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Don’t blink?

Brief power interruptions prevent sustained outages.

There’s no two ways about it – blinks are bothersome. A flashing digital alarm clock or Wi-Fi drop-off is enough to annoy even the most patient person.

But believe it or not, blinks are a key component of a properly operating electrical system. They save you – and your co-op – time, money, and trouble. In short, they’re more help than hindrance when it comes to maintaining power quality and keeping your lights on.

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Blinks are usually the result of protective equipment clearing a fault. Faults occur when an object – usually a tree limb – touches a power line. That’s when our distribution system’s self-defense mechanism kicks in – and your lights blink.

On again, off again

Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative’s distribution system is equipped with protective devices known as oil circuit reclosers (OCRs), or breakers. OCRs respond to faults through a series of internal switching operations.

When a fault occurs, a relay directs the OCR to open a switch, interrupting power to the fault location. This momentary interruption gives the fault an opportunity to break contact, or clear itself from the power line. 

After a second or two, the OCR switch closes. While the switch is open, homes and businesses on that part of the electric line experience a blink.

If the interruption clears the fault, the power stays on. You don’t have to call for assistance, and no linemen are dispatched. 

If the fault is still present, the process repeats. After three attempts, the OCR switch remains open, resulting in an outage. At this point, you’re no longer dealing with a blink. You’re without power. You and other member/owners on that section of line call us, and we dispatch linemen to investigate, make repairs, and restore power.

Limiting momentary outages is a high priority for Eastern Illini. For years, we have pursued an aggressive right-of-way maintenance program to keep trees and branches clear of power lines.

Have blinks always occurred?

Yes! Many of today’s electronics require a constant, uninterrupted supply of power to run properly. Back in the day, we didn’t have digital clocks, DVRs, and coffeemaker displays flashing 12:00 when our power blinked. Today we do, making blinks more obvious.

You can help

As a member/owner of Eastern Illini, you can help us keep blinks to a minimum. Please be mindful of power lines and stay clear of the right-of-way when you’re planting trees. If you notice trees or limbs growing too close to our lines, we’d appreciate a call. You can reach us at 800-824-5102.

If you’re experiencing an unusual number of blinks at your home, please let us know that as well.

You can also take steps to avoid some of the frustration that accompanies momentary outages. Consider purchasing an alarm clock equipped with a battery backup.When the power blinks, your clock doesn’t, and you’re less likely to find yourself waking up late for school or work.

If the power blinks while you’re on your computer, you can lose your data. Plugging your PC into an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) will help protect your work. The UPS will keep your PC running so you have time to save your data and get your computer shut down.

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Member/owners enjoy plant tour

The Prairie State Energy Campus is among the cleanest coal plants in the world.

plant-tour

On October 23, 51 Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative member/owners took a tour of the Prairie State Energy Campus in Lively Grove, Illinois.

The tour included a surface tour of the coal mine, and an in-depth walking tour of the 1,600 Megawatt power plant.

The attendees learned about the many features of the plant, including a $1 billion investment that makes the campus one of the most environmentally friendly in the world.

For more information, please visit the Prairie State Energy Campus website.

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President’s Message – Hello and Happy New Year!

MFTPAnother year has arrived on the calendar.  I trust that you enjoyed celebrating the holidays with family and also found some peaceful time for reflection.  

Looking back, how would you characterize the past year?  Is it a year that you would like to repeat?  Unfortunately for us, time is one thing we cannot recapture – so we look to the future, but remember the past.

I first want to congratulate Dave Champion for his 40 plus years of dedicated and professional service to the cooperative system with Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative.  

It is rare in any profession to serve this length of time within the same system.  We know that Dave and his family will enjoy his well deserved retirement.  

As Dave departs, I step in to help continue EIEC’s excellent service tradition of more than 75 years. I’m excited to get the opportunity to work with our employees and board members (who are elected by and represent you) in providing you with safe and reliable electricity service and all the modern conveniences it allows. 

I am very appreciative and grateful to you and the board for this opportunity to work with our team of excellent and dedicated employees to implement board policy for the long term benefit of you – our member/owners.  

The utility industry will continue to change and evolve, but our focus as employees is to achieve our mission of providing the great service that you expect and deserve.   

Jennifer, my wife of nearly 32 years, and I grew up in the farming communities of Island Grove and Dieterich (southeast of Effingham).  

My first 20 years working in utilities were centered in the Champaign-Urbana and Decatur areas.  We are both excited and looking forward to returning to east central Illinois.  

As I wrap up this inaugural column, please know that all of my efforts will be with your best interests in mind for the long term benefit of the membership in total.  Please stop in and say hi, or contact me if I can help you in any way.

Sincerely,

Bob Hunzinger

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Capital credit payments top $1 million

The retirement of capital credits is a tangible benefit of being a member/owner of Eastern Illini.

In December of 2013, Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative will begin sending capital credit checks to member/owners that received electricity in 1979, 1980, and 1981. The payments totaled $1,146,979 and were part of an overall retirement of $1,716,240.

What are capital credits?

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 – into your capital credit account – in proportion to the amount of electricity you purchased that year. When the allocated funds are returned to you as capital credits, we say that those capital credits have been retired.

The retirement of capital credits – so-called because member/owners provide capital to the cooperative for it to operate and expand – depends on the co-op’s financial status. Eastern Illini holds on to the allocated capital credits to cover emergencies, such as a natural disaster, and other unexpected events, and to expand our electric system, all of which may require large-scale construction of poles and wires. By holding on to the capital credit allocations, we can lessen or eliminate the need to raise rates or borrow money (which could also lead to higher rates) to pay for the infrastructure. Each year, Eastern Illini’s Board of Directors carefully looks at our financial condition to determine how much, if any, capital credits can be retired.

“Allocating and retiring excess revenue to our member/owners helps distinguish cooperatives,” points out Eastern Illini’s President/CEO Dave Champion, Jr. “It makes our business model special, and does a great job of proving that you are much more than just a customer. You are a member/owner.

“Retiring capital credits is just one more way Eastern Illini is looking out for you,” emphasizes Champion.

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Solid Lighting Solutions

LED_Timeline

LEDs meet (and exceed) 2014 lighting efficiency standards.

A new year calls for updated lightbulb efficiency guidelines. No need to use bulbs with a twist; light-emitting diodes (LEDs) can help you switch on savings.

​Congress called for improved energy efficiency standards for traditional incandescent bulbs under the federal Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. By 2014, lightbulbs using between 40-W to 100-W must consume at least 28 percent less energy than classic bulbs. The change will save Americans an estimated $6 billion to $10 billion in lighting costs annually.

​When the next wave of standards kicks in next month, traditional 40-W and 60-W incandescents will no longer be available. In their place, some consumers are filling the gap with a solid solution: LEDs.

‘Solid’ lighting

​Incandescent bulbs create light using a thin wire (filament) inside a glass bulb—a delicate connection that can easily be broken, as frustrated homeowners can attest. In contrast, LEDs are at the forefront of solid-state lighting—small, packed electronic chip devices. 

Two conductive materials are placed together on a chip (a diode). Electricity passes through the diode, releasing energy in the form of light.

​Invented in 1960 by General Electric, the first LEDs were red—the color depends on materials placed on the diode. Yellow, green, and orange LEDs were created in the 1970s and the recipe for the color blue—the foundation for white LEDs—was unlocked in the mid-1990s. Originally used in remote controls, exit signs, digital watches, alarm clocks, and car signal lights, LEDs quickly gained momentum for large-scale lighting.

Measuring LED potential

The Arlington, Va.-based Cooperative Research Network has partnered with several electric cooperatives throughout the United States to test LEDs. Researchers are cautiously optimistic; LEDs offer several benefits:

  • LEDs could last longer, perhaps for decades

  • The energy to use LEDs could be substantially less than that of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or other fluorescents

  • With no mercury content, LEDs are more environmentally friendly

  • The products are rugged and more resistant to breakage

  • LEDs perform well in cold climates, especially outside

  • LEDs can be dimmed to produce a more pleasing light

However, some consumers avoid LEDs because the price tag exceeds normal lightbulb costs. But the true value lies in the lifetime of the bulb. It takes about 50 traditional incandescent bulbs, or eight to 10 CFLs, to last as long as one LED. 

Buyer Beware

Poor quality LED products are flooding the marketplace. Some are manufactured outside of the United States with components that produce low light levels, don’t boast a long service life, or make exaggerated energy saving claims.

Don’t be fooled. Look for the U.S. Department of Energy’s ENERGY STAR logo for guaranteed color quality over time, steady light output over the lifetime, high efficiency, and a warranty.

You can also look for an LED Lighting Facts label. The label helps consumers compare products to manufacturer claims and similar products with a quick summary of performance in five areas:

  1. Lumens: Measures light output. The higher the number, the more light is emitted.

  2. Lumens per watt (lm/W): Measures efficiency. The higher the number, the more efficient the product.

  3. Watts: Measures the energy required to light the product. The lower the wattage, the less energy is used.

  4. Correlated Color Temperature (CCT): Measures light color. “Cool” colors have higher Kelvin temperatures (3,600–5,500 K); “warm” colors have lower color temperatures (2,700–3,000 K). Cool white light is usually better for visual tasks. Warm white light is usually better for living spaces because it casts a warmer light on skin and clothing. Color temperatures of 2,700 to ,3600 K are recommended for most general indoor and task lighting.

  5. Color Rendering Index (CRI): Measures the effect of the lamp’s light spectrum on the color appearance of objects. The higher the number, the truer the appearance of the light. Incandescent lighting is 100 on the CRI.

Shedding Light on LEDs

​More lighting efficiency changes are coming. Congress’ measure mandates lightbulbs become 70 percent more efficient by 2020.

Curious to know if LEDs are right for you? Learn more about using LED labels at www.lightingfacts.com/content/consumers

Homeowners can also visit www.energysavers.gov/lighting to compare LEDs to new energy-efficient incandescent bulbs and CFLs.

 

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President’s Message – A fond farewell

Eastern Illini’s President/CEO, Dave Champion, is retiring at the end of 2013 after 40 years of service.

Time is zipping right along and my retirement date, December 31, 2013, is just a few days away. 

It is challenging to pull together the right words to express my feelings at this moment. I have been looking into the future with a vision for EIEC during my entire career. As I make decisions today, it is strange to stop and realize that I won’t actually be working at the Cooperative beyond the end of the year.

However, I have continued to make decisions that I believe to be in the best interest of the member/owners, Board of Directors, and employees, because, quite simply, that is just what all of us here at Eastern Illini do every day. 

I have been so honored to represent you during my time here and I am very proud of the team that we have assembled to serve you. I’m confident that Eastern Illini won’t miss a beat as I step out of the CEO chair and a new person steps in. Our employees are so focused on the mission of providing great service to you that they will keep right on doing so.

Over the years, we have had many challenges, some rather simple and others that have been very large and complex, but we have managed to overcome them all, as a team. One thing is for sure, the challenges will keep coming and it will take a lot of tough decision making to overcome them.  Those challenges will be managed well, as they always have been, because of the strength of the people that are involved with this great Cooperative. These are people who have the right motives, integrity, honesty and persistence. You should be proud of this team serving you, just as I am.

Now as Dij, my wife of 40 years, and I say so long and walk off into the sunset, I want you to know that we are eternally grateful for the opportunity to serve Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative for all these years. This would not have happened without the support of my family and it has been a huge treat for all of us to be involved with this world class organization and to achieve a sense of making a difference in peoples’ lives. 

We will miss all of our cooperative family, but there is a time for everything and now is the time for us to move on to the next chapter in our lives. 

We wish you God’s speed in the future!!

Respectfully,

DaveChampion

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Hunzinger named President/CEO of Eastern Illini

Hunzinger named President/CEO of Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative

EIEC_bob_hunzinger

PAXTON, Illinois (November 20, 2013) – The Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative (EIEC) Board of Directors has named Bob Hunzinger as the cooperative’s next President/CEO.  Hunzinger will begin his new duties on January 1, 2014.

Hunzinger has deep-rooted ties to Illinois.  A native of Dieterich, Illinois and a graduate of the University of Illinois with a BS in Electrical Engineering, he has 20 years experience in the utility industry in Illinois working for Illinois Power (in Champaign-Urbana and Decatur) and Soyland Power Cooperative.  More recently, he served as General Manager for municipal utilities in Kentucky and Florida.  Hunzinger has over 30 years of varied utility experience. Bob and his wife, Jennifer, have been married nearly 32 years, and have two daughters and two sons.  

Hunzinger noted, “I am excited and humbled for this opportunity and the trust the board members have placed in me. I look forward to working closely with the board and the hard working employees of EIEC to continue their history and tradition of providing excellent service.  Our member/owners’ interests must drive our decisions, as they are the reason we were formed more than 75 years ago.”

He continued, “I recognize the value and importance of a culture of successful and dedicated service by our employees in providing service for our member/owners.  This has been a focus of mine throughout my career.  I am a strong believer in cooperative principles and membership involvement.”

Eastern Illini’s Board of Directors selected Hunzinger following a nationwide search conducted over many months. The board took this responsibility very seriously and interviewed several highly qualified candidates – ultimately selecting Hunzinger. “I am very proud of the commitment from the board in doing its due diligence on behalf of our member/owners,” said Marion Chesnut, EIEC’s Board Chairman. Chesnut continued, “We are confident that Bob will serve our member/owners well, and that he is the right person to lead our cooperative into the future.”

Hunzinger follows Dave Champion, the current President/CEO, who is retiring after 40 years of service to Eastern Illini’s member/owners.

Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative is a rural electric cooperative based in Paxton, Ill. that supplies electricity to approximately 12,000 member/owners. Eastern Illini offers a full range of energy solutions, and is a member of Touchstone Energy — an alliance of over 750 electric cooperatives serving over 30 million consumers in 46 states, through 2.4 million miles of power lines.

More information is available at www.eiec.org, www.facebook.com/easternilli, and  www.twitter.com/easternillini

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Restoration process nearly complete

3:05 p.m., Tuesday, November 19

Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative line crews are nearing the end of the restoration process that began Sunday afternoon as high winds and tornadoes swept through east central Illinois. 

In all, 5,497 accounts were without electricity at some point during the last two days, and over 100 electric poles were knocked down. The crews are now working to identify individual lines and poles that may still be damaged. Any Eastern Illini member/owners that are still without power are encouraged to call the co-op at 800-824-5102.

Dave Champion, Eastern Illini’s President/CEO said, “We would like to thank all of our member/owners for their patience as we worked to restore power as quickly and safely as possible. We’d also like to thank the four Illinois electric cooperatives that sent workers and equipment to our area to aid in the restoration process. As usual, our employees showed great determination and professionalism as they worked around the clock to get the lights back on for our member/owners.” Champion continued, “The devastation that these storms left behind is tragic. Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone that lost their homes and belongings.”

1:05 p.m., Monday, November 18

We currently have just over 100 accounts still without power from yesterday’s high winds and storms. At the highest point yesterday, we had about 4,300 accounts without electricity (about 1/3 of entire system).

Our crews, as well as line workers from four other Illinois electric cooperatives, worked all through the night and are still out restoring power to our member/owners. 

Restore_2_Nov20134:55 p.m., November 17

Extremely high winds (and a few tornadoes) ripped through Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative’s service territory today. Our crews are assessing all of the damage, and we’ve called in help from other cooperatives to assist in the restoration process.

Our facebook page will be continuously updated during the outage. Our real-time outage map is also available to help keep you informed.

Please call us at 800-824-5102 to report an outage, or to let us know about downed power lines in your area. As always, please STAY AWAY from any downed power lines.

Restore_1_Nov2013

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Scholarship applications available

January 31 is the deadline for the Youth to Washington Scholarship Contest.

Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative is proud to offer two separate scholarship programs for graduating seniors. The first one involves students from all of the electric cooperatives in Illinois. The second one, which will officially be announced next month, is exclusively for Eastern Illini member families.

In 2014, seven scholarships, of $1,500 each, will be awarded to eligible high school seniors through the Illinois Electric Cooperative (IEC) Memorial Scholarship Program. 

Four scholarships will be awarded to students who are children of an Illinois electric cooperative member/owner. All Eastern Illini member families are eligible.  A fifth scholarship, the Earl W. Struck Memorial Scholarship, will be awarded to a student who is the child of an Illinois electric cooperative employee or director.  

The sixth and seventh scholarships are for students enrolling full-time at a two-year Illinois community college who are children of Illinois electric cooperative members, employees or directors. The scholarship applications are due by December 31.

An eighth scholarship, of $1,500, the LaVern and Nola McEntire Lineworker’s Scholarship, will be awarded to help pay for costs associated with lineworker’s school conducted by the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives in conjunction with Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield.  Students who are children of an Illinois electric cooperative member/owner, or are related to an employee or director at an Illinois electric co-op are eligible, as are individuals who have served or are serving in the armed forces or National Guard. Applications for this scholarship must be postmarked by April 30. 

Youth to Washington Scholarship
Eastern Illini’s main scholarship contest, the Youth to Washington Scholarship program, offers two graduating seniors the chance to win a $1,000 college scholarship, and earn an expenses-paid trip to our nation’s capital in June.

While in Washington, D.C., the students will have the opportunity to see government in action while visiting historical landmarks like the U.S. Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetary, Mount Vernon, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Smithsonian Museums.  

The application deadline is January 31.

To see the official rules and to download the scholarship applications visit our scholarship section.

For more information, please contact Debbie Laird at debbie.laird@eiec.coop or 800-824-5102. Students can also see their high school guidance counselor.

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President’s Message – Why I’m thankful for EIEC

The Thanksgiving season offers a great opportunity to reflect on what’s important.

At my family’s Thanksgiving dinner each year, we all take turns saying something we’re grateful for. My list is usually about the same—good health, wonderful family and friends, and a job serving the great member/owners of Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative.

I’m thankful to be a part of Eastern Illini. Our employees are some of the hardest working people I know. Our mission is to provide safe and reliable electric service to our member/owners, but we also aim to improve the quality of life in east central Illinois. It’s a mission we all take seriously.

I’m thankful for Eastern Illini because it allows employees to live alongside those we serve. The beauty of a cooperative is that it’s locally owned and operated; there are no distant shareholders pulling the strings behind the scenes. Member/owners like you elect members to serve on the board of directors and govern our co-op. We are your neighbors, your friends, your family. 

I’m thankful for my co-op because it serves as a vibrant force in the local economy—partly because we are local. That means Eastern Illini is invested in the future of its communities. That’s why we offer no-cost energy efficiency kits for our member/owners in need, and why we go to schools to teach our children about electrical safety and efficiency.

I’m thankful for my co-op because we care. From giving scholarships to young people, to reaching out to members with information that will help them save energy and money, we care about the people and the towns we serve.

I’m also thankful for the wonderful employees that keep the lights on and our board of directors that set the tone for our cooperative.

Finally, I’m thankful for you, our member/owners and faithful readers, because without you, there’d be no Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative.

It seems that as I conclude my 40-year career at Eastern Illini, I have a lot to be thankful for. We live in a wonderful part of the state and our strong rural roots run deep.

Please make a note to read next month’s issue of this PowerLines, as I will officially say goodbye and offer some reflections on my career. 

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Eastern Illini Electric Co-op. 

Respectfully,

Dave Champion

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