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Illinois co-ops slammed by snow and ice storm

From New Mexico to Maine, 30 states were impacted by a massive early February ice and snow storm. Here in Illinois the National Guard was called out and many county roads and some interstates were closed. The worst damage to power lines was caused by a band of ice that paralleled I-70. Almost every Illinois electric co-op had outages caused by the storm.

Ice and wind are the worst combination for power lines. Ice buildup of one-half inch can add 1,000 lbs. to a span of line. Add wind and lines begin to “gallop” up and down. Poles snap, and cross arms and lines fall.

Illinois electric co-ops worked together to repair the damage and they called in help from other states. To warn members and to keep them updated, many of the co-ops sent out news releases, updated websites and even used Facebook and Twitter.

At Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative, Auburn, President/CEO David Stuva used all of the above along with direct messages to members served by substations impacted by the storm. In one message he told members, “As of 6:30 p.m., Tuesday evening February 1, Ameren is unable to keep their transmission lines energized, due to ice buildup on the lines and the wind causing them to gallop.”

Other co-ops also experienced transmission outages. Norris Electric Cooperative, Newton, even had a complete melt down of its Verizon telephone, cell phone and Internet service. Even its backup Internet service went down. For a period of time the co-op had only one cell phone from CellularOne to call out on.

Rick Polley, Manager of Field Services for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives, was in charge of organizing help through the Illinois Electric Cooperative Emergency Work Plan. Polley said, “I had a conference call the first morning with about 12 statewide electric co-op associations ranging from Georgia to the Carolinas to Kentucky and Tennessee down to Louisiana and Mississippi. This was a massive storm that required a lot of help. Fortunately, we have a great co-op network to call on, and best of all to my knowledge we didn’t have any accidents during this storm.”


Meredosia site to be upgraded to FutureGen 2.0

FutureGen is back on the charts as FutureGen 2.0. FutureGen is an industry alliance intended to demonstrate a major breakthrough in clean coal technology. After years of hurdles and cost-cutting measures, a plan that was originally intended to create a new facility in Mattoon, Ill. is expected instead to take an existing plant and retrofit it.

The new plan calls for a morphed version, taking an Ameren’s 200 megawatt Meredosia coal plant and making it more cost efficient. A new boiler will create oxycombustion and steam will be piped through turbines. It will serve as the “world’s first coal-fired power plant capturing carbon at a rate greater than 90 percent and be fully integrated with a pipeline and CO2 storage hub,” said Kenneth Humphreys, CEO of the FutureGen Alliance.

The revised version, down from $2.4 billion to $1.4 billion, would supposedly be financed through multiple means with the U.S. government providing $1 billion in stimulus funds, FutureGen Alliance supplying $250 million and Ameren, Babcock & Wilcox and Air Liquide Process & Construction spending $150 million to redesign and retrofit the plant.

The Meredosia project will create about 750 jobs for constructing the plant and pipelines and 125 permanent jobs to run it. The site will also include a crafts training center that will prepare workers in welding and iron work and electricians to handle the retrofitting of power plants to meet new EPA guidelines. In addition, the site will include an oxycombustion information center.

Source: EnergyBiz Magazine January/February 2011


Free food – come to 13th Illinois Products Expo – March 5-6, 2011

The “13th Illinois Products Expo ... A Food and Cooking Extravaganza” will be held on March 5-6, 2011, in the Orr Building at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. More than 80 Illinois food companies (and a few non-food companies) will be exhibiting. Best of all the food companies will provide free food samples and most of these products will also be available to purchase at the Expo. The cost to attend is only $5 (children 10 and under - free). Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

The “Illinois Wine and Cheese Garden” will once again be a featured attraction at the Expo. At least 20 Illinois wine companies will participate. They will sell wine samples (for a nominal fee) and they will sell their wine by the glass and by the bottle.

For more information contact Larry Aldag, 217-524-3012.


How to add disaster proof home improvements

The Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) is urging homeowners to integrate disaster-resistance into their remodeling plans this year. “Home improvements are a great way to increase a home’s curb appeal and value,” says Julie Rochman, President and CEO of IBHS. “However, those improvements won’t mean much if the home is damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster.”

“IBHS’ web site, www.DisasterSafety.org includes extensive information for homeowners about the specific measures they can implement to strengthen their homes,” Rochman said.

For example, you can take advantage of the opportunity re-roofing offers to strengthen your roof. For hail, wildfire and high winds, it is important to strip the old roof cover down to the sheathing. Most roofing products and particularly shingles resist hail impact best when they are installed on a smooth firm surface. In areas with a high hail risk, choose a Class 4 impact-resistant product.

If you are remodeling a portion of your house, look for ways to strengthen or protect that portion of your home so that you will have a stronger, safer area to go to if you are at home during a severe weather event. If you are remodeling a closet, consider turning it into a safe room.


Farmers and rural small businesses receive energy funding

Illinois Rural Development State Director Colleen Callahan announced 141 agriculture producers and small businesses in Illinois have been selected to receive a total of $6.7 million to reduce energy consumption and utilize renewable energy. Funding is provided through USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which was authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill.

“These guaranteed loans and grants will help farmers and rural small businesses use energy more efficiently,” Callahan said. “When we reduce costs for farmers and rural small businesses, we are ultimately providing a boost to the local rural economy.”

Prairie Power, Inc., with headquarters in Jacksonville, Ill., is receiving a $98,000 grant to provide renewable energy development assistance for rural small businesses and agriculture producers. Prairie Power is a generation and transmission (G&T) co-op serving 10 Illinois distribution co-ops.

Southern Illinois Power Cooperative, with headquarters in Marion, Ill., was selected for a $100,000 grant to perform energy audits. Southern Illinois Power is a G&T serving seven distribution co-ops. The grants to these cooperatives will assist farmers and rural small businesses evaluate their energy efficiency potential and assess renewable energy technologies and resources that can be incorporated into their operations.

For more information on the two G&T’s renewable energy development and energy audit assistance, contact John Freitag, Vice President of Operations for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives, 217-241-7973 or e-mail jfreitag@aiec.coop.

One of the other recipients was Big M Manufacturing in Taylorville, owned by Melvin Repscher who serves on the Board of Directors for Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative in Auburn. Big M Manufacturing received a renewable energy grant to purchase a 20-kW wind turbine. Big M has been manufacturing and marketing biomass-fueled heating systems to more than 80 distributors in the U.S. since 1992.

 

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