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First Electric adds solar with Today’s Power Inc.
Position open for fourth-year apprentice to journeyman lineman
First Electric accepting scholarship, Youth Tour applications
Jacksonville office hosting blood drive Feb. 23
Security lighting provides extra safety, convenience
GenerLink™ allows safe, easy connection of generator
Member Basics: Joint vs. Single Membership
First Electric members fund donations to 11 nonprofits
First Electric returns $6.2 million to members
Increases in winter bills can have variety of causes
Co-op offices join Greenlight A Vet movement
First Electric members fund donations to 14 nonprofits
Phone scam reaching First Electric members
Annual servicing key to efficient heat pump use
Small task can have big impact on energy costs
Energy audits identify ways you can save money, energy
Save money with ENERGY STAR products
Program finances heat pump, other home improvements


First Electric adds solar with Today’s Power Inc.
[General]

First Electric Cooperative recently entered into a service agreement with Arkansas-based Today’s Power Inc. to install a one-megawatt AC solar array.

“First Electric exists to serve our members and deliver electricity in the most affordable manner possible,” said Don Crabbe, president/CEO of First Electric. “The TPI solution will enable our cooperative to realize cost savings by reducing the demand for wholesale power and assisting in peak shaving. The low after-tax installed cost, the safety of the low-voltage design and the use of experienced construction crews to install the system were key factors in our decision.”

The 3,840-panel system is scheduled to be operational in late fall. The TPI system will involve approximately five acres near Benton.

“Our Ten K Solar REFLECT 26 photovoltaic system is very efficient and requires much less land than other solar array energy options,” said Michael Henderson, president of TPI. “First Electric’s customized system was designed to minimize demand billing from its wholesale power provider.”

“The low cost achieved through TPI’s in-house tax incentive utilization provides First Electric with another avenue to provide safe, reliable, affordable and responsible power,” Crabbe said. “We also like the aspect that no upfront capital is required. We simply pay less to our wholesale power provider and pay TPI instead resulting in savings to our members.”

According to Henderson, First Electric is one of many electric cooperatives launching TPI-based solar programs across the country. He said TPI offers electric cooperatives opportunities to realize savings that previously were only available to taxable companies.

Today’s Power Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc., a Little Rock-based utility service cooperative owned by 17 Arkansas electric distribution cooperatives, including First Electric. TPI is an authorized distributor and installer for TKS photovoltaic systems.

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Position open for fourth-year apprentice to journeyman lineman
[General]

A position is open for a fourth-year apprentice to journeyman lineman in Stuttgart. Those interested should submit an application no later than Feb. 10. Position specifications and application are available here.

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First Electric accepting scholarship, Youth Tour applications
[General]

First Electric Cooperative is accepting applications for its scholarship program and the 2016 Electric Cooperative Youth Tour to Washington, D.C.

High school seniors whose parents or guardians are First Electric members may apply for one of five $2,000 scholarships that the cooperative awards each year. To be eligible for the scholarships, which are funded through Operation Round-Up, applicants 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. An application is available for download here or at any First Electric office. Deadline is April 1.

High school juniors whose parents or guardians are First Electric members may apply for the Youth Tour, an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., June 8-16. Click here to apply online or to download an application. They also are available at any First Electric office. Deadline is March 17.

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Jacksonville office hosting blood drive Feb. 23
[General]

The American Red Cross will collect blood at First Electric's Jacksonville office from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23. To reserve a spot, please click here. Our sponsor code is "FECJ." Walk-ins also are welcome. The office is located at 1000 South J.P. Wright Loop Road.

Click here or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) for eligibility requirements.

 

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Security lighting provides extra safety, convenience
[General]

Automatic security lighting provides additional safety and convenience for homes, farms or businesses.

  • The lights are affordable. A 100-watt high-pressure sodium light costs $7.09 per month plus taxes and applicable adjustments. A one-time connection fee of $25 applies. An additional charge will apply if another pole is required.
  • The monthly rental charge includes all electricity needed to operate the light, and co-op personnel replace bulbs and maintain the light at no additional cost.
  • The automatic eye tells the light to come on at dusk and to go off at dawn.

To have a security light installed, please call 800-489-7405.

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GenerLink™ allows safe, easy connection of generator
[General]

Members wanting a safe, easy way to connect a generator during power outages can purchase a GenerLink™ from First Electric. The device is installed on your electric meter by a marketing representative. Once installed, you simply connect the generator to the GenerLink™ with the included cord. Then, use your household main circuit panel to select the circuits and appliances you want to operate based on the generator’s capacity.

For pricing, sizing and compatibility, call 800-489-7405 or click here. Qualifying members can pay $200 down and have the remaining balance included on their electric bill for the next 12 months.

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Member Basics: Joint vs. Single Membership
[General]

People who are served by First Electric Cooperative can have a joint or single membership.

A single membership lists one name on the account and bill. Only that person will be able to inquire about specific account information or make changes to his or her service. In addition, only the person listed may vote in the cooperative’s annual election, and any capital credit refunds will be issued in only that person’s name.

A joint membership has two names listed on the account and bill. This is most often a spouse. Both people may inquire about account information or makes changes to the service. Although only one vote is allowed per membership, either may cast the vote. Both are entitled to receive any capital credit refunds issued to the account.

Members who would like to add or remove a person from their account may call 800-489-7405 during regular business hours. A member service representative will be able to explain what form and document(s) are needed to make the change. Documents might include a valid photo ID, divorce decree or death certificate.

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First Electric members fund donations to 11 nonprofits
[General]

First Electric Cooperative members who participate in Operation Round-Up funded $12,400 in donations to 11 local organizations in December.

Members who enroll in Operation Round-Up volunteer to have their electric bill rounded up to the next even dollar amount each month. They have raised more than $822,000 for local service organizations and scholarships for high school seniors since 1998. Members may enroll by calling 800-489-7405 or by clicking here.

Recipients by county include:

  • In Cleburne County, Heber Springs Humane Society received $750, and Wilburn Volunteer Fire Department received $2,000.
  • In Faulkner County, Community Action Program for Central Arkansas received $1,000.
  • In Grant County, Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Grant County and Literacy Council of Grant County both received $1,000.
  • In Lonoke County, Lonoke County Museum received $1,000.
  • In Lonoke and Prairie counties, The CALL received $250.
  • In Perry County, Nimrod-Aplin Fire Department received $1,200.
  • In Saline County, Paron Community Center received $1,200.
  • In Stone County, Stone County Single Parent Scholarship Fund received $1,000.
  • In White County, Antioch Fire Department received $2,000.

 

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First Electric returns $6.2 million to members
[General]

First Electric Cooperative returned more than $6.2 million to its members in December.

As a not-for-profit electric cooperative, First Electric returns any profits to members in the form of capital credits. Revenue collected that is not needed to cover the cost of providing service is assigned back to members based on the amount of electricity used during the year. The First Electric Cooperative Board of Directors reviews the cooperative’s financial position each year and determines the amount of capital credits to refund. The amount of money members receive is based on how much electricity they used during the year or years that are being refunded.

This year’s capital credits calculation represents a complete retirement of 1988 and a portion of all years thereafter through 2014. Capital credit checks were mailed Dec. 10. Members whose refund was less than $20 receive a credit on their December electric bill.

Throughout First Electric's 78-year history, more than $77.6 million has been refunded to members.

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Increases in winter bills can have variety of causes
[General]

Most homes experience their highest energy usage during the colder winter months. Below are a few causes of increased usage and possible solutions. 

Using electric-resistance/electric furnace.

Electric-resistance heating, commonly called an electric furnace, is not as efficient as a heat pump. Upgrading to a heat pump can lead to considerable energy savings. (Click here for more on the co-op’s home improvement loan program.)

Heat pump’s supplemental heat kicking in during extreme cold weather.

The supplemental heater in a heat pump assists the system during extreme cold weather when a home may lose heat faster than the heat pump can replace it. Electric heating elements turn on automatically to assist the heat pump. These heating elements use considerably more electricity; fortunately, the heat pump only will use them when absolutely necessary.

This supplemental heat also can be turned on manually by adjusting the heat pump’s thermostat to “eheat,” or emergency heat. Please note: doing this will stop your heat pump from operating in its normal, efficient manner.

If your heat pump is operating in “eheat” mode without due cause (outdoor temperatures above freezing, no drastic changes to thermostat), it is possible that your system is malfunctioning. You should contact a licensed heating and cooling professional and have it serviced immediately.

Air escaping through ductwork or openings in building envelope.

Most homes have some degree of air leakage — both in the ductwork and building envelope. This can lead to conditioned air escaping into the crawl space, attic or great outdoors. First Electric has trained, certified marketing representatives who can measure the leakage during a diagnostic energy audit. Then, they will provide recommendations to correct the leakage.

Insulation lacking or improperly installed.

The U.S. Department of Energy recommends homes in First Electric’s service area have insulation installed with an R-value between 30 and 60 in the attic. Walls should be insulated with R-values between 13 and 15. This can be hard to judge. We recommend contacting a professional installer if your insulation seems lacking or the level is inconsistent throughout the attic.

Water heater malfunctioning or leaking.

Occasionally, water heaters may malfunction. For example, an element could be stuck in the on position from a short. This could add up to $11 a day to your electric bill. Also, a leaky tank, plumbing or faucets force your water heater to operate more than normal.

If you have questions about your usage or would like information on an energy audit or home improvement loan, please call 800-489-7405.

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Co-op offices join Greenlight A Vet movement
[General]

First Electric Cooperative is joining the Greenlight A Vet movement in support of America’s veterans. Each co-op office will change one light to green as a symbol of appreciation and support for the men and women who serve or have served in the United Stated Armed Forces.

“America’s veterans are some of our nation’s bravest, hardest-working men and women,” according to the Greenlight A Vet website. “However, it’s hard to show them the appreciation they deserve when, back home and out of uniform, they’re more camouflaged than ever. Greenlight A Vet is a campaign to establish visible national support for our veterans by changing one light to green.”

First Electric thanks those who protect this country and invites everyone to join the Greenlight A Vet movement.

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First Electric members fund donations to 14 nonprofits
[General]

First Electric Cooperative members who participate in Operation Round-Up funded $12,500 in donations to 14 local nonprofit organizations in October.

Members who enroll in Operation Round-Up volunteer to have their electric bill rounded up to the next even dollar amount each month. They have raised more than $793,000 for local service organizations and scholarships for high school seniors since 1998. Members may enroll by calling 800-489-7405 or online.

Recipients by county include:

  • In Arkansas County, Caring & Sharing Pantry received $1,000.
  • In Cleburne County, The CALL of Cleburne County, Cove Creek - Pearson Volunteer Fire Department, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 57 and Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Cleburne County each received $1,000.
  • In Garland County, North Garland County Youth Center and Hot Springs Village Walk for Cancer Research each received $1,000.
  • In Independence County, Children of Northcentral Arkansas received $500.
  • In Lonoke County, Lonoke County Fair & Livestock Association received $500.
  • In Monroe County, Monroe County Single Parent Scholarship Fund received $1,000.
  • In Perry County, Perry County 4-H Shooting Sports received $1,000.
  • In Pulaski County, Hearts & Hooves received $1,000, and North Pulaski Community Center received $500.
  • In White County, White County Single Parent Scholarship Fund received $1,000.

Check out our Facebook page for photos of this quarter's recipients.

 

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Phone scam reaching First Electric members
[General]

First Electric Cooperative members have reported being contacted by scammers.

In several instances, the caller identified himself as an Entergy employee and demanded payment be made for an overdue electric bill or service would be disconnected in 45 minutes. Sadly, scams often increase during the holiday season, and this type of electric bill scam is common.

First Electric will not threaten members in this manner and never requires members to use a third-party payment method. We encourage members to protect their credit card and checking account numbers, account user names, passwords and Social Security numbers.

Members who want to confirm they are speaking with one a First Electric employee are encouraged to hang up and call our toll-free number at 800-489-7405.

Members always may pay their electric bill securely by using SmartHub or by calling 844-PAY-FECC (844-729-3322).

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Annual servicing key to efficient heat pump use
[General]

Heat pumps are the most energy efficient type of electric heat, particularly for the southern United States. They work by collecting the heat that already exists and releasing it where you desire, either inside or outside of your home depending on the season.  

Proper maintenance remains the key to efficient heat pump operation and extending the life of your unit. You should have a professional technician service your system at least yearly. The technician should:

  • Inspect ducts, filters, blower and indoor coils for dirt and other obstructions
  • Diagnose and seal duct leakage
  • Verify adequate airflow by measurement
  • Verify correct refrigerant charge by measurement
  • Check for refrigerant leaks
  • Inspect electric terminals, and, if necessary, clean and tighten connections and apply non-conductive coating
  • Lubricate motors and inspect belts for tightness and wear
  • Verify correct electric control, making sure that heating is locked out when the thermostat calls for cooling and vice versa
  • Verify correct thermostat operation

Information provided by the Department of Energy’s website.

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Small task can have big impact on energy costs
[General]

When it comes to energy efficiency in the home, sometimes small changes can make a big impact. The small, unglamorous task of changing the filters on your HVAC system makes your unit run more efficiently – keeping your house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. It also saves money.

The lowdown on dirt

As you move around your home, you drive dust into the air from carpets, furniture and drapes. Regardless of where it comes from, dust and dirt trapped in a system’s air filter leads to several problems, including:

  • Reduced air flow in the home and up to 15 percent higher operating costs
  • Higher maintenance costs
  • Lowered system efficiency

Making the switch

Now that you know the facts, it’s time to get busy changing or cleaning the air filter in your heating/cooling system.  Many HVAC professionals recommend that you clean or change the filter on your heat pump, air conditioner and furnace system monthly. It’s simple and easy, and in many cases, it only takes a few minutes.

Heating and cooling professionals 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 toward the blower motor. When you’ve made the change, turn your system back on.  

First Electric partners with FilterChange.coop to provide an easy way for you to buy filters. Click here to browse their selection. The service also can email you reminders when it’s time to change your filter.

For other tips on how to save, click here or call 800-489-7405 to speak with a First Electric marketing representative who specializes in energy efficiency. 

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Energy audits identify ways you can save money, energy
[General]

The goal of First Electric Cooperative’s energy audit program is to help you save money by identifying areas where your home’s energy efficiency can be improved. We offer diagnostic and walk-through energy audits. Both are performed by First Electric marketing representatives who have been trained and certified through the Building Performance Institute.

Diagnostic energy audits
A blower door as well as a Duct Blaster and infrared camera are tools that can be used during a diagnostic energy audit. They allow a marketing representative to locate thermal deficiencies, air infiltration and leakage that can cause high energy consumption and an uncomfortable home.

You get a detailed report that includes the measured air tightness of your home, infrared camera results and recommendations for improvements that could reduce energy usage. They could range from no-cost tips, such as adjusting the thermostat’s temperature, to projects that could require an initial investment but could pay off in energy savings, such as adding insulation or having the HVAC system inspected. The diagnostic energy audit costs $100, but that fee is reimbursed if at least $100 of recommended repairs are made within six months.

Walk-through energy audits
Marketing representatives can conduct a free walk-through energy audit. They visually inspect your home and evaluate the energy efficiency of the building, household appliances, heating and cooling system and lighting. You get a list of recommendations showing steps that can be taken to reduce energy costs.

For more information on an energy audit or to schedule one, please call 800-489-7405 or click here to send us a message.

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Save money with ENERGY STAR products
[General]

The next time you need a product for your home or business, look for an ENERGY STAR label. Products with the ENERGY STAR rating deliver the same or better performance as comparable models while using less energy and saving money. They are certified by a third-party based on testing in laboratories recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Visit the ENERGY STAR website to learn more about the ENERGY STAR program and see certified products, such as refrigerators, pool pumps, air-conditioning systems and televisions.

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Program finances heat pump, other home improvements
[General]

With First Electric Cooperative’s Home Improvement Loan Program, you don’t have to put off upgrading the energy efficiency of your home any longer. The program will allow you to finance a heat pump and its installation at a competitive, fixed-interest rate. In addition, you can include other energy efficiency products and repairs, such as:

  • Duct systems and duct sealing
  • Thermal improvements — insulation, caulking and ventilation
  • Windows and doors
  • Marathon electric water heaters (available through First Electric)

Loan Features:

  • Borrow as little as $500 or as much as $15,000
  • Terms from 12 to 60 months
  • Fixed-interest rate for the life of the loan
  • No pre-payment penalty
  • Payments included on monthly electric bill

Please note that you must own and occupy the property and demonstrate adequate credit history. Loans between $500 and $2,500 are secured with an equipment lien, and loans more than $2,500 are secured with a property mortgage and equipment lien. A $20 filing fee applies for loans less than $2,500, and a $60 filing fee applies for loans more than $2,500.

For more information on the loan program, please visit the Home Improvement Loan Program webpage or call 800-489-7405. All necessary documents to apply for a loan are available for download on the webpage.

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