CO-OP NEWS | October 2016 A publication for members of Oklahoma Electric Cooperative


  • IN YOUR COMMUNITY | Thirty-five OEC employees assist two nonprofit agencies during United Way of Norman's Day of Caring
  • YOUTH & LEADERSHIP | Grady County Kids' Day features OEC safety presentations
  • CO-OP NEWS | Fall shoulder rates now in effect; ; OEC lineman Derec Janaway helps bring electricity to rural villages in Bolivia
  • OPERATION ROUND UP | Meet the newest OEC Foundation, Inc. board members
  • FEATURES | Why are blinks a good thing?; The value of the RUS; National Cooperative Month


Thirty-six OEC employees teamed up with The Salvation Army and Cleveland County Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) during United Way of Norman's (UWN) Day of Caring (DOC). The annual service event brought together over 600 volunteers from businesses in Cleveland County. Over 40 nonprofit agencies in Norman, Moore, Little Axe and Noble benefitted from DOC, which kicked off UWN's annual fundraising campaign.

"Out of all the volunteer projects I've been involved with before, this is the most involved," Member Service Associate Maegan Bohon told the Norman Transcript. "It's not just little tasks. Here, you feel like you're really making a difference."

OEC's two volunteer groups spent time moving large furniture and equipment, changing light fixtures, painting, repairing a handicap accessible ramp and more. It was a busy day filled with rewarding work for deserving organizations.

"It gives these people a sense of safety," said OEC Journeyman Power Lineman Chris Slaughter of his task of adding outdoor lighting at the Salvation Army facility. "As a whole, the Day of Caring really shows that people have pride in this community."


OEC TAKES SAFETY SHOW ON THE ROAD | OEC Education & Outreach Coordinator Tory Tedder-Loffland and Energy Efficiency Solutions Specialist Daniel Lofland performed electrical safety demonstrations for second and third graders attending Grady County Fair Kids' Day in August as part of the Grady County Free Fair.

Changing leaves and cooling temperatures signal the beginning of fall in Oklahoma. Here at OEC, the fall shoulder rate accompanies the shift in seasons — a welcome change after a typical Oklahoma summer. For members, it means lower bills due to a reduced price for electricity.

OEC's rate structure is designed to accurately reflect the wholesale power cost. Generating electricity in the summer costs more money — hence, the higher summer on-peak rates. As the temperatures drop, so does the price of electricity.

"As opposed to our summer rates, when members pay a different price for electricity based on the time of day they use it, the fall rate is one price around the clock." — Randy Harnsberger, OEC key accounts manager and rate specialist.

All kilowatt hours (kWh) called on October bills are charged 11.5252¢ per kWh, not including the monthly variable cost adjustment and service availability charge. Members opting to pre-pay are charged the same rate.

The fall shoulder rate also applies to November and December bills.


OEC is pleased to announce the completion of a volunteer electrification project that took place in August 2016 in the Amazonian area of Bolivia. The project, named “Energy Trails,” is a joint partnership between the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives and the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. One of OEC’s linemen, Derec Janaway, served as one of the project volunteers. Bringing electric service for the first time to two remote villages, the electrification project was possible through the coordination of NRECA International Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

On August 1, 2016, eight co-op volunteers left Oklahoma City and headed to Riberalta, Bolivia –their final destination. Volunteers worked for the next 15 days alongside Missouri co-op linemen and local linemen from Cooperativa Electrica Riberalta. The project was comprised of 280 poles in an area spanning 10 miles and brought electric service to the villages of Dos de Junio and El Torito in the outskirts of the city of Riberalta. As a result, 361 families now enjoy electricity for the first time.

“OEC is proud to be a part of this life-changing project. Rural electric cooperatives are known for bringing power to areas that would not otherwise enjoy electricity,” said Patrick Grace, OEC CEO. “It’s rewarding to know we made a difference in the lives of families who are striving for a better quality of life.”

Other volunteers serving on the project were: Jeremy Baker (Cookson Hills Electric Cooperative, Stigler-Okla.), Stacy Bourne (East Central Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, Okmulgee-Okla.), Jason Brown (Rural Electric Cooperative, Lindsay-Okla.), Larry Cisneros (Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, Vinita-Okla.), Damon Lester (Indian Electric Cooperative, Cleveland-Okla.), Heath Martin (Northfork Electric Cooperative, Sayre-Okla.) and team leader Wade Hurst (Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives, Oklahoma City-Okla.).

“The Energy Trails project was a rewarding opportunity to bring power to those in need of electricity, just like linemen did back when cooperatives were first started." — Derec Janaway

The OAEC International Committee, comprised of trustees from the statewide association board, received an overwhelming response from volunteer linemen interested in this project. The Committee is considering future international electrification projects.

Photos from Bolivia


The OEC Foundation, Inc. board of directors in August welcomed two new members: Vickie Gray and Harlen Fipps.

Fipps retired from OEC in June, where he spent 36 years in the metering department. An active member of the Noble community, Fipps acts as a volunteer fire fighter, serves on local boards and works with youth.

Fipps enjoys farming, raising show animals, hunting and camping. He has three children: Amanda, David and Allin.

Vickie Gray and her husband of 49 years, David, live in the Little Axe area and are active members of Hilltop Baptist Church. She is active in the Little Axe community, serving in the local Chamber of Commerce and the American Legion Women’s Auxiliary.

Gray is a citizen emergency response team (CERT) member and is currently working with Norman Emergency Management to organize a Little Axe CERT.

Gray, now semi-retired, enjoys organizing the Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children’s Back to School Style Show and spends her days catching up on projects around the house. She and her husband love spending time with their son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons.

The OEC Foundation, Inc. board of directors is tasked with distributing funds collected from the Operation Round Up® program. These grants are made possible thanks to OEC members who elect to round up their electric bills to the nearest dollar each month – an average of $6 per year. Grant recipients are not required to be OEC members, and grants may not be issued for utility bills, rent or mortgage payments.

While the deadline has passed for applications to be considered at the Oct. 6 meeting, applications may be downloaded from OEC's website.

OEC celebrates National Co-op Month

Being part of a cooperative means being part of something special. OEC is celebrating National Cooperative Month in October, along with 40,000 other cooperative businesses serving more than 120 million people nationwide.

“Cooperatives Build” is the theme of this year’s National Cooperative Month. “This year’s theme is excellent, because there are so many ways that cooperatives help to build a stronger rural America,” said CEO Patrick Grace.

Consider these ways that co-ops build:

Cooperatives Build Trust

All co-ops strive to adhere to seven key cooperative principles, which combine to help build trust between the co-op, its members and the community. For example, the second principle, Democratic Member Control, gives members a voice in the cooperative’s policies and decisions. Through the fifth principle, Education, Training and Information, we enable members to contribute to the development of our cooperative.

Cooperatives Build Community

The seventh cooperative principle is Concern for Community. Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through employee involvement in local organizations, through charitable contributions to community efforts and through support for schools. OEC’s recent revitalization of its youth outreach program — OEC L.E.A.R.N.: Leading, Educating, Advancing and Rewarding the Next generation — proves we are committed to serving our communities to the best of our abilities.

Cooperatives Build Jobs

Cooperatives generate jobs in their communities, keep profits local and pay local taxes to help support community services. Cooperatives often take part in community improvement programs, ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to benefit from the cooperative experience.

Cooperatives Build a Better World

Through all of the above ways, cooperatives build a better world.

Why does the power blink?

By Scott Turner, P.E.

At one time or another, we’ve all returned home or woken up late for work to see a blinking “12:00” on our digital alarm clock. You then have to reset every digital clock in your household that doesn’t have a battery backup, from the microwave oven to the answering machine. Usually, this state of “eternal midnight” was caused by a “blink” in the electrical system.

Why blinks?

Blinks are created when a breaker, or switch, opens along any portion of the power system. The breaker usually opens because of a large, quick rise of electrical current. This large rise, called a fault condition, can occur when a tree branch touches a line, lightning strikes, or a wire breaks.

When this happens, a relay senses the fault and tells the breaker to open, preventing the flow of power to the problem site. After opening, the breaker quickly closes. The brief delay, which allows the fault to clear, usually lasts less than two seconds.

If the fault clears, every home or business that receives electricity off that power line has just experienced a blink. This could include thousands of accounts if the breaker protects a transmission line or a substation.

Reducing the blink's effects

Your co-op employs methods to reduce blink frequency. Tree trimming is probably the easiest and most common way, and one area where you can help. Make sure your co-op knows of any trees or limbs located close to a power line. Visit to submit a tree work request in your neighborhood.

Meanwhile, you can reduce the frustration of blinks by purchasing an alarm clock equipped with a battery backup. This type of digital clock offers “ride through” ability for momentary outages. It will also keep the correct time and sound an alarm in case of a long-duration outage, provided a charged battery is in place. As an added benefit, these devices only use the battery in the event of a power interruption.

Blinks affect all electrical equipment, not just digital clocks. If there is a blink while you are operating a computer, your computer may crash and you will have to reboot, hoping all the while that there will be few corrupted files.

An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) on your computer can help prevent information loss. The UPS incorporates surge suppression technology with a battery backup and provides you some time to save whatever you were working on and exit your computer properly.

The future of blinks

OEC operates an active system maintenance program and works hard to identify and fix sources of service interruptions. Even though blinks will never disappear from our electrical energy delivery system, by working together with we can minimize effects of the interruptions and the frequency with which they occur.

This article was written by Scott Turner, P.E., a former electric co-op employee, who is an electrical engineering consultant at his firm JD Engineering, PC, in Hamilton, Mont. (

The value of the RUS

By Dan Riedinger

As a member of OEC, you know how essential reliable and affordable electric service is to our everyday lives. It makes almost everything we do easier, even though we may take it for granted much of the time. But it might surprise you to know that the program that first set rural America on the path toward electrification is still working with co-ops to power communities all across the country today. The Electric Loan Program is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS), which has been helping electric co-ops light up rural America for the past eight decades.

In its early days, the Electric Loan Program was the source of financial support to install utility poles and string power lines. Like co-ops themselves, it has changed with the times and now helps co-ops innovate by supporting smart grid and other technologies to ensure co-op members receive the best possible service.

In commemorating the 80th anniversary of the RUS, formerly known as the Rural Electrification Administration, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack earlier this year announced that he would commit more than $200 million from the RUS Electric Loan Program to build and upgrade rural electricity infrastructure in several states. “Today’s investments continue a part of USDA’s mission that has brought reliable, safe and affordable electric power to America’s farms, ranches and rural communities, improved the quality of life for rural residents, increased farm productivity and made America the breadbasket to the world,” Vilsack said.

The benefits of the loan program flow both ways: In fiscal year 2017 alone, loan repayments will help reduce the federal deficit by more than $300 million. So, it’s a win-win program—good for you and your co-op, and for U.S. taxpayers.

Also important to electric co-ops is the RUS Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) program, which helps co-ops invest in local community and economic development activities. Last year, REDLG loaned cooperatives $32.5 million for projects that created 288 jobs and retained another 436, and awarded $7.1 million in grants. This program funds all kinds of efforts that allow co-ops to invest in the communities they serve. One REDLG loan this year was used to help a small town’s fire department replace an aging and unreliable fire engine with a new, dependable truck. And similar to the Electric Loan Program, the REDLG benefits flow well beyond individual co-ops; they help boost economic growth and create jobs at no cost to the federal government.

Co-ops’ relationship with the RUS can best be described as a mutually beneficial, public-private partnership that continues to withstand the test of time. It’s so important, in fact, that the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), our national service organization, makes government funding of the RUS a top priority every year. At NRECA’s urging, 217 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 37 members of the Senate have expressed written support for funding the RUS Electric Loan Program at $5.5 billion in fiscal year 2017. They understand that what’s good for their co-ops is good for their communities and country. As Secretary Vilsack said, “Continuing to invest in rural electric infrastructure will help keep our economy strong.”

Dan Riedinger writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.

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