Union Power Honors Bright Ideas Teacher of the Week

Each year, the Bright Ideas grant program awards deserving teachers with grants, not otherwise funded, for creative, hands-on classroom projects. Now, cooperatives are recognizing 25 of the most outstanding grant winners in the state for their hard work and positive impact on students and the communities they serve.

This year, Union Power Cooperative recognized Alicia Swackhamer, Art Teacher at Forest Hills High School, for her 2016-2017 project titled “Razzle Dazzle Rehab”. Ms. Swackhamer’s eleventh and twelfth grade honors students participated in a service project where they designed and painted various furniture items to be displayed in the Children’s Center at Carolinas Healthcare System in Monroe.

During the months of September through November, Ms. Swackhamer will be recognized in local radio ads throughout Union County. She will also have the opportunity to attend a UNC Chapel Hill football game where she, along with other winners from North Carolina will be honored.

The 2017-2018 Bright Ideas application period will close on September 18, 2017. Winners will be notified beginning in November. Union Power Cooperative invites all of our local educators, within our service territory, to apply for this opportunity.

78th Annual Meeting of Members: Don’t miss out on the fun…

Plans are now underway for the cooperative’s 2017 Annual Meeting of members. This year the event will be held on Saturday, October 14th, at Lee Park Church located at 2505 Morgan Mill Road in Monroe. Registration will begin at 7:00 a.m. and the business meeting will start at 10:30 a.m.

The Annual Meeting is an event for the entire family. It provides the opportunity for members to learn firsthand about the cooperative, the various services offered, and Union Power’s role in making our community a better place to live, work, and raise a family.

This year’s events will include health screenings provided by Community Health Services of Union County, Inc. (CHSUC). Community Health Services is a non-profit, volunteer organization comprised of physicians, nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, nurses and diabetic educators who provide free services to uninsured diabetic patients in Union County. Union Power Cooperative is proud to partner with CHSUC to provide our members with free blood/cholesterol screenings as well as flu shots ($30 fee).

New this year, Union Power will host an Energy Fair. Energy Specialists will be available to provide one-on-one consultations along with demonstrations and tips on residential energy efficiency. All participants will receive an energy efficiency kit along with the chance to win door prizes.

Don’t forget to stop by the Carolina Country, Co-op Connections and Union Services booths at the Energy Fair, where representatives will have giveaways as well as advice on their areas of specialty.

We are proud to host an expanded Kids Festival with bouncy houses, line truck demonstrations, table games and a special electrical safety demonstration to ensure the children have a fun filled experience. Participating children will be entered in a drawing for door prizes as well as receive a bag of goodies!

New Coal Ash Management Requirements: What it Means for You

You may recall that in February 2014, coal ash from a Duke Energy power plant spilled into Rockingham County’s Dan River. Following that unfortunate incident, North Carolina enacted the nation’s first state law to regulate the disposal of the substance. Coal ash, a by-product of the process used to generate electricity at coal-fired power plants, has historically been disposed of in lined basins, but North Carolina’s Coal Ash Management Act of 2014 introduced more stringent disposal and storage requirements. These requirements apply to Duke Energy, which has 33 coal ash basins in the state.

Starting in 2018, the expenses associated with complying with these new requirements will be passed on to all Duke Energy, individual and wholesale, consumers.  Ratepayers across the nation will also incur these additional costs as new federal coal ash management regulations are implemented.

Although Union Power does not own any coal-fired power plants, we have been engaged in the coal ash management discussion from the start because a portion of the electricity we supply to you comes from wholesale power agreements that our power provider, North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation (NCEMC), has with Duke Energy. Costs incurred by Duke Energy to comply with these new regulations will be integrated into the wholesale rates we pay for power. As an at-cost provider of electricity, that means they will ultimately make up a part of the costs you, our members, pay for electricity.

Our focus and success in these discussions have been to balance environmental goals while minimizing impacts on rates. We have been working very hard to minimize the impact of these costs to you both in conversations with legislators and executives at Duke Energy.  As a result, state lawmakers amended coal ash legislation in 2016 to adopt a science-based approach that preserves environmental goals while cutting millions of dollars from initial projections of consumer costs.

So, what do these costs cover? Expenses related to bringing existing coal ash basins into compliance with new standards by either capping in place or excavating the basins. In both scenarios, water will be removed from the basins in a way that protects water quality of nearby lakes or rivers, and closure plans are customized for each basin to ensure effectiveness. The costs stemming from cleaning up the Dan River spill, however, have not and will not be passed on. Duke Energy shareholders are responsible for cleanup fees, and our responsibilities are only linked to complying with new regulations.

We are committed to doing what we can to mitigate rising costs because we know these costs ultimately have an impact on your budget. Union Power will continue to implement new innovative technologies and programs that bring efficiencies to your electric system, ensuring we deliver on our promise to provide safe, reliable electric power and energy services with exceptional value.


Crews Prepare to Assist with Restoration Efforts

Co-ops affected by Hurrican Irma in the Southeastern United States are working around the clock and making remarkable progress as they work to restore power in the wake of this catastrophic storm.

As of 10 am, September 12th, outage estimates are 595,000 in Florida, 428,000 in Georgia, and 52,000 in South Carolina. These outage numbers continue to decrease and highlight the resilience, preparedness and collaboration of electric cooperatives.

As part of our Cooperative value of Cooperation among Cooperatives, our crews are answering the call for those who were less fortunate in Douglas, Georgia at Satilla REMC. We will continue to support our employees through these efforts and pray for their safe return.