Clear rights-of-way help prevent power outages
Schools to compete at Electric Vehicle Rally on April 25
Rushing joins First Electric Cooperative Board of Directors
Jacksonville office to host blood drive April 28
Hudspeth joins First Electric Cooperative Board of Directors
New service allows members to report outages by text
First Electric warns members of potential scams
Stark retires from Operation Round-Up Board of Trustees
Operation Round-Up awards $12,500 to local organizations
State program can help low-income households with energy costs
Keeping trees and other vegetation away from First Electric Cooperative’s 10,000 miles of power lines is necessary to keep the community safe and to help minimize power outages.
“All lines are maintained on at least a five-year schedule,” said Tim Felty, right-of-way maintenance supervisor. “In more populated areas, First Electric employees and contractors maintain the 15-foot clearance on either side of the line on a four-year schedule.”
Trees and other vegetation touching lines conduct electricity and can cause power quality issues, such as blinking lights. Trees also cause outages when they fall and take down lines and damage equipment. Most importantly, trees touching lines pose a safety hazard to anyone who comes into contact with them. Members are asked to call First Electric at 800-489-7405 if they notice a tree or other vegetation in or close to lines. A right-of-way crew will evaluate the situation and determine if tree removal or branch trimming is necessary.
In 2014, right-of-way maintenance is scheduled in the following areas: Bryant, Tull, Heber Springs, Searcy, Beebe, Sylvan Hills, Lonoke, Perryville, Hollis and Wabbaseka.
First Electric members can help the co-op maintain its rights-of-way in several ways. First, consider the mature height of a tree before planting. Second, contact Arkansas One-Call at 811 at least 48 hours before digging so that underground utilities may be marked. Third, avoid planting fast-growing trees near the right-of-way. Gum, sycamore, locust and pine are trees that Felty does not recommend be planted within 40 feet of lines. Lastly, consider clearances needed to perform maintenance on underground facilities before landscaping near pad-mounted transformers.
Right-of-way maintenance is a priority at First Electric and necessary to provide the best service possible. Members can assist the co-op by following planting guidelines and reporting potential problems to 800-489-7405. As always, we appreciate your cooperation when working in your area.
For more information, please visit the Vegetation Management page.
The 11th annual Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas Electric Vehicle Rally is scheduled for April 25 at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds. The EV program is an ongoing education program that includes students from a variety of disciplines, including math, auto mechanics, physics, engineering, electronics, journalism and other classes. Throughout the year, students complete a variety of activities related to the EV program, developing presentations and taking part in a wide range of projects. The highlight of this unique project is the design and construction of electric vehicles that the students enter and drive in the statewide competition.
Cabot High School was the overall winner of the 2013 EV Rally. Click here to see photos of the team in action at the 2012 competition.
Karissa Rushing of Benton has been named to the First Electric Cooperative Board of Directors. She represents members in the Benton district.
Rushing is a Saline County native who returned to the area in 2002. She owned and operated a small business for almost a decade. The former Miss Arkansas has a background in advertising and public relations and has worked with nonprofit organizations in planning and development. She currently is an administrator at the Benton campus of Fellowship Bible Church where she manages business operations, organizational planning and special events. Rushing is a member of Fellowship and active in women's ministries, small groups and local missions.
First Electric is hosting a blood drive April 28 in the Jacksonville office at 1000 South J.P. Wright Loop Road. American Red Cross employees will be in the Community Room from noon to at least 4 p.m. Anyone who would like to reserve a donation time may visit the Red Cross website and enter sponsor code "FECJ" to find the drive.
Tracy Hudspeth of Drasco has been named to the First Electric Cooperative Board of Directors.
He represents members in the co-op’s Heber Springs district, which includes portions of Cleburne, Independence, Stone and White counties.
Hudspeth and his wife, Sammie, have two children, Garrett and Addison. He graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting in 1991. Hudspeth joined Farm Bureau in 1993 and now works as the agency manager for Cleburne County Farm Bureau.
He is involved with Heber Springs youth athletics and the Heber Springs Chamber of Commerce and is a member of South Crossroads Church in Hopewell and the Young Business Men’s Club.
First Electric Cooperative offers you the ability to report an outage via text. Signing up is easy:
- Create a new text message on your cell phone.
- Type “FECC” in the body of the message.
- Send the text to number 85700.
Please note that the cell phone you use must be on file with First Electric. You can call 800-489-7405 to add the number to your account. Please allow at least 24 hours for the system to update before reporting an outage via text.
In the event of a power outage, simply text “OUT” to 85700. The system will ask you to confirm your address and then send restoration status updates when you request them.
- “STATUS” – You will be sent a restoration update on the outage, including an estimated time of restoration if available.
- “HELP” – You will be sent the outage reporting number 888-827-3322.
- “FECC STOP” – You no longer will receive notifications until you enroll again.
The co-op does not charge for this service, but standard text messaging rates from your carrier still apply. Need help? Call First Electric at 800-489-7405.
First Electric Cooperative wants members to be aware of phone and email scams that could target their money or identities.
In one setup, consumers are threatened with having service disconnected unless they buy a pre-paid debit card or use an online payment service to pay their bill immediately. Consumers then are directed to dial a toll-free number and provide the payment information, enabling the scammer to steal their money.
These callers typically stress the need for consumers to act quickly. First Electric will not threaten members with disconnection in this manner. The co-op strongly urges members to protect their credit card and checking account numbers, account user names, passwords and Social Security numbers. Those who want to confirm they are speaking with a First Electric employee are encouraged to hang up and call the co-op’s toll-free number at 800-489-7405.
In another scam, consumers receive an email that appears to be a bill from an electric utility. When consumers click on the link to pay their bill, malicious software is downloaded to their computers, which searches for passwords and other personal information. These emails should be deleted. Do not click on the links, reply to the email or open any attachments. First Electric members always may pay their electric bill securely through SmartHub or by calling 800-489-7405.
Those who have been contacted by one of these scammers, or are victims of a scam, are encouraged to contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office on its Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-482-8982 or website.
Wetzel Stark has retired from First Electric Cooperative’s Operation Round-Up Board of Trustees. He has represented members in the Heber Springs district since the cooperative began participating in Operation Round-Up in 1998.
“I have enjoyed working with President Reedie Ray and the entire board and the accomplishments we have made more than anything I have ever done,” Stark said.
First Electric’s Operation Round-Up program has distributed more than $668,000 in donations to nonprofit organizations and scholarships to graduating seniors. Funds are raised thanks to the generosity of First Electric members who enroll and agree to have their bill rounded to the next even dollar amount each month.
To sign up for Operation Round-Up, click here.
To download an application for funds, click here.
To download a scholarship application, click here.
Fifteen nonprofit organizations received funds through First Electric Cooperative’s Operation Round-Up program in December. Community members on the Operation Round-Up Board of Trustees approved $12,500 in donations.
•Caring & Sharing Pantry, $1,000 (pictured above)
•The Museum of Arkansas Grand Prairie, $500
•Christian Health Center, $1,000
•Community Action Program for Central Arkansas, $1,000
•Child Care Aware of Northcentral Arkansas, $1,000
•Cabot Christmas Alliance, $1,000
•Lonoke County Council on Aging, $500
•Lonoke County Single Parent Scholarship Fund, $1,000
•Ward Public Library, $1,000
•MHRC Perryville Senior Adult Center, $500
•Perry County Historical Museum, $1,000
•Stony Point Community Association, $500
•Pope-Yell County Single Parent Scholarship Fund, $1,000
•Fishnet Missions of Jacksonville, $1,000
•LRAFB Historical Foundation, $500
The program is possible thanks to the generosity of First Electric members who enroll in Operation Round-Up and agree to have their electric bill rounded up to the next even dollar amount each month. That money – more than $668,000 since 1998 – funds nonprofit donations and student scholarships. To sign up or to apply for funds, visit the Operation Round-Up page or call 800-489-7405.
First Electric members who qualify may receive aid through the Arkansas Home Energy Assistance Program. According to the Arkansas Department of Human Services website, the Home Energy Assistance Program helps low-income households with home energy costs by administering the Regular Assistance and Crisis Intervention Programs. For details, visit the Arkansas Department of Human Services website or contact your local Community Action Agency. Click here to open a PDF of the Arkansas Community Action Agency Directory and find contact information for the one that serves your county.