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Illinois Country Living


Touchstone Energy co-ops promote safety and savings at Farm Progress Show

Fourteen Touchstone Energy Cooperatives from across the state of Illinois were on hand at the 2011 Farm Progress Show in Decatur from August 30 - September 1 to promote energy efficiency savings and electrical safety. In the Varied Industries Tent, Touchstone Energy representatives demonstrated various ways to achieve energy efficiency savings with their award-winning “Wall of Savings” display, in addition to promoting Touchstone Energy’s free Co-op Connections Card discount program.

Outside in Junior Lot #450, Kyle Finley, owner of Live Line Demo, taught all ages how to stay safe around electricity using his unique presentation.

The co-ops also gave local media a unique aerial view of the Farm Progress Show with morning and night flights on the colorful Touchstone Energy hot air balloon.

Electric safety tips for the home and farm:

• Assume any power line is energized and call the police or your electric utility immediately if you find a wire on the ground.

• Never touch a person or object that is in contact with a power line; go get help immediately.

• Dial 811 to call Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators (JULIE) at least two business days before digging so they can mark underground lines.

• If you have small children at home, cover electrical outlets with plastic outlet caps.

• Keep all objects at least 10 feet away from overhead lines.

• Plan your route between fields, to bins and elevators, and on public roads so that you avoid low-hanging power lines. Never attempt to raise or move a power line to clear a path.

• When moving large equipment or high loads near a power line, always use a spotter to help make certain that contact is not made with a line.

• If equipment gets hung up on a power line, the operator should NOT get off the machinery unless in immediate danger. If the operator touches the ground and the equipment at the same time, he or she will become a path to ground for electricity. If you must leave the equipment, jump as far away from the machinery as possible.

Energy saving tips from

• Raising the thermostat in the summer can save over $130/year on your energy bill.

• Lowering your water heater thermostat to 120 degrees could save you $75/year.

• Replacing 10 incandescent bulbs with CFLs can save you over $60/year.

• Simply closing the blinds on sunny summer days can save $35/year on energy costs.

• Pulling the plug on electronic devices that still draw power in off mode can save more than $100/year. 

Smarter meter benefits exceed costs

The Institute for Electric Efficiency (IEE) found that for a wide variety of utilities under a range of realistic assumptions, the customer and utility benefits of investing in digital “smart” meters, or advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), and associated energy management technologies will outweigh the costs.

Lisa Wood, IEE Executive Director said, “Although specific results will vary by utility, our study found that even with conservative assumptions regarding consumer engagement in technology, programs, and rate plans, utilities and their customers can expect positive net benefits from their AMI investment over the next 20 years.”

The analysis also showed that the strategy with the potential to achieve the greatest consumer-driven benefit is to focus on accelerating electric vehicle (EV) adoption.

The IEE white paper, “The Costs and Benefits of Smart Meters for Residential Customers,” quantifies three categories of benefits from AMI — operational, customer and societal.

In looking at benefits, the IEE study found that the AMI investment will produce operational savings resulting from avoided metering costs, automated outage detection, and remote connections, and customer-driven savings resulting from energy pricing programs, in-home enabling technologies and energy information.

Source: Illinois Energy Forum and

Shimkus updates ag leaders

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL 19) met with agriculture leaders at the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperative’s office in August. A champion for agriculture and rural electric co-ops, Shimkus said deficit reduction would dominate the political landscape in coming months.

The debt limit was raised along with a dollar for dollar decrease in spending. Shimkus said, “Then we have this joint committee that has to come up with $1.5 trillion in savings by November 23 and we have to vote on it by December 23. If they don’t come to an agreement we have $1.3 trillion automatic rescissions, which we hope will drive these guys to get the work done. It will be across the board cuts and a lot of sacred cows from both sides will be cut and it really could be ugly.”

There is, however, hope for bi-partisan support of some ideas said Shimkus. “We do have legislation I did draw up with some very liberal members of congress on an open fuel strategy that says every new vehicle ought to be flex-fuel. Let’s have this debate. Lets be independent on liquid transportation fuel. Let’s let commodities compete at the pump. It does have a national security element, and we have liberal members of Congress that are supportive.”

Shimkus is also hopeful that free trade agreements will move forward helping the rural economy and job creation.

Shimkus invited U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson (R-IL 15) to the meeting. Johnson said, “These are challenging times. We are going to engage in shared sacrifice. We’ll be determining where our limited resources are going to be spent. Agriculture as well as social services will have to engage in process by which we seek to reach our objectives: a safety net for American agriculture, feeding the world and recognizing we have a 17 trillion dollar debt. We have to reach the goal of fiscal sanity.”

Consumer friendly energy website relaunched

DOE announced on August 4 that it has relaunched the website as an interactive information platform offering localized data and resources to save energy and money. The revamped site will save taxpayers more than $10 million annually.

Through a complete overhaul of its front-end and back-end design, modernizes how consumers and businesses access energy information and resources. The new website makes it easier for you to get information specific to your town, county and state, including information about energy tax credits, rebates, energy saving tips and grant opportunities.

The new platform uses the latest technologies in information visualization, bringing updated and interactive charts and maps to In the current phase of the relaunch, 11 DOE program offices moved their websites’ content to the new platform. Over the next year, DOE will continue to improve by moving more program websites and features to the centralized platform.

Illinois Innovation Network to help business startups

Governor Pat Quinn in this summer launched the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN) to give Illinois entrepreneurs the resources needed to build and grow their businesses and create more jobs. The IIN, which includes business and educational leaders, is the first initiative created by the Governor’s Illinois Innovation Council, a public-private partnership launched in February to accelerate innovative economic development and job creation efforts in the state’s flourishing startup sector.

“Innovation is the key to being competitive in the global marketplace, which is why we must do everything we can to help our businesses develop new and innovative ideas and technologies,” said Governor Quinn.

The Illinois Innovation Council is chaired by Groupon Co-Founder and Director Brad Keywell and is made up of key business executives across a variety of critical sectors, along with science, technology and university leaders. The council’s mission is to promote, develop and attract innovation-driven enterprises and individuals to Illinois and to also develop policies to cultivate and retain entrepreneurs, innovative researchers and other enterprises. For more information please visit

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

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