New service allows outage notification via text
Position available for server administrator
First Electric warns members of potential scams
Stark retires from Operation Round-Up Board of Trustees
First Electric taking applications for Youth Tour to Washington, D.C.
Co-op accepting applications for five $2,000 scholarships
Operation Round-Up awards $12,500 to local organizations
State program can help low-income households with energy costs
Space heaters can increase electrical usage substantially
First Electric returns $6.5 million to members
Proposed EPA regulations will raise rates, affect reliability
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.
High school juniors may apply for the 2014 Electric Cooperative Youth Tour, an all-expense-paid trip to the nation’s capital June 14-19. Applicants' parents or guardians must be members of First Electric. Visit the Youth Tour webpage to download an application and to learn more about the program. Applications are due March 17.
Watch this video to hear from the teenagers First Electric sent on the 2013 Youth Tour.
High school seniors may submit an application for First Electric’s scholarship program. The co-op awards a $2,000 scholarship to a high school senior in each of the five districts.
Click here or visit a First Electric office for an application. To be eligible for the scholarships, which are funded through the Operation Round-Up program, applicants must be a high school senior whose parents or guardians are First Electric members. They must have a minimum 3.0 grade-point average through their senior year of high school and attend an accredited institute of higher learning in Arkansas on a full-time basis. Applications are due April 1. Call 800-489-7405 with any questions.
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.
While we are in this below-normal weather pattern, please be aware that portable electric space heaters can increase electrical usage substantially. One 1,500-watt space heater can use as much as $3.60 per day and increase your monthly bill by $108. Using two or more can increase electric consumption drastically. Also, don’t be misled by the advertising of different brands of portable electric heaters; any heater labeled 1,500 watts will put out 5119.5 Btu of heat (1 watt = 3.413 Btu).
Most importantly, please adhere to the manufacturer’s safety warnings while operating the unit. If you have any questions, please call 800-489-7405 and ask to speak with a marketing representative.
The First Electric Cooperative Board of Directors approved a refund of $6.5 million to members this year.
Any revenue that is not needed to maintain the cost of providing service is assigned back to each First Electric member in the form of capital credits. Capital credit refunds are one of the major differences between a not-for-profit electric cooperative, such as First Electric, and an investor-owned electric company.
Capital credits are assigned to each account annually and refunded when financial conditions permit. How much members receive is based on how much electricity they used during the year or years that are being refunded. This year's calculation represents a complete retirement of 1986 and a portion of all years thereafter through 2012. Capital credit checks were mailed Dec. 10. Members whose refund was less than $20 received a credit on their December electric bill.
Throughout First Electric's 76-year history, more than $67 million has been refunded to members.
Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas leaders warned the Environmental Protection Agency that proposed carbon reduction regulations would result in increased rates for electric cooperative members and impact the reliability of the nation’s power grid at an EPA “listening session” in Dallas on Nov. 7.
“Targeting electric utility generators for the majority of future carbon reductions puts an unfair cost burden on electric consumers,” Duane Highley, president and CEO of Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation. “We believe that any federally mandated carbon reductions should include all sectors of the economy, not just electricity, and should reflect an equitable and proportionate share of each sector's contribution.”
He said that the EPA’s proposed regulation of carbon under section 111(d) expressly allows only those measures that have been "adequately demonstrated and achievable" by affected generating units. “Under this standard EPA cannot require carbon capture and storage, fuel switching or revised, non-economic dispatch of the generating fleet,” he said.
Highley said policies, which require the premature retirement of generating units, put the reliability of the grid in jeopardy. “As states develop their compliance plans, the EPA should require them to consult with regional transmission organizations, power pools and other affected parties to assure that electric reliability is maintained,” he said.
Mel Coleman, CEO of North Arkansas Electric Cooperative, added that short compliance timelines reduce flexibility and raise the cost of energy for electric cooperative members. “The EPA should allow states adequate time and flexibility of at least six years to design programs that minimize costs to ratepayers,” he said. “The Arkansas electric cooperatives have and will always be good stewards of the environment, but the proposed regulations lack common sense. Electric cooperatives across our nation are face-to-face with people who already have trouble paying bills. Without coal-based generation in the mix, this situation will only worsen.”
Highley said approximately 27 percent of the world’s coal is located in the United States, more than any other nation. “The EPA’s meetings bypass 16 of the top 20 coal-producing states. The proposed rules in these states could force layoffs, plant closures and result in major economic harm to one of these states’ most important industries. “The 11 selected locations for the ‘Listening Tour’ do not include most of the states that largely use coal for power,” he said.
AECC owns a portion of the cleanest and most efficient coal-based plant in the United States, the John W. Turk Jr. Power Plant, which is also the nation’s only ultra-supercritical plant. “It is unfortunate that, while China will continue to deploy this ultra-supercritical technology, the EPA’s new unit rule will effectively prohibit the construction of this highly-efficient technology in the U.S.,” he said.
The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives, including First Electric Cooperative; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc., a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides services to the distribution cooperatives; and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp., a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to approximately 500,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states.
To send a message to the EPA, visit www.Action.coop.