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Illinois Country Living


White House budget could cut electric co-op loan program

The Administration’s FY11 budget plan sent to Congress last month would cut Rural Utility Service’s (RUS) Electric Loan Program levels by 38 percent. The budget plan would only allow electric loan lending for renewable energy, transmission, distribution and carbon capture projects on power plants. RUS could no longer lend for peaking natural gas generation and environmental upgrades to existing power plants. Co-ops have been leaders in energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, but co-op leaders say energy demand can’t be met without new natural gas and other peaking and base load generation.

Buy into Energy Star appliance savings

The State of Illinois is offering the ENERGY STAR® Appliance Rebate Program, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).

The program provides incentives for Illinois consumers to replace older appliances with specific residential ENERGY STAR qualified appliances, water heaters, and HVAC equipment. The new appliances must be purchased in Illinois through participating retail stores or contractors.

Illinois’ program will be rolled out in two phases:

• The first phase started Jan. 31, 2010 - consumers can get rebates for ENERGY STAR heating and cooling equipment and water heaters.

• From April 16 - 25, 2010, consumers can get Rebates on ENERGY STAR qualified appliances (clothes washers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, room air conditioners.) There will be a 15 percent markdown at time of sale.

In addition, residents are eligible for a rebate when the old appliance is picked up and recycled. A $50 rebate for washers and dishwashers and $100 rebates for refrigerators and freezers will be granted. Required forms are proof of haul-away, mail-in recycling rebate form and copy of receipt from purchase of new unit. The mail-in recycling rebate form will be available at

Heating/cooling rebates

• Rebates began Jan. 31, 2010, and will continue until funds are depleted.

• Central Air-Conditioners ($500 discount at time of purchase)

• Air-Source Heat Pumps ($1,000 discount at time of purchase)

• Propane Furnaces ($350 discount at time of purchase)

• Gas Furnaces ($350 discount at time of purchase)

• Gas Boilers ($1,200 discount at time of purchase)

*Participating network contractors must install.

Water heater rebates

• Rebates began Jan. 31, 2010 and will continue until funds are depleted.

• Water Heaters (25% markdown at point of sale), including: gas-condensing water heaters, electric heat pump water heaters, gas storage water heaters and gas tankless water heaters.

All purchases must be made from participating dealers or retailers. Some restrictions apply. Listings and additional information can be found at or by calling 877-782-7005. Rebates are not retroactive. Minimum equipment efficiencies will be required. Program will be available for residential-scale equipment, installed in Illinois. Installations in commercial spaces will not be applicable.

Illinois Youth to Washington Tour launches Facebook page

For more than 50 years the Illinois Youth to Washington Tour has been sponsored by Illinois Electric and Telephone Cooperatives. The objective of the tour is to introduce young leaders to our democratic form of government. Along the way, participants are introduced to the cooperative form of business, and introduced to national co-op leaders.

In order to provide a forum for past participants to keep in touch, and for future participants to find information, the AIEC has recently launched a Facebook page. The page contains photo albums of past trips, announcements of scholarship opportunities and information about the upcoming 2010 tour.

Past and prospective members are encouraged to visit the site and become a “fan.” You can find the page by visiting Facebook and performing a search for “Illinois Youth Tour.”

For questions about participating in the Youth Tour please contact your local cooperative, or Linda Comstock at 217-241-7914.

Ten quick ways to save today

1. Take a quick inventory of your home, and see what you might be able to turn off or unplug – cell phone chargers, TVs, lights when you leave a room.

2. Set the thermostat to the lowest comfortable temperature. Moving the thermostat down one degree means as much as a 3-percent reduction in your heating bill.

3. Keep heating system filters clean.

4. Keep air vents clear of obstructions.

5. Open blinds/drapes on the sunny side of the house during the day, but close them at night.

6. Compact fluorescent lamps can replace bulbs in most table lamps and will save up to 75 percent and last up to 10 times longer.

7. Wash full loads of clothes in the coolest water possible.

8. Keep the temperature between 36 degrees and 40 degrees in the refrigerator and 0 degrees and 5 degrees in the freezer. Use a thermometer to check.

9. Stop the dryer as soon as clothes are dry, or use the moisture sensor control to automatically shut off the dryer. Over drying wastes energy and sets in wrinkles.

10. Dry loads one right after another. You’ll use less energy because the dryer is already heated.

Buy CFL bulbs for $1 to $3 less

Electric cooperative members in many downstate Illinois areas can now purchase energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs, or CFLs, at discount prices. The discounts are part of a program sponsored by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity in downstate areas, to promote increased use of energy efficient CFLs. The bulbs are being discounted by $1 to $3 per bulb, or more in some cases, by participating retailers.

Sixty-two retailers, including some County Market, Ace Hardware, CVS Pharmacy, Family Dollar, Kroger, Rural King, Niemann’s and True Value stores are participating. A complete list of participating stores can be found at

If you replace 20 old bulbs with 20 CFLs you can save up to $100 in energy a year. They also produce less heat and last eight times longer.

Half of all home fires caused by heating equipment

Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fires and nearly half of all home fires occur during the winter months, according to the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM).

“Each year in the U.S., the use and misuse of heating equipment —including furnaces, fireplaces and space heaters — accounts for about 64,000 home structure fires, more than 500 deaths, 1,400 injures and nearly $1 billion in direct property damage,” said Illinois State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis.

Home heating facts and safety tips:

• Fires are more likely to occur in the evening and peak from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.

• The leading factor was when heating equipment was left too close to combustible items.

• Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected annually by a professional.

• Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed and never use your oven for heating.

• Install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning.

• Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. Test smoke alarms at least once a month.

For more information visit or

Help reform Illinois political districting

The Illinois League of Women Voters, Better Government Association, Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, Illinois Farm Bureau, members of the Illinois Reform Commission and others are supporting the Fair Map Amendment Initiative, which proposes a constitutional amendment to change how legislative districts are drawn. They are asking voters to sign a petition by April 1.

“The Illinois Fair Map Amendment will take unfair politics out of the redistricting process and put the power in the hands of the people,” explained Jan Czarnik, Executive Director of the Illinois League of Women Voters.

According to data obtained at the State Board of Elections, since the current legislative map was drawn by legislators in 2001, incumbents have won their elections at a staggering 98 percent success rate.

“We were hopeful that the legislature was going to address redistricting reform in 2009, but with the year winding down it now appears that we need to take it directly to Illinois voters.” said Brad McMillan, a key member of the Illinois Reform Commission.

The Illinois Fair Map Amendments partners are looking for 500,000 people to sign the petitions to ensure the voters will decide the question on the November 2010 ballot.

Czarnik said the petitions are available at along with detailed instructions, power point presentation, history and other information. For more information you can contact Czarnik at 312-939-5935.



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Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives

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