Illinois Co-op Linemen Lend a Hand in Lousiana • U.S. Wind Power Capacity Exceeds 20,000 Megawatts • October Temps Expected to be Slightly Above Normal • New Energy Education Council Web Site Provides Energy Saving Tools • Illinois Parks and Historic Sites Slated to Close • Northern Illinois Electric Co-op Helps Save Endangered Peregrine Falcon • USDA Awards Funding to Renewable Energy Projects and Job Projects
Illinois Co-op Linemen Lend a Hand in Lousiana
Twelve Illinois electric cooperatives sent 52 linemen in early September to repair the devastation left by Hurricane Gustav in Louisiana. Packing clothes, bottled water, their tools, wire splices and other line material, they headed for Dixie Electric Membership Corporation (DEMCO) in southeast Louisiana near Baton Rouge where every member of the co-op was without power after the hurricane winds blew through.
DEMCO is a Touchstone Energy® electric cooperative providing electric service to more than 96,000 members. Seven other Louisiana electric cooperatives were affected by the hurricane and an estimated 200,000 co-op members were without power at the peak of the outage.
The Illinois co-op linemen joined roughly a thousand other co-op linemen from 13 states at the Louisiana co-op’s recently erected tent city.
Mike Bergeaux, Director of Safety and Loss Control for the Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives, said Gustav, which hit almost three years to the day that Hurricane Katrina made landfall, had the highest sustained winds ever recorded in the area. The sustained winds of 61 mph and gusts of 91 mph eclipsed those of Hurricane Betsy that hit in 1965. Katrina hit the coastline harder with the most powerful storm surge, but Bergeaux says Gustav was more of a wind event that ripped through the middle of the state.
“We feel blessed once again to benefit from the willingness of other cooperatives to send help in our time of need,” said Randy Pierce, Executive Director of the Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives. “With the determination and expertise of our co-op personnel and of the skilled linemen who are here to help, we hope to restore power to our members as safely and expeditiously as possible.”
Rick Polley, Emergency Work Plan Coordinator for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives, notified Illinois cooperatives the day after the hurricane hit that help would be needed.
U.S. Wind Power Capacity Exceeds 20,000 Megawatts
The U.S. wind industry has doubled its generating capacity over the past two years, exceeding 20,000 megawatts in installed capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The U.S. installed wind capacity is now at 20,152 megawatts, producing enough electricity to serve 5.3 million average U.S. homes. The industry hit the 10,000-megawatt milestone in August 2006, just over two years ago, which means that the industry grew as much over the past two years as it did in the previous two-and-a-half decades.
AWEA expects the total U.S. wind capacity to be more than 24,000 megawatts by yearend. However, the looming expiration of federal tax credits at the end of the year could cause the industry’s growth spurt to sputter in 2009.
October Temps Expected to be Slightly Above Normal
The La Nina phase in the equatorial Pacific Ocean has come to an end, having lasted for almost a full year. Sea-surface temperatures across the Equatorial Pacific have continued to warm over the past couple months and now on average are running closer to normal. In fact, portions of the eastern Pacific are seeing sea-surface temperatures that are a little warmer than normal, which sometimes is an early indication of a developing El Nino.
For now, the La Nina that began during the late summer of 2007 has transitioned to a more neutral phase. Looking back at past climate records reveals that during other years in which La Nina has weakened during the late summer into early fall (specifically 1986,1989, and 2006), October across Illinois tends to be somewhat warmer than normal.
There are also some indications that the NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) may be predominately positive during October, which would also support a milder scenario.
The Illinois map this month shows the average number of heating degree days across the state during October. Based on the slightly warmer than normal temperature forecast, actual heating degree days for this October are expected to be less than average by between 30 to 60 degrees. This should also translate to lower energy usage with respect to heating and lower early season heating costs.
New Energy Education Council Web Site Provides Energy Saving Tools
The Energy Education Council is proud to present its newly designed EnergyEd Web site. Stop by to see all the valuable information from the previous site along with some great new tools.
The home page offers eye-catching graphics and a simplified navigation format for ease of use. Web surfers can easily see the constantly updated headlines, and click on Efficiency, Safety, Renewables, and a brand new section called the Energy Efficiency Resource Center.
You will notice two fantastic new sources of energy efficiency information, Energy Efficiency World from Culver Company, and The Power Bandit from Moore Syndication. These licensed content sites offer a wealth of universal efficiency information and fun and fact-filled games for kids and kids at heart.
Go to www.EnergyEdCouncil.org.
Illinois Parks and Historic Sites Slated to Close
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevichs office announced layoffs of up to 450 state employees and the closure of 25 historic sites and state parks. Fourteen state historic sites are scheduled to be closed October 1. Eleven state parks are slated for closure November 1.
The closures are considered indefinite but will last at least through the end of the fiscal year, July 1, 2009. Each site will have one employee on site for security and maintenance. Once entrances to state parks are barred on November 1, the public will no longer be allowed to enter the sites. Any member of the public entering the closed state parks after November 1 could be arrested and charged with trespassing.
Northern Illinois Electric Co-op Helps Save Endangered Peregrine Falcon
Dairyland Power Cooperative has played an instrumental role in restoring the once-endangered peregrine falcon to the Upper Mississippi River Valley. Dairyland Power, the generation and transmission cooperative serving
Jo-Carroll Energy, has for the past decade helped hatch nearly 70 chicks at nesting stations the co-op erected near riverside power plants.
The cooperative also recently helped fund a raptor education kiosk at a environmental education facility. The facility, called EcoPark, will replace a conventional zoo and house animals native to the upper reaches of North America in their natural habitats.
In March of 1994, the first falcon nest box was installed at a port 450 feet up the stack at the co-op’s Alma Generating Station.
It took some time for the falcons to set up house, but on Earth Day, 1997, a pair of peregrine falcons were sighted in the nest box on the Alma Station stack. The two birds nesting in this box, named Alma and Nelson, produced three healthy offspring during 1997.
The three chicks were brought carefully down from their home 450 feet up the stack to get U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service bands. This was a banner moment for the project, as it marked the first successful wild hatch of Peregrines in Western Wisconsin in 25 years.
Peregrine falcons, the world’s fastest birds, can reach speeds of more than 200 mph in controlled dives. You can find out more by going to www.dairynet.com.
USDA Awards Funding to Renewable Energy Projects and Job Projects
Illinois Rural Development Director Doug Wilson announced $1.76 million in grants and loan guarantees for renewable energy systems or to improve energy efficiency in Illinois farm and business operations.
“This kind of investment can have a considerable impact on the environment and profitability for agriculture and small business,” Wilson said. “It also has the potential to improve the economy of rural Illinois and help us take advantage of our domestic energy resources.”
The grants and loan guarantees are being awarded through USDA Rural Development’s Section 9006 Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements program. The program provides financial assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to support renewable energy projects across a wide range of technologies encompassing biomass (including anaerobic digesters), geothermal, hydrogen, solar and wind energy. It also provides support for energy efficiency improvements, helping recipients reduce energy consumption and improve operations.
“We are funding 17 projects with nearly $1.8 million in grants and guaranteed loans,” Wilson said. Some of the projects included energy efficient grain dryers and irrigation and barn fans. Other projects include energy efficiency improvements, a geothermal system and a small wind turbine for rural small businesses.
Two larger projects were funded. Adkins Energy, Inc., a corn ethanol refinery in Lena (Stephenson Co.), currently produces 45 million gallons of ethanol a year. The company will use $698,000 in loan and grant funds to further expand its value-added operation to produce biodiesel from corn oil.
Adams Electric Cooperative, Camp Point, will use a $450,000 grant to purchase and install a 900 kW wind turbine. The turbine will generate environmentally friendly power to help serve its 8,400 members in Adams, Brown, Schuyler, McDonough, Hancock, Pike and Fulton counties. The turbine will be built at a site in Brown County where some of the fastest wind speeds in the region are found.
More information about the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Program is available by contacting Rural Development Specialist Molly Hammond at (217) 403-6210.
USDA Rural Development also partners with electric co-ops to bring needed jobs and economic development to rural areas. For example, Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative in Paxton, has been selected to receive a $1,040,000 loan and grant combination to expand a nursing home in Gifford. This project is expected to create 10 new jobs and save 82 existing jobs.
More information on USDA Rural Development is available on the web at www.rurdev.usda.gov/il.
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