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Illinois Country Living


Seconds Can Save a Lineman’s LifeObama’s Energy Plan Includes Plans for a Smart GridCoal Is Now Global CommodityDecember To See Slightly Warmer Than Normal TemperaturesDomestic Honeybees Key to Illinois Specialty CropsSafety Can’t Take a Holiday

Seconds Can Save a Lineman’s Life

Linemans RodeoLinemen know that when a buddy is in trouble on a pole seconds can make the difference between life and death. That’s why they practice safety skills like the hurt man rescue. Darren Deverman, Journeyman Lineman for Menard Electric Cooperative, Petersburg, cuts loose the rescue dummy during the 11th Lineman’s Safety Rodeo, held Oct. 24. Deverman, along with fellow Menard Electric linemen Jeremy Willis and Rob Hanner, placed first overall and second in the hurt man rescue event. The Lineman’s Safety Rodeo, held at Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC) in Springfield, coincided with a series of courses designed to help electric line personnel improve their work skills in safe and efficient ways. Several electric suppliers joined the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives (AIEC) and LLCC in co-sponsoring the event.


Obama’s Energy Plan Includes Plans for a Smart Grid

President elect Barack Obama’s energy plan includes ideas for increasing energy efficiency. Achieving these aggressive energy efficiency goals will also require significant innovation in the way we transmit electricity and monitor its use.

The Obama administration will pursue a major investment in our national utility grid using smart metering, distributed storage and other advanced technologies to accommodate 21st century energy requirements. They will establish a Grid Modernization Commission to facilitate adoption of SmartGrid practices.

They will instruct the Secretary of Energy to: (1) establish a Smart Grid Investment Matching Grant Program to provide reimbursement of one-fourth of qualifying Smart Grid investments; (2) conduct programs to deploy advanced techniques for managing peak load reductions and energy efficiency savings on customer premises from smart metering, demand response, distributed generation and electricity storage systems; and (3) establish demonstration projects specifically focused on advanced technologies for power grid sensing, communications, analysis and power flow control, including the integration of demand-side resources into grid management.

Illinois electric co-op leaders met with Senators Barack Obama and Dick Durbin in May, 2006 to discuss energy and rural issues. As part of his energy plan President elect Obama plans to encourage smart grid technology like the automated metering systems already installed by many Illinois electric co-ops.

Coal Is Now Global Commodity

A new research report from Standard & Poor’s (S&P) says high coal prices, in large part due to increasing global demand, are likely here to stay and U.S. electric utilities should recognize and deal with this new reality.

The United States has nearly 250 years of coal reserves at current consumption rates, which offers the potential for inexpensive power and enhanced national energy security. But a jump in worldwide coal demand—especially from China—has affected U.S. coal prices.

From 2002 to 2007, worldwide coal consumption increased about 35 percent. This has helped drive spot prices to unprecedented levels, with prices for coal rising 200 percent, from $47 per ton to $145 per ton.

Coal prices have come down and could fall further if the global economy continues to slow, but spot prices will likely remain volatile through 2011. Longer term issues affecting coal prices include the build-out of new supply infrastructure, the nature of U.S. climate change legislation, the extent of new nuclear power construction and the advancement of new technologies such as carbon capture and storage. But the key factor, S&P said, will continue to be the growth of coal consumption in China.

Source: CFC Solutions News Bulletin

December To See Slightly Warmer Than Normal Temperatures

The sea-surface temperatures across the Equatorial Pacific are forecasted to remain close to average. Taking a look back at past climate records across Illinois reveals that in years when a neutral phase develops during the fall (specifically 1986, 1996, 2001), temperatures during the month of December tend to average slightly above normal.

The NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation), which can have more of an influence during neutral phase winters, is forecasted to be positive at least during a portion of the month. Usually, a positive NAO index results in upper-level ridging across the eastern third of the country and therefore milder temperatures.

The Illinois map this month depicts the number of heating degree days that occur across the state on average for the month of December. Based on a forecast of slightly warmer than normal temperatures, total heating degree days across Illinois this December should be about 30 to 60 lower than average. This will likely be some good news for the consumers.

Heating degree day (HDD) and cooling degree day (CDD) are designed to reflect the demand for energy for heating or cooling. The number of heating degrees in a day is defined as the difference between a reference value of 65°F and the average outside temperature for that day. Normally at 65°F outside temperature no heating or cooling is required. For example, if the average temperature for a given day is 55°F then it would be a 10 degree-day.

Domestic Honeybees Key to Illinois Specialty Crops

Illinois is the country’s leading pumpkin producer, but most people are unaware of that fact and the role honeybees play in that process. Honeybees are critical to the pollination of Illinois’ pumpkin crop, as well as about one-third of all food we consume.

Unfortunately, due to disease and pests, the number of wild honeybees has significantly decreased over the past few years, greatly increasing the need for domestic apiaries (bees kept by beekeepers). The threat of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has the potential to damage the Illinois honeybee industry and the specialty crops industry. That’s why the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) is doing all it can to keep local honeybees healthy and productive.

Honeybee Facts:

  • A honeybee must visit about 2 million flowers to make a pound of honey.
  • Bees are required to make a total flight path equivalent to three orbits around the earth to make one pound of honey.
  • The average worker bee lives for only six weeks during the summer and makes one-half teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.
  • During the summer, one normal colony of bees contains one queen, 300 drones (male bees), and 50,000 workers (female bees).
  • Bees use honey for flight fuel. They obtain approximately 7 million miles per gallon of honey.
  • A bee flies at 15 m.p.h.
  • Bees have five eyes and four wings.
  • There are about 1,320 beekeepers in Illinois, keeping nearly 20,000 colonies of honeybees.
  • There are more than 2.9 million honeybee colonies in the United States.
  • The value of honeybee pollination to U.S. Agriculture is approximately $14.6 billion.

Safety Can’t Take a Holiday

Shawn Miller

Shawn Miller lost his hand and nearly his life while stringing Christmas lights near a power line. He says, “I have to find ways to move on with my life and help people learn from what has happened to me. Safe Electricity is helping me help others.”

Wisps of smoke were rising from his chest when Maria Worth came upon her injured son. Shawn Miller was unconscious and badly burned. He had been hanging holiday lights in the trees that lined her yard. As he tossed the lights up into the trees, 7,200 volts of electricity had entered his body, traveling from the overhead power lines through his strand of lights.

Miller had to be revived three times and ultimately, survived the tremendous shock. He lost his left hand and a finger on his right hand, suffering 27 exit wounds throughout his body. Dozens of surgeries and skin grafts later, he is a walking miracle who wants to offer others the gift of electrical safety awareness for the holiday season. He has joined forces with Safe Electricity’s Teach Learn Care TLC campaign to get the word out about the importance of electrical safety.

“Power lines were the last thing on my mind that day,” said Miller. “I was just hanging Christmas lights at my Mom’s house like I do every year, only this time, I was decorating a new area, the trees that lined the front of the yard. I’m lucky to be alive. I want everyone to be careful, be aware of power lines.”

For more information on electrical safety and to learn more about Shawn’s compelling story visit


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Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives

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