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President's column

Dustin Tripp

Annual Meeting

SouthEastern Illinois Electric Cooperative is very pleased to announce that it will be holding its 76th  Annual Member's Meeting on Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 at the Little Chapel Church (located approximately 3 ½ miles north of Harrisburg on Route 34). 

Members who attend the annual meeting will receive a $15 credit on their power bill, receive an attendance prize and be eligible to have their name drawn for a number of prizes, including the chance to win one of four $250 cash awards. Children under the age of 13 are eligible to register for and possibly win one of ten gift certificates with a value of $25 each.

Entertainment and registration will begin at 6:00 p.m and the business session begins at 7:00 p.m. During the business session, members will learn about the Cooperative's past year of operation and the ways your Cooperative is working to improve the service provided while keeping rates as competitive as possible. In addition, they will be able to participate in the process of selecting four individuals to serve on the Cooperative's Board of Trustees.

Dustin Tripp

Membership Survey and Rates

As your Electric Cooperative, we strive to provide members with a very reliable and cost effective electric energy supply.  In order to see how well your Cooperative is performing, the membership is surveyed every two years to receive feedback regarding the service they receive.  The Cooperative also participates in a Residential Retail Rate Study with 24 other Electric Cooperatives in Illinois.  This month, I would like to share the results of the most recent member survey and Residential Retail Rate Study.

Every few years, the Cooperative membership is surveyed by an independent survey firm in order to determine what areas of our operation need improvement. In the summer of 2013, 997 survey questionnaires were mailed to randomly selected members of SouthEastern Illinois Electric Cooperative, in all 280 completed surveys were returned for a completion rate of 28.1%.   In addition, an ACSI satisfaction-only telephone survey was conducted including interviews with 250 members. Respondents were dispersed throughout the service territory with responses from 41 different zip codes.

These results revealed an increase in overall satisfaction with 89% of members being satisfied with the Cooperative.  The American Customer Satisfaction Index responses resulted in a score of 85.  In comparison, the average Illinois Electric Cooperative score was 81 while investor-owned utilities had a score of 77 and municipal utilities had a score of 76.  The survey respondents gave the Cooperative the highest ratings for delivering reliable electric service, having knowledgeable employees, excellent customer service and prompt outage response.  While these numbers are very good, your Cooperative will continue to strive to improve the level of service members receive.

Dustin Tripp

Your Cooperative

SouthEastern Illinois Electric Cooperative is very proud to be one of a number of businesses in our area that remain locally owned, locally governed and locally operated for the past 76 years in Southern Illinois. Our Cooperative embraces improving the quality of life in the communities that it serves. Your Cooperative remains committed to its communities and the following is just a few examples of how your electric cooperative is striving to make a difference right here in Southern Illinois.

Your Cooperative coordinates an education grant program known as the Touchstone Energy Classroom Empowerment Grant. Your Cooperative offers a total of $4,600 in grants to fund innovative, unfunded projects or materials. Qualifying projects are those that improve the learning environment or increase educational resources for the school and the students. Every year, your cooperative sends grant applications to all of the schools in the 10 county service area and assists school administrators in applying for these grants. For the 2013-2014 school year SEIEC awarded Galatia Junior/Senior High School, Gallatin County Junior High School, Goreville Junior High School, Marion High School and Washington Elementary School with Touchstone Energy Classroom Empowerment Grants.

Dustin Tripp

Like many of you, I’m certainly glad to see Spring finally arrive.  The cold winter months resulted in most residential services consuming record energy consumption resulting in higher electric bills.  I would like to take this opportunity to help explain why many residential and business services experienced higher than average energy consumption and subsequent higher electric bills in the first few months of 2014.

Utilities consistently monitor temperatures to help determine the necessary demand for energy and heating degree days is an index that quantifies the demand for energy needed to heat a specific structure, such as a home or business, during the winter months.  A similar index, cooling degree days, is used to help determine the demand for energy to cool a structure in the summer.

Heating degree days is calculated by taking the average base temperature that a specific structure is normally heated to minus the average outside ambient temperature for each day of the month and then adding all days in that specific month.   Many would think that the base temperature would be around 70°F but for historical reasons and the availability to compare this index over a long period of time, the base temperature is normally defined as 65°F.  In order to calculate this index, assume the average outside ambient temperature for the 1st day of the month is 20°F.  The number of heating degree days for the 1st day of the month would be calculated as 65°F - 20°F = 45 heating degree days.  You would continue this process for each day of the month and then add all the respective heating degree days for the entire month.  The following is a table that shows historical values for the heating degree index in Southern Illinois for the winter months of December 2013, January 2014 and February 2014.

Dustin TrippRegulatory Update

On January 8, 2014 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published proposed rules on carbon emissions in the Federal Register that would, as a practical matter, eliminate coal as a fuel source for new power plants.  More importantly, these rules on new power plants trigger a legal requirement under the Clean Air Act to set new standards for existing power plants which will have a direct economic impact on cooperatives and their members.  These rules could result in substantially higher generation costs which will lead to significantly higher energy bills.

The proposed rule would require any new coal-fired generating facility to implement a technology known as carbon capture and storage (CCS).  Unfortunately, this technology is not proven on a utility scale plant and is certainly not cost effective.  Numerous studies reveal that the cost of the CCS technology will be prohibitive.  Cost estimates vary widely depending upon the type of power plant, the stage of carbon capture, the type of transport system and storage type.  Given these variables, studies have revealed that the implementation of CCS technology would increase the cost of energy from a coal-fired power plant in the range of 60 to 85%.  In addition, the additional equipment required to perform the CCS technology would decrease the plants efficiency by as much as 20 to 40%.  The EPA did not follow the historical standard that requires a technology to be cost-effective which will certainly lead to a court challenge that may take years to complete.

Dustin TrippVegetation Management

One of the many advantages of living in Southern Illinois is the beauty of this area including the Shawnee National Forrest and the great variety of trees and vegetation that grow throughout the region. Although your Cooperative realizes the significance of this important natural resource and are advocates for retaining as many local trees as possible, we must implement a sound vegetation management program to ensure you with reliable energy solutions.

SouthEastern’s current vegetation management program sets the goal of trimming on a four to five-year cycle. This means that what is trimmed or cut today will be trimmed again in four to five years. Your Cooperative feels that if this goal can be achieved, you as Cooperative members will experience less momentary blinks, less outages and faster restoration times which will increase the quality and reliability of your electric service. Over the past few years, your Cooperative has experienced extreme storms resulting in devastating damages which reminds all of us of the importance of a sound vegetation management program.