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Use SmartHub app to pay bill and monitor usage
Possible scam reaching members in Benton district
Check out First Electric's Pinterest boards
Try no-cost ways to reduce energy usage
Keeping phone numbers updated speeds outage restoration
Position open for server administrator in Jacksonville
Free energy audit helps identify ways to save money
Rushing, Wood elected to Board of Directors
Follow First Electric on Twitter for outage updates and more
Podcast shares smart energy efficiency tips
Be on lookout for potential phone scam
First Electric sponsors students on Youth Tour
First Electric awards six $2,000 scholarships
Operation Round-Up awards $17,500 to local nonprofits
Clear rights-of-way help prevent power outages


Use SmartHub app to pay bill and monitor usage
[General]

Download the free SmartHub app for your smartphone or tablet. With the app, you can pay your electric bill and monitor daily usage data on your account or accounts from anywhere.

  1. Search for “SmartHub” in the Apple Store or Android Market and download the app.
  2. Press the “By Name” button at the bottom.
  3. Type “First Electric Cooperative” as your provider.
  4. Enter your SmartHub login information or click “New User” to create a SmartHub account. (The login information is the same for both the web and mobile app.)

Have questions? Call 800-489-7405, and a member service representative can help you with downloading or using the app.

Click here for more on SmartHub.

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Possible scam reaching members in Benton district
[General]

Two First Electric members in our Benton district have reported receiving calls from suspected scammers who want their account numbers. In one instance, they identified themselves only as the electric authority; in another they referred to themselves as Con Edison. They claim to offer discounts on electricity and have called the members multiple times. First Electric strongly urges our members to protect their credit card and checking account numbers, account user names, passwords, Social Security numbers and other information. Those who want to confirm they are speaking with a First Electric employee always are encouraged to hang up and call the co-op’s toll-free number at 800-489-7405.

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Check out First Electric's Pinterest boards
[General]

First Electric has joined the social media network Pinterest. Click here to view the co-op's boards. They focus on safety, energy-efficient products, energy-saving tips and the Co-op Connections Card.

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Try no-cost ways to reduce energy usage
[General]

Not all energy efficiency improvements require a lot of your time or money, but they still can lead to reduced electric bills. Here are several no-cost steps you and your family can take to reduce your energy usage:

  • Wash full loads of laundry during off-peak hours using cold water when possible. Don’t over-dry your clothes, and clean the lint filter after every load.
  • Turn off lights, appliances and electronics – especially flat-screen TVs and computers – when not in use and unplug chargers from outlets.
  • Adjust your thermostat when going out and at night. A programmable thermostat can do this automatically once set.
  • Lower your water heater’s temperature to a setting of 120°F.
  • Use the energy-saving settings on refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines and clothes dryers.
  • Air-dry dishes by opening the dishwasher instead of using the heated dry cycle.
  • Match the size of your pan to the heating element when cooking and try using toaster ovens or microwaves for some meals.

Click here for more energy-saving tips. Have questions? Call 800-489-7405 and ask to speak with your marketing representative.

 

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Keeping phone numbers updated speeds outage restoration
[General]

Occasionally circumstances beyond First Electric’s control cause power interruptions. When this happens, crews can be dispatched more efficiently if we have the correct information for your account on file.

The phone is our best method of communication. The more details we have, the faster we can start restoration efforts. Adding your cell phone number also will be useful. First Electric offers several easy options to update your number or numbers. They include:

  • Log in to SmartHub then go to “My Profile” and select “Update My Billing Address & Contact Information.”  
  • Click here to fill out the “Member Information Update” form.
  • Call 800-489-7405 and select Option 5.
  • Complete the form on the back of your bill and return it with your payment.
  • Visit a First Electric office.

Reporting an outage is easy, too. Just dial 888-827-3322. If the automated system doesn’t recognize your number, it will ask for one on file. You may either enter the number using the touch-tone buttons or by saying the number aloud. If you wish, you may leave a voice message with details about the outage. Once your account location has been confirmed, crews will be dispatched.

First Electric offers another way for you to notify us in the event of an outage – texting. To enroll, simply text “FECC” to 85700. Please note that the cell phone you use must be on file with First Electric. You need to 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 service is free, but standard text messaging rates from your carrier still apply.

Thank you for helping speed the outage restoration process by notifying us of any changes that need to be made.

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Position open for server administrator in Jacksonville
[General]

First Electric Cooperative has a job opening for a server administrator in Jacksonville. Anyone interested in this position should complete an application for employment at any First Electric office or online no later than July 23, 2014. Visit the Employment Opportunities page for position requirements.

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Free energy audit helps identify ways to save money
[General]

The goal of First Electric’s audit program is to help you save money by identifying areas where your home’s energy efficiency can be improved.

During the free walk-through energy audit, a marketing representative visually will inspect and evaluate the energy efficiency of the building, household appliances, heating and cooling system and lighting. After the walk-through audit, you get a list of recommendations showing steps that can be taken to reduce energy costs.

To schedule an audit, call 800-489-7405. Click here for more information on the audit program, including the diagnostic energy audit.

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Rushing, Wood elected to Board of Directors
[General]

First Electric Cooperative held its annual membership meeting June 24 at the cooperative’s headquarters in Jacksonville. Members, voting by mail-in ballot, re-elected Vice Chairman Larry Wood of Cabot and elected Karissa Rushing of Benton to serve six-year terms on the First Electric Cooperative Board of Directors. 

The board also includes: Chairman Robert Hill, Perryville; Secretary-Treasurer Robert Maertens, Benton; Jimmie Crockett, Rose Bud; Tom Hasty, Almyra; Tracy Hudspeth, Drasco; Rick Love, Jacksonville; and David Luebke, Scott.

First Electric members who returned their ballots were entered in a drawing for prizes. This year’s prizes included five $200 credits for electricity, five Ninja blenders and five Roku streaming media players.

The 2013 Annual Report, which all members received in the mail, also was reviewed during the meeting. The cooperative ended 2013 with more than $465 million in total assets, and $6.5 million was returned to members in the form of capital credit checks. The total amount refunded to members in First Electric’s history totals more than $67 million.

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Follow First Electric on Twitter for outage updates and more
[General]

First Electric Cooperative has joined the social media network Twitter. Follow @FirstElecCoop. We'll be sharing outage restoration updates, photos, upcoming events and more!

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Podcast shares smart energy efficiency tips
[General]

Anyone wanting a more comfortable home with manageable electric bills needs to listen to the "Smart Energy Tips" podcast produced by the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. It provides fact-based building science information to help you take charge of your utility bills without sacrificing comfort and convenience. Show hosts Bret Curry and Tom Hunt will help you identify your energy and comfort problems and find the solutions. Click here for the latest podcast or search for “Smart Energy Tips” on iTunes, which also has archived podcasts.

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Be on lookout for potential phone scam
[General]

Petit Jean Electric Cooperative in Clinton is warning its members of a potential scam, and First Electric wants our members to be on the lookout as well. A person called Petit Jean members and offered an energy evaluation to show them ways to save money on their electric bill. As thanks for participating, the person said the members would receive a $50 voucher to apply toward their Petit Jean electric bill. Petit Jean is not affiliated with any such voucher program at this time, and neither is First Electric. Please call First Electric at 800-489-7405 if anyone contacts you with a similar claim.  

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First Electric sponsors students on Youth Tour
[General]

First Electric Cooperative sponsored three high school students on the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour, an all-expense-paid trip to the nation’s capital June 14-19. Allison Edwards and Kelsie Roland of Perryville High School and Andrew Dunlap of Sacred Heart Catholic School explored Washington, D.C., with students from the 16 other Arkansas electric cooperatives. The group joined 1,500 students from across the country, learned about electric cooperatives, toured historic sites and museums and met members of the Arkansas Congressional Delegation.  

The three were selected from among 23 applicants based on information provided in an application as well as an interview. First Electric thanks all applicants and encourages students to apply beginning Feb. 1 for the 2015 Youth Tour. Click here for more information on the program, including a short video featuring the three 2013 Youth Tour participants.

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First Electric awards six $2,000 scholarships
[Scholarships]

First Electric Cooperative awarded a $2,000 college scholarship to six recent high school graduates. Recipients include: Katelyn Adams of Perryville, Whitnee Mendenhall of Beebe, Jacob Miller of Greers Ferry, Florencia Olguin of Bauxite, Mary Simmons of Heber Springs and Ragan Snyder of DeWitt.

Scholarships are funded by the Operation Round-Up program. Members who participate in Operation Round-Up volunteer to have their monthly electric bill rounded up to the next even dollar amount. That money is held in a trust and given as scholarships to high school seniors and as donations to local nonprofit organizations. Members may enroll here, by calling 800-489-7405 or by visiting a First Electric office.

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Operation Round-Up awards $17,500 to local nonprofits
[General]

Sixteen nonprofit organizations received funds through First Electric Cooperative’s Operation Round-Up program in April. Community members on the Operation Round-Up Board of Trustees approved $17,500 in donations.

Recipients by county:

  • In Arkansas County, Grand Prairie Job Center received $1,000.
  • In Cleburne County, Cleburne County Aging Program and Pine Snag/Lobo Fire Department each received $1,500, and The CALL of Cleburne County received $1,000.
  • In Lonoke County, Beyond Boundaries received $1,500, and Lonoke County Christian Clinic and Woodlawn Extension Homemakers Club each received $1,000.
  • In Perry County, Civic Improvement Association of Perry, Partners For Progress and Renewal Ranch each received $1,000, and Perry County Fair Association received $500.
  • In Pulaski County, Amboy Community Food Pantry and Reed's Bridge Battlefield Preservation Society each received $1,000.
  • In Saline County, Boys & Girls Club of Bryant received $1,000.
  • In White County, Rose Bud Volunteer Fire Department received $1,500, and The Sunshine School received $1,000.

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 $695,000 since 1998 – funds nonprofit donations and student scholarships. To sign up or to apply for funds, visit the Operation Round-Up webpage or call 800-489-7405.

For photos of this quarter's recipients, visit the First Electric Facebook page.

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Clear rights-of-way help prevent power outages
[General]

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.

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