Building Catherdrals

Next month’s national cooperative annual meeting will mark the end of the two-year tenure for Board President Phil Carson, who is a member of the Tri-County Electric Cooperative Board in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. Phil is a super person, who is very humble, with many redeeming qualities (perhaps the best of which is that he is an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan). Phil has also never met a stranger. He is the first person from Illinois to lead the national organization – quite an honor. Below is a portion of his last column published in the national cooperative magazine.

“At last year’s Annual Meeting, I talked about Cathedral Thinking, a philosophy based on the workers who helped build the world’s magnificent cathedrals but weren’t alive to see the final product.

Instead, they found satisfaction in their legacy – in the knowledge that they were part of something bigger than themselves. Our cooperative movement began 80 years ago to improve the quality of life for people in rural communities, and we continue to advance that mission every day, though it may look slightly different as our world evolves.

And as things change, we should remind ourselves what makes up the rock-solid foundation of our co-op cathedral: transparency, honesty, and doing things right. These will serve as the base for our cooperatives no matter what the future holds. They, along with an ongoing commitment to good governance and regular self-examination will help ensure we’re living up to the principles on which our movement was founded.
Remember that governance is not something you ever finish.”

Phil, on behalf of the members, employees, and directors of Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative, thank you for your commitment and service to the nation’s electric cooperatives.

Indeed, governance is something that is continual. EIEC undergoes an annual audit from an outside accounting firm. The auditors are just completing their work reviewing calendar year 2018 financials and performance. If each of us were to undergo an audit of our lives to this point – what would the audit reveal?

Using Phil’s analogy above, let us reflect on the cathedrals that each of us are building. What will our legacy be? Eastern Illini directors and employees are working hard and considering the future to leave the best possible legacy for future members.

As the calendar turns to springtime, stay safe and enjoy the spring growth and vibrant colors.


Bob Hunzinger

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Three DYI projects that save energy & money

Winter weather can have a big impact on your energy bills, hitting your pockets a little harder than you would have liked.

Now that spring is just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to tackle a few DIY efficiency projects for your home. The good news: You don’t have to be an energy expert to do this!

There are several easy ways to save energy, but if you’re willing to take a hands-on approach, here are three projects you can do now to start saving.

Make the Most of Your Water Heater.
Let’s start with one of the easiest projects: insulating your water heater. Insulating a water heater that’s warm to the touch can save 7 to 16 percent annually on your water heating bills. If your water heater is new, it is likely already insulated. But if your water heater is warm to the touch, it needs additional insulation.

You can purchase a pre-cut jacket or blanket for about $20. You’ll need two people for this project. Before you start, turn off the water heater. Wrap the blanket around the water heater and tape it to temporarily keep it in place. Use a marker to note the areas where the controls are so you can cut them out. Once the blanket is positioned correctly, tape it permanently in place, then turn the water heater back on. If you have an electric water heater, do not set the thermostat above 130 degrees to avoid overheating.

Seal Air Leaks with Caulk.
The average American family spends $2,000 annually on energy bills, but unfortunately, much of that money is wasted through air leaks in the home.
Applying caulk around windows, doors, electrical wiring and plumbing can save energy and money. Silicone caulking is the most popular, because it is waterproof, and won’t shrink or crack. Before applying new caulk, clean and remove old caulk. The area should be clean and dry before you apply the new caulk. Apply the caulk in a continuous stream, and make sure it sticks to both sides of the crack or seam. Afterwards, use a putty knife to smooth out the caulk, and wipe the surface with a dry cloth.

Weatherstrip Exterior Doors.
One of the best ways to seal air leaks is to weatherstrip exterior doors, which can keep out drafts and help you control energy costs. Make sure the weatherstripping you select can withstand temperature changes, friction and the general “wear and tear” for the location of the door. You’ll need separate materials for the door sweep and the top and sides. Measure each side of the door, then cut the weatherstripping to fit each section. Make sure the
weatherstripping fits snugly against both surfaces so it compresses when the door is closed. These simple projects, you can save energy and money.

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Keep an eye out for the new bill design

Eastern Illini members shared with us they want to see more in-depth information about their electrical use including average temperatures compared to daily electric use. We agreed and gathered members’ thoughts and good ideas and incorporated them into a redesigned electric bill that more clearly provides the information in a concise and easy to read format.

Prior to the bill being distributed, we want to answer some upfront questions related to the bill redesign.

Why is EIEC redesigning its bill?
The last major redesign of EIEC’s bill occurred more than 20 years ago.
A minor change to the way information was reported saw modifications to the EIEC invoice six years ago, so we felt it was time for some enhancements and improvements that benefit members.

Using member feedback, we wanted to update the bill with a modern look and feel and provide useful information that is easier to find and understand.

How did Eastern Illini come up with the new bill design?
Through a series of focus groups involving members, employees, and others, we gathered feedback. The redesigned bill combines this valuable input, and industry best practices, resulting in a new bill that makes it easier to understand and manage your energy costs.

What are the key enhancements that have been made as part of the bill redesign?
• More color has been incorporated throughout the bill to improve readability and highlight important messages.

• Key information like your balance, due date, and payment options are prominently displayed. Historical data and daily electric use are prominently displayed.

• The new bill design is accessible through SmartHub, so you can pull it up on your phone, computer, or tablet wherever and whenever. We encourage you to sign up for SmartHub at www.eiec.coop.

• In-depth graphs in color will provide monthly temperature information, so you can see your daily use in comparison to average temperatures.

Will my account information change as part of the bill redesign?
No, member account information will NOT change. Your account number and meter number(s) will remain the same.

Will I still be able to pay my bill the same way?
Yes. How you pay is your choice. We offer many convenient ways to pay your electric bill. Those numerous options are still available.

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Would your home pass an electrical inspection?

If you’re getting ready to sell your home or just wondering how electrically sound it is, there are some general guidelines out there to assess the condition of your home’s wiring and electrical bones. Although it varies depending on where you live, most local codes follow the National Electric Code (NEC).

The NEC is an industry-specific document that outlines required practices for all aspects of residential and commercial electrical installation.

Local code always wins out when there are variances, so be sure to check with a qualified electrician or local building department for specific code requirements.

Electrical malfunction is dangerous. U.S. fire departments respond to more than 45,000 home structure fires annually that involve electrical failure or malfunction. Home fires result in 420 deaths, 1,370 injuries and an annual $1.4 billion in direct property damage.

In general, here are some all-house guidelines that an inspector would look for. Remember they may or may not align with your local electrical code but they are NEC-mandated. If your home has any of the following defects, it may not pass an electrical safety inspection:

• Old knob-and-tube, along with BX cable wiring, common from 1880 to 1930.

• New lights installed into old wiring.

• Overcrowded wires producing excess heat or spliced wires that were illegally installed (they must be installed by an approved method).

• Broken or missing carbon monoxide detectors or smoke alarms.

• Non-insulated/non-contact-rated recessed lights that touch attic insulation, which is a fire hazard.

• Improper overcurrent protection, which means the breaker or fuse is too large for the wire rating.

• Improper grounding and bonding of electrical panels and devices.

Here are some other kitchen and bathroom specific things to consider:

• Does your electric range, cook top or oven have a dedicated 240-volt circuit?

• Does your microwave, refrigerator, and garbage disposal each have its own circuit?

• Are outlets GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters)? GFCIs are designed to protect people from electric shock around water.

• Does your combination fan and light have its own 20-amp circuit?

• Do the light fixtures in the shower or tub area have a “lens” cover? Are they moisture resistant?

• Does each room have a wall switch installed beside the entry door?

• Are outlets installed no farther than 12 feet apart?

• Are ceiling fixtures controlled by a wall switch and not just a pull chain?

There are also hallway, staircase and garage code requirements, as well as those for the electrical service panel and wiring. It’s always a good idea to have an electrician inspect your home.

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People to Know: Paul Crutcher

Many of us have seen the movies Hunt for Red October and Crimson Tide, and other submarine films, but very few of us can say we’ve lived in a submarine.

Eastern Illini electrical engineer, Paul Crutcher, spent six years in the Navy and he lived aboard the USS Charlotte, a 360-foot-long, 6,900-ton submarine. Paul was a nuclear field electrician who managed electrical aspects of the nuclear power plant on the USS Charlotte. His stint in the Navy had him stationed for most of the time in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Paul is from Fairbury, Illinois and graduated from Prairie Central High School. He joined the Navy right out of high school and followed in the footsteps of many family members who served in the military. After serving in the Navy, Paul graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in electrical engineering.

These days, Paul spends his time as an electrical engineer for EIEC. He joined the cooperative in June of 2018 after spending seven years working for Ameren.

Paul uses his technical abilities to enhance and maintain a well-designed, soundly constructed and reliable electrical system for EIEC members. He is responsible for overseeing long and short-range distribution system planning, design, inspection and reliability. Paul has oversight of the engineering services department personnel, managing mapping and system engineering software operations, and analyzing opportunities and new technology to improve overall system reliability and operations.

Paul reports to Brad Smith, Vice President of Operations and Engineering and together they work to enhance and improve the electrical infrastructure of 4,500 miles of line in a ten-county service territory. Safe and reliable electricity 24/7 is the mantra in the operations and engineering department of Eastern Illini.

Paul also works with Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and smart grid efficiencies including prioritization of electrical system improvements. He is just finishing updating an electronic mapping system that interacts with the technology used by linemen and servicemen and provides accurate, robust, and easy to use data that enhances the ability to predict outages. The electronic mapping data is updated monthly to keep information current.

In his role at EIEC, Paul is involved in renewable energy. He works with policies, procedures, and processes regarding solar installations. He assists with savings estimations, service quality assurance, and third party installation crews.

Paul really likes the hands-on aspects of his position and enjoys the ability to make a difference with members. He always strives to make a positive impact on their interaction with the engineering department.

Paul and his wife, Rachel, reside in Paxton and have three children: Timothy, age 4; Joseph, age 2; and Lori, age 10 months.

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Time to Reflect

While sitting in my office during an early January day I noticed fast moving clouds heading north passing by the window. It was an unusually warm day for January, as much as 25 degrees above the normal high temperature, giving this very windy day a March like feel and appearance. With the recent calendar change indicating a new year, our thoughts often turn reflective, possibly including:

• How does time, like the passing clouds, go by so quickly?
• What will happen within our family this year?
• What will happen in the world at large this year?

I will allow you to reflect on your predictions on the last two items for family and world events. Even though the time in each year is always the same (except for the leap year every four years), it seems that time passes more quickly as we age. Maybe it is because we are so busy doing “things” and reacting to life events that we do not take time to adequately consider future plans.

Recently my wife and I updated our original will, which dated to 1987. A lot changed in 31 years! The two children that were then three and five years old were joined by two others. All of the kids are now out on their own, ranging from 24 to 36 years in age, and are scattered across the country in four different states from their parents. I cannot explain why it took us that long to update such an important document.

The start of 2019 marked five years since I arrived at the cooperative. This time passed very quickly, even with time given to annual plans and goals, and the longer term strategic planning undertaken. In these five years, the cooperative has met its mission to provide safe and reliable service to members, while improving its financial position. During this time there have been many changes to our cooperative family of employees and directors, and this will continue in the future as time passes. Thank you for your consistent and loyal support of Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative over the years.

The utility industry in general is changing, seemingly at a more rapid pace as compared to history. Our longer-range view and plans must consider the possibility of viable alternative energy sources (such as wind and solar) paired with future battery storage that will challenge and possibly upset the cooperative business delivery model. Electric vehicles will likely become more prevalent as well, which will change energy consumption patterns.

If you made resolutions for the new year, now is the time to recommit to them. If you have not yet made or considered resolutions, there is still time – we can all improve in some facet of our lives.

I will make two bold sports predictions for 2019 – both the Cards and Cubs will make the playoffs, and both the Bears and Packers will make the playoffs. As a bonus prediction, Lovie and the Illini football team will win six games and go to a bowl!


Bob Hunzinger

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Nominating Petitions Available February 21

Eastern Illini’s Board is made up of cooperative members just like you. Pictured, from left to right, are board members Harold Loy, Beaverville; Steve Meenen, Melvin; Steve Gordon, Rantoul; Brad Ludwig, Fithian; Chad Larimore, Bement; Tom Schlatter, Chastworth; Lauri Quick, Tolono; Kevin Moore, Rossville; and Bruce Ristow, Cissna Park.

Nominating petitions will be available on Thursday, February 21, 2019 for the June 6, 2019 director election.

The following members have been appointed by the Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative Board of Directors to serve a 1-year term on the 2019 Credentials Committee. Doug Anderson of Donovan, Dave Boomgarden of Chatsworth, Michele Cohen of Ogden, Leonard Boudreau of Donovan, and Marsha Klienmeyer of Camargo.

The Credentials Committee will meet at the cooperatives’ headquarters on Tuesday, April 9, 2019, to review the qualifications of all candidates who file nominating petitions to determine their eligibility to serve as directors of the cooperative.

Directors in Directorate Districts 1,7, 8, and 9 will be elected at the June 6, 2019 Annual Meeting. Incumbent directors Steve Gordon of Rantoul, District 7; Chad Larimore of Bement, District 8; and Lauri Quick of Tolono, District 9, have indicated they will seek reelection. Harold Loy of Beaverville, District 1, has decided to not seek reelection.

Nominating petitions can be picked up beginning at 8 a.m. on Thursday, February 21, 2019, at Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative, 330 W. Ottawa, Paxton. Each member who desires to be elected to the Board of Directors must have a petition signed by not less than 25 members of the cooperative. Petitions must be filed at Eastern Illini’s headquarters in Paxton no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, April 5, 2019.

The nominating process is conducted in accordance with the following provision of the EIEC Bylaws, Article III,

Section 3.5: Nominations:

Any member of the Cooperative in good standing who desires to be elected to its Board of Directors may be nominated by petition signed by not less than twenty-five (25) members and filed with the Secretary/Treasurer of the Cooperative not less than sixty (60) days prior to the annual meeting of members. Nominations from the floor shall not be permitted. The Secretary/Treasurer of the Cooperative shall cause to be prepared and posted at the principal office of the Cooperative at least forty-five (45) days before the annual meeting, a list of the nominations for Directors thus filed with him or her.

A specimen ballot marked “Ballot for Directors” containing the names and addresses of all nominees listed in the order determined by lot conducted by the Board of Directors of the Cooperative shall be printed in or mailed with the notice of the meeting. The Secretary/Treasurer shall also have printed in or mailed with the said notice of the meeting or separately not less than seven (7) days prior to said annual meeting, a statement of the number of directors to be elected and the district from which they are to be elected.

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Factors that influence your electric bill

You open your electric bill this month and immediately look around the house to see if a window or door has been left open, because the bill is some what higher than it was last month.

There are many factors that influence the amount of your electric bill – colder than normal temperatures, or more visitors over the holidays. You might have had kids home from school for Christmas break which generated more laundry, and required running the dishwasher extra times. Here are some reasons why your electric bill might vary each month:

Reason #1: Each month is different. This seems simple, but it is true. The weather is different each month, and your lifestyle can change a bit from month to month. Both of those can have an impact on your electric bill.

Sometimes there are bigger things that can make a difference in your bill. If you look at this month’s bill compared to last month, you might notice a big change.

There are two main reasons. One is the weather. It was a bit colder this past month than it was in December. The second, and larger reason, is last month’s Margin Rebate.

Take a look at your bill from last month. You should notice a line item called the Margin Rebate. The Margin Rebate was a result of EIEC having a good year financially, and your ownership stake in the co-op. We had higher than budgeted electric sales. We also had lower wholesale power costs than forecasted.

Lastly, we were slightly understaffed for much of 2018, so operating expenses were a bit lower. All of those factors contributed to more revenue than we anticipated. Since we’re a member-owned cooperative, your Board of Directors decided to give that money back to you in the form of the Margin Rebate. In all, $800,000 was distributed back to members like you.

When you review your next electric bill, please remember your last bill included the Margin Rebate, so the bill was probably lower than this month’s bill.

Reason #2: Extreme weather. Temperatures can change drastically in a 48-hour span, especially in Illinois. We have no control over those changing temperatures, but we do have control over how we respond.

If a cold wave moves in, do not change the thermostat to reflect the dropping temperatures. Instead, keep the
temperature inside the house consistent, and ignore those brief plummets in the temperature. If it gets cold, bundle up!

Reason #3: Light bulbs that are not energy efficient. They might be slightly more expensive initially, but in the long run, LED light bulbs are a must when it comes to saving money on electricity. LED light bulbs use up to 90% less energy than traditional light bulbs, and last nearly forever.

Reason #4: Your home could use some additional insulation. When you crank up the heat on a cold winter night and your home is not properly insulated you will be wasting money. Old windows and drafty attics are the culprits behind your unusually high electric bill. Invest in new windows, and make sure your attic has proper insulation. The investment today will save you money down the road.

We offer Energy Audits to our members. An energy specialist will evaluate your home and make suggestions on ways to be more energy efficient. Call us at 800-824-5102 to set up an energy audit for your home.

Reason #5: There’s a space heater that runs in addition to your furnace. People use space heaters to warm colder areas in their home. The assumption that space heating is more economical than cranking up the furnace, is not always true. Sometimes space heaters can inflate an electric bill, especially if they are used for comfort heat, on top of central heating systems to solve heating inadequacies.

Reason #6: Running appliances that are not filled to capacity. The dishwasher and the washing machine are two of the greatest inventions. Although these appliances are great for countless different reasons, they may be the culprit behind your unusually high electric bill. These appliances use a lot of energy. Only run the dishwasher when it is completely full. The same goes for the washer and dryer. Wait until the hamper is full before doing a that next load of laundry.

Reason #7: Lights that are not used strategically in the home. Every house needs some form of lighting, whether it be ceiling lights or lamps. But did you know that there is a way to eliminate unnecessary electric usage by being strategic with the lighting in your house? Ceiling lights might create a bright room, but they waste electricity and are not efficient. Try lamps instead. They provide direct light rather than ceiling lights. Another energy saving tip is to remember to turn off lights as you leave a room, which saves electricity.

Reason #8: Unnecessary charging time for devices. A charged phone or computer is necessary. Keeping that phone or computer plugged in overnight or all day isn’t necessary. A phone needs around 2-3 hours to fully charge. Save electricity and unplug your phone when charged.

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