oncor find the problem now.