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Illinois Country Living


DOE cites benefits of co-op green power

Electric co-ops are helping make renewable energy more accessible to their consumer-members, responding to and helping drive the growing market for green power, a Department of Energy laboratory reported. For example, Basin Electric Power Cooperative, one of the nation’s largest generation and transmission co-ops, sold more than 300 million kilowatt-hours of electricity through voluntary green power markets in 2008, the latest year for which figures are available, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Here in Illinois, Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative, Auburn, reached a milestone with its Gob Nob wind turbine on March 31 by generating 2 million kWh. In December 2008 the co-op became the second Illinois co-op to install a 900 kW wind generator. The wind turbine is located on top of what is called a gob pile at the former Crown I Coal Mine just east of I-55 near Farmersville.

Don’t get scammed

The Illinois Department on Aging started a “Savvy Senior” campaign to help seniors stop exploitation from home repair and telemarketing scams. When considering home repair, seniors should remember: a) if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is; b) always get estimates; c) don’t pay in advance; d) check references and even call the police to have someone checked out working in your area.

To protect yourelf against phone scams: a) don’t pay for any prize or send money to improve your chances of winning; b) don’t be bullied into buying “right now”; don’t give your credit card number to anyone over the phone unless you made the call and don’t give any caller your bank account number.

To report these scams or any other type of elder abuse, phone the 24-hour hotline at 866-800-1409.

Shawnee Community College receives geothermal energy grant

Shawnee Community College in Ullin was recently awarded two $50,000 GeoAlliance grants, one for a geothermal heating and cooling system installation in the school’s Medical Arts & Sciences Building and the other for a system in the Saint’s Place housing facility.

GeoAlliance is a partnership between the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives in Springfield and Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation in Chicago. The foundation provides funding for the grants. The association administers the grant program and awards funding to geothermal projects in schools that receive electricity from Illinois electric cooperatives.

Grant funding is available for a third of the incremental cost difference between a traditional fossil fuel heating and cooling system and a geothermal system with a cap of $50,000 per project.

The purpose of the grants is to encourage use of highly energy efficient and ecologically friendly geothermal technology. The energy savings for both projects at Shawnee Community College are estimated to be $122,000 per year.

For more information about GeoAlliance grants, please contact Nancy Nixon at the Association of Illinois Cooperatives by phone at 217-241-7954 or by e-mail at

Electric cooperatives kick off HomE energy efficiency program

Illinois electric cooperatives have received $1.5 million in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds through the Illinois State Energy plan. With this funding cooperatives plan to administer a residential energy efficiency program called HomE.

The program begins with a home energy assessment provided by electric cooperative personnel. Based upon this energy assessment, participating cooperative members are then eligible for a series of rebates for making energy efficiency improvements to their homes. There are rebates available for insulation and weatherization upgrades, as well as for installation of upgraded heating and cooling equipment. Rebates are available for Energy Star qualified air-source heat pumps, geothermal heat pumps, and conventional systems. In addition, a rebate is available for participating members who install an Energy Star qualified heat pump water heater.

The maximum rebate per household is $1,500. Rebate funds will be provided to qualifying members who participate in the program and complete the efficiency improvements. Only members of electric cooperatives are eligible for the program – and rebates will be given to only members who have had the energy assessment provided by the cooperative.

Additional information will be provided in next month’s Illinois Country Living magazine. More detailed information can be found at, or your electric cooperative’s web site.

Touchstone Energy balloon pilot Cheri White receives honors

Cheri White, Cooperative Balloon Associates (CBA) COO and Pilot of the Touchstone Energy Hot Air Balloon, has been recognized by the Ballooning Federation of America (BFA) for two top honors.

BFA member Cheri White has been awarded ballooning’s highest honor, the Montgolfier Diploma from the Federation Aeronautique International Ballooning Commission. The award was announced at the annual plenary meeting of the CIA in Switzerland.

Cheri White was honored for ‘Best Performance in Gas Balloons’ in the wake of the 3rd place finish of she and Mark Sullivan in the 2009 Gordon Bennett race. White was also recently awarded the 2009 BFA’s Top Female Pilot.

These two awards just add to a growing list of professional awards White has received over her more than 30 years of ballooning to include but not limited to: the 1995 Touchstone Energy Distinguished Service Award, the 1999 Woman’s National Hot Air Balloon Champion and the 1993 Rookie of the Year.

CBA was organized and licensed in 1999 to own and operate the Touchstone Energy Balloon Programs. CBA consists of ten Illinois Cooperatives: Prairie Power, Inc., Southern Illinois Power Cooperative, Coles-Moultrie Electric Cooperative, Corn Belt Energy Corporation, Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative, Jo-Carroll Energy, Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative, McDonough Power Cooperative, Norris Electric Cooperative and Shelby Electric Cooperative.

For more information about Cooperative Balloon Associates visit or follow them on twitter -

National Broadband Plan proposed

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released “Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan” (NBP), a blueprint for expanding and upgrading broadband services. It hopes to accomplish within 10 years:

• Affordable 100 megabit-per-second downstream service to at least 100 million homes.

• 1 Gigabit-per-second data feeds to schools, hospitals, and government buildings nationwide.

• Access to the fastest-available mobile broadband service.

• A dedicated nationwide wireless public safety network.

• Technical capability in every U.S. home for consumers to track their usage and manage their electric power consumption in real time.

Electric co-ops’ communication service expands

Dan Vandiver President/CEO of Illinois Cooperative Association Inc., doing business as Clear-Talk, in late March announced the purchase of Buchanan Communications. Buchanan Communications Inc. provides Motorola voice and data communications products and services to industrial, commercial and small business owners as well as law enforcement agencies.

Illinois Cooperative Association Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation with stock owned equally by Corn Belt Energy Corporation, Bloomington; EnerStar Electric Cooperative, Paris; and Shelby Electric Cooperative, Shelbyville. Clear Talk, was formed on March 1, 1997 and provides 800 MHz wide area trunked communication service across most of central Illinois. Clear Talk has an extensive Motorola SmartZone system stretching from near the St. Louis area to the fringes of the Chicago area. “Our staff provides all the maintenance on infrastructure for the Illinois state police on their StarCom 21 system,” says Vandiver.

For the electric cooperatives of Illinois, Vandiver says the acquisition of Buchanan Communications will help co-ops build on newly installed automated metering infrastructure and other smart grid applications such as automated vehicle location communication technology.

“The smart grid innovations our electric cooperatives are adding require a robust communications system that extends over a extremely large geographic foot print. The smart grid will also create a large increase in data communication. On top of that there is a huge evolution going on in the way the spectrum is managed with a shift to narrow banding and digital radio communications equipment. We are excited about the opportunities this brings, and the new assets and expertise that Buchanan Communications provides Clear Talk.”

Reitz urges postponing CO2 regulation

Illinois state Rep. Dan Reitz, a former coal miner, sponsored HR 933 in the Illinois General Assembly, which urges Congress “to adopt legislation that would postpone U.S. EPA’s effort to regulate green house gas emissions from stationery sources using existing Clean Air Act authority.”

Reitz says, “Regulating greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources under the Clean Air Act would be a great anchor on manufacturing and the economy in general. I believe that Congress should adopt legislation if we’re going to regulate greenhouse gases from stationary sources.”

The full Illinois House of Representatives adopted HR 933 on March 17. At least six other states have adopted similar measures. Regulation is set to begin no sooner than January 2011.

“The Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives was pleased to register its formal support of HR 933 when it was considered in committee hearing earlier, and we appreciate Rep. Reitz’s leadership on this issue,” said AIEC President/CEO Duane Noland. “Electric co-ops are fighting to ensure that any climate change policy goals adopted are fair, affordable and achievable. We are urging all our co-op members to make their voice heard in this debate.” Voice your opinion at


© 2016 Illinois Country Living Magazine.
Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives

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