1815 E. Jackson St.
El Campo, Texas 77437
Phone: 979.543.6271 Fax: 979.543.6259
Office hours 7:30 am - 4:30 pm
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We have been getting some calls regarding the delivery of the June 2013 issue of Texas Co-op Power Magazine. If you have not gotten yours yet, please feel free to come by the WCEC office and pick one up. This issue has our 75th Annual Meeting information and Meal Ticket Request form, and the deadline for turning in the meal ticket form is Monday, June 17 @ 4:30 pm.
1/2 cup butter
1 small onion, chopped
2/3 cup chopped celery
2 cans (10 3/4 ounces each) cream of chicken soup
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons Liquid Smoke
2 cups cooked white rice
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
Fresh parsley (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 21/2-quart casserole dish. In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until tender.
Stir in soup, broth and Liquid Smoke. Increase heat to medium-high, bring to a boil and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in rice and garlic salt. Spoon into prepared baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired.
Servings: 8. Serving size: 1/2 cup. Per serving: 237 calories, 3.6 g protein, 14.5 g fat, 19.9 g carbohydrates, 0.4 g dietary fiber, 760 mg sodium, 1 g sugars, 36 mg cholesterol
Never heard of an AFCI? It may save your home someday!
“I want the new picture right there, dear.” And with those explicit instructions you begin hanging a large picture and frame above the sofa. Because of its size and weight, you use a large nail, find the stud, and begin to pound.
But hidden behind the wallboard was a wire that provided electricity to a wall outlet behind the sofa. Your nail penetrated the wallboard, clipped the edge of the stud, and poked deep into the wire tearing the insulation and shorting the electrical circuit to the living room. The wall soon became hot, a smoke odor was prevalent, and fire erupted behind the wall and down fell the new picture you just hung. Never mind the picture and frame were destroyed, your house was on fire!
Hours later the fire inspector finds you sifting through the remains of your home and asks what you might know about the start of the fire. Taking notes, he writes, “hanging picture, nail through the wallboard,” and he stops to ask if you had an arc fault circuit interrupter. Since you have never heard of one, he says an AFCI would have saved your home, and for a few dollars, it would have detected the short circuit behind the wallboard, cut the power to the circuit, and you would be living in your home, instead of at your in-laws.
Arc faults are common, and cause many of the 40,000 electrical fires in homes every year. When unwanted arcing occurs, the electricity raises the temperature that will cause combustion to wood, paper, wallboard, and carpet. Such faults occur where circuits have been damaged in some way, whether the wires were damaged, or failed because the aged insulation deteriorated. Other reasons include improperly installed switches and outlets, cords mashed by doors or under furniture legs, and various environmental conditions.
The AFCI monitors the current flow and when it senses an unwanted arcing condition, the circuitry trips the internal contacts and interrupts the circuit before a fire can occur. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says, “Presently, AFCIs are designed into conventional circuit breakers combining traditional overload and short-circuit protection with arc fault protection. AFCI circuit breakers (AFCIs) have a test button and look similar to ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) circuit breakers. Some designs combine GFCI and AFCI protection.”
What is the difference between an AFCI and a GFCI? The ground fault circuit interrupter will protect against a severe or fatal shock, and the electrical code requires them to be placed in bathrooms, kitchens, near swimming pools, and outdoor electrical outlets. The AFCI protects against unwanted arcing in a circuit, which could cause a fire.
There is a need for both in every home.
As electric bills rise because of summer temperatures, a handful of consumer-members at electric cooperatives have fallen prey to a coast-to-coast telemarketing scam offering bogus help with energy bills.
Co-ops are warning members about the scam in which residents are told that President Obama will help pay energy bills under a special federal program if they provide personal information, such as a bank routing number or their Social Security number.
“We urge our members to guard their personal accounting and banking information and never share this information with family, friends or strangers,” said a message on the website of Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative.
Six members at the Lexington, S.C., co-op were bilked, and a few even had power cut off as a result, said Eddie Richardson, vice president for member services. In one instance, the co-op blocked a bank routing number given to a consumer who had provided a Social Security number.
“They were thinking their bill was paid without checking with us to be sure,” said Richardson, who notified the state’s department of consumer affairs about the incidents. “Others called us, saying they didn’t get credit on their accounts.”
Better Business Bureaus in several states also have issued consumer warnings, as well as attorneys general in Mississippi, North Carolina and Arizona and elsewhere.
“We have taken hundreds of calls at this point, probably topping 1,000, from Mississippi residents concerning this scam,” said Jan Schaefer, a spokeswoman at the state’s attorney general office.
It’s unknown how many have lost money, and the cases are under investigation, said Schaefer.
“Many of those callers have indicated to us that they turned over personal identifying information after talking to a person they believed was offering them help paying their bills.”
At Southern Pine Electric Power Association, a few members also have fallen victim to the scam, and the Taylorsville, Miss., co-op is trying to help them, said Dan Davis manager of marketing/public relations.
If their power is cut off for non-payment, “they would have to pay restoration and connection fees. It could be a very expensive proposition,” said Davis, who has done outreach via social media and an appearance on a local radio show.
This free ERCOT Energy Saver application is the easiest way to help Texans learn about electricity conservation and efficiency. Energy Saver brings the most accurate, reliable and timely electrical power grid conditions from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) region to your smartphone in real time! You can:
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• View Conservation Tips that help you save money and live a green lifestyle.
• View the current conditions of the ERCOT grid.
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For Android users, click here
After thousands of gallons of well water are pumped daily through irrigation pipes, they clog with sediment that may be tough to remove. Two farm workers in Colorado raised a 30 foot long aluminum irrigation pipe to a vertical position, and tried to bounce the sediment out, when the pipe tipped into a power line 27 feet above the ground. A 24 year old laborer was electrocuted when the pipe contacted the 7,200 volt line, but a co-worker was able to recover from his electrical shock.
Irrigation-related electrical hazards are a growing problem in many regions of the country. While such systems are important for farm profitability, they can be lethal if caution is not taken near power lines or if not properly maintained.
Even a seasoned professional who had repaired irrigation systems in Nebraska for 20 years lost his life when he came in contact with live electrical wiring. A rural electric supplier in Nebraska tested irrigation systems for problems and found 37% were potentially hazardous due to a lack of a grounding conductor. Nearly 40% did not have a ground rod installed, and more than 50% did not have a fuse or means of disconnection. They also found loose connections, improper circuit and motor protection and deteriorated insulation.
Remember, water and electricity are a dangerous mix. Electricity follows the shortest path to the ground and can flow through any conductive material, such as water or metal. Do not allow irrigation water nozzles to spray on power lines. A water stream hitting a power line could energize the entire system, creating a shock hazard to anyone nearby or in contact with the equipment.
Take some time to survey your surroundings before moving equipment. Look up and around you; note any power lines that could be close enough to come into contact with equipment – and stay away. Always know the location of nearby electrical lines when working with irrigation equipment. Any contact between the irrigation equipment and nearby electrical lines could be fatal or cause serious injury.
To ensure safe operation of irrigation equipment, WCEC offers the following tips:
- Make sure that irrigation system wiring is properly grounded. Before the start of each irrigation season, have a qualified electrician check the pump and wiring.
- Store unused irrigation pipes far away from power lines or electrical equipment.
- Position irrigation pipes at least 15 feet away from power lines.
- Position the water jet streams so that there is no chance of them spraying onto power lines – if this happens, the entire system could become energized, creating a danger for anyone nearby.
- Stay away from the piping during any lightning activity. Install lightning arresters to protect your equipment.
- If fuses continually blow or circuit breakers repeatedly trip, have a professional check the wiring. This could indicate a potential electrical hazard.
- Always shut off and lock the master electrical control switch before servicing the machine.
- Avoid moving irrigation equipment on windy days when pipes could be blown into nearby power lines. Keep pipes horizontal to the ground rather than vertical to minimize the risk of contact with power lines.
If an irrigation pipe comes in contact with a power line, never try to remove it yourself. Stay away from it and call Wharton County Electric Cooperative for help. Dial 979.543.6271 24 hours/day for assistance!
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup lime juice, divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 beef ribeye or chuck top blade steaks, cut 3/4-inch thick
2 cups diced tomatoes
1 fresh mango, peeled and diced
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
6 green onions with tops, diced
1 large fresh jalapeño, seeded and diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup pecan pieces, toasted
Mix Worcestershire, soy sauce, 1/4 cup lime juice, vegetable oil, garlic, chili powder and brown sugar. Place steaks in a sealable plastic bag. Pour mixture over steaks, seal bag and turn to coat. Marinate in refrigerator 15 to 30 minutes. Combine tomatoes, mango, bell pepper, onions, jalapeño, 1/4 cup lime juice, cilantro and pecans. Mix and set aside. Place steaks on grill over medium heat. Grill uncovered to desired doneness, turning once. Remove steaks from grill and serve with mango salsa. Serves 4. Source: Texas Beef Council For more great recipes, visit TexasCoopPower.com
No matter the age of your home, it could benefit from a private energy investigation—also known as an energy audit. To be an energy private eye, ask yourself a simple question: Does my home feel drafty and cold in the winter or stuffy and hot in the summer? If your answer is yes, then your home probably experiences air leakage. To track down where those spots are, round up the usual suspects—culprits such as damaged seals around doors and windows. If you see daylight or feel air, then apply caulk and weatherstripping to keep outdoor air where it’s supposed to be. But don’t forget spots you might not immediately think of, such as recessed canister lights and electrical outlets. Outlet insulation kits can be purchased for as little as $2, and you can fix up your canister lights with some caulk around the edges. Also look where walls meet the ceiling. Cobwebs mean you’ve got drafts. Next, poke your head into the attic and check for sufficient insulation. Inspect the crawl space or basement, too. How much you need depends on your climate. To check out the insulation calculator from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory go to www.ornl.gov and do a search for “insulation calculator.” It’s important to remember that insulation won’t do its job well if there’s not a proper air barrier working in tandem. That means all joints and cracks must be sealed between your living space and the insulation.
Finally, look to your light fixtures. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs are up to 75 percent more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, and they’ve come a long way in light quality, design and affordability. You can purchase CFLs in a variety of shapes and hues. They cost more upfront, but you’ll make your money back in less than nine months, and after that, they start saving money. Make sure to purchase a CFL that’s rated by Energy Star, the U.S. government’s program that denotes products meeting specific energy efficiency criteria. Energy Star-rated CFLs will typically last 10 times longer than a traditional incandescent bulb producing the same amount of light.
How to Buy an Energy-Efficient Appliance
You go shopping for a new refrigerator, and you’re on a budget. The best buy is the fridge with the lowest sales price, right?
Not necessarily. If you buy the lowest-priced refrigerator, you may end up spending more than if you buy a more expensive one. The reason? The cost of owning a home appliance has three components: the initial purchase price, the cost of repairs and maintenance, and the cost to operate it.
To figure out how much you’ll spend over the lifetime of the appliance, you have to look at all these factors. The appliance with the lowest initial purchase price, or even the one with the best repair record, isn’t necessarily the one that costs the least to operate. Here’s an example of how an appliance's energy consumption can affect your out-of-pocket costs.
Suppose you’re in the market for a new refrigerator-freezer. Different models of refrigerators with the same capacity can vary dramatically in the amount of electricity they use. For one popular size and configuration, for example, the annual electricity consumption varies across models from a low of about 600 kilowatt-hours a year to a high of more than 800 kilowatt-hours a year. Based on national average electricity prices, that means the annual cost to operate this refrigerator can range from about $50 to $70, depending on which model you buy.
A $20 difference in annual operating costs might not sound like much. But remember that you will enjoy these savings year after year for the life of the appliance, while you must pay any difference in purchase price only once. As a result, you may actually save money by buying the more expensive, more energy-efficient model.
You can learn about the energy efficiency of an appliance that you’re thinking about buying through the yellow-and-black EnergyGuide label. The Federal Trade Commission’s Appliance Labeling Rule requires appliance manufacturers to put these labels on:
- Refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, clothes washers
- Water heaters, furnaces, boilers
- Central air conditioners, room air conditioners, heat pumps
- Pool heaters
When you shop for one of these appliances in a dealer’s showroom, you should find the labels hanging on the inside of an appliance or secured to the outside. The law requires that the labels specify:
- The capacity of the particular model
- For refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, clothes washers and water heaters, the estimated annual energy consumption of the model
- For air conditioners, heat pumps, furnaces, boilers and pool heaters, the energy efficiency rating
- The range of estimated annual energy consumption, or energy efficiency ratings, of comparable appliances.
Some appliances also may feature the ENERGY STAR logo, which means that the appliance is significantly more energy efficient than the average comparable model. To compare how updating appliances and making other changes around your home can impact your electric bill, visit www.TogetherWeSave.com.
Source: Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Department of Energy
For an energy-smart deal on your next appliance...
- Read the EnergyGuide label (required for refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, clothes washers, water heaters, and select HVAC systems)
- Compare the energy use of competing models.
- Estimate their differences in energy costs.
- Consider both purchase price and estimated energy use when deciding which brand and model to buy.
Source: Federal Trade Commission
- Select the size and style. Measure the space the appliance will occupy to be sure your new purchase will fit. Make sure that you’ll have enough room to open the door or lid fully and enough clearance for ventilation. This may help you narrow your choices as you settle on the best capacity and style.
- Know where to shop. Appliance outlets, electronics stores and local retailers carry different brands and models. Dealers also sell appliances through print catalogs and the Internet.
- Compare the performance of different brands and models. Ask to see the manufacturer’s product literature. Decide which features are important to you. Ask questions about how the different models operate: Are they noisy? What safety features do they have? What about repair histories? How much water do they use? How energy efficient are they?
- Estimate how much the appliance will cost to operate. The more energy an appliance uses, the more it will cost to run. Consult the EnergyGuide label to compare the energy use of different models. The difference on your monthly electric bill can be significant, especially when considered over the 10-to-20-year life of the appliance. You could save money over the long run by choosing a model that’s more energy efficient, even if the purchase price is higher.
- Ask about special energy efficiency offers. Ask your salesperson or local electric cooperative about cash rebates, low-interest loans, or other incentive programs in your area for energy-efficient product purchases—and how you can qualify.
Source: Federal Trade Commission
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Trees are beautiful, and we all love to have them around. They can actually help reduce utility bills in some cases, when planted in the correct spots. But when they are too close to power lines, they can become a costly problem.
People who want to buffer the summer heat from their homes can plant deciduous trees—those that shed their leaves in the winter—on the south and west sides of their dwellings. The green leaves can help block the afternoon sun, keeping home interiors more comfortable and reducing some of the demand on their air conditioners.
In the winter, when those trees lose their leaves, the bare branches allow more sun to hit the roof, walls and windows, adding heat to the living space, perhaps allowing a lower heating system setting, thereby reducing the utility bill.
But care should be taken when choosing the type of trees to plant and deciding where to plant them. Too close to the home, the limbs could damage the roof if there’s a storm. Trees that grow too large can reduce the benefit of the shade and can become a maintenance issue.
In addition, if big trees are planted too close to power lines, they can interfere with the reliable delivery of electricity and drive up costs for everyone.
At Wharton County Electric Cooperative, delivering a reliable supply of electricity while keeping prices in check is our chief mission. One way we can accomplish both is keeping cooperative electricity lines free from tree limbs and the rights-of-way clear from overgrown vegetation.
Standards dictate that a tree’s reach extend no closer than 10 feet from power lines. That allows for a tree to sway in the wind without possibly touching lines or causing an arc of electricity. If a tree’s branches are actually in contact with lines, that can siphon power off our grid, adding to the problem of line loss (power that’s generated and paid for but is lost in transmission). Not to mention that this can be a safety hazard.By planting your trees with attention to their distance from power lines, you can reduce tree trimming that becomes necessary when limbs grow close enough to pose a hazard.
Tropical Storm Preparations
EL CAMPO, TEXAS – Wharton County Electric Cooperative is prepared for the landfall of a Tropical Storm or Hurricane, should one affect our area. Depending on where a possible storm makes landfall, some or all of our members may experience extreme weather conditions that may be associated with the storm. Safety is of the utmost importance when an event like this occurs, so we are happy to provide the following tips:
Members under Critical Care or Life Support
WCEC members that are on life support equipment are urged to notify our office of their condition’s needs. Another good practice is to let the local Fire/EMS/Police departments know about any special conditions that may exist. It is also suggested that back-up preparations are made in the event of an extended outage.
If you plan to use a portable backup generator for temporary electric power, please do not connect the generator to the house wiring. The safest way, and the way suggested by WCEC, is to have a qualified electrician install a transfer switch that will isolate the generator from the electrical service. If the generator is connected to the house wiring without the transfer switch, the power will “backfeed” into WCEC’s system which could cause a hazardous and deadly condition for the servicemen working to restore the power.
If a transfer switch is not installed, the generator can still be used to power the home’s electrical devices by connecting them directly to the generator using properly sized and rated extension cords, being careful not to overload the cord or generator.
Downed Power Lines
Any time that a downed power line is encountered, always always always assume that the line is “live”! It is best to stay clear of the downed power lines, and immediately notify your utility company and the local law enforcement agencies. Do not attempt to move the lines, or touch anything that is in contact with the downed lines. Wait until the lines have been repaired and are back in place before clearing any downed trees or tree limbs. Also, if there are limbs or trees that are within 10 ft. of the power lines, please notify our office so that we can properly assess and remedy the situation. Trimming limbs on your own when they are close to the “live” power lines can result in injury or death.
When an event like this occurs, our office and crews can get very busy. The WCEC staff is committed to restoring its’ members’ electric service as soon as is safely possible. To report an outage, please have your most recent bill handy when you call 979.543.6271. Our office will ask you for some information from the bill that will help our crews to identify your location and outage status. Updates will be available through our website and Facebook page, as well as KULP 1390AM, KIOX 96.1FM, and El Campo Leader News.
Power restoration efforts begin as soon as the event has passed and it is safe for our crews to begin work. The illustration below shows how the WCEC crews work to restore service to the largest number of members in most situations.
Lighting Choices to Save You Money
Light your home using the same amount of light for less money. Upgrading 15 of the inefficient incandescent light bulbs in your home could save you about $50 per year. New lighting standards take effect in 2012, and money-saving options such as energy-saving incandescent, CFL, and LED light bulbs are available today. For high-quality products with the greatest energy savings, choose bulbs that have earned the ENERGY STAR.
New Light Bulbs: What's the Difference?
Traditional incandescent bulbs use a lot of energy to produce light.
- 90% of the energy is given off as heat
- That lost energy is money we are throwing away
Newer energy-saving light bulbs provide the choices in colors and light levels you've come to expect. The new lights are also much more efficient — so they save you money.
What Are My Lighting Choices?
Three of the most common energy-efficient lighting types include energy-saving incandescents, CFLs, and LEDs. You can find these in most hardware and home improvement stores, and they are all more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs.
Energy Saving Incandescents — about 25% energy savings
Energy-saving, or halogen incandescents have a capsule inside that holds gas around a filament to increase bulb efficiency. This type of incandescent bulb is about 25% more efficient and can last up to three times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. They are available in a wide range of shapes and colors, and can be used with dimmers.
CFLs — about 75% energy savings
Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are simply curly versions of the long tube fluorescent lights you may already have in a kitchen or garage. Because they use less electricity than traditional incandescents, typical CFLs can pay for themselves in less than nine months, and then start saving you money each month. An ENERGY STAR-qualified CFL uses about one-fourth the energy and lasts ten times longer than a comparable incandescent bulb that puts out the same amount of light.
CFL bulbs are available in a range of light colors, including warm (white to yellow) tones that were not as available when first introduced. Some are encased in a cover to further diffuse the light and provide a similar shape to the bulbs you are replacing. If you are looking for a dimmable bulb, check the package to make sure you purchase a CFL with that feature.
Fluorescent bulbs contain a small amount of mercury, and they should always be recycled at the end of their lifespan. Many retailers recycle CFLs for free. Wharton County Electric Cooperative offers recycling of CFL bulbs as well as the long tube flourescent bulbs.
LEDs — about 75% – 80% energy savings
The light emitting diode (LED) uses the same technology as the little indicator light on your cell phone, but designed to light your home. It is one of today's most energy-efficient and rapidly developing technologies. ENERGY STAR-qualified LEDs use only 20% – 25% of the energy and last up to 25 times longer than the traditional incandescent bulbs they replace.
LED bulbs are currently available in many products such as replacements for 40W and 60W traditional incandescents, reflector bulbs often used in recessed fixtures, and small track lights. While LEDs are expected to be more expensive at this early stage, their long life and energy savings cost less to operate. Prices are also expected to come down as more products enter the market.
This is the Coop Connections Card from WCEC. If you did not get yours in the Texas Coop Power Magazine, then you are missing out on LOCAL and NATIONWIDE great deals and savings! There are vacation specials, hotel specials, rental car specials, and discounts for numerous websites and brand name stores. If you are into the TV show – ...Extreme Couponing, there is also a coupon section that has some great deals. The Coop Connections card from WCEC is much more than a pharmacy discount card, it is a great way to save money on your daily needs or your next vacation!
If you have any questions about the Coop Connections Card, or if you need a new card, please stop by and see us at 1815 East Jackson in El Campo.
Check out our Card website -- http://www.connections.coop/index.php?coopID=85
Pumping Up Efficiency
Dear Jim: I have an old central air conditioner and an electric furnace. I want to install a heat pump but cannot afford a geothermal one. What are the newest designs of standard heat pumps, and how do they work? —Candi B.
Dear candi: Heat pumps are becoming a more common alternative to central air conditioners no matter what type of existing heating system you now have. This is because a heat pump can heat, as well as cool, your house efficiently. The cost of electricity for heating and cooling a house is much less volatile than natural gas, oil or propane.
A geothermal heat pump is one of the most energy-efficient heating and cooling systems available for any climate. Even though it provides a good long-term payback over its life on the investment, particularly in very hot or cold climates, the initial installation costs are considerably higher than for standard air-source models. Also, depending upon the yard and soil type, it may not be applicable for every house.
A standard air-source heat pump is basically a central air conditioner with a few extra parts. The outdoor unit looks exactly the same as a central air conditioner. It is called a heat pump because it literally pumps heat out of your house (cooling mode) or into your house (heating mode) to or from the outdoor air around the outdoor compressor/condenser unit.
During the summer on the cooling mode, it draws heat from the indoor air as it passes through the indoor evaporator coils. Through a refrigeration cycle identical to that of an air conditioner, it expels this heat outdoors. The cooling efficiency is rated by its SEER (seasonal energy-efficiency ratio). A heat pump’s cooling efficiency is only slightly less than its similar central air-conditioner model.
During the winter, a reversing valve inside the heat pump outdoor unit switches position. This reverses the flow of the refrigerant throughout the entire system. Instead of running the cool refrigerant through the indoor coil, it runs the hot refrigerant indoors.
The cold refrigerant is run outdoors where it draws heat. Since the refrigerant is colder than the outdoor air, it absorbs heat even though the outdoor air may feel cold to you. Heating efficiency is rated by HSPF (heating seasonal performance factor).
As it gets colder outdoors, it becomes more difficult for the heat pump to draw heat from the cold outdoor air just as the heating needs of your house increase. At a certain point, the heat pump can no longer provide enough heat to keep your house warm, and the backup heating source comes on. Depending upon the type of backup heat and relative energy costs, your heating/cooling contractor can set the temperature at which the backup takes over.
There have been many recent developments in standard air-source heat pumps. The modulating, multistage output rotary compressor design, which was first introduced in central air conditioners, is now available in heat pumps. This design produces extremely high efficiencies for both heating and cooling (HSPF 10, SEER 22). You can get $2 to $3 worth of heat for each $1 on your utility bills.
This heat pump uses a rotary compressor with inverter technology to allow it to vary its heating or cooling output from about one-third to full capacity output. This not only saves electricity, but it also produces extremely good comfort, level room temperatures and quiet operation. Two-stage heat pumps also improve efficiency and comfort over standard single-stage models.
Another new two-stage, heat-pump design couples a solar panel with the outdoor unit. On a sunny day, this solar panel produces enough electricity to operate the condenser fan for up to an 8 percent electricity savings. When it is not sunny or at night, the outdoor condenser fan runs on grid electricity like any other heat pump.
A standard, low-cost single-stage heat pump with a scroll compressor will still be efficient and provide good comfort, especially when it is coupled with a variable-speed blower.
Even if your indoor air handler seems to be working well, it should be replaced with one compatible with the new efficient outdoor unit. At the very least, the indoor evaporator coil should be replaced with a matching one.
No matter what type of new heat pump you select, make sure that your duct system is compatible with it. There should typically be from 400 to 500 cubic feet per minute of air flow per ton of cooling through the unit for the best efficiency. Your old duct system might have to be modified.
Copyright 2011 James Dulley
Your old appliances and energy-hogging equipment could be wasting hundreds of dollars in energy each year.
The Texas Comptroller's of Public Accounts is reminding residents to take advantage of the Texas ENERGY STAR Sales Tax Holiday during Memorial Day Weekend.
The tax holiday allows Lone Star State residents to get a break from state and local sales taxes on the purchase of select ENERGY STAR appliances and products.
The tax holiday begins on Saturday, May 28, at 12:01 a.m. and ends on Monday, May 30 (Memorial Day) at 11:59 p.m.
Texas shoppers get a break from sales taxes when they purchase household equipment bearing an ENERGY STAR label. Shoppers can expect to save about $3 million overall in state and local sales taxes during the event.
The ENERGY STAR Sales Tax Holiday applies only to the following ENERGY STAR appliances and household equipment, as listed in the state tax code:
• Air conditioners priced at $6,000 or less
• Refrigerators priced at $2,000 or less
• Ceiling fans
• Incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs
• Clothes washers
• Programmable thermostats*
ENERGY STAR specification of programmable thermostats was suspended on December 31, 2009; however, any existing stock of ENERGY STAR labeled programmable thermostats offered for sale by retailers is still eligible for the exemption.
More information and frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the tax holiday are available at www.texaspowerfulsmart.org. For exemption information on associated fees, please see Delivery and Installation Charge FAQs.
ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy for products that meet strict energy efficiency guidelines.
Qualifying products display the ENERGY STAR logo on the appliance, the packaging or the Energy Guide label.
Clothes dryers are not included in the sales tax holiday because they use similar amounts of energy; therefore, the program does not label clothes dryers. For details on products, visit www.energystar.gov.
Would you risk being hit by lightning for $100? Seems a bit ludicrous, but desperate times cause folks to do foolish things.
Thefts of copper, aluminum and bronze are on the rise at abandoned commercial buildings, empty homes, and—most dangerously—at power substations near neighborhoods. We need your help to keep our equipment safe, prevent outages and save lives.
At an electric co-op last year, metal thieves took off with about $100 of wire from a substation, but left behind a $1 million repair bill after a fire destroyed regulators, switches and a $600,000 transformer. More than 3,500 consumers were temporarily left in the dark after the incident, although the co-op moved quickly to reroute power to affected areas.
It’s hard to understand why folks would risk their lives for a few dollars.
Regardless of who is doing it, the damage done to our system packs a big punch because equipment can be ruined without the protection copper wires provide. There’s also the potential for loss of life. Last year in the U.S., several deaths related to metal theft occurred.
The cost for scrap copper goes up and down, but recently it’s been on the rise—and so have theft attempts. In January 2011, scrap copper sold for five times the amount it went for in 2001.
We use copper to ground our equipment, protecting it from electrical surges and lightning by giving electricity a safe path to ground. We use a lot of copper wire in our substations, where we step down high-voltage electricity arriving from distant power plants before it travels to your neighborhood. Then another transformer near your home—either mounted on a utility pole or in a green box on the ground—lowers the voltage again so you can use the power at home. Copper is an essential component every step of the way.
Our linemen are highly trained professionals who understand the dangers of working with electricity and take proper safety precautions.
To protect the public, we surround our substations with secure fencing and post warning signs. But some thieves will not be deterred.
Please help us prevent these thefts. If you notice anything unusual, such as an open substation gate, open equipment or hanging wire, call Wharton County Electric Cooperative immediately at 979.543.6271. If you see anyone other than our utility personnel or contractors around substations or other electric facilities, call the police.
Current weather conditions have caused power outages in some of our service areas. Dust and dirt will accumulate over time on the insulators that hold the wires on our poles. With regular rainfall, this accumulation is washed away and normally does not cause a problem. However, with the abnormally dry weather as of late, this layer of dust has not been washed away. With a light rain or morning dew, the electricity carried in the wires will “track” across the moist dust layer, and can potentially cause a fire on the top of the pole and result in a disruption of service.
This condition has occurred on our lines near Garwood (FM1693 & Hwy 71), and the resulting outage extends to most all of our members North of there. The condition has also occurred South of El Campo, affecting areas around FM 2674, CR 422, CR 301, CR 320, CR 307, and Nygard Road. Until we receive adequate rainfall in our service area, disruptions of service may continue to occur.
WCEC regrets any inconvenience that outages like this may cause, and we are working to restore service to all of the affected areas. We expect full service to be restored by noon today to the currently affected members.
If you are a WCEC member and do experience an outage that is not covered in one of the areas mentioned above, please contact our office immediately by calling 979.543.6271
Nearly everyone in Texas experienced some sort of power outage during yesterday’s rotating outages. In the early morning hours of Wednesday February 2, 2011, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) experienced a peak demand for electricity of 56,000 Megawatts (MW). ERCOT manages the flow of electric power to 85% of the state’s electric load, which encompasses 75% of the land area in Texas. During this past summer’s heat, ERCOT experienced a 65,000 MW demand for electricity.
While the demand for electricity on 2/2 was lower than the demand this past summer, there were issues within the electricity generation facilities that cause the rotating outages to go into immediate effect. Out of the 550+ generation facilities that are included in ERCOT’s operating system, roughly 50 of those facilities were offline due to maintenance, weather conditions, and unexpected failures. There was roughly 7,300 MW that should have been available for use, but was not.
This morning (2/3), the generation facilities face yet another challenge which could institute the rotating outages again today. The natural gas suppliers are experiencing a higher demand during this cold weather. This can cause a drop in pressure within the natural gas system, which will cause the gas companies to begin to curtail the demand. Residential customers will most likely never see a change in their gas supply, however large users may experience the curtailments. Some of the state’s electric generation facilities are natural gas fired, so these plants could possibly see the curtailment and be forced to cut their generation back accordingly.
If WCEC is given notice that the rotating blackouts are going to begin, we will pass that information on to the public through KULP (1390AM), KIOX (96.1FM), The El Campo Leader News, El Campo Chamber of Commerce, and WCEC’s website and Facebook page. In the meantime, WCEC would like to ask everyone (including those who are not members of WCEC) to practice conservation of electricity. By reducing your individual demand for electricity we can help ERCOT balance and manage the overall demand for the state and hopefully avoid the need for rotating outages.
If you have any questions or have any special needs or requests, please contact our office and we will be happy to assist you.
2/2/2011 - Due to the extremely cold weather the electric grid in Texas is near capacity. Please be aware that rolling blackouts are possible when temperatures drop into the twenties. These blackouts are temporary in nature and all electric utilities in the state are affected. During this time we ask that you conserve electricity.
Each year, Wharton County Electric Cooperative holds an essay contest for the area high school students and awards an all expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. The only out of pocket expenses will be for any souvenirs or miscellaneous items that may be purchased. The contest winners will be joined by other winners from across the entire state of Texas to take part in a life-changing experience while touring our nation's capitol. The winners of this contest also receive a $400 scholarship.
* Student must be between the ages of 15 and 19, and must have completed sophomore year of high school.
* Parents or legal guardian of student must be a residential member or employee of Wharton County Electric Cooperative, Inc.
* Essay should be approximately 500 words, typed. Your essay will be judged by a neighboring cooperative. Essays not meeting these guidelines will not be accepted.
* Return your essay with the fully completed information sheet to WCEC.
Click below to read more!!!
Gary & Jeanette Schoenfield - 1st place County Winner
Most of you know electric cooperatives are different from other businesses you deal with. To tell you the
truth, I like being different. And the fact that you’re reading this article shows you like that difference, too.
We’re different because Wharton County Electric Cooperative is looking out for you. Now, more than ever,
that’s important because we need to work together to keep your electric bills affordable.
Congress did not pass a comprehensive climate bill last year. In January, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began regulating greenhouse gases—an action made possible by a 2007 Supreme Court decision, followed by rulings allowing the EPA to use the Clean Air Act to curb carbon emissions. Policies dealing with coal ash and even more stringent controls on other power plant emissions could also lead to higher costs. It’s hard to predict the future, but one thing seems certain: Government regulations are likely to increase the cost of doing business.
WCEC held it's annual Christmas lighting contest and all locations were judged on Monday, December 13th. Below are the results from this year's contest.
2010 Best of Show
Gary and Jeanette Schoenfield
1st Gary and Jeanette Schoenfield
2nd Chad and Michelle Ellis
3rd Kevin and Tammy Till
Click the Read More link to view the entire list of winners.
Merry Christmas from all of us at WCEC. As I write this on October 20th while it is 87 degrees outside, it’s hard to fathom that another year has come and gone. It seems like just yesterday that I was putting away the Christmas lights now it is time for another Town and Country Lighting Contest.
December is a time for reflection on the current year and making plans for next year. Here at WCEC our planning for 2011 began in August when management presented budget assumptions to the board of directors. These assumptions include things we know will happen, things we think will happen, and things we hope will or will not happen. These assumptions open a dialog with the board and make our entire budgeting process much smoother. After the books are closed in September, the department heads sit down and review the operations of their respective departments and develop a budget and plan of action for 2011. While developing.....
WCEC will be closed on Thursday, November 25, and Friday, November 26 in observance of Thanksgiving Day. For any electric outages, please contact our office at any time to report them at 979.543.6271. Always check your breakers to be sure that you actually do not have power prior to calling to prevent any false-call charges.
WCEC would like to wish everyone a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving Day, and safe travel.
November 1st is the day a new General Manager/CEO will take the helm at WCEC. Gary Raybon, longtime loyal WCEC employee will be in charge and I will fade into the sunset. I know that Gary will do a great job.
I look forward to my retirement years and I have plans to keep busy but in this message I would like to thank the members, directors and employees who have supported me and my ideas for 23 years and to pass on my hopes and wishes for a successful future for WCEC.
I believe we have had 23 good years and the thanks and recognition for these years go to the overall organization: members, directors and staff.
On Thursday, October 7, 2010, Paul Phillips received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Texas Member Services Association in Austin, Texas. This award is presented to individuals that have provided exemplary service and professionalism in marketing, member services, and communications among electric cooperatives ...all across Texas. Paul's 39 years of service to our WCEC members as the Manager of Member Service, as well as the service to members across the state as a TMSA member and Board Member were key factors in having his nomination selected above all others. Pictured here is Danella Hughes of Magic Valley Electric Cooperative presenting the Award to Paul Phillips. Congratulations Paul!
General Manager / CEO, Donald Naiser, announced his retirement at the 2010 WCEC Annual Membership meeting after 23 years of service. "The Don's" official last day as GM/CEO will be October 31st, 2010 with Gary Raybon taking over the helm effective November 1, 2010. We wish Mr. Naiser and his family well in his retirement.
Safety for our employees, our Members, and the general public is of utmost importance at WCEC. The WCEC Board of Directors and CEO Donald Naiser continually support safety by providing leadership and adequate budgets needed to fund this program.
After 39+ years of dedicated service to WCEC and it's members Paul Phillips, Manager of Member Services, is retiring.
WCEC will be hosting a come and go reception honoring Paul Phillips on October 1, 2010 at 3pm in the Thomas Edison Room next to the WCEC headquarters.
Come join the employees and directors wish Paul the best in his retirement.
At the April 2010 board meeting, WCEC directors authorized a patronage refund for the years 2007 and 2008 to be paid in August 2010. This refund, of $165,495 represents operating margins (revenue less operating expenses) for the years 2007 and 2008. Since its founding
Changing of the Guard at WCEC
Knowing that all good things must come to an end, WCEC will bid a fond farewell this fall to long time General Manager/ CEO Donald Naiser. Naiser, who is the longest tenured general manager/CEO in WCEC history, has been with the cooperative since 1987. During his 23 years, Naiser has seen WCEC’s sales increase from 96 million kWh a year to 170 million kWh per year, and he is especially proud of the technological advances that have been implemented...
The employees of WCEC are involved in many community events and civic organizations. Below are a few updates displaying how our employees are actively part of the community.