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Co-ops and USDA Rural Development Support Local EnterprisesWatch Out for Flood-related Electrical HazardsMay Forecasted to See Near Normal TemperaturesU of I Launches New Agritourism Web SiteIllinois House Asks Congress and Department of Energy to Reconsider FutureGenProper CFL Bulb DisposalTwo Co-ops Receive Tree Line USA Designation

Co-ops and USDA Rural Development Support Local Enterprises

USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Thomas C. Dorr announced in April the award of 64 loans and grants totaling more than $30 million to assist rural communities and businesses in 19 states. Four Illinois electric cooperatives are being awarded a total of $2.82 million for projects that will create 120 jobs and retain another 175 jobs in their rural service areas.

The funds are provided through the USDA Rural Development Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) program. Co-ops pass the interest free funds on to public bodies, non-profits and private businesses at zero percent interest for ten years. Grant funds are used to establish revolving loan funds.

“The REDLG program provides an exceptional opportunity for Illinois electric cooperatives and Rural Development to partner to improve the quality of rural life,” said Illinois Rural Development Director Doug Wilson.

Western Illinois Electrical Cooperative is receiving a $740,000 loan and $300,000 grant to help the City of Carthage fund the infrastructure needed for the new Memorial Hospital. Corn Belt Energy Corporation headquartered in Bloomington will use their $300,000 grant to establish a revolving loan fund. The Village of Downs, their first borrower, will use the funds to extend a water main to Downs Crossing.

Two other Illinois electric cooperatives have been approved for loans of $740,000. Monroe County Electric Co-Operative in Waterloo will pass on its no cost loan to Wm. Nobbe and Company, Inc. The funds will be used to build a new John Deere dealership facility in Jerseyville.

Illinois Rural Electric Cooperative in Winchester will pass through its $740,000 loan to Westermeyer Industries, Inc., a Scott County company manufacturing cooling system components and accessories, to expand its facility. Since 2001 owner Gary Westermeyer has secured seven engineering patents and will have grown his company from a backyard workshop to a 55,000–square–foot facility.


Watch Out for Flood-related Electrical Hazards

Spring thaw and heavy rains often cause flooding in lowland areas, homes and basements. Safe Electricity reminds everyone to be alert to electrical equipment that could be energized and in contact with water, along with other potential hazards that create a serious danger of electrocution. Cleaning up and using water-damaged appliances also carry safety risks.

“The prospect of an electrical accident is probably not top of mind when you’re dealing with a flooded basement, room or even outdoors,” says Molly Hall, Executive Director of Safe Electricity. “But it’s the first thing you should think of before you step foot in the water.”

Safety measures to keep in mind include:

  • Never step into a flooded basement or other room if water may be in contact with electrical outlets, appliances or cords.
  • Never attempt to turn off power at the breaker box if you must stand in water to do so. If you can’t reach your breaker box safely, call your electric utility to shut off power at the meter.
  • Never use electric appliances or touch electric wires, switches or fuses when you’re wet or when you’re standing in water.
  • Keep electric tools and equipment at least 10 feet away from wet surfaces. Do not use electric yard tools if it’s raining or the ground is wet.
  • If an electrical appliance has been in contact with water, have a professional check it out before it is used. It may need to be repaired or replaced.

“A good safety measure is to have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) professionally installed on outlets,” Hall says. “These safety devices can cut off power quickly if there’s a problem.”

GFCIs are recommended for outdoor outlets and outlets near wet areas of the home such as kitchen, bath and laundry room.

For more information on electrical safety, visit www.Safe

May Forecasted to See Near Normal Temperatures

Sea surface temperatures across the equatorial Pacific have shown some signs of warming over the last couple months. This could be an early indicator that the current La Nina is beginning to weaken slightly. However, long-range models do not all agree that La Nina will weaken as we head towards summer. In fact, some of them keep a fairly strong La Nina in place well into the summer months.

As for the month of May, with some level of La Nina still persisting, past climate records indicate that Illinois generally experiences temperatures that average near to possibly even slightly below normal during the late spring. The years of 1989, 1996 and 2006 all featured a similar La Nina and all saw near or cooler than normal temperatures in May.

Other climate indices such as the NAO (North Atlantic Index) may also support a more average or cooler temperature scenario for May. As a result, early season energy usage and costs with respect to cooling may benefit the consumer by also averaging below normal.

The Illinois map this month illustrates the average number of cooling degree-days across the state during the month of May. It is expected that portions of the state will see a slight deficit in cooling degree days this May due to the predicted near to slightly below average temperatures.

Looking ahead to the upcoming summer, it should be noted that following the cool May’s of 1989, 1996 and 2006, the summer months in all three years were warmer than normal. How warm of a summer is going to largely depend on the strength of the La Nina.

U of I Launches New Agritourism Web Site

“Agritourism is a growing segment of the rural economy,” says John Pike, a U of I Extension community and economic development educator. Pike developed a new Web site and information source that will assist those wanting to develop agritourism businesses in Illinois. To visit the site go to

Pike says, “Many farm-based agritourism businesses attract customers directly to the farm gate today and many more are being developed. These enterprises market a wide variety of produce, products and services to a wide variety of consumers.”

Pike defined agritourism as any business activity that brings the public to a farm or rural setting in an effort to market farm-raised or produced products or to enjoy related outdoor activities.

“Examples of agritourism include, but are not limited to, pumpkin patches, berry farms, orchards, wineries, corn mazes, bed and breakfasts, farm markets and hunting clubs,” he says.

The Web site includes information about resources available to those considering launching an agritourism enterprise and links to other helpful Web sites.

Source: University of Illinois news release Feb. 18, 2008

Illinois House Asks Congress and Department of Energy to Reconsider FutureGen

The Illinois House approved in April, without debate, Resolution 1009 urging the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Department of Energy to reverse the decision to dismantle and abandon the FutureGen project in Mattoon.

The plant was to be the prototype for the next generation coal-fired power plants. It would have been a research lab for refining clean coal technology, hydrogen production and carbon dioxide sequestration.

The innovative public and private partnership was supported by the FutureGen Alliance, a consortium of the world’s coal producers and energy generators.

Proper CFL Bulb Disposal

We’ve all purchased compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) to be more energy efficient and eco-friendly. If every American household replaced just one incandescent bulb with a CFL, the energy saved could light more than 3 million homes, or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 800,000 cars off the road. But CFLs contain small amounts of mercury.

One CFL contains about five mg of mercury per bulb. The mercury emitted from a CFL in waste (including its lifetime power plant emission) is still less than the amount an incandescent bulb would produce according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Overall you’re not producing more hazardous waste by throwing your CFLs away, you’re producing less. You should also know that one CFL bulb contains one percent of the mercury contained in an old style glass thermometer.

It is suggested by the EPA that you seal the used CFL bulb in two plastic bags and then put it into the outside trash.

For more information, visit and

Two Co-ops Receive Tree Line USA Designation

Corn Belt Energy Corporation and Wayne-White Counties Electric Cooperative have joined an elite group of electric cooperatives in Illinois by achieving the Tree Line USA designation from The National Arbor Day Foundation. The co-ops received the award in November at the Illinois Arborists Association Conference.

Tree Line USA is a program that promotes the dual goal of dependable utility service and abundant, healthy trees along America’s streets and highways.

Cal Williams, Manager of Vegetation, Fleet and Safety at Corn Belt Energy, shows off the Tree Line USA flag proudly flying at Corn Belt Energy.


© 2008 Illinois Country Living Magazine.
Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives

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