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January 2008 Issue: FeatureCommentaryCurrents SafetyGardenEnergy SolutionsFinest Cooking More


The Illinois Electric Council Evolves to Become the Energy Education CouncilNew Fuel Economy Lists for 2008 ModelsElectric Co-ops Urge Congress to Support the Stronger Building CodesEnergy Efficiency Ranks # 1 In Consumer Green Building PrioritiesPhones are Critical LinkJanuary to See Near to Above Average TemperaturesGovernors Sign Climate Platform and Greenhouse Gas Accord

The Illinois Electric Council Evolves to Become the Energy Education Council

The Illinois Electric Council has grown and is transitioning to a name that better reflects its activity and reach. Its new name is the Energy Education Council.

The Illinois Electric Council (IEC) in the recent years has expanded its reach far beyond the Illinois borders. Its largest outreach and education program, Safe Electricity, has more than 200 utility partners in 20 states. And energy efficiency education is universal regardless of the power or fuel source.
Throughout the council’s history, there have been many who saw the name and were unclear as to what the IEC was and what they did. “As the Energy Education Council, there is no confusion as to our educational mission and the nature and reach of our work,” says Molly Hall, Director of the Energy Education Council.

“The council’s 501 (c) (3) non-profit status is unchanged. Our dedication to promoting awareness of electrical safety, energy efficiency, renewable energy and power quality remains strong as we move into the future,” says Hall.

The electric cooperative and investor-owned utility-sponsored organization has a distinguished half-century history of providing a wide variety of educational opportunities through 4-H, grounding/bonding, power quality and other workshops and conferences. The creation and expansion of Safe Electricity dramatically increased public awareness outreach and education activities.
Now the council has two redesigned educational Web sites, sends out frequent news releases on safety and efficiency issues, produces public service ads and sponsors energy solutions workshops for the public and industry leaders.

Hall says, “Already we have seen Safe Electricity program partners expressing growing interest in our efficiency materials. Indeed, the council, through Safe Electricity, is a national organization. A name that clearly defines what we do eliminates the need to explain that we are educational, or have grown beyond our statewide reach with a program that now has national partners.”

For more information go to

New Fuel Economy Lists for 2008 Models

"Greater fuel efficiency is something we must approach more aggressively, effectively and creatively than we have over the past 30 years," says Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman. "The president's ambitious 20 in 10 Plan forces us, not only to approach increased vehicle efficiency like never before, but significantly reforming CAFE standards in a way where safety remains a priority."

Data show that hybrid vehicles continue to lead the government's fuel economy ratings and hybrid technology can be effectively used to improve fuel economy. The Toyota Prius tops the list at 48 mpg city and 45 mpg highway. More hybrid models are available than ever - including SUVs as well as cars - giving consumers greater choices when shopping for fuel-efficient vehicles.

Fuel economy estimates, which appear on the window stickers of all new cars and light trucks prior to sale, are determined by tests that manufacturers and EPA conduct according to EPA specifications. This year's label values are based on new test methods EPA finalized in December 2006. The new methods are designed to better account for actual driving conditions that can lower fuel economy, such as higher speed driving, use of air conditioning and cold weather operation. Because of the new methods, fuel economy estimates for all vehicles will generally be lower than those of last year.

To view the guide and for tips on increasing vehicle efficiency, visit


Electric Co-ops Urge Congress to Support the Stronger Building Codes

NRECA is calling on House members to support Section 9031 in the House Energy Bill (H.R. 3221) encouraging states to establish building codes to meet energy-saving targets of 30 percent after 2010 and 50 percent after 2020. Stronger building codes will save energy. Improved building energy codes can, by 2030, save 5 percent of our total national energy use, save consumers $50 billion a year, and achieve a greenhouse gas reduction equivalent to taking 70 million cars off the road.

Stronger building codes are achievable. Thousands of new homes today already meet the 50 percent savings goal, which is required to qualify for a federal tax credit.

Section 9031 leaves state and local governments in charge, but encourages and helps them to reduce the two-fifths of our nation's energy use that occurs in buildings.

Energy Efficiency Ranks # 1 In Consumer Green Building Priorities

A new survey conducted for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) confirms that a desire for greater energy efficiency drives consumers to choose a green-built home.

"Green building is the home buyer's best defense against soaring energy costs," said NAHB President Brian Catalde. "But it's up to the nation's home builders to make sure the cure is not more expensive than the problem itself. The NAHB National Green Building Program paves the way for authentic, yet cost-effective, green building," he said.

The voluntary program, based on the 3-year-old NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines, is set to launch Feb. 14 at the International Builders' Show® in Orlando.

"New technologies, advances in building science and materials for insulation, windows and other components mean that homes are significantly more energy efficient than they used to be," Catalde said.

The survey was conducted the week of Oct. 15. When 800 registered voters were asked how important certain items would be in their decision to either purchase a new green home or remodel their current home to be more green, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of consumers polled said that "reduced energy costs" would be the most important.

"For the same reason, affordability is a prime motivation for the NAHB National Green Building Program. Our builders want to provide credible, cost-effective green building, so more home buyers' money can go to green features, not green program fees."

However, said Catalde, energy use is not the whole picture. "We need to think about water efficiency, resource efficiency and indoor environmental quality. We need to build green."

The NAHB National Green Building program will link dozens of successful state and local voluntary green building programs with a national online scoring tool for builders and verifiers and extensive educational resources. "A?flexible, regionally appropriate approach is preferable to a unilateral approach that does not take into account local issues, architecture or geographic differences," Catalde said.

Phones are Critical Link

Imagine for a minute that you have no phone in your home. You’re alone one evening and feel severe pain in your chest. You’re having trouble breathing. Clearly, you need emergency medical help. But you have no way of calling 9-1-1.

These situations are all too real for too many people in Illinois. Fortunately, we can all do something to help address the problem. Three government programs administered by the not-for-profit Universal Telephone Assistance Corporation provide qualified low-income individuals with financial assistance to help them obtain and maintain basic local phone service.

Through Link-Up, a federally funded program, and the Universal Telephone Service Assistance Program (UTSAP), which is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from Illinois citizens, qualified individuals can receive up to $40 off the cost of telephone installation. A third program, known as Lifeline, provides a small monthly credit against the ongoing cost of basic local service.

To qualify, an individual or household must be participating in one of the following government programs: Medicaid, Food Stamps, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), federal public housing, National Free School Lunch Program and/or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). To enroll simply contact your local phone company and ask to enroll in Link-Up and Lifeline. The company can determine your eligibility.

For those who want to help you can contact your local phone companies and ask to contribute to the Universal Telephone Service Assistance Program. The phone company can then add a small charge (ranging from 50 cents to $5) onto each month’s phone bill. Helping our neighbors stay connected is something of which we can all be proud. More information about these programs can be found at the UTAC Web site:

January to See Near to Above Average Temperatures

The latest long-range climate models and indices suggest that January, across the state of Illinois, will feature temperatures that average near, to slightly above, normal.

Cooler sea-surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific continue to persist. As a result, a weak to moderate La Nina phase is expected to maintain itself over the next couple of months. Taking a look back at historical climate records indicates that a similar La Nina was in place in both January of 1996 and 2006. January of 1996 featured more average temperatures, while January of 2006 went down as one of the warmest on record.

Record setting warmth is not anticipated for this January, but mean temperatures are forecasted to average 2 to 4 degrees above normal throughout much of the state. As a result, energy usage and costs with respect to heating should also be lower than normal for the month of January.

The Illinois map this month shows average mean temperatures for January across the state. As can be seen, there is about a 16-degree difference in mean temperatures between the northern and extreme southern portions of the state.

Governors Sign Climate Platform and Greenhouse Gas Accord

On Nov. 16, nine Mid-western governors and the Premier of Canada’s Manitoba Province signed the Midwestern Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord.

The historic agreement, signed at the Midwestern Governors Association (MGA) Energy Security and Climate Change Summit held in Milwaukee, Wisc., will serve as a regional strategy to achieve energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that may contribute to global warming.

During the MGA Energy Summit, states officially pledged to collaborate on a menu of activities including:

• Establish greenhouse gas reduction targets and timeframes consistent with MGA member states’ targets;

• Develop a market-based and multi-sector cap-and-trade mechanism to help achieve those reduction targets;

• Establish a system to enable tracking, management and crediting for entities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and

• Develop and implement additional steps as needed to achieve the reduction targets, such as a low-carbon fuel standards and regional incentives and funding mechanisms.

The Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Accord does not have the force of law. Signatories commit themselves to greenhouse gas reduction targets and timeframes “consistent with Midwest Governors Association states’ and (Canadian) provincial targets, developing a multistate/multi-sector cap-and-trade mechanism, and joining the Climate Registry.”

The accord also laid a framework for how a cap-and-trade system will be developed by a working group:

    1. Enable linkage to other regional systems.
    2. Minimize job losses.
    3. Reduce leakage.
    4. Credit past and present CO2 mitigation actions.
    5. Address integration with potential federal regimes.

Within 12 months, the states will complete development of a proposed cap-and-trade agreement and model rule. Within 30 months, the model rule and agreement will be implemented.

Source: Illinois Energy Forum



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

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