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Accepting applications for member service clerk
Members fund donations to 16 local nonprofit organizations
2016 Energy Efficiency Makeover Contest winners announced
Know how to spot phone scam
First Electric members re-elect Hill, Love
First Electric sponsoring four juniors on Youth Tour
Five seniors to receive First Electric scholarships
Members fund donations to 14 local nonprofit organizations
No-cost and low-cost tips can help reduce energy bills
Tax credits available for home efficiency improvements
Local business targeted by phone scam
Right-of-way maintenance helps prevent outages
Honoring those who keep lights on
Know what to do in event of pole collision
Discover co-op’s payment options
Co-op Connections: The one card that does it all
First Electric developing solar project
Security lighting provides extra safety, convenience
GenerLink™ allows safe, easy connection of generator
Annual servicing key to efficient heat pump use


Accepting applications for member service clerk
[General]

A position is open for a member service clerk in Benton. Anyone who is interested should submit an application no later than Sept. 23. Click here to apply or for specifications. 

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Members fund donations to 16 local nonprofit organizations
[General]

Thanks to members who participate in Operation Round-Up, $18,500 was donated to 16 local organizations in July. These members volunteer to have their bill rounded up to the next even dollar amount each month. That money — an average of $6 a year — is used for donations to local organizations and for college scholarships. Join Operation Round-Up by completing this form or by calling 800-489-7405 during regular business hours.

Second-quarter donation recipients include: 

Arkansas County

  • Saint Charles Volunteer Fire Department, $1,500

Cleburne County

  • Margie’s Haven House, $1,000
  • Pine Snag/Lobo Volunteer Fire Department, $1,500

Faulkner County

  • Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Faulkner County, $1,000

Garland County

  • Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Garland County, $1,000

Lonoke County

  • Wade Knox Children’s Advocacy Center, $1,000
  • Kohen’s Park Foundation, $1,000

Perry County

  • Rosenwald Community Center, $1,000
  • Renewal Ranch, $1,000

Pulaski County

  • Mended Little Hearts of Little Rock, $500
  • Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas, $2,000

Saline County

  • Boys & Girls Club of Bryant, $1,000
  • Civitan Services, $1,500
  • Shaw Fire Protection District, $1,500

Stone County

  • Dodd Mountain Volunteer Fire Department, $1,000

White County

  • Arkansas Bikers for Children, $1,000

Photos of donation recipients are posted in this Facebook album.

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2016 Energy Efficiency Makeover Contest winners announced
[General]

Ninth annual event to benefit 17 members’ homes throughout Arkansas

Little Rock, Ark. — July 22, 2016 — The homes of 17 electric cooperative members will soon become much more energy efficient thanks to the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas Ninth Annual Energy Efficiency Makeover Contest. The 17 winning members’ homes will each receive up to $5,000 in energy efficiency improvements.

“Hundreds of electric cooperative members from across the state submitted applications,” said Bret Curry, manager of residential energy marketing for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. “Then, a statewide team of cooperative representatives objectively selected the 17 winning homes. The common theme among the homes is higher than average electrical consumption per square foot of living space and complaints about having to sacrifice comfort in order to keep the electric bill affordable.”

Curry said the energy efficiency makeover project is an educational program demonstrates basic building science. Member’s homes are used as a resource during the energy efficiency transformation makeover so others can learn how to implement energy savings applications and comfort improvement ideas within their homes.

Each winner will receive a comprehensive energy audit that includes a blower door air infiltration test, a ductwork leakage test and infrared thermal imaging scan. Upon diagnosis of the energy problems, a team of experts will properly install additional attic insulation, seal and insulate whole-house attic fans and attic access points, caulk and seal unwanted air leaks, reconnect, seal and insulate the ductwork. Winners also receive a heating and cooling system tune-up. Inefficient lighting will be replaced with LED bright stik™ bulbs courtesy of General Electric.

Grand prizes winners and their respective, locally owned electric cooperatives are:

  • Crystal Hartman of Alma, an Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative member;
  • Hunter Smith of Crossett, an Ashley-Chicot Electric Cooperative member;
  • Earlene McBride of Star City, a C&L Electric Cooperative member;
  • Mark Scott of Gravette, a Carroll Electric Cooperative member;
  • Chris and Tonya Hankins of  Pocahontas, Clay County Electric Cooperative members;
  • Tim Oppenheim of  Jonesboro, a Craighead Electric Cooperative member;
  • Rebecca Ladd of Newport, a Farmers Electric Cooperative member;
  • Roger and Susan Emerson of Cabot, First Electric Cooperative members;
  • Tina Wilder of Blytheville, a Mississippi County Electric Cooperative member;
  • Bobbie Joe Johnson of Ash Flat, a North Arkansas Electric Cooperative member;
  • Tim and Sheila Bastien of Hampton, Ouachita Electric Cooperative members;
  • Brian and Diana Persing of Fayetteville, Ozarks Electric Cooperative members;
  • Linda G. Moore of Clinton, a Petit Jean Electric Cooperative member;
  • Harold and Katherine Piatt of Mena, Rich Mountain Electric Cooperative members;
  • Arva L. Parker of Langley, a South Central Arkansas Electric Cooperative      member;
  • Michael G. Stout of Fouke, a Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative member; and
  • Andrea Collins of Moro, a Woodruff Electric Cooperative member.

Makeover progress can be viewed at www.ecahomemakeover.com or

https://www.facebook.com/SmartEnergyTips.org/.

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides services to the distribution cooperatives; and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC), a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to approximately 500,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states.

For additional information, contact:

Rob Roedel, Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, 501.570.2296 or rob.roedel@aecc.com

 

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Know how to spot phone scam
[General]

A bill payment phone scam regularly is reaching First Electric members at their homes and businesses.

The caller usually will tell the member that his or her electric bill is overdue, and the electricity will be shut off if the member does not pay either over the phone immediately or purchase a prepaid debit card and call back. First Electric does not use either of these payment methods.  

Scammers typically stress the need to act quickly. First Electric will not threaten members 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 to avoid theft of money or identity.

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. Anyone who has been contacted by one of these scammers is asked to notify First Electric.

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

 

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First Electric members re-elect Hill, Love
[General]

$200 bill credit winners Howard and Lillian PittFirst Electric Cooperative held its annual membership meeting June 23 at the cooperative’s headquarters in Jacksonville. Members, voting by mail-in ballot, re-elected Robert Hill and Rick Love to serve six-year terms on the cooperative’s board of directors.

Hill lives in Perryville and represents members in portions of Conway, Perry, western Pulaski and Yell counties. He serves as board chairman. Love lives in Olmstead and represents members in portions of Faulkner, Lonoke, Prairie, northern Pulaski and White counties.

The First Electric Board of Directors also includes: Vice Chairman Larry Wood, Lonoke; Secretary-Treasurer Robert Maertens, Benton; Jimmie Crockett, Rose Bud; Tom Hasty Jr., Almyra; Tracy Hudspeth, Drasco; David Luebke, Scott; and Karissa Rushing, Benton.

The 2015 Annual Report also was discussed during the meeting. The cooperative ended 2015 with more than $493 million in total assets, and $6.2 million was returned to members in the form of capital credit checks.

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 Fire tablets and five blenders.

$200 bill credit winners:

  • Susan Hinze of Benton
  • Howard and Lillian Pitt of Heber Springs
  • Byron Loney of Austin
  • Jewel Glover of Perryville
  • Chad Blasier of Humphrey

Blender winners:

  • Andrew and Carolyn Gentry of Alexander
  • Billy and Susan Brewster of Wilburn
  • Charles Turnage of Lonoke
  • Paul Biggs of Perryville
  • Ethel Creggett of Sherrill

Fire tablet winners:

  • Gregg and Deborah Buckingham of Hot Springs
  • Donald and Wanda Gallaway of Prim
  • Charlotte Swain of Cabot
  • H.K. Denoble of Bigelow
  • Marvin and Penny Beaver of DeWitt

 

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First Electric sponsoring four juniors on Youth Tour
[General]

First Electric Cooperative is sponsoring four high school juniors on the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour, an all-expense-paid trip to the nation’s capital June 8-16. They include:

Mattingly Bartole of CabotJoseph Hammond of Benton
Erin Holland of Heber SpringsCaleigh Pickard of Austin

The four will explore Washington, D.C., with students from the 16 other Arkansas electric cooperatives. The group will join 1,500 students from across the country, learn about electric cooperatives, tour historic sites and museums and meet members of the Arkansas Congressional Delegation. 

The four were selected from among 50 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 2017 Youth Tour.

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Five seniors to receive First Electric scholarships
[General]

First Electric Cooperative will award a $2,000 college scholarship to a recent high school graduate in each of the cooperative’s five districts.

Scholarship recipients for 2016 include:

  • Emma Barnes of Alexander
  • Jacob Hill of Perryville
  • McKenzie Horton of Cabot
  • Blake Marks of Stuttgart
  • Mallory Moon of Rose Bud

Scholarships are funded by the co-op’s Operation Round-Up program. First Electric 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 in Operation Round-Up online or by calling 800-489-7405.

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Members fund donations to 14 local nonprofit organizations
[General]

Thanks to members who participate in Operation Round-Up, $15,000 was donated to 14 local organizations in April. These members volunteer to have their bill rounded up to the next even dollar amount each month. That money — an average of $6 a year — is used for donations to local organizations and for college scholarships. Join Operation Round-Up by completing this form or by calling 800-489-7405 during regular business hours.

First-quarter donation recipients include:

Arkansas County

  • DeWitt Senior Center, $1,000

Cleburne County    

  • Cleburne County Historical Society, $1,000
  • Cleburne County Aging Program, $2,500

Grant County    

  • Keeping the Faith Women’s Shelter, $1,000

Lonoke County    

  • Cabot Christmas Alliance, $500
  • Lonoke County Safe Haven, $1,000
  • Family Resource Services of Lonoke, $1,000
  • CASA of Lonoke County, $1,000
  • Options Pregnancy Center, $2,000

Perry County    

  • Civic Improvement Association of Perry, $500

Pulaski County    

  • Fishnet Missions of Jacksonville, $1,000
  • Pulaski County Council for Communities, Children & Youth, $500
  • HOPE (Helping Out People Everywhere), $1,000
  • Valentine-Wooten Awareness Council, $1,000

Photos of donation recipients are posted in this Facebook album.

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No-cost and low-cost tips can help reduce energy bills
[General]

Try these no-cost and low-cost energy efficiency tips to help you keep your energy costs down as the temperatures go up this summer.

  • Keep the thermostat set at 78 degrees or higher during the cooling season, and use ceiling fans while home to make temperature settings feel four or more degrees cooler.
  • Keep the outdoor heating and cooling unit clean and free of debris.
  • Change the HVAC filter regularly. FIlterChange.coop can ship filters right to your door.
  • Caulk and weather-strip around doors and windows.
  • Insulate older electric water heaters with an insulating blanket available at hardware stores and place a piece of insulation board under the tank.
  • Install a low-flow showerhead in the shower as well as reduce time in the shower.
  • Air dry dishes instead of using the heated dry cycle.
  • Set the water heater temperature to 120 degrees.
  • Place LEDs in frequently used fixtures.
  • Replace loose gaskets on refrigerator and freezer doors.
  • Clean the lint filter in the dryer after each use.
  • Make sure all attic access points are sealed and insulated.

A diagnostic or walk-through energy audit could help you save money on energy costs by identifying more areas where your home’s energy efficiency could be improved. For more information about First Electric’s audit program, please call 800-489-7405 or visit the Energy Audits webpage.

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Tax credits available for home efficiency improvements
[General]

First Electric Cooperative wants to make members aware of the 2016 Federal Income Tax Credits that now are available for home efficiency improvements. These include the purchase of heat pumps, water heaters, insulation, windows, doors and more. If you have or plan to make any improvements this year, visit www.energystar.gov/taxcredits for more details on qualified products and how to apply. Also, these credits are retroactive to purchases made in 2015. If you have any questions, please call 800-489-7405 to speak with a First Electric marketing representative.

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Local business targeted by phone scam
[General]

First Electric Cooperative members, especially businesses, need to be aware of a potential phone scam. A gas station manager received a call April 8 from a Jennifer stating she was First Electric’s regional manager. (We have no such position.) The caller told the gas station manager she needed to call a toll-free number to pay her bill, or her business would be disconnected immediately. Thankfully, the gas station manager did not fall victim to the scam. She called First Electric to confirm the account was in good standing and to warn us of the scam.

Scammers typically stress the need for consumers to act quickly. First Electric will not threaten members 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.

Those who have been contacted by one of these scammers, or are victims of a scam, are encouraged to contact First Electric. Members always may pay their electric bill securely through SmartHub or 844-PAY-FECC (844-729-3322).

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Right-of-way maintenance helps prevent outages
[General]

Keeping trees and other vegetation away from First Electric Cooperative’s more than 10,000 miles of power lines is necessary to keep people 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.

Crews are performing right-of-way maintenance out of the following substations: Crows, Sardis, Pearson, Zion Hill, Beebe and Ward. Maintenance will begin later in the year on Eden Isle, Edgemont, Furlow, Humphrey and Tichnor.

Our employees and contractors always appreciate your cooperation when working in your area. Another way you and other members can help the co-op maintain the right-of-way is by considering the mature height of trees when planting. As a rule of thumb, 25 feet of ground-to-sky clearance should be available on each side of poles.

Trees planted within First Electric’s easement (15 feet on either side of line) will have to be removed once trimming becomes necessary. All trees along fences, roadways and other unmaintained areas will be removed during regularly scheduled maintenance regardless of size or height. 

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Honoring those who keep lights on
[General]

America’s electric cooperatives designate the second Monday of April as National Lineman Appreciation Day. On April 11, First Electric Cooperative will honor the dedicated individuals who often work in challenging conditions to keep the lights on. We proudly recognize all personnel for the services they perform around the clock to keep power flowing and protect the public’s safety.

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Know what to do in event of pole collision
[General]

When teenagers Lee Whittaker and Ashley Taylor saw a power line safety demonstration at their Indiana high school, they never dreamed what they had learned that day would be put to the test. Only days later, Whittaker and Taylor, along with two classmates, were in a car that crashed into a utility pole, bringing live power lines to the ground.  

“When people are involved in a car accident, electricity is usually the last thing on their minds,” said Molly Hall, executive director of the Energy Education Council’s Safe Electricity program. “We’re usually more concerned about whether anyone was injured or how badly the vehicle is damaged. We can forget that by exiting the vehicle, we’re risking exposure to thousands of volts of electricity from downed power lines.”

If you are in an accident with a utility pole, your vehicle may be charged with electricity. If this is the case and you step out of the car, you will become the electricity’s path to the ground and could be electrocuted. Loose wires and other equipment may be in contact with your car or near it — creating a risk for electrocution if you leave the vehicle.

Although downed lines sometimes can reveal they are live by arcing and sparking with electricity, this is not always the case. Power lines do not always show signs that they are live, but they are just as lethal.   

After an accident, stay in the car and tell others to do the same. If you come upon an accident involving power lines, do not approach the accident scene. If you see someone approaching, warn them to stay away. Call 911 to notify emergency personnel and utility services. Do not leave your vehicle until a utility professional has told you it is safe to do so.  

The safest place to be is almost always inside the car. The only circumstance when you should exit the vehicle is if it is on fire. If you must exit the vehicle, jump clear of it with your feet together and without touching the vehicle and ground at the same time. Continue to “bunny hop” with your feet together to safety. Doing this will ensure that you are at only one point of contact and will not have different strengths of electric current running from one foot to another, which can be deadly.

Whittaker, Taylor and their friends survived their accident because they had learned what to do. They waited for line crews to arrive and deactivate the power line.

First Electric Cooperative employees bring our high-voltage safety demonstration to students, emergency responders, firefighters and others who may come in contact with electricity. For more information on the program, please visit the Electric Safety Programs page.

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Discover co-op’s payment options
[General]

Smarthub Online/Mobile
Pay your First Electric Cooperative bill with SmartHub or with the free SmartHub app. Debit and credit cards are accepted. You now have the ability to schedule payments, too. 

Auto Bank Draft / Autocard
Sign up for Auto Bank Draft to have your bank account drafted or for Autocard to have your credit or debit card charged. Payments are made on the due date. Go to the Auto Pay section in SmartHub to enroll in either service. 

Pay-by-Phone
Call toll-free 844-PAY-FECC (844-729-3322) to pay your bill 24 hours a day by debit card, credit card or check.

Paysite Kiosks
Use a PaySite kiosk to pay with cash, check, debit or credit card. Click here to find one nearby. Fee applies.

MoneyGram Locations
Go to a MoneyGram location, such as Walmart. To ensure fastest payment processing, complete the ExpressPayment blue form and use receive code 15148. Click here to find one nearby. Fee applies.

Levelized Billing
Enroll in Levelized Billing, which prevents drastic changes in your bill and can make budgeting easier. Pre-qualification is required. Click here for more information.

Prepaid
Pay for your electricity in advance with Prepaid. Benefits include: no due dates, no shut-off notices, no penalties for paying late, no reconnection fees and no security deposits for eligible members. Click here for more information.

Questions about a payment option? Please call 800-489-7405 during regular business hours. A member service representative will be happy to help.

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Co-op Connections: The one card that does it all
[General]

Link to Co-op ConnectionsYou benefit from Co-op Connections!
First Electric Cooperative, a Touchstone Energy® cooperative, is proud to be part of the communities we serve. That’s why we offer the Co-op Connections Card, a member benefit that provides discounts on products and services from participating local and national businesses. This same program has saved co-op members nationwide millions on prescriptions and now offers significant savings on dental, vision, hearing, lab and imaging services and chiropractic work.

Free to all members
Each member of our co-op receives the Co-op Connections Card free. There’s no sign-up. No annual fees. You can get a card at a First Electric office, or you can print a card from home. Just click here and hit the "Print My Card" button.

Valuable discounts
You can recognize where the Co-op Connections Card is accepted by decals in the local retailers’ windows or by the registers. (Click here for a PDF of local retailers.) In addition to local businesses, we have secured discounts from a variety of national businesses and chains, such as rental car companies and hotels. Your card also entitles you to substantial prescription discounts nationwide.*

How are the Healthy Savings discounts different from insurance?
This plan is not insurance; it is a benefit discount offer. The card provides immediate discounts at the participating provider of your choice. Upon presenting your card, you will pay the discounted price at the time of service. There is no paperwork and no limit to the number of times you can use the card. These discounts are available only at participating providers.

Can I use my Co-op Connections card with my current insurance benefit to reduce my costs?
No. Your card cannot be used in conjunction with insurance. However, use your card for products and services not covered by your insurance plans and receive a discounted rate.

Where can I get a list of providers that accept the card?
The Co-op Connections Card is accepted at more than 100,000 health-related providers nationwide. Find participating locations here or call 800-800-7616.

Can I find out the discounted price of my prescriptions before going to the pharmacy?
Yes. If you know the name, strength and quantity of the prescribed medication, then you can find the discounted price of the medication by clicking here. You will receive the best price available to you through this program.

Search using smart phones or tablets
The Co-op Connections Program allows members to find discounts while on the go. Use this app to find discounts right at home or anywhere you travel. Search “Co-op Connections” in the App store or Google Play to download your free smart phone app!

*Pharmacy discounts are not insurance and are not intended as a substitute for insurance. The discount is only available at participating pharmacies.

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First Electric developing solar project
[General]

First Electric is developing a 1 megawatt solar project next to the co-op’s Congo Operations Center, which is under construction near Benton.

The 3,840-panel system by Ten K Solar will be placed on approximately five acres. It will be installed by Today’s Power Inc. TPI is a wholly owned subsidiary of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc., the Little Rock-based utility service cooperative owned by First Electric and the 16 other Arkansas electric distribution cooperatives.

“First Electric’s mission is to provide our members with safe, reliable, affordable and responsible power,” President/CEO Don Crabbe said.

First Electric and its power provider, Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp., accomplish that goal by maintaining a balanced combination of generation resources. This includes “baseload” resources — currently coal and natural gas — that can provide a constant supply of electricity as well as “intermittent” resources — hydropower, wind and solar power — that are used when they can round out the mix in a cost-effective manner.

Optimal production for First Electric’s new system will be on clear days with abundant sunshine. On those days, the 1 megawatt system will produce enough to power approximately 120-125 members’ homes. (First Electric’s peak system requirement is approximately 450 megawatts.)

Factoring in the federal tax credit, this solar project will produce electricity at a cost competitive with First Electric’s current wholesale rate. TPI offers First Electric and other not-for-profit electric cooperatives the opportunity to benefit from the 30-percent federal solar investment tax credit that previously only was available to taxable companies.

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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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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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