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Illinois Country Living

August 2007 Issue: FeatureCommentaryCurrents SafetyGardenEnergy SolutionsFinest Cooking


Affordable Healthcare for Illinois VeteransSBDC to Host 'Starting a Business' WorkshopsMandatory Reliability Standards Now EnforceableInduction Cooktops -- So Cool They're HotIs It Time to Replace Old Frig with an Energy-Efficient Model?Celebrating Over 50 Years of Farm Progress Show SuccessAir Permit Approved for Taylorville Coal Gasification Power PlantSenior Help Line is One-Stop-Shop for Illinois Seniors

Affordable Healthcare for Illinois Veterans

Every veteran deserves access to affordable, quality health insurance, and that’s why Governor Blagojevich and Lt. Governor Quinn created Veterans Care – a new program from the State of Illinois that offers comprehensive healthcare to veterans across Illinois.

Under this program, veterans will pay a monthly premium of $40 and receive medical, dental and vision coverage. Veterans who enroll will not be required to pay a monthly premium for the first two months of coverage. To pre-register for Veterans Care, veterans can stop-by one of the 50 veteran service offices, call our Veterans Care hotline, 1-877-4VETSRX, or go to

SBDC to Host 'Starting a Business' Workshops

The Illinois Small Business Development Center of Southern Illinois University Carbondale (ISBDC) will sponsor a "Starting a Business in Illinois" workshop Aug. 15 in Room 150 at the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center, 150 E. Pleasant Hill Road in Carbondale.

The informational seminars provide general information needed to launch and manage a successful business. Discussion covers paperwork requirements, legal structure, finding financing, hiring employees and the basics of business planning.

"Anyone considering starting a business should really take the time to come to one of our workshops," said Robyn Laur Russell, director of the ISBDC. "These workshops take you through the logistics of starting a business and help entrepreneurs see if they think they have what it takes to launch and sustain a successful business. Research shows that the more planning put into the project on the front end, the better chances are for business survival. We want to give people the tools to succeed and see just what they can build with those tools."

The only charge is a $10 materials fee to cover the cost of the business startup kit that includes a business plan workbook, business startup checklist and a copy of the presentation slides along with other helpful materials and documents. To register or for more information call 618-536-2424 or e-mail Online registration is available at

Source: Christi Mathis


Mandatory Reliability Standards Now Enforceable

As of June 18, 2007, U.S. electric utilities that violate any requirements of the 83 reliability standards will face enforcement actions by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) under federal law. The electricity industry has spent years preparing for this new era in which compliance with reliability standards is mandatory and no longer voluntary.

In August 2003, approximately 40 million people lost power for roughly two days in the northeastern United States. The root cause for this massive blackout - overgrown trees that contacted high-voltage power lines. This blackout prompted U.S. legislators to make standards mandatory and enforceable through the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

These mandatory standards relate to the planning and operation of the bulk or wholesale power system, including generation and transmission. The standards cover areas such as emergency operations, cyber security, vegetation management and disturbance reporting. More than 1,400 entities that carry out functions necessary to ensure a reliable bulk power system must comply with the NERC Reliability Standards.

"The North American electricity industry has operated one of the world's most reliable electricity networks under voluntary guidelines for decades," said NERC President and CEO Rick Sergel. "Voluntary guidelines worked very well to a point, but they were not enough. The electricity industry is no stronger than its weakest link, and a mistake by one entity can affect customers hundreds of miles away, as we saw with the August 2003 blackout. To avoid future blackouts, everyone must follow all the rules, all the time. Mandatory standards are the next logical step toward achieving that," Sergel said.

Source: North American Electric Reliability Corporation and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.


Induction Cooktops -- So Cool They're Hot

The coolest appliance to hit the market today is the induction cooktop, the latest "must have" for every aspiring chef and trendsetter. These high-tech, cool-touch cooktops are also the perfect choice for parents who like to spend time in the kitchen with their children.

The "magic" of induction cooking allows you to touch, sit or even create additional counter space on the cooktop while you whip up the next meal.

Induction cooktops utilize electromagnetic energy to heat only the cookware. The cooking surface remains cool to the touch providing the safest cooking surface on the market. Also, induction cooktops heat food faster, boiling water in half the time of the most powerful gas or electric burner while the kitchen stays cool. This rapid heating process increases efficiency, saving time and energy.


Is It Time to Replace Old Frig with an Energy-Efficient Model?

Have you ever wondered how much you could save on your monthly energy bill by replacing your old refrigerator or freestanding freezer with a new energy-efficient model? Or whether it's finally time to retire that spare frig in the garage or basement - the one that's even older than the one in the kitchen?

A new online tool found at developed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) can facilitate that decision by calculating the potential savings from replacing older refrigerators and freezers with new, energy-efficient models.

"Was your refrigerator manufactured before 1993?" asks Energy Star Product Manager, Richard Karney. "If so, it's probably time to replace it. The Refrigerator Retirement Savings Calculator is part of the federal government's ENERGY STAR program, which helps consumers save money on home energy bills by labeling the most energy-efficient products in more than 50 categories."

Source: The Alliance to Save Energy,


Celebrating Over 50 Years of Farm Progress Show Success

Prairie Farmer magazine, a flagship of Farm Progress Companies, was instrumental in the development of the Farm Progress Show. From 1924 through 1941, Prairie Farmer sponsored corn-husking contests. Early in 1953, Prairie Farmer joined forces with WLS-Radio in Chicago with the idea to host a farm event where farmers could see first hand the progress being made in farming equipment, along with seed varieties and Ag chemicals.

The first Farm Progress Show took place on Oct. 2, 1953 on the Earl Bass farm in Armstrong, Illinois and hosted more than 75,000 folks. This show offered visitors an opportunity to see equipment, seed and chemicals as well as fire-fighting demonstrations, sheep dog trials, stage entertainment, a fiddlers' contest and even the WLS Barn Dance. In subsequent years, the show evolved to include seed test plots and field demonstrations.

Today, the Farm Progress Show welcomes people from across the United States and around the world at the nation's largest outdoor farm show event. Visitors see everything from the latest in technology to seed to crop chemicals to field demonstrations to livestock handling and equine events to Ride 'n Drive to rural life programs to arts and crafts at this major agriculture event.

In 2005 the Farm Progress Show reached another milestone by hosting over 500 exhibitors at the permanent biennial site in Decatur. The 2007 show takes place Aug. 28 - 30 back at the permanent biennial site in Decatur.

The latest milestone for the shows is the announcement of the other permanent biennial site near Boone, Iowa, which will host the Farm Progress Show beginning in 2008.

Many exhibitors use the Farm Progress Show as an opportunity to unveil their new products. You can look forward to being the first to see the latest new products from leading agricultural companies from around the world.

For more information go to

Air Permit Approved for Taylorville Coal Gasification Power Plant

The Illinois EPA has issued an Air Construction Permit to Christian County Generation, LLC, which will build the first Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power generating plant in the U.S. The $2 billion gasification plant is known as the Taylorville Energy Center (TEC).

The plant will use coal gasification technology to dramatically reduce air emissions, allowing high-sulfur Illinois coal to become a more environmentally sound fuel source. The plant would create 1,500 construction jobs, 120 permanent jobs at the plant and 160 new mining jobs to supply the 1.8 million tons of Illinois coal needed annually to power more than 600,000 households.

"The Taylorville Energy Center, using cutting edge clean-coal gasification technology, is a great example of how we can grow our economy and create good paying jobs while protecting our environment," says Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich.

"The Taylorville Energy Center will turn coal into a gas that can be more cleanly burned to generate power, which helps protect public and the environment," said Illinois EPA Director Doug Scott. "The air we all breathe will be cleaner because gasification plants remove pollutants and impurities prior to combustion, resulting in significantly lower mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions than conventional coal plants."

IGCC plants have the future potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by capturing carbon dioxide that can be permanently stored underground in mature oil fields or deep saline aquifers. In addition to vast coal reserves, Illinois' geology is well suited for so-called "carbon sequestration," making Illinois an ideal place to build coal gasification plants.

In addition to directly creating new construction, plant operations and coal mining jobs, a recently released study from the Regional Development Institute at Northern Illinois University found that, once operational, the plant would add $356 million annually to the area's economy, and create nearly 800 additional indirect jobs, making it among the most important engines for economic growth in central Illinois.


Senior Help Line is One-Stop-Shop for Illinois Seniors

Navigating the labyrinth of state government departments and agencies that offer useful services to older adults can be confusing. An improved Senior Help Line will help to eliminate the delays and frustration of being transferred and put on hold by making information about all of those services available through a single number, 1-800-252-8966 (1-888-206-1327 TTY).

The Senior Help Line offers information about a wide range of existing programs for seniors, including hot meal delivery, transportation services, and employment opportunities, as well as information on programs like Illinois Cares Rx, which can save seniors money on their prescription drugs as they deal with changes resulting from Medicare Part D.

© 2007 Illinois Country Living Magazine.
Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives

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