The ORU Report: Mar. 24 | OEC News

Learn about the organizations making a difference with OEC Foundation’s support.

At the February meeting, the OEC Foundation, Inc. board approved nearly $40,000 for organizations and individuals.

Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma received $10,000 for microwave-based cooking classes for teens and adults with Down syndrome. The classes are meant to teach and encourage independent living skills while having fun and making friends.

“The kitchen is not just about cooking,” said OEC Foundation Director Lisa Todd. “The attendees learn to be self-sufficient when making meals at home, follow directions, do math while measuring ingredients and so much more.”

Little Axe American Legion Post 274 received $5,000 for a new electrical panel and building maintenance upgrades. Follow their Facebook page for announcements on their monthly fish fry, bingo games, flea market Trade Days and other events benefiting the community.

The Noble Police Department requested support for their canine officer program and received $4,000. NPD’s former canine officer retired in 2022 due to old age. Their new canine will be trained in narcotic detection, patrol work, and human tracking of missing children, older adults and fugitives.

Rose Rock Habitat for Humanity, previously known as the Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity, received $10,000 for their homeownership program. Funds will be used for land acquisition and development, construction materials, labor and infrastructure.

“We are truly honored to be considered for this grant and sincerely appreciate OEC Foundation’s role in supporting our shared vision for vibrant, thriving communities,” said Elle Shroyer, VP of Donor and Community Engagement.

Cut It Forward received $5,000 for Curl Shop, a new initiative to bridge the gap in accessing culturally specific hair and skincare resources for foster and adopted children of color and their caregivers.

“Curl Shop empowers families to nurture their unique cultural identities while enhancing well-being and self-confidence,” explained Executive Director Angela Hein.

Individual applications included five medical requests for vision and dental care totaling $2,169, two apartment setups for clients leaving assisted living totaling $1,000, $250 for clothing needs and $2,000 for a family recovering from an apartment fire.

For those seeking assistance or wishing to apply for ORU grants, the applications are readily available at okcoop.org/oru. Individuals can contact Tory Tedder- Loffland at ORU@okcoop.org or (405) 217-6726 for further inquiries.

Applications received by March 18 will be reviewed at the April 4 meeting.

*CORRECTION: We incorrectly attributed a quote about South Central CASA of Oklahoma last month. While the quote is correct, it should be attributed to Sherri Marsico, who has served as executive director for two years. We apologize for the error.

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The Good Kind of Audit | OEC News

Learn how to make your home an energy efficiency ace

Colder weather typically results in higher energy bills, and with winter still in swing, we’d like to remind you about a free co-op service that can help you boost efficiency and save money.

As your trusted energy partner, we believe savings and efficiency are within reach for everyone, and we want to help you get there. That’s why OEC offers free home energy audits.

An energy audit provides a holistic view of your home’s efficiency. Understanding how your home uses energy can help determine the best ways to adjust energy consumption, improve problem areas and ultimately keep more money in your wallet. An energy audit can also identify potential safety issues surrounding electrical wiring and HVAC systems, making your home safer. You could say this is a good kind of audit.

So how does it work? First, request the energy audit by completing the form on our website at okcoop.org/hecp/. The audit is conducted at your home by one of our trained and certified energy advisors.

WHAT TO EXPECT DURING THE AUDIT

The audit comprises three parts: evaluation, energy testing and recommendations.

First, our energy advisor conducts a walk-through of your home, examining energy use and identifying problem areas. The advisor will look at specific elements of your home impacting energy use, such as doors, windows, and insulation levels. The advisor will also examine major appliances, including your heating and cooling system and conduct a room-by-room assessment. During the assessment, the advisor will ask questions about your energy use habits and review past energy bills

In the testing phase, the advisor will evaluate the seal of your home by conducting a blower door test to identify the source of any air leaks or drafts. 

THE POWER TO SAVE IS IN YOUR HANDS

Finally, the advisor will provide you with a detailed evaluation. This is a written report with a description of your home, an analysis of your energy use, recommendations regarding energy consumption and steps you can take to improve efficiency and save money.

One of the greatest values of an energy audit is helping you understand how you use electricity and, more importantly, identifying ways to use it more efficiently.

Additionally, making improvements and upgrades based on the evaluation can increase your property value––all the more reason to schedule an audit for your home

Free energy audits are just one of the many perks of your co-op membership, so we hope you’ll take advantage of this valuable service. If you’re looking for more ways to save, check out our additional efficiency offerings, such as energy efficiency rebates, time-of-use rate, energy savings guide and more. These programs and services are designed with OEC members in mind, putting the power to save in your hands.

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Right Tree, Right Place | OEC News

Discover the importance of proper tree planting for safety and energy savings

Planting the right tree in the right place can significantly impact homeowners’ energy savings. Studies have shown that a single tree, when planted in the proper location, can save up to 20% on energy costs. This means that not only do trees provide aesthetic benefits to our communities, but they also have a tangible impact on our wallets and the environment.

However, planting is easier said than done. Considering factors such as proximity to power lines or the potential for root damage to nearby structures is critical to your trees’ health and safety. For tips on planting your trees in the right place, go to link.okcoop.org/treeplantingguide

As a cooperative committed to providing safe and reliable energy to our members, OEC recognizes the importance of proper vegetation management practices. We have two arborists on staff to assess the health and safety of trees near power lines, and we use herbicides to control the growth of trees and other vegetation that could interfere with power lines. This not only helps to prevent power outages and ensure public safety, but it also helps to promote the growth of healthy, energy-saving trees in the right places.

By working to maintain a clear right-of-way for power lines, we are also promoting the planting of new trees in in appropriate locations through our annual Energy-Saving Trees giveaway. This not only helps to prevent the need for costly and potentially dangerous pruning or removal of trees in the future, but it also maximizes the energy-saving benefits of trees for homeowners. Look for more information about the Energy-Saving Trees giveway in next month’s issue.

Planting the right tree in the right place is essential for maximizing trees’ energy-saving benefits. We play a vital role in promoting proper vegetation management practices to ensure trees are planted and maintained in appropriate locations. By working together to promote healthy trees and a healthy environment, we can all benefit from the many benefits trees provide. Happy planting!

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From the Top — March 2024 | OEC News

Franchise agreements: What it means for OEC and Norman residents

Members in Norman may have recently seen a lot of information about Oklahoma Gas and Electric’s (OG&E) upcoming franchise agreement election on March 5. Because both OEC and OG&E provide electric service in Norman, you may wonder how this will impact OEC. Hopefully, I can shed a little light on the matter.

If you’re wondering what exactly a franchise agreement is, you’re not alone. A simplified definition is that a franchise is an agreement between a city (through a vote of the people) and a utility. The agreement gives a utility the right to use the city’s public rights-of-way to provide electric service in exchange for a franchise fee collected by the utility and paid to the city. In OG&E’s case, the vote is to extend the existing decades-long franchise agreement for another 25 years — the maximum allowed by the Oklahoma Constitution.

How does this affect OEC? Neither OEC as a cooperative nor our members are directly involved or meaningfully impacted by the outcome of the vote. It will not change where OEC provides service within the city of Norman today or in the future. It will not change anyone’s electric provider— those receiving electricity from OEC today will remain OEC members, and the same for OG&E. We do, however, have an interest in the outcome through OEC’s ability to coordinate and work beside OG&E throughout the city of Norman.

As interested observers, OEC’s official stance is neutral, however, if I personally had a vote (in full disclosure, I do not), I would vote “yes” and I hope it passes.

Two of the seven cooperative principles are Cooperation Among Cooperatives and Concern for Community. While OG&E is not a cooperative, we must coordinate with them and other providers across our service area in line maintenance and outage restoration efforts, ensuring we operate safely and efficiently within the cities we serve. I believe communities are strongest when all parties work together to provide all the essential services everyone needs to thrive.

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Reliability: The Impacts of Extreme Winter Weather | OEC News

Tracing the journey of electricity from generation to your home through the electric grid

When outdoor temperatures drop, our electricity use increases. That’s because we’re doing more activities inside, and our heating systems are running longer and more often to counteract colder outdoor temperatures. Factor in that we all tend to use electricity at the same times—in the morning and early evenings—and that equals a lot of strain on our electric grid.

At OEC, we work closely with our local generation and transmission (G&T) cooperative, Western Farmers Electric Cooperative, in resource and infrastructure planning to ensure you have the power you need whenever you flip a switch, but the electric grid is much larger than your local co-op and G&T.

In winter months, when even more electricity is being used simultaneously across the country, it is possible for electricity demand to exceed supply, especially if an unexpected event like a sudden snow or ice storm or equipment malfunction occurs. If this happens, which is rare, the grid operator for our region of the country, the Southwest Power Pool, may call for rolling power outages to relieve pressure on the grid, and OEC will inform you about the situation.

OEC and our G&T take proactive steps to create a resilient portion of the grid and ensure electric reliability in extreme weather, including regular system maintenance, grid modernization efforts, and disaster response planning, but it takes everyone to keep the grid reliable.

To help keep the heat on for you, your family and neighbors, here are a few things you can do to relieve pressure on the grid (and save a little money along the way):

SELECT THE LOWEST COMFORTABLE THERMOSTAT SETTING AND TURN IT DOWN SEVERAL DEGREES WHENEVER POSSIBLE.

Pro tip: Your heating system run longer to make up the difference between the thermostat temp and the outdoor temp. Seal air leaks around windows and exterior doors with caulk and weatherstripping. Air leaks and drafts force your heating system to work harder than necessary.

STAGGER YOUR USE OF MAJOR APPLIANCES SUCH AS DISHWASHERS, OVENS AND DRYERS.

Pro tip: Start the dishwasher before you go to bed and use smaller countertop appliances like slow cookers and air fryers to save energy.

ENSURE THAT YOUR HEATING SYSTEM IS OPTIMIZED FOR EFFICIENCY WITH REGULAR MAINTENANCE AND PROPER INSULATION.

Pro tip: Make sure your furnace filter isn’t clogged and dirty. Replace it as needed.

WHEN POSSIBLE, USE COLD WATER TO REDUCE WATER HEATING COSTS.

Pro tip: Setting your water heater thermostat to 120 degrees can help you save energy and reduce mineral buildup and corrosion in your water heater and pipes.

UNPLUG DEVICES WHEN NOT IN USE TO ELIMINATE UNNECESSARY ENERGY USE. EVEN WHEN TURNED OFF, ELECTRONICS IN STANDBY MODE CONSUME ENERGY.

Pro tip: Plug devices into a power strip so you can turn them all off at once with the push of a button. For a set-it-and-forget-it option, buy a smart plug to schedule usage times and turn all devices off with the press of a button.

As we face the challenges posed by winter weather, understanding its impact on energy demand is crucial for maintaining a reliable power supply. By adopting energy conservation practices during periods of extreme cold, not only can you save money on your electric bills, but you can also contribute to the resilience of the power grid, keeping our local community warm and connected. 

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Special Olympics: Winter Games | OEC News

OEC team lends support at Special Olympics of Oklahoma’s Winter Games 

NORMAN, OK — Oklahoma Electric Cooperative (OEC) employees showcased their community spirit by volunteering at the Special Olympics Oklahoma Winter Games’ volleyball events on Friday, January 12. The team’s participation highlighted OEC’s ongoing commitment to local community service and engagement.

Led by Tory Tedder-Loffland, OEC’s Education & Outreach Programs Director, the OEC volunteer team included Daniel Lofland, Energy Efficiency Solutions Specialist; Shane Dominey, Service Technician; Lindy Wine and Julie Le, Member Service Associates; Amanda Hardy, Executive Services Manager; and Danny Watters, Trustee. This diverse group from OEC dedicated their day to ensuring the smooth operation of the volleyball games held at Sarkeys Fitness Center at the University of Oklahoma.

Their roles ranged from line judging to scorekeeping, contributing to the event’s success, which saw athletes compete enthusiastically in various volleyball matches. Their presence and efforts provided logistical and moral support to the athletes, embodying the spirit of community and inclusion that the Special Olympics represent.

The Special Olympics Oklahoma Winter Games, a multi-sport event celebrating the abilities and achievements of athletes with intellectual disabilities, is a cornerstone event in the state. OEC’s involvement in such a significant community event underscores its commitment to providing essential services and being an active and caring member of the community it serves.

The day was filled with heartwarming moments and fierce competition as athletes from across the state gathered to showcase their skills and passion for the sport. The OEC team’s involvement was not only about the tasks at hand but also about cheering on the athletes and celebrating each point scored, reflecting the true spirit of the Special Olympics.

OEC’s involvement in the Special Olympics is part of a broader effort by the cooperative to engage with and give back to the community. It’s a testament to their belief in the power of sports to unite people and their commitment to making a positive impact in the lives of others.

As the day concluded, the OEC volunteers left with a sense of pride and accomplishment, having contributed to an event that champions the abilities and spirit of athletes with intellectual disabilities. Their participation is a shining example of how local businesses and their employees can significantly impact their communities.

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a group of volunteers working together at a table

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Revolutionizing the Road | OEC News

Navigating the new era of software-defined vehicles

The rapidly evolving world of electric vehicles (EVs), the technology behind them continues to evolve at a rapid pace. One of the most significant advancements in this field is Over- The-Air (OTA) updates. Understanding their impact on your EV experience and how OEC Fiber can play a pivotal role in enhancing these updates is crucial.

THE ESSENCE OF OTA UPDATES

OTA updates are digital downloads automatically installing new software into your EV, often while you’re asleep. These updates cover everything from turn signal timing to autonomous driving capabilities and are crucial for improving vehicle performance and safety features. These updates become even more significant as the automotive industry shifts towards software-defined vehicles.

While OTA updates offer convenience, they also pose cybersecurity risks. Ensuring that these updates come from a trusted source is paramount. Companies like BlackBerry and Cisco are leading the way in securing OTA updates, using digital signatures to authenticate the source and segmenting systems within the vehicle to prevent unauthorized access.

ADVANTAGES OF OTA UPDATES

OTA updates bring immense benefits, enhancing core driving functions and infotainment systems. They allow continuous improvement based on real-world data, offering updates in everything from EV battery management to advanced safety features. This ongoing service model transforms the relationship between automakers and vehicle owners, ensuring your car improves over time.

DRAWBACKS AND CHALLENGES

However, there are challenges. The risk of dependency on constant updates, software incompatibility with older models, and the potential for incomplete or malfunctioning updates are real concerns. Nevertheless, industry experts are optimistic about overcoming these hurdles, focusing on delivering a continuously evolving and improving vehicle experience.

OEC FIBER’S ROLE IN ENHANCING OTA UPDATES

Reliable internet connectivity has become crucial for modern vehicles due to the increasing importance of OTA updates. OEC Fiber’s high-speed internet is a game-changer in this regard. With fast and dependable internet, your electric vehicle can receive these updates promptly and securely, enhancing your vehicle’s functionality and security.

It’s not just about fast internet; it’s about transforming your EV experience. OEC Fiber offers Home 100 and Home Gig, which provide 100 or 1,000 Mbps upload and download speeds, respectively. With these plans, you can be sure that the latest software updates are downloaded and installed seamlessly, providing reliable OTA updates for your electric vehicle.

CHARGING EFFICIENCY AND COST SAVINGS WITH OEC FIBER

Charging your EV at home, especially overnight, can lead to significant cost savings. OEC’s EV rate offers lower charges for nighttime electricity use, making it more economical than public charging stations. Learn more about OEC’s EV rate at okcoop. org/ev-rate. Moreover, the convenience of home charging and the lack of tailpipe emissions add to the benefits of using OEC Fiber’s services.

As OTA updates become more frequent and integral to the EV experience, the role of efficient internet connectivity, like that provided by OEC Fiber, becomes increasingly significant. These updates ensure that your vehicle stays up to date with the latest technology and contribute to a more sustainable and efficient driving experience.

OTA updates are reshaping the future of electric vehicles, making them more adaptable, secure, and efficient. With OEC Fiber’s high-speed internet service, receiving these updates becomes seamless, ensuring that your EV retains at the forefront of automotive innovation.

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The ORU Report: Feb. 24 | OEC News

Learn about the organizations making a difference with OEC Foundation’s support.

In a significant gesture of community support, the OEC Foundation has awarded more than $41,562.21 in grants to local organizations and families. This funding will bolster a range of initiatives, from enhancing fire department capabilities in Slaughterville and Newcastle to supporting the vital work of South Central CASA in aiding foster children within the legal system.

$25,000 was awarded to organizations hoping to bring holiday cheer and love to at-risk families and children. Organizations like Bridge Creek Community, Grady County Child Welfare Advisory Board, Fostering Futures, Mission Norman’s The Christmas Store, and Paula M. & Bob D. Magarian Norman Christmas Day Community Dinner Foundation.

The fire departments of Slaughterville and Newcastle received grants of nearly $8,000 for portable foam systems and gas monitoring devices.

South Central CASA (court-appointed special advocates) of Oklahoma received $10,000 to continue their essential mission of supporting children in foster care within the legal system. South Central CASA represents over 300 children annually in Cleveland and McClain counties, but at the time of this application, over 786 children were in the Cleveland County Foster Care system alone.

“This grant will help South Central CASA reach more children,” said Donna Stamper, executive director of South Central CASA.

Cavett Kids Foundation received $7,850 to help with transportation to their annual summer camp. Camp Cavett is free of charge to children and teens diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness. The goal is to create a summer camp experience “where illness does not define the child.” Kids with life-threatening illnesses can participate in traditional summer camp activities while under the care of a highly qualified volunteer medical team. 

Expected outcomes include increased independence, confidence, and motivation.

Neighborhood Services Organization received $10,000 for their oral health outreach program.

“Oklahoma’s dental care rankings are disastrous,” said Stacy Ninness, president and CEO of NSO. “More than 50% of Oklahomans don’t have dental insurance; tens of thousands more are underinsured. NSO’s Low-Cost Dental Clinic is the only one of its kind in the state and makes sure everyone, regardless of race, age, or income, can access high-quality, affordable care in a state-of-the-art clinic. 31,774 children, adults, and seniors were treated last year.”

Community After School Program (CASP) and Little Read Wagon received $2,000 each for literacy programs. CASP provides free literacy tutoring to elementary students reading below grade level and whose families have limited financial resources. Little Read Wagon is dedicated to increasing book access to underserved and marginalized populations. This grant will allow Little Read Wagon to place approximately 400 books at five Head Start book cart locations in Norman, Moore and Noble.

“Allowing each child to self-select one book each week to add to their at-home library promotes continued emphasis on the importance of early literacy,” said Rose Marie Sondergeld, board member of Little Read Wagon.

Individual grants of $16,562.21 include aid for vision care, HVAC system repair, roof repair, and a new mattress for a fire victim.

For those seeking assistance or wishing to apply for ORU grants, the applications are readily available at okcoop.org/oru. Individuals can contact Tory Tedder-Loffland at ORU@okcoop.org or (405) 217- 6726 for further inquiries. Applications received by March 18 will be reviewed at the April 4 meeting.

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a group of volunteers working together at a table

The ORU Report: Apr. 24 | OEC News

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End of an Era | OEC News

Join us in celebrating Frank’s 26 years at OEC

Amid the hustle of daily operations at Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, a well-worn desk sits empty, empty, its usual occupant now exchanging blueprints for fishing rods.

After 26 years of dedicated service, a journey that has seen the transformation of both landscapes and lives, Frank Shepherd stepped into a well-deserved retirement in January, leaving behind a legacy as enduring as the power lines he helped design.

Frank began working at OEC in 1997 as an operations laborer in Right-Of-Way. In 1998, he shifted to the shop and subsequently became an apprentice in Field Design in 1999. Several years and a couple of position changes later, he was promoted to Lead Field Design in February 2011, which he held for 13 years with distinction.

In his day-to-day role, Frank excelled as an oil and gas specialist, showcasing his expertise in Field Design, but his real passion for all things fishing was well known.

“Frank’s passion for fishing was legendary,” said Thad Peterson, OEC’s vice president of engineering. “He supplied homemade jigs and spinner baits to half the co-op! His signature bass drawings in our REA Hall-of-Fame sheets will be missed. He brought the same precision to his work as he did to his fishing.”

Frank’s dependable and detail-oriented work style left behind a legacy of commitment and excellence. His colleagues will remember him for his professional achievements and personal hobbies.

“Frank has been an embodiment of diligence and excellence,” said Patrick Grace, OEC CEO. “His dependability and attention to detail have been invaluable to OEC.”

Frank Shepherd’s retirement marks the end of an era for Oklahoma Electric, but his impact will resonate for years to come.

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From the Top — February 2024 | OEC News

Serving where others won't: The OEC story of community and innovation preventing winter power outages

Looking through our historical records recently, I was reminded that our cooperative, established in the 1930s, was founded on serving communities where others wouldn’t. This ethos, deeply ingrained in our DNA, continues to guide us as we evolve to meet your changing needs.

From our humble beginnings as an electric service provider, we have expanded our services to include broadband through OEC Fiber. This progression is not just about business growth; it’s about adapting to serve you better in a rapidly changing digital world.

At OEC, we believe our strength lies in our team. It’s not just about hiring great individuals; it’s about creating an environment where they can make a real difference. This is particularly evident during challenging times. Be it a power outage or a technical issue, our employees are at their best, swiftly restoring services and ensuring your needs are met with utmost priority.

Our commitment to you goes beyond day-to-day operations. As Oklahomans, we are all too familiar with our state’s unpredictable weather. Rest assured, we are constantly preparing for any scenario – whether it’s an ice storm, tornado season, or the summer heat. We aim to ensure you can go about your daily life uninterrupted, confident that a dedicated team is working behind the scenes to keep the lights on and your internet running.

We are committed to maintaining and enhancing the quality of service you have come to expect from us. Our focus is not just on being a service provider but a community partner you can rely on. This means staying ahead of the curve in technology, being proactive in our preparations for any eventuality, and, most importantly, listening to you, our members.

Your support and trust in OEC drive us to do better every day. As we continue this journey together, I assure you that our cooperative spirit and dedication to serving our community will always be at the forefront of everything we do.

Thank you for being a part of the OEC family. Here’s to a future where we continue to grow and serve together.

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