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Illinois Country Living

November 2007 Issue: FeatureCommentaryCurrents SafetyGardenEnergy SolutionsFinest Cooking More


Co-op Linemen Compete in Safety RodeoEJ Water Receives USDA Grant and LoanCleaner Cars are ComingNovember Forecasted to be Slightly Warmer Than NormalJo-Carroll Energy Unveils Plan for Renewable Energy Plant

Co-op Linemen Compete in Safety Rodeo

Safety is all about going home at the end of the work day--not going to the hospital. Nobody knows that better than the linemen who keep our lights on. It's a dangerous job working 40 feet in the air with thousands of volts of electricity. Co-op line employees take their job, safety and training very seriously.

The 10th Annual Lineman's Safety Rodeo, held at Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC) in Springfield in September, coincided with a series of courses designed to help electric line personnel improve their work skills in safe and efficient ways. Several electric suppliers joined the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives (AIEC) and LLCC in co-sponsoring the event.

Line personnel from 10 Illinois electric cooperatives competed in five team events and two individual events. Team events included hurt man rescue, egg climb (linemen climbing a 30-foot pole with a raw egg in their mouths), single-phase insulator change, overhead line switching and a written test of lineman knowledge.

Kolby Batterton, Daren Deverman and Matt Houser, linemen at Corn Belt Energy in Bloomington, received first place overall. Seth Parker, Rob Hanner and Troy Shafer, linemen at Menard Electric Cooperative in Petersburg, received second place. Bill Hart, Dave Flynn and Craig Costello, linemen at Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative in Auburn, received third place.

EJ Water Receives USDA Grant and Loan

At the 2007 Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns (right) presented an $8.8 million check to EJ Water Cooperative founder Delbert Mundt (left) and CEO Bill Teichmiller. The USDA Rural Development grant and loan will finance a 1 million gallon per day water treatment plant. Rural Development has partnered with the cooperative since its inception 18 years ago. EJ Water serves 20,000 rural residents in seven counties, sells water to seven community water systems and interconnects with three others.

Cleaner Cars are Coming

From fuel cells to plug-in hybrids, the industry is showing more research and development zeal for cleaner cars.

Yet despite an increasing demand for hybrids like the Toyota Prius, hybrids still made up slightly more than 1 percent of the market in 2006. This year, expect to see a wide range of new hybrids on the market, from the compact Honda Fit Hybrid (with fuel economy in the mid-50s) to the Toyota Sienna seven-seat minivan (approximately 40 mpg). You'll even be able to buy a hybrid version of the Chevy Tahoe (though expect only a 25 percent improvement over the SUV's 17 mpg).

Diesel vehicles are largely detested by environmentalists, but they're becoming a majority on the roads of Europe and they deserve a second look in the U.S. The good news for diesel partisans is the federally mandated low-sulfur is the cleanest diesel fuel in the world.

Biodiesel, in blends with standard diesel of 5 to 100 percent, has been refined to work without modification in any newer diesel vehicle. With a kit from companies like Greasecar, diesels can burn 100 percent vegetable oil, which can be sourced and filtered from restaurants for a wholly-recycled fuel. Biodiesel, which offers both improved emissions is still largely a grassroots enterprise, with enthusiasts banding together in co-ops.

If any one technology can replace the internal-combustion engine, it's the fuel cell, which doesn't burn anything but instead converts hydrogen to electricity. And its only tailpipe emission is water vapor. Fuel cells were invented in the mid-19th century and have since provided electric power on NASA space missions, but they're only now becoming practical for ground transportation.


November Forecasted to be Slightly Warmer Than Normal

Much of northern and central Illinois is expected to see mean temperatures that average between 2 to 4 degrees above normal during November. Southern portions of the state are forecasted to see temperatures that are more seasonable or average closer to normal.

Long range climate models, along with the latest equatorial Pacific sea-surface temperature trends indicate that a La Nina phase is likely to become further established during the late fall and early winter months. Taking a look at past years in which a similar La Nina has developed (specifically 1995 and 2005), reveals that November tends to be near or warmer than normal across much of the middle of the country including Illinois.

These expected milder November temperatures will likely result in lower energy usage with respect to heating and possible below average heating costs during the month. The Illinois map this month shows the total number of heating degree days that are projected across the state this month. To figure the number of heating degree days for a particular day do the following:

Add the high and low temperature for the day and divide by two to get the mean temperature for that day.

Then subtract that number from 65 to get the number of HDD (Heating Degree Days) for that particular day.

Do this for each day in November and add them together at the end of the month to get the total number of November heating degree days at your location.

Source: EJS Weather, Newton, Ill., or call 618-783-3040.

Jo-Carroll Energy Unveils Plan for Renewable Energy Plant

In September, Jo-Carroll Energy announced its plan to build an 80-megawatt, biomass-fueled, renewable energy center.

The projected cost of the facility is approximately $140 million. The cooperative hopes to start construction in 2009 and begin operations in 2012. But Jo-Carroll Energy President and CEO Michael Hastings says the project is still in the planning phase.

The facility will have the capacity to produce enough electricity to power more than 10,000 homes. In addition to generating electricity, the plant intends to sell the steam it produces to the adjacent Danisco plant for use in that company's industrial processes.

The plant will be fueled by various types of renewable biomass, such as clean waste wood, corn stover and switch grass. By using fuel stocks that were once living plants, thus removing carbon dioxide from the air, the facility will have a much smaller carbon footprint than traditional power plants. The plant will only accept clean biomass, eliminating the potential for emissions of mercury, sulfur dioxide and other harmful compounds.

"We examined just about every technology out there. None of them met the benchmarks Jo-Carroll was looking for. So we looked at renewables and biomass," says Hastings.

The plant will use about 800,000 tons of clean waste wood a year, most of it coming from tree trimming, clearing and landscaping in the Chicago area that will be delivered in 30 to 40 rail cars each week. Some of the waste will come from sawmills. Burning the waste wood will keep it from filling landfills. About 15 to 20 percent of the fuel will come from corn stover and switch grass, grown by farmers in a four county area.

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

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