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Illinois Country Living


September 2007 Issue: FeatureCommentaryCurrents SafetyGardenEnergy SolutionsFinest Cooking

Currents:

Farm Safety and Health Week Sensible Saving Can Help Build Retirement FundsWind Energy Growing FastCooperative's Power Supplier Changes Name Healthcare for Low-Income VeteransFarming Still One of the Most Dangerous Occupations Coal Fuels 80 Percent of Co-op ElectricityEnhancing Soy-based Biodiesel UseSeasonable Temperatures Expected During September


Farm Safety and Health Week - It's Easier to Bury a Tradition Than a Child

Tractors are responsible for 41 percent of the accidental farm deaths of children under 15, yet four out of five farm children regularly ride tractors with family members. While riding the tractor may be a family tradition, it's easier to bury a tradition than a child.

The National Safety Council will observe the National Farm Safety and Health Week focusing on this issue Sept. 16 - 22. The theme for this year is: It's Easier to Bury a Tradition Than a Child. Farm safety information is available at the National Safety Council at www.nsc.org or the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety at 1-888-844-6322.


Sensible Saving can Help Build Retirement Funds

The idea of retirement is posing new challenges for many people these days. Folks are living longer and healthier lives, but those lengthening lives also are costing more and more money.

Are there ways to cover the rising costs? The simple answer is "yes." An extra $100, for instance, set aside monthly and growing at a rate of 8 percent, can become a tidy $60,000 over 20 years of compounding.

But where do you find that extra money? For starters, you might turn to the old adage, "Use what you need, but need what you use." In other words, are there drains on your budget you can plug without changing the quality of your life?

Consider the following tips for saving some extra money:

  • Rising gasoline prices are no doubt causing you to wince. Have you thought about carpooling or public transportation where available? If you're a commuter, joining others for the ride to and from work will provide savings, not only on gas, but also on wear and tear to your vehicle. Potential savings: $60 per month.
  • Similarly, sharing the weekly shopping run with a neighbor can mean substantial savings and a chance for some good chat as well. Potential savings: $20 per month.
  • When was the last time you took a good look at your insurance policies? Do you have duplicate or unnecessary coverage? Premiums on many policies can be lowered by increasing deductibles. And don't forget to shop around for competitive policies. Potential savings: $20 per month.
  • Have you fully explored the opportunities for saving online? It's not just for airline tickets. Are you an avid reader? You can find real bargains on used books and other items by shopping around on the Internet. Potential savings: A lot!

Source: David Crosson, Senior Communications Advisor on pension and retirement issues with NRECA.


Wind Energy Growing Fast

Illinois Rural Electric Cooperative broke ground on the construction of this 1.65-megawatt wind turbine in 2004. It was the first wind turbine in western Illinois and the first to be owned by an electric distribution cooperative in the U.S. Now two more Illinois co-ops are embarking on similar projects.

U.S wind power capacity increased by 2,454 mw or 27 percent in 2006 and had the fastest growing wind power capacity in the world in 2005 and 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The United States produced roughly 16 percent of the worldwide wind market, followed by Germany, India, Spain and China. There remains substantial potential for the expansion of wind power, according to DOE, which could achieve approximately 20 percent of the nations generating mix. The U.S. wind energy industry is on track to install more than 3,000 mw of wind power generating capacity in 2007.

Source: CFC News Bulletin


Cooperatives' Power Supplier Changes Name

Effective July 1, 2007, "Prairie Power, Inc." (PPI) became the official not-for-profit generation and transmission (G&T) cooperative for 11 distribution cooperatives purchasing wholesale electric energy from Soyland Power Cooperative, Inc.

PPI was established in 2006 by seven Soyland electric distribution cooperatives to own shares in the Prairie State Energy Campus under development in Washington County, Ill. In June 2007 an additional four Soyland member cooperatives committed to invest in the Prairie State project.

On July 1, 2007, these 11 distribution cooperatives became owners of 118 megawatts (or 7.46 percent) of the Prairie State Energy Campus and members of PPI. PPI assumed ownership and legal responsibility for all Soyland assets, contracts and obligations on July 1 and Soyland ceased to exist.

"We perceive PPI as providing the advantage of ownership in one of the most reliable, cleanest and economical resources for electric energy today, i.e., the 1,600 megawatt Prairie State Energy Campus," says Robert Harbour, President/CEO of Prairie Power, Inc. "This investment will be complemented with new long-term power supply contracts and other investments in economical, reliable and environmentally friendly resources that will provide PPI member cooperatives with a diversified portfolio of energy resources."

The PPI offices are located in Jacksonville, Ill. To learn more about Prairie Power, Inc visit www.ppi.coop.

 


Healthcare for Low-income Veterans

In the August issue, we published information about a new state program that helps veterans without health insurance. During the first year, this program is only for veterans who have limited incomes. Next year the program might be expanded to more veterans.

For additional information on Veterans Care and to see if you qualify, please visit www.illinois veteranscare.com or call 1-877-4VETSRX.

 


Farming Still One Of The Most Dangerous Occupations

Agriculture consistently ranks first or second among the nation's most hazardous occupations. In helping to put food on America's tables, more than 700 farmers and ranchers die from work-related incidents yearly and another 120,000 sustain disabling injuries. Approximately 387,000 agricultural producers have disabilities and chronic health conditions that limit their daily activities.

As part of the National Agrability Project, Illinois Agrability Unlimited's goal is to help people with disabilities employed in agriculture continue to farm and live successfully and independently in their communities.

A fundamental aspect of successful farming is farming safely. Observing National Farm Safety and Health Week, Sept. 18-24, Agrability Unlimited is encouraging all agricultural producers to preserve their livelihoods by following safe farming practices.

For more information visit the National Safety Council's Web site at www.nsc.org/necas/ or contact Illinois Agrability Unlimited at 800-500-7325.

 


Coal Fuels 80 Percent of Co-op Electricity

Coal continues to be the main source of generation for utilities. For electric cooperatives and their member-owners, it fuels 80 percent of the electricity generated. Nuclear power accounts for 13 percent and natural gas accounts for 7?percent. Nationally, coal accounts for 50 percent of all generation capacity. Nuclear accounts for about 20 percent, natural gas for 18 percent and hydropower for 7 percent.

Source: NRECA & Energy Information Administration


Enhancing Soy-based Biodiesel Use

Illinois soybean farmers are applauding U.S. Senator Dick Durbin's introduction of the "Biodiesel Promotion and Quality Assurance Act" to increase biodiesel use. The legislation was introduced during the Senate energy debate on key energy policy initiatives that will reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

"Current biodiesel production of about 250 million gallons is equal to nearly 6 million barrels of traditional fuel oil," says George Dixon, Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) President and soybean farmer from Colchester.

The bill is written to gradually increase nearly three-fold the amount of biodiesel and "bio-based replacement diesel" refiners blend into diesel from 450 million gallons in 2008 to 1.25 billion gallons by 2012.

"Biodiesel is a fuel that holds great promise in terms of moving our country toward energy independence," says Durbin. "While in its infancy, the biodiesel industry has seen tremendous growth due to the high cost of oil. This bill will create incentives for producers and consumers alike and will allow this important alternative fuel source the chance to become a mainstream alternative to foreign oil." Source: Illinois Soybean Association www.ilsoy.org.


Seasonable Temperatures Expected During September

During the past month, equatorial Pacific sea-surface temperatures have fluctuated through periods of cooling and warming cycles. Overall, sea-surface temperatures across this region are running at, or slightly below, average, which corresponds to a neutral or very weak La Nina phase.

Looking back at past climate records (1995 and 2005 in particular) suggests that when a neutral or weak La Nina is in place during the latter portion of summer, Illinois generally experiences a September that has overall mean temperatures, which are close to normal.

Some forecast models indicate that the first part of September may be on the warm side, but that the latter part of the month could see an increase in frontal passages that bring cooler Canadian air masses across Illinois. The NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) index is forecast to be positive mainly during early September, which would also support a potential warm start to the month.

Overall, near to slightly above average temperatures are likely across Illinois during the month of September. This will translate into late season cooling costs that are typical for the season.

It should be noted that as predicted, the summer of 2007 ended up being warmer than normal, although extensive heat waves were held to a minimum. The Illinois map this month illustrates the warmer summer by showing the Cooling Degree Day departure from normal across the state during the summer months.

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

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