Hey, guy! Watch out for guy wires!

Hey, guy! Watch out for guy wires!
August 2011
Vol. 15, No. 8
Hey, guy!
out for
Looking at the poles of your electric cooperative’s distribution system, you may be tempted to think the guy wire
doesn’t look that important. All it does is go from the pole
to an anchor in the ground and serves as extra support. It
can’t be nearly as important as the wires between the poles
that carry electricity to your home, right?
Not quite. Guy wires should be treated with as much
respect as powerlines. In December of 2010 a broken guy
wire caused a power outage for 8,500 members of the River
Valley Electric Cooperative, Branson, Missouri. The guy
wire broke, reducing tension on the power lines, which
knocked out a breaker, which fed three substations.
One of the most important functions of the guy wire is to
keep tension on lines and to prevent sag. If the lines sag,
they can slap into each other in winds.
If you see a broken, limp or sagging guy wire or hit
one with your tractor or vehicle, be sure to let your electric cooperative know. Even the plastic sleeve serves an
important function. It makes the guy wire more visible to
snowmobilers during the winter months.
Do guy wires serve any function in protecting the lines
from lightning? No, but since the guy wire is attached to
an anchor driven into the Earth, it is an easy path to the
ground for lightning.
Guy wires might not carry power, but they keep power
lines and poles where they belong for a reliable distribution system. If one gets damaged, call your co-op; it needs
to be repaired.
Affordable. Innovative. Member Focused.
It’s hard to predict the future, but one thing seems certain —
new government regulations will increase the cost of electricity.
We want to work with you to keep your electric bills Affordable. We’re controlling costs through Innovation and no
matter what the future holds, we’ll continue to put you, our
members, First. We’re looking out for you, our member-owners.
Brown County
Rural Electrical
Connecting our co-ops & members
to a progressive future
Inside this issue:
Load management makes a difference...Page 4
Load management options...Page 5
Connect ons
Cooperative Alliance Partners
This publication focuses on CAP’s members, programs and
events. As this is the official member publication, member’s
story ideas, letters-to-the-editor and comments are welcomed.
Andrea Christoffer, CCC, Editor
“Owned by those it serves”
Connections (USPS 010-456) is published monthly by Federated Rural Electric, 77100 US Hwy
71, Jackson, MN 56143. Subscriptions: Members $5 a year. Nonmembers $10 a year. Periodicals
postage paid at Jackson, MN and additional mailing offices.
POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Connections, PO Box 69, Jackson MN
Printed by Livewire Printing, Jackson, on recycled paper with soy ink
The next generation of hot water heater?
Heat pump water heaters undergo local testing
The majority of co-op
members are familiar
with the co-op’s water
heater program. However, a new option is being
tested by 15 Minnesota
electric co-ops.
“Last fall Great River Energy (GRE)
initiated a test of three brands of heat
pump water heaters,” stated Vicki
Belanger, GRE test program coordinator. “We sought co-op employees with
four members in the household so we
would have a standard comparison.
Three different brands were selected
for the test. Each household had to
have a meter installed on the existing
co-op water heater to see how much
electricity it used and then meter the
electricity used on the heat pump water
heater as well.”
Water heating can account for up to
25 percent of the energy consumed in
a home, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Heat pump water
heaters look similar to standard tank
water heaters; the main difference is
where the heat comes from and how
much energy is used.
Inside a heat pump water heater, a
refrigerant passes through an evaporator where it absorbs heat from the air.
The heated refrigerant then moves a
compressor that raises its temperature
before it is used to heat the water in
the tank.
In other words, the heat pump water
heater uses electricity to move heat
from one place to another, rather than
Cap off your savings with a heat pump
water heater! Heat pump waters heaters are currently being tested by co-op
members. Are they the future? Read to
find out.
generate heat. As a result, the unit
uses roughly half the electricity of
a conventional electric water heater.
“We are about halfway through the
test year and are impressed with the
results so far,” Belanger stated. “We
are seeing significant energy savings
and it is more than we anticapated.”
Locally, Federated employee and
member Andrea Christoffer and herRound Lake family are testing the
heat pump water heater. “I am quite
impressed with the water heater sav-
ings. We had a 100-gallon Vaughn
water heater from the co-op.
“Our heat pump water heater is
located in the back corner of our
basement, which is open to the family room,” Christoffer stated. “In that
corner of the basement the temperature
is definitely about 10 degrees cooler
than the rest of the basement. In the
summertime, it’s the coolest area in the
whole house, plus it dehumidifies too!
The heat pump water heater sounds
like a dehumidifier running due to the
compressor. After our morning showers the heat pump will run most of the
morning to re-heat that water using the
indoor air in heat pump mode.
“During the coldest days of winter
we pushed one button to switch it off
the heat pump mode and to electric element mode,” added Dean Christoffer.
“It also has a hybrid mode where both
the heat pump and elements are used.
“I was a little concerned about the
maintenance of the unit with more
moving parts,” Dean stated. “Periodically, you have to blow off the unit’s
air filter. Plus, a tube had to be run to
the basement drain for the moisture
These heat pump water heaters cost
about $1,500 to $2,000, plus installation, which takes a bit longer than a
standard install. However, federal tax
credits pay up to $300 in 2011 only.
The trial period will conclude this
fall. These results will help your electric cooperative decide on the future
path for its water heater program.
Connections — August 2011
Introducing the HAL 9000 of
floor-cleaning robots — Mint
While the dream to put a robot butler in every home that cooks, mows the lawn and does
laundry stalled, homeowners can at least own
a robot that will perform their floor cleaning.
The Mint Automatic Floor Cleaner from Evolution Robotics sweeps and mops hard floors. Using dry and
pre-moistened cleaning cloths, Mint picks up dust, dirt and
pet hair. Its compact design gets into tight spaces, under
furniture and into other areas that are hard to reach with
traditional mops and sweepers.
Guided by the NorthStar Navigation System cube, Mint
tracks where it cleans so it does not miss a spot. The system works like an indoor GPS and helps Mint keep track
of where it has been and where it needs to go. After Mint
finishes cleaning open areas and around obstacles, it per-
The Mint, along
with its navigation
system (square unit), will
clean your hard-surface floors!
forms a final edge cleaning along walls and furniture and
then returns to where it started. Smart sensors help Mint
avoid area rugs and raised carpet transitions, detect areas
that are too low to enter and even avoid falling down stairs.
What do you have to do? Simply attach your cleaning
cloth of choice. In sweep mode Mint uses a dry sweeping
cloth to pick up dust bunnies, pet hair and grit from your
floor. In mop mode Mint cleans with a pre-moistened cleaning cloth and a special back-and-forth mopping motion to
pick up deeper dirt and grime. Mint works with commonly
available disposable cleaning cloths or with re-usable microfiber cloths. These microfiber cloths can be re-washed
and re-used hundreds of times.
Mint can map and clean up to 1,000 square feet either
in a large open space or by discovering adjacent rooms.
In mop mode the cleaning area is restricted to 250 square
feet to optimize cleaning, while the cleaning cloth is wet.
Mint’s dual modes let you maintain all your hard surface
floors with one device. Since Mint is not a vacuum, no bins
require emptying or filters need replacement.
Mint includes two C batteries, two dry sweeping microfiber
cloths, one wet mopping microfiber cloth, power adapter,
quick start guide and user manual. The floor cleaning robot
is backed by a one-year warranty.
Mint sells for approximately $200 and is available from
online retailers like Amazon.com.
Empower yourself when it comes to power tool safety
Power up on power tool safety tips.
• Never carry a tool by the cord.
• Never yank the cord to disconnect
it from the receptacle.
• Keep cords away from heat, oil, and
sharp edges (including the cutting surface
of a power saw or drill).
• Disconnect tools when not in use, before servicing and
when changing accessories such as blades, bits, etc.
• Avoid accidental starting. Do not hold fingers on the
switch button while carrying a plugged-in tool.
• Use gloves and appropriate safety footwear when using
electric tools.
• Store electric tools in a dry place when not in use.
• Do not use electric tools in damp or wet locations unless they are approved for that purpose.
Connections — August 2011
• Ensure that cords from electric tools do not
present a tripping hazard.
• Remove all damaged portable electric tools
from use and tag them: “Do Not Use.”
• Use double-insulated tools. Double-insulated
tools help protect against electrical shock. An
electrical shock in a tool can occur, for example,
from worn wiring that lets bare wire touch the frame of an
appliance. Double-insulated tools have an outer casing of
plastic or some other nonconductive material and are the
only tools with two-wire plugs sold today that are approved
by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
• Keep work areas well-lit when operating electric tools.
• If you use extension cords, make sure the cords are well
maintained and in good working order.
— Courtesy of safeelectricity.org
Brown County
Grab the phone before you grab
the shovel
One call gets your
utility lines marked
and protects you
from injury and expense. Always call
before you dig 1-800-252-1166
or 811. It’s smart, it’s safe and
it’s the law!
Round up meeting
The Brown County REA Round
Up Trust Board will meet Tuesday, August 16, at 7 p.m.
Member Advisory Council
The next meeting of the Brown
County REA Member Advisory
Council will be Monday, September 19, at 7:30 p.m.
Radio receiver upgrade
Work is in progress to upgrade
Brown County REA’s load management radio receivers — the
gray box that controls your water
heater, air conditioner, heat pump,
generator, etc. during peak usage — to a version which will be
compatible with a new frequency.
The process will take place by
township until the entire service
area is upgraded between now and
January 1, 2013.
An automated message will be
delivered to your phone to alert
you when work is taking place
in your area. The contractor
will need access to your electric
panel to change and re-connect
the receiver. If you have a radio
receiver that is no longer in use,
or if you have removed a receiver
while re-siding or other work on
your home and it has not been
reconnected, please contact us.
Thank you!
Load control takes a load off the
distribution system and your bills!
The recent waves of extreme heat
and humidity have generated numerous
phone calls and questions to Brown
County REA regarding our load management programs. Here’s a refresher
on the workings of the programs.
The basics
Load management or demand response is a strategy that Great River
Energy (GRE), our wholesale power
supplier, uses to reduce the demand
for electricity during occasional “high
demand” periods such as hot summer
days. Demand response helps GRE to
avoid the building of high-cost peaking plants or the purchase of high-cost
energy in the wholesale market. Brown
County REA has more than 3,300 load
Receivers like this one attach to the management receivers at members’
side of your home and control your locations throughout the system. More
water heater, electric heat or air conthan 200,000 co-op members from
ditioner during times of high power
the 28 cooperatives, which make up
GRE, participate in demand response
programs through their local cooperative.
The cost of electricity is constantly changing. The kilowatt-hour delivered at
dinner time is far more expensive than the one delivered at midnight. Our load
management programs exist to take advantage of that cost difference to keep
costs lower for all our members.
GRE purchases all of its energy from the Midwest Independent Service Operator (MISO) energy market. MISO is responsible for matching the amount of
electricity generated to the amount being consumed 24 hours a day, seven days a
week, 365 days a year. As consumers use more electricity, MISO must increase
the number of generators needed to supply that energy. As more generators are
brought online, the price of electricity increases. Load management programs
allow us to influence the amount of load consumed during peak times.
Brown County REA
will be closed
for Labor Day,
September 5
Crews will be on-call in case of outages
Connections — August 2011
A load of load management programs!
If you don’t participate in any load
management program, you have a
variety to choose from. Check out the
different options and see if one might
work for you.
Cycled air conditioning
Cycled air conditioning is available to members who have central
air conditioning units and/or hardwired room air conditioners, which
are connected to a load control radio
receiver provided by the cooperative.
The receiver cycles the cooling system
on and off to minimize extreme peaks
in electricity demand that are caused
when every air conditioner operates at
the same time.
When air conditioning is being
controlled, a unit will be cycled off for approximately 15
of every 30 minutes. Only the compressor is turned off
during the cycle period; the fan continues to run. Under
the program rules, cooling systems can be controlled up
to six hours per day for no more than 200 hours per cooling season.
Typically when air conditioners are being controlled,
homeowners hardly notice their service is being interrupted.
However, during the recent events of extreme heat, dew
points and humidity, some members reported that their air
conditioners were having trouble maintaining a comfortable temperature during the cycling periods. Even some air
conditioners not on load management programs struggled
to keep up during the extremes. If you have a central air
conditioner or heat pump that is more than three years old
and has not had a tune-up in the last two years, you may
want to have it checked over to see that all parts of the
system are operating properly. Submit proof of the tune-up
to BCREA and receive a $25 credit on your electric bill.
Interruptible water heating
Interruptible water heaters are interrupted for up to eight
hours on days of high electrical demand, high wholesale
energy prices and/or system emergencies. An interruptible
water heating system has sufficient storage capacity to supply the user’s hot water needs over the peak period when
the electric supply is interrupted.
Once the signal is sent to the load control receiver, power
can be shut off to the water heater for up to eight hours
during a control event all months of the year when needed.
If a member uses the tank’s capacity of hot water while
under load control, it will not begin heating again until
Connections — August 2011
after the control time has ended. The
minimum storage capacity to qualify
for load management is 50 gallons.
To avoid seasonal high wholesale
prices interruptible water heating
is primarily controlled during June,
July, August and portions of December, January and February.
ETS water heating
Electric Thermal Storage (ETS)
water heating system uses inexpensive off-peak electricity to “charge”
a water heater with sufficient storage
capacity to supply the member’s hot
water needs over an extended period
each day when the electric supply is
interrupted during the on-peak hours
the following day. ETS water heaters
are recharged for eight hours each day, generally between
11 p.m. and 7 a.m. Typically a 105-gallon storage capacity
is used for ETS water heating.
CI&A programs
The Interruptible Commercial, Industrial and Agricultural (CI&A) program allows Brown County REA/GRE
to reduce capacity and energy requirements during peak
load conditions by interrupting all or a portion of a CI&A
member’s electric load.
Brown County REA has Interruptible C&I customers
who agree to reduce their electrical energy load to an agreed
upon Predetermined Demand Level (PDL) measured in
kilowatts (kW) for up to six hours per occurrence.
Other CI&A customers participate in the full interruptible
with generator backup program (C&I with GenSet) and
agree to transfer their entire electricity load to a customerowned generator for up to 10 hours per occurrence.
Interruptible irrigation
Interruptible irrigation is designed to provide member
cooperatives a way to eliminate the demand created by irrigation systems from their billing peaks. Irrigation systems
may be interrupted once per day for four hours during the
cooling season, May through September. GRE uses its best
efforts to schedule irrigation control times on a consistent
basis each day, usually from 4 to 8 p.m.
Brown County REA greatly appreciates all the members
who participate in load management to contribute to keeping rates lower for all. If you have questions on whether or
not control is taking place on any given day, go to www.
greatriverenergy.com and click on the Load Management
tab on the lower right side of the page.
Mother Nature sets off stormy fireworks
July 1 causing outages at nearby co-ops
Some electric co-op members were
not starting up fireworks early last
month, but chain saws instead.
A July 1 storm caused damage at
several electric co-ops’ service areas,
knocking down buildings, trees and
power lines. Your local electric co-op
had minor outages. Line crews spent
most of their time helping neighboring
electric co-ops restore power.
“Helping others is one of the cooperative principles,” stated Federated’s Joe
Marthaler, operations manager. “You
never know when it could be your co-op.
We lend a hand so when Mother Nature
strikes we can get the co-op members
back on as quickly as possible.”
“I commend our line crews for working over the holiday weekend and
sacrificing their own plans,” said Mike
Heidemann, Brown County REA line
“Line crews rise up to the challenge
of seeing how many members can be
restored as quickly as possible,” added
Mark Anderson, South Central operations manager.
Federated linemen Mort VanDeVere,
George Madden and Joe Marthaler assisted at Lyon-Lincoln Electric Co-op
based in Tyler putting in 47 hours each
over three days. This co-op had all
members without power due to an EF-2
tornado and the loss of transmission
line poles. Crews helped restore power
to about 1,500 co-op members. The cooperative’s headquarters building even
experienced significant storm damage.
Renville-Sibley Co-op Power Association in Danube had 1,538 members without
power with the longest outage just shy of five days. Brown County Rural Electrical Association crews helped July 1-4 working 288 hours as a group. BCREA
line crews involved: Dylan Maas, Larry Soukup, Tom Hillesheim, Adam Fischer,
Brandon Havemeier, Mike Suess and Pat Harkin. Not pictured: Joe Soukup and
Steve Walter.
South Central Electric’s line crews assisted Redwood Electric Cooperative July
1-4. Redwood had about 900 members out of power July 1. All but a handful were
restored by 7 p.m. July 4. Linemen that lent a helping hand: Nick Willardson, John
Husby, Matt Winkelman, Greg Giese, Mark Meier, Troy Determan, Adam Johnson
and Keith Scheidt. Not pictured Luke Malmgren and Tanner Smith.
Connections — August 2011
‘Eggs’tra, ‘Eggs’tra, read all about it ! Share egg recipes
Share with us your “eggs”iting recipes, whether it’s egg bake, egg salad, omelets, deviled eggs or
even quiche. Mail to: Editor, Federated Rural Electric, PO Box 69, Jackson MN 56143-0069 or e-mail
to [email protected] Otherwise, drop it off at your local electric co-op. Add your name
and phone number. Thanks for sharing!
Chuckwagon Beans by Linda Olson, St. James
1 lb. bacon
1/8 tsp. pepper
3 lb. ground beef
¼ tsp. salt
1 med. onion, chopped
1 T. dry mustard
¼ tsp. garlic powder
1½ c. catsup
3 cans (1 lb. 12 oz. size) Bush’s Baked Beans
Heat oven to 375º. Fry bacon until crisp. Drain. Cook ground beef and onion until
done. Mix the ground beef with all of the ingredients except the bacon. Crumble
three-fourths of bacon and add to mixture. Bake 90 minutes. Crumble and sprinkle
remaining bacon on top of the beans.
Call before digging
Call 48
hours in
more than
12" deep.
Calico Bean Bake
by Julie Halvorson, Madelia
1 lb. bacon, cooked crisp & cut into pieces
1 lb. hamburger, browned with onion
& drained
1 large onion, chopped
16 oz. can kidney beans, not drained
16 oz. can small butter beans, not drained
16 oz. can pork and beans
2 T. white sugar
1/3 c. brown sugar, packed
¼ c. ketchup
¼ c. BBQ sauce (I use Cookies)
2 T. prepared mustard
2 T. molasses
½ tsp chili powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
Put all of the ingredients in a crockpot
and heat.
Change air filter to save money & energy
It’s hot this summer. That means your air conditioning system
is working hard to keep you comfortable. This energy saving tip
can help your cooling system operate more efficiently — and
save you money.
Change your air filter regularly. It only takes a couple of minutes to change the air filter in your heating/cooling system. It’s
simple and easy. As TogetherWeSave.com has shown, changing
your filter every month can save you $82 a year.
A dirty air filter makes your system work harder to keep you cool, which
wastes energy. Changing your air filter regularly helps to ensure efficient operation and keep your electricity bill in check. What’s more, a dirty air filter allows
dust and dirt to build up in your system. Changing your air filter regularly can
reduce the need for costly maintenance and prevent damage to your system.
When winter arrives, it’s just as important to change your air filter regularly.
Your heating system needs to work as efficiently as possible to keep you warm
and a clean air filter helps it do that.
Experts recommend turning your system off before changing the air filter.
Make sure that the arrow on the filter, which indicates the direction of the airflow,
is pointing with the air flow. When you’ve made the change, turn your system
back on. To save time it’s a good idea to keep a couple of spare filters on hand.
For other tips on how to save energy visit Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives
energy-saving website www.TogetherWeSave.com or call the efficiency experts
at your local electric cooperative.
Connections — August 2011
Brown County
Rural Electrical
Staff notes
“Report card” allows us to compare co-op statstics
Each year we receive from our lenders a statistical
analysis comparing Brown County REA to many different groups of electric cooperatives. Those groups
include co-ops our size, co-ops growing at the same
rate as BCREA, co-ops with the same power supply,
Wade Hensel
General Manager co-ops in Minnesota and all the co-ops in the United
States. These comparisons are reviewed with the Board of Directors to
provide information to the board on how the cooperative is doing in terms
of cost, service, rates and financial stability. This month we are reviewing
with the board a Key Ratio Trend Analysis done by Cooperative Finance
Corporation. They have assembled 145 ratios for review.
The report shows that BCREA has an aggressive program of retiring or
paying back capital credits to our members, while still maintaining quite
low rates. BCREA retires nearly twice as much in capital credits each
year compared to the equity than do most cooperatives nationally. Your
cooperative’s rates are among the lowest in the state, nation or in any of
the other comparison groups.
Where Brown County REA really shines is in service to our members.
For the last five years your cooperative has had either the very best outage
record in the state or right next to the best. Even with the very challenging and difficult weather we had in 2010, the overall outage record was
among the best in the state and the very best among all the cooperatives
with the same power supply. BCREA has a great crew dedicated to serving you and that shows each year as we review these ratios.
It is the responsibility of the Board of Directors to provide the direction
necessary for your cooperative and this is one of the tools your Board
uses to help make these decisions.
Shield your property
Protect your home from
burglary, floods, fires and
more. Heartland Security
Systems automatically
notify the authorities in
the event of emergencies.
They can even monitor
livestock facilities. Call
Brown County Rural Electrical Assn.
24386 State Hwy 4, PO Box 529
Sleepy Eye MN 56085
E-mail address: [email protected]
Website: www.browncountyrea.coop
Office hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday
Wade Hensel, General Manager
Board of Directors
Thomas Hayes, President — 228-8954
James Mickelson, Vice President — 794-6298
James D. Hanson, Sec.-Treasurer — 877-3631
Christ Christensen — 249-3460
Robert Berg, Jr. — 359-2158
Brad Sprenger — 877-2633
Allen Hanson — 439-6987
Reuben Kokesch — 359-2112
Elmer Guggisberg — 354-8320
The Board of Directors meets the last Thursday
of each month.
Board meeting
The Brown County REA Board of Directors held its monthly board meeting July 29
at the Brown County REA office in Sleepy
Eye. Discussion and/or action were taken on
the following agenda items:
• Reviewed and approved the June 2011
board meeting minutes, new member applications, member cancellations, disbursements and payments to estates.
• Reviewed and approved June 2011 payroll and May 2011 financial statements.
• Heard reports on the underground and
overhead construction progress and early
July storm assistance to Renville-Sibley
Electric Cooperative. (See Page 6).
• Discussed Great River Energy’s contributions to flood relief in Minot, North Dakota.
• Reviewed and discussed the Key Ratio
Trend Analysis prepared by Cooperative
Finance Corporation.
• Reported on the MREA District 5 meeting and the discussion with area legislators
recently hosted at BCREA.
• Reviewed staff and director meeting
reports, plus individual director reports.
The next meeting will be on August 18,
2011 at the BENCO office in Mankato.
Connections — August 2011
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