A Special Week

Three employees volunteer at the Special Olympics Summer Games

Volunteers from 21 Oklahoma electric co-ops came together in Stillwater in May to assist with the Special Olympics Summer Games. Three employees represented OEC among the 115 co-op volunteers in Stillwater.

Logistics Technician Bryce Schmidt, Copywriter Erin McKnight and Executive Assistant Summer Self joined other co-op employees and family members as they assisted with track and field events.

More than 2,700 athletes from across the state participated in the Summer Games — the first Summer Games held in-person since 2019. During the three-day event, athletes competed in track and field, bocce, bowling, golf, horseshoes, powerlifting, basketball and softball.

“This was by far the most rewarding experience of my life,” said McKnight.

 “Seeing the joy on these athletes’ faces and having the opportunity to celebrate with them has changed me for the better.” — Erin McKnight

Schmidt echoed her comments. “It was a humbling and inspiring experience to watch the athletes compete with such joy! I would recommend that everyone volunteer if they get the chance.”

In addition to OEC’s volunteers, the OEC Foundation, Inc. via the Operation Round Up® program donates funds to area Special Olympics teams each year. That funding is made possible by members who round up their monthly electric bills to the nearest dollar.

“Volunteering for Special Olympics is a humbling experience. I am so proud of these young people and their tenacity to overcome their obstacles and win,” said Self. “Each participant touched my heart. The high fives were endless, and the smiles and hugs were priceless. I will treasure each minute.”

Planting Energy Savings One Tree at a Time

As one of only two certified Tree Line USA Utility electric cooperatives in Oklahoma, OEC partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation in April to give away 200 trees to members who signed up online. To date, OEC has given away more than 800 free trees. 

Daniel Lofland, OEC’s energy efficiency & solutions specialist, organized the giveaway and stressed the importance of a strategically placed tree when it comes to saving energy and money and offered tips for anyone planting vegetation.

“First, look up. If there are overhead power lines where you are wanting to plant a tree that could grow to be 20 feet tall, plant it at least 10 feet away from that line,” he suggested. “Also, it is extremely important to call Okie to have all underground lines located before you plant a tree of any kind. Any costs from damage incurred without having lines located first is on the homeowner.”

The direction your home faces plays a critical role in deciding where to plant trees. In which rooms in your home do you spend most summer afternoons? Consider planting trees to shade those windows from the hot summer sun. 

“Spring is a great time of year to plant trees,” Lofland said. “Be sure to survey your property and pinpoint which windows would benefit best from being shaded. Again, be sure to call Okie (811) to ensure you don’t hit a line when digging, and check one more time to make sure the tree won’t interfere with overhead power lines.”

The Energy-Saving Trees program is part of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Time for Trees initiative to plant 100 million trees in forests and communities around the globe and inspire 5 million tree planters to help carry the mission forward. Visit our website for more information and a full tree planting guide.

A New Way of Living

How OEC Fiber is meeting the needs of the modern family

The needs of the modern family have changed dramatically over the years. The desire for more flexibility and the need to have multiple devices connected at once makes having reliable, high-speed internet not just a luxury, but a necessity. Internet services that provided download and upload speeds of 10 to 15 Mbps were once acceptable but are finding themselves obsolete today.

“I think the modern family needs the capability to connect four of five devices at once,” said OEC Fiber subscriber Kris Glenn of Norman. “In this day and age, the expectation is that we are able to operate all those devices seamlessly at an acceptable speed.” 

An electric company providing fiber services may seem outlandish to some. How can a company designed to deliver electricity offer internet, TV and home phone service when these services do not even use the same equipment? In 2017, OEC’s board of trustees set out to provide a solution.

“In the beginning, I thought ‘How is an electric cooperative going to pull this off?’” Glenn said. “Then, when I learned that a lot of the infrastructure was already there, it made a lot of sense.” 

Having the proper infrastructure in place is one of the biggest obstacles utilities face when bringing service to an area. This includes the lines, poles and other equipment needed to get service from point A to point B. 

OEC, according to our high standards for reliability, carefully designed these systems for stability and longevity. The overhead cost needed to build a broadband network prohibits many service providers from building service to rural areas. Existing OEC infrastructure convinced OEC’s board of trustees to build out a broadband network to areas other companies would not.

“I heard there was a possibility of doing this, and I got really excited,” Glenn said. “I didn’t think we had effective internet options in our area. I knew that if OEC did it, they would do it very well.” 

Glenn and his family were so confident the service would be a step in the right direction, they were some of the first to sign up when the service became available in their area in January, 2019. 

“We took advantage immediately. Installation was super simple, and the service is amazing. It’s just so reliable. I mean, it really is. I can’t think of one outage since we’ve had it.”  

This reliability has led to a more sustainable work-life balance for Glenn, who serves as the director of parking and transportation for the University of Oklahoma.

“It’s allowed for days that if I have a sick kid, or if the pandemic is surging, I can work from home,” Glenn said. “OEC Fiber is the most reliable internet I’ve ever had, and it runs quietly in the background. You don’t think about it. You don’t ever have to worry if it’s going to work, if it’s going to have the bandwidth, the speeds. It’s just incredibly reliable, incredibly fast internet service.”

This fast, reliable service is not confined to the walls of their home. It gives them the ability to fully enjoy all the aspects of their property in previously inaccessible ways due to limited Wi-Fi coverage.

“OEC Fiber ran an extender to the pool house. There are times that I go out there and take my laptop and work quietly, and it’s just as reliable out there with the extender as it is in the main house.”

Providing the type of connection the modern family needs is something OEC and OEC Fiber pride ourselves on. Our mission is to improve our subscribers’ quality of life through the safe delivery of highly reliable, reasonably priced fiber services and exceptional customer service. We give you less to worry about, so you can focus on what’s most important to you.

To learn more about how OEC Fiber can modernize how your family lives, visit www.oecfiber.com.

Don’t Get Caught in the Storm

Safety tips for before, during and after the storm

From the February 2017 RE Magazine Photo Challenge, The Skies of Co-op Country. Storm clouds north of North Platte Nebraska July 2016 tornado beginning to form  Photo by Boni Edwards edwards@nque.com 308-530-0162

In April, a video of NBC Washington chief meteorologist Doug Kammerer went viral. During a live broadcast, Kammerer called his teenage son to warn him of a tornado that was headed straight for their home. Knowing the kids were likely playing video games and not paying attention to the weather, he told them to head straight to the basement. Kammerer debated if he should call his family on-air, but he knew it was the right thing to do. Luckily, the kids made it safely through the storm. 

As adults, we understand the importance of storm safety, but younger children and teens may not realize the dangers storms pose. That’s why it’s so important to talk to your family and have a storm plan in place. Here are a several tips you can share with your loved ones. 

Before the Storm

Talk to your family about what to do in the event of a severe storm or tornado. Point out the safest location to shelter, like a small, interior, windowless room on the lowest level of your home. Discuss the dangers of severe thunderstorms; lightning can strike 10 miles outside of a storm. Remember: when you hear thunder roar, head indoors. 

Make a storm kit. It doesn’t have to be elaborate––having a few items on hand is better than nothing at all. Try to include items like water, non-perishable foods, a manual can opener, a First-Aid kit, flashlights and extra batteries, prescriptions, baby supplies and pet supplies. Keep all the items in one place for easy access if the power goes out. 

During the Storm

Pay attention to local weather alerts––either on the TV, your smartphone or weather radio––and understand the types of alerts. A thunderstorm or tornado watch means these events are possible and you should be prepared; a warning means a thunderstorm or tornado has been spotted in your area and it’s time to take action.

If you find yourself in the path of a tornado, head to your safe place to shelter, and protect yourself by covering your head with your arms or materials like blankets and pillows. 

If you’re driving during a severe storm or tornado, do not try to outrun it. Pull over and cover your body with a coat or blanket if possible. 

After the Storm

If the power is out, conserve your phone battery as much as possible, limiting calls and texts to let others know you are safe or for emergencies only. 

Stay off the roads if trees, power lines or utility poles are down. Lines and equipment could still be energized, posing life-threatening risks to anyone who gets too close. 

Wear appropriate gear if you’re cleaning up storm debris on your property. Thick-soled shoes, long pants and work gloves will help protect you from sharp or dangerous debris left behind. 

Summer is a time for many fun-filled activities, but the season can also bring severe, dangerous weather. Talk to your loved ones about storm safety so that everyone is prepared and knows exactly what to do when a storm strikes.  

Abby Berry writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56% of the nation’s landscape.

Annual Meeting & Member Appreciation Night Returns in August

After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting restrictions, we are busy planning the first Annual Meeting and Member Appreciation Night in three years. Set your calendar for Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, and plan on arriving no earlier than 4:30 p.m. at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman.

Country music performer Jim Garling from Guthrie, Oklahoma, and American folk-rock band The Imaginaries, also from Oklahoma, will provide entertainment, while our traditional barbecue meal will be served. 

Members in attendance will receive a $20 electric credit for attending and will be entered to win one of dozens of prizes and giveaways. Resources and informational booths will be set up so members can learn about all of our programs and offerings, including OEC Fiber.

The Kids’ Zone will welcome kids of all ages for games, prizes and fun, as well! You will receive more information in the coming months about this annual member appreciation event. We will plan to see you there!

 

Are You on the Right Rate?

Exploring our rate options could save you money this summer

Summer is here, and soon your electric bill will reflect it. Now is the time to take a closer look at not just how much electricity you use, but how you use it, so you can be on the rate that keeps more money in your pocket.

Standard Residential Rate

The Standard Residential Rate is perfect for members who like simplicity and convenience and who use an average of 1,600 or more kilowatt hours (kWhs) per month. On this rate, all kWhs cost 9¢ year-round, with a break in the winter. Energy use greater than 1,000 kWhs is billed at 6¢ per kWh on January, February, March, April, May, November and December bills. This rate includes a daily $1.50 service availability charge. Learn more about this rate here and read on to learn more about the flat monthly charge.

Time of use rate

This rate is perfect for energy savers who are willing to modify behavior to maximize savings. It’s a more complex rate design, but energy-conscious members are able to take full advantage to see savings. Energy used between 3 and 7 p.m. on weekdays from June 1 through Aug. 31 (excluding July 4) costs 24¢ per kWh. All other kWhs are billed at 11¢ per kWh on June bills and 9.8688¢ on July, August and September bills. Kilowatt-hour costs range from 6¢ to 9.2752¢ per kWh on winter bills. 

The service availability charge for this rate is only $1 per day. Learn more about this rate here.

Electric vehicle rate

This rate is not only perfect for electric vehicle (EV) owners but those willing to divert energy consumption to evening and overnight hours. This simple year-round rate offers 9¢ per kWh between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m., and 5¢ per kWh between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. Anyone able to shift energy use during those overnight hours should see savings.

This rate includes a daily $1.50 service availability charge. Learn more about the EV rate here.

Explore the rate options and switch rates at www.okcoop.org/rates. You may also switch rates right from your My OEC mobile app or by calling our Member Service team at 405-321-2024. Please note you may only change rates once in a 12-month period. Visit www.okcoop.org/rates for a full breakdown of each rate.

 

OEC Partners with FirstNet

Oklahoma Electric Cooperative Joins FirstNet® – America’s Public Safety Network

 

New Technologies Expand Our Capabilities to Better Serve Oklahoma

 

NORMAN, Oklahoma— Oklahoma Electric Cooperative is connecting our public safety community with FirstNet – the only nationwide, high-speed broadband communications platform dedicated to and purpose-built for America’s first responders and the extended public safety community. With this tech advancement, we can equip our first responders with new capabilities and reliable access to critical information while in the field, allowing us to better serve those who live, work and visit Oklahoma. 

 

FirstNet is designed to improve communications across public safety entities nationwide, allowing first responders to communicate with one another easily and quickly during everyday situations, big events or emergencies. This is integral to solving the communications challenges public safety has experienced in the past.

 

Oklahoma Electric Cooperative is using FirstNet to connect lineman and other employees, working on the frontlines of electrical repairs during natural disasters and everyday emergencies, to each other and dispatch. To provide that communication, Oklahoma Electric Cooperative is using FirstNet on our tablets to access job reports, determine what safety equipment is needed and provide mapping to show areas in need of repairs and the location of crews. 

 

“We are centrally located in Oklahoma, covering both suburban and rural areas across seven counties,” said David Godspeed, Vice President of Technology Services, Oklahoma Electric Cooperative and President of OEC Fiber. “As our team members have more access to advanced technologies, it has become even more important to help ensure that our team members in the field and the office have the ability to stay connected at all times. FirstNet keeps communication open no matter the time of day or night, whether its storming or clear.”

 

Oklahoma Electric Cooperative joined FirstNet to provide our first responders with reliable, modern communications tools needed to perform at our best, including:

·      One, nationwide communications platform that allows us to coordinate emergency responses efficiently and effectively across agencies and jurisdictions.

·      Always-on priority and, for first responders, preemption to give us reliable access to the connection we need – even when the network is congested. 

·      A separate, dedicated and highly secure network core purpose-built for public safety’s sensitive communications.

·      Innovative tools – like relevant applications and connected devices – to give us more actionable information for heightened situational awareness.

 

“The priority that FirstNet offers is very important,” said Chris Sabatino, Network Technician II, Oklahoma Electric Cooperative. “In October we had severe weather and tornado warnings. You never know what is going to happen. When there is a time of crisis and you have congestion on the phone system, FirstNet gives us the ability to communicate with employees, dispatching and members.”

 

“We’re pleased that Oklahoma Electric Cooperative chose FirstNet to elevate its communications capabilities,” said Steve Hahn, President AT&T Oklahoma. “It’s our mission to give first responders the cutting-edge tools they need to safely and effectively achieve their mission. FirstNet will help the public safety community in Oklahoma and across the country perform at the highest levels to keep themselves and those they serve out of harm’s way.”

 

“FirstNet is the exclusive communications platform built with AT&T for public safety, inspired by public safety. There is no substitution for this purpose-built network,” said FirstNet Authority CEO Edward Parkinson. “We look forward to supporting Oklahoma Electric Cooperative and all of Oklahoma’s public safety community with FirstNet, making sure it delivers what they need, when they need it.”

 

To learn more about the Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, visit https://okcoop.org

Watch how FirstNet has transformed Oklahoma Electric Cooperative’s communications here.

To learn more about FirstNet, go to FirstNet.com. To learn more about subscribing to FirstNet, contact Ashley Knickmeyer at (405) 808-3076 orAr119k@att.com. Individual first responders can also subscribe to FirstNet at a local AT&T store.

 

About FirstNet, Built with AT&T 

Shaped by the vision of Congress and the first responder community following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, FirstNet stands above commercial offerings. It is built with AT&T in public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) – an independent agency within the federal government. The FirstNet network is providing public safety with truly dedicated coverage and capacity when they need it. These advanced capabilities help fire, EMS, law enforcement save lives and protect their communities. Learn more at FirstNet.com

 

FirstNet and the FirstNet logo are registered trademarks of the First Responder Network Authority.  All other marks are the property of their respective owners. 

 

Unclaimed Capital Credits

Click here for a full list of members from 2009 set to receive capital credits

*The list is alphabetical by first name.

 

85th Anniversary Photo Contest

ACCESS to Solar for All

Written by Brittnee McCabe, Intern

Today we speak with Nick Shoemaker as he tells us a little bit more about the ACCESS Program and its impact on Norman Public Schools. The last time Nick joined Autumn on our podcast, he discussed our partnership with Norman Public Schools and the solar farm that provides power to them. As solar energy continues to gain popularity across the nation, OEC is determined to find ways that our members can benefit.

Nick is OEC’s Manager of System Engineering. He serves as the head electrical engineer and oversees all of the grid design for OEC as well as overseeing all of the codes, both civil and electrical. 

On this episode, Nick dives in to share a little bit more about the ACCESS Program with us. 

“ACCESS stands for Achieving Cooperative Community Equitable Solar Sources. This is a project through our national organization, NRECA. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association oversees talking between all the cooperatives in us and currently, five other leader cooperatives are doing renewable energy resources projects, “Shoemaker states. “And we are collaborating with one another, with the NRECA, with a long list of technical partners, and then through a grant that we all received through the Department of Energy, doing research on how we can bring solar, solar development, and the benefits of solar too, to LMR, which is a government term that stands for low to moderate income consumers.”

Although solar can introduce a lot of risk, Nick believes that the ACCESS Program will help to find more creative ways for people to take on that risk as well as lower some of the barriers surrounding solar like cost.

“We’re trying to find innovative and cost-effective ways for people to be involved with solar and solar access. In short, you know, kind of reducing those barriers to entry. You could put solar on your house and that is definitely one way to get solar, but that’s a very large barrier to entry for most people. So, we are thinking of other ways that we can utilize solar resources and have people have different levels of access to it and receive the benefits of that without having to just upfront a bunch of money.”

Not only does this program help shed some light on the benefits of solar power, but it will provide students and community members a chance to see, hear and feel this creation of energy and is a phenomenal way to engage people, especially about STEM related topics. The ACCESS Program can show everyone that solar power is not just something in a book, but instead an amazing teaching opportunity as well as a fantastic way to provide power to the communities that surround us. 

To learn more, listen to the latest episode of The Current Buzz here: www.okcoop.org/the-current-buzz-podcast.

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