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Capital credit checks are in the mail

We are pleased to let you know that Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative is returning (retiring) more than $1 million in capital credit to members, via checks, during the month of November. Capital credits are one of the many benefits of co-op membership. Capital credits allocated from 1986 – 1988 will be returned to those who were members during those years. As of 2017, Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative has retired over $15 million in capital credits to member/owners.

What are capital credits?
As a not-for-profit electric cooperative, Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative, is owned by member/owners who receive electricity from EIEC. Capital credits are your equity, or ownership, in the cooperative.

Any profits made by Eastern Illini are referred to as margins. Margins result when our revenue is more than our expenses. At the end of each year, any available margins are allocated back to you, our member/owners, into your capital credit account. Eastern Illini, like all electric cooperatives, operate at cost, collecting enough revenue to run and expand the business, but with no need to raise rates to generate profits.

When will I receive capital credits?
Each year we send out a capital credit allocation notice so you are aware of your equity. We will soon begin sending out capital credit checks to member/owners that received electricity from 1986 – 1988. By utilizing the capital credit allocations, we can lessen the need to raise rates or borrow money to pay for the infrastructure.

What’s the difference between allocation and retirement?
Allocations are made annually for each member, based upon the amount of electricity purchased the previous year. An allocation is the amount set aside into a separate account to be used as operating capital for reliability improvements and maintenance over a period of years. Retirements refer to the portion of the capital credits allocation to member/owners that is refunded nearly every year, depending on the financial condition of the cooperative. Typically, after utilizing capital for up to 30 years, it is retired.

Are capital credits retired every year?
Each year, your Board of Directors decides whether to retire capital credits based on the cooperative’s financial health. EIEC’s ability to retire capital credits reflects our strength and financial stability.

What happens to my capital credits if I move?
Your capital credits remain on our books until they are retired. That’s why it’s important to keep us informed about any change of address. There are many former member/owners of Eastern Illini for whom we don’t have current addresses. We’d like to be able to get them their capital credit payments, so we’ve set up a database on our website to try to locate them. Visit eiec.org/your-account/unclaimedcc-search and search by last name.

What if a member is deceased and has unretired capital credits?
Special retirements of capital credits can be refunded to a member’s estate upon the death of a member. Instead of waiting for a general refund, an estate can request capital credits be refunded early at a discounted rate.

Can I use the capital credits I have allocated to pay my electric bill?
No. Capital credits have no cash value until they are retired and refunded to you.

Do I have to claim capital credits as income on my tax return?
Capital credits are typically tax free if the property served was used as a residence. If the location served was used for business purposes, please consult a tax professional.

If you, or anyone you know, received electricity from Eastern Illini in the 1970s and/or 1980s, please visit the unclaimed capital credit database and search by last name: eiec.org/your-account/unclaimedcc-search.

If you think you might be on the list, contact us at 800-824-5102 or email gayle.ford@eiec.coop

 

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Energy efficiency for the modern family

If you are struck by the amount of screens, remotes, gaming controls, charging stations and cords that have become fixtures in your home, you are not alone.

The typical American family is well connected and owns a variety of electronic devices. According to the PEW Research Institute, 95 percent of U.S. families have a cell phone and 77 percent of Americans own a smart phone. Nearly 80 percent of adults own a laptop or desktop computer, while approximately half own tablets.

Consumer electronics coupled with the growing array of smart home appliances and technology have slowly but steadily changed our homes and lifestyles. The increased reliance on our many devices has new implications for home energy use and efficiency.

If you are struck by the amount of screens, remotes, gaming controls, charging stations and cords that have become fixtures in your home, you are not alone.

The typical American family is well connected and owns a variety of electronic devices. According to the PEW Research Institute, 95 percent of U.S. families have a cell phone and 77 percent of Americans own a smart phone. Nearly 80 percent of adults own a laptop or desktop computer, while approximately half own tablets.

Consumer electronics coupled with the growing array of smart home appliances and technology have slowly but steadily changed our homes and lifestyles. The increased reliance on our many devices has new implications for home energy use and efficiency.

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Reduce heating & cooling costs with geothermal

Geothermal heating and cooling is a viable option for existing homes as well as new construction and is one way homeowners can reduce their electric bills.

Click on the image to view a larger version!

A geothermal heating and cooling system is also known as a ground-source heat pump. It is a system of tubes buried horizontally or vertically in the ground containing a water/anti-freeze mixture that circulates through the ground and the heat pump. The antifreeze mixture carries heat to or from the home as needed. In some circumstances, an open-loop system using a ground water source may be possible depending on water quality and quantity.

Compared to a typical forced-air furnace, a geothermal system provides for more even heating and cooling. Homeowners don’t experience the temperature extremes between the times the furnace turns on and off. Instead, the geothermal system runs longer but with less intensity and enhanced comfort. Improved comfort can also mean lower operating costs.

Download a listing of local geothermal contractors.

In a home with an existing forced-air system powered by propane, heating oil or natural gas, a geothermal system can use existing ductwork and mechanical spaces. If the existing furnace or boiler in a home is 20 years old or more, it may make sense to replace it with a geothermal system. If the current system has a pilot light, chances are it was likely installed prior to 1992 and has a 65 percent efficiency rating.

Geothermal systems are much more efficient, so the operational costs will be significantly reduced.

If the current furnace is 10 to 20 years old, and has growing maintenance costs or does not heat or cool the home comfortably, there may be benefits to upgrading your system.

Actual savings depend on many factors including weather, energy rates and thermostat settings. Typically costs are about the same as a high-efficiency gas furnace and central air conditioner, but have a longer service life.

The additional cost of digging and then installing the ground loops is considered an incremental cost over a furnace/air conditioner system. The ground loop cost is offset by the lower energy costs, and becomes a permanent part of the home’s property.

Eastern Illini offers energy efficiency loans that cover a portion of the cost of installing geothermal. These loans are for up to seven years and 80 percent of your energy efficiency investment. The loans are paid back on your monthly electric bill and the loan amount can be as much as $20,000.

Eastern Illini energy experts can provide more information about the potential savings for your individual situation. Give us a call at 800-824-5102 and find out how much you can reduce your heating and cooling costs with geothermal.

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Message from the President: Giving thanks

message from the president

The diminishing daylight hours, chilly air, and fall colors all signal that we are well into the fall season. The harvest season is nearing completion as well. Winter will soon be upon us.

Weather forecasters anticipate above normal precipitation this winter and our area seems to be in between the arctic influence and the milder temperature regions.

November is a month for important holidays. In these unsettled times throughout the world, we need to make a concerted effort to thank our veterans for their service. Their efforts over the years have enabled our country, and many other nations across the globe to retain rights and freedoms. We also celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday period. Let’s pray for safe travel for all and that family members truly appreciate and enjoy their time together.

At EIEC, we are thankful for many things, but especially for our members and employees. You, our member/owners, recently had the opportunity, via our annual survey, to tell us how we are doing. The results were very positive.

Nearly 63% of members responding consider themselves a member/owner as opposed to a customer. We appreciate your ownership involvement. Later this month, capital credit checks will be mailed. These represent a tangible sign of member ownership and a return of previous member’s equity contribution for the cooperative’s operation.

In other areas you scored us very high in categories such as providing excellent customer service, along with friendly and courteous employees who exhibit a professional business manner. You also rated the cooperative highly for community involvement and keeping outages to a minimum, and for restoring electric service quickly after outages.

Areas that you identified for us to improve include charging reasonable rates and delivering overall value.

For the four questions that comprise a benchmark national customer satisfaction index, our members rated us at 89 out of 100, which ranks us as one of the best cooperatives in the state of Illinois for member satisfaction and among the top rated cooperatives in the nation. Thank you for your support!

Let’s all take time to offer special thoughts and prayers for those in need and struggling during this time.

On behalf of our employees and our Board of Directors, we wish you a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

Cooperatively,

Bob Hunzinger

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Thomas H. Moore IEC Memorial Scholarship Program

The Illinois Electric Cooperatives (IEC) Memorial Scholarship Program awards ten $2,000 scholarships annually to students entering college to assist them with educational costs.

The fund was designed to financially assist deserving students in the “electric cooperative family,” while also providing a means for co-ops and individuals to honor deceased members
of the co-op family through memorial gifts.

About the scholarships

Five scholarships are awarded to students who are the sons or daughters of an Illinois electric cooperative member receiving service from the cooperative.

Three scholarships are reserved for students enrolling full-time at a two- year Illinois community college who are the sons or daughters of Illinois electric cooperative members, employees or directors.

One scholarship, the Earl W. Struck Memorial Scholarship, is awarded to a student who is the
son or daughter of an Illinois electric cooperative employee or director.

One scholarship, the LaVern and Nola McEntire Lineworker’s Scholarship, is awarded to a student to attend the lineworker’s school conducted by the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives in conjunction with Lincoln Land Community College, Springfield, IL.

For more information about the IEC Memorial Scholarships, please contact:

Debbie Laird
Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative
217-379-0447 or www.eiec.coo

 

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Win a trip to Washington, D.C.!

2018 Youth to Washington Program

ytw4

We’re proud to offer high school sophomores and juniors the chance to win an all-expenses-paid trip of a lifetime to Washington D.C. Students will spend a week, June 8 – 15, 2018, meeting new people while visiting historically significant national sites, touring some of our most moving memorials, and browsing the campus of our nation’s capital.

During their time in D.C., the students will ride a river boat down the Potomac, tour the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, and visit the Supreme Court. And those are just a few of the things they’ll encounter on their journey.

How the program works:
Up to six applicants will be chosen as finalists and will be invited to attend Youth Day to Springfield. Following Youth Day, four of the finalists will be chosen to represent Eastern Illini on the Youth to Washington trip.

APPLY NOW!

2018 Trip Dates
Youth Day to Springfield: April 18, 2018 (tentative)
Youth to Washington trip: June 8-15, 2018

YTS16 Rauner Youth to Washington Program Official Rules:

  • Applicants must be sons or daughters of an Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative member/owner currently receiving electric service from the cooperative.
  • Applicants must be a high school sophomore or junior.
  • Up to six applicants will be selected as finalists  and will attend Youth Day to Springfield.
  • Following Youth Day, four of the finalists will be chosen to represent Eastern Illini on the Youth to Washington trip.
  • The application deadline is January 31.
  • Immediate family members of employees and directors of Eastern Illini are not eligible.
  • For more information, please contact Debbie Laird at 800-824-5102 or debbie.laird@eiec.coop.

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Safety: Give ’em a Brake!

Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative utility crews want to remind you to stay safe when you come upon a work zone. Orange cones, flashing signals and other warning signs are placed along roadways to slow traffic when linemen are repairing or replacing electrical lines and poles.

road safety

Work done by EIEC linemen often involves electrical lines high above the ground – lines usually carrying high-voltage electricity. Linemen must be fully engaged and alert to do their jobs and avoid injury or death. They need you to take precautions and pay attention when you come upon a utility truck in a work zone.

To help prevent fatalities and injuries, follow these guidelines when you are driving and come upon an electric utility truck and work zone:

1. Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and traffic barriers, trucks, construction equipment, and workers.

2. Be patient. Traffic delays are sometimes inevitable, so try to allow time for unexpected occurrences in your schedule.

3. Obey all signs and utility crew instructions. Use caution, slow down and be prepared to stop, if necessary, for crew members or on-coming traffic.

4. Reduce speed even more during inclement weather. Rain, snow and ice can cause hazardous situations for linemen as they repair and replace electrical lines and poles. Crews are often working under extreme conditions and need your assistance to decrease speed to avoid an accident.

5. Minimize distractions Avoid activities that limit your awareness of your surroundings. Avoid operating a radio or cell phone and limit eating while driving. Focus on the road ahead and be prepared for any potential dangers or hazards.

The next time you are driving on a rural road and come upon a work zone and linemen, follow these five guidelines and keep everyone alive.

Safety comes first at Eastern Illini when it comes to you, our member/owners, and our employees.

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Energy Efficiency: Not all filters are created equal

Forced air heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems require effective air filtration for optimum energy efficiency, maintaining clean(ish) ductwork and good indoor air quality. Air filters should be changed regularly.

How often they need changing depends upon a number of factors including, but not limited to:

   • Presence of pets that shed

   • Amount of carpeted versus hardwood floors

   • Where you live – amounts of dust, pollen, etc.

   • Use of wood-burning supplemental heat sources

   • Presence of cigarette smoke

The air inside our homes is full of particles originating from inside and outside sources. As the name “forced air” implies, conditioned air is blown into the house through ductwork. In order to operate efficiently, the air supplied is returned to the system for reconditioning, taking with it all the particles in the air and the occasional “tumbleweed” of pet hair that many of us are familiar with.

This junk-laden air flows through a filter before encountering the HVAC equipment. For cooling, there is usually an A-frame arrangement of what looks like car radiators. For heating, it is generally a combustion chamber. Without a filter, the cooling coils would get clogged and the heating side would burn off whatever was in the air.

Air filters trap a lot of debris that otherwise would end up back in the house, stuck in ductwork, clogging HVAC equipment – or in our lungs. But enough with the HVAC and air quality primer. Let’s tackle types of air filters.

Filters have more choices than you can shake a stick at. Fortunately, they can be broken down into two nicely defined categories, making the selection process manageable. The two are:

   • Permanent or disposable

   • Flat or pleated media (with a handy MERV rating)

Disposable are the most prevalent.

Some in the flat media group look like they will stop only particles larger than a golf ball. They have flimsy cardboard frames and a thin, flat mesh you can easily see through. While they are cheap, don’t waste your money. Your HVAC system and lungs deserve better.

Pleated filters perform better using media you cannot see through. While they look impervious, air can move through under pressure leaving its airborne cargo trapped. Pleated filters are better.

Remember MERV? That is a rating system that tells you how effective a filter is at trapping particles. Standing for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, it’s a measure of efficiency. The scale runs from one to 16 (higher is better) and is based on trapping particles three to 10 microns in diameter. Research shows that residential filters with a MERV rating between seven and 13 are likely to be as effective as true HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arrestance) filters. This class of filter is used in clean room manufacturing and at the extreme end can trap particles much smaller than the diameter of a human hair, as small as one micron.

So, should you jump in and grab a supply of high MERV filters?

Not without some research. All filters increase resistance to air flow. HVAC systems are designed to operate at a particular pressure and should support MERV ratings of one to four. A higher MERV value increases resistance, making the system work harder. It loses efficiency and increases wear on operating components.

So, how do you decide which level of filter to use? If you have your system’s operating manual or can grab it online, check for recommendations. Otherwise,  go with a decent (MERV three to five) pleated filter and check it once a month to see how it is performing. Also, check to see if the dust inside abates.

Spend a little more and breathe a lot easier with a regular schedule of air filter replacement. A simple change that pays big dividends.

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Cooperation Among Cooperatives

message from the presidentDuring October, we participate in National Cooperative Month, in which people across the country celebrate the movement’s history and economic impact. The sixth cooperative principle is Cooperation among Cooperatives. It seems that national or regional catastrophes bring out the best traits of people.

Even before Hurricane Irma had entered Florida, electric cooperatives in the southeast U.S. had requested mutual aid assistance from their cooperative family.

Illinois cooperatives responded in a big way. EIEC contributed to this effort by sending ten line personnel along with equipment and trucks. As of this writing, they ended up initially providing restoration help in the Atlanta, Georgia area.

We, too, will request help from other cooperatives when needed. Generally, our biggest and most widespread outage risk is a devastating ice storm. However, severe storms with widespread straight line winds (a derecho) could also impact our service territory.

Our mission is to provide you – our member/owners – a combination of reliable electric supply and excellent service from our loyal and dedicated employees at a reasonable cost, given the constraints of our low density service territory. We have been fortunate in the recent past to have missed any widespread outage conditions, and our distribution rates have remained stable since 2013.

We hope that we, as employees, exceed your expectations daily. We take great pride in our ability to provide you with electric service.

Please know that we are constantly seeking ways to improve this service and to continue providing a reliable and cost effective supply of electricity. However, we also understand that we are not just in the business of selling electricity, but as a cooperative, are part of a larger family of businesses to help improve your quality of life.

Please take a moment to complete our annual survey on page 3. We value your input on how we are doing, and how we can improve our service to you.

Please put safety at the forefront of your harvest and daily activities.

Cooperatively,    

Bob Hunzinger

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