[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Wondering if an electric vehicle (EV) is right for you? Look no further than this week’s #EVMoments with Sara Thomas and Autumn McMahon.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlJAOAfjv2g”][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Author: OEC Member Relations
Electricity of the 21st Century: High-Speed Fiber Internet
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]You can’t tell the OEC Fiber story without telling the OEC story.
In 1936 we built Oklahoma Electric Cooperative in “the middle of nowhere.” We brought power to rural areas when other utilities thought it was “too expensive”. Eighty-three years later, we have become part of the 3rd largest city in the state of Oklahoma.
During the past 8 decades, Norman and OEC have grown exponentially. Bringing power to rural areas 83 years ago was, as some would say, impossible. Our mission has remained steady: to improve our members quality of life by providing safe, secure, and reasonably priced electricity.At our core, that’s who we are. We went where no one else would; adapting our technology through creativity and innovation after listening to our members.
Technology has been rapidly growing for several decades. Fifteen years ago, most people did not have a personal computer in their home, much less on their cell phone! In 2019, we are faced with technology continuing to expand in ways we never thought possible. With this expansion, we have heard our members cry for quality high-speed internet providers. Slow internet does more than just delay someone’s day. A slow internet connection prevents your child from doing a research project. Slow internet keeps businesses from meeting the demand of orders and correspondence. Slow internet can be the difference between success and failure. At OEC, we hear you, and because of your requests to have secure and affordable high-speed internet, OEC is bringing the world of fiber to you!
High speed internet is essential in today’s world. Internet is essential in almost every aspect of your life. Whether you use the internet at school, work, or at home, OEC Fiber is committed to providing the fastest and most secure internet to its members.
OEC Fiber did not happen overnight. We have been tirelessly enhancing the concept of fiber and working on the infrastructure since 2017. Much like OEC, OEC Fiber started with a blank sheet of paper rooted in our deep commitment to enhancing our member’s everyday lives. In May 2017, during the OEC board retreat, we began to study the massive Fiber project, which is equal to building 5,000 miles of lines and infrastructure. Being able to build an entire network in a 5-7-year period is an unbelievable task. However, we knew we were up to the challenge. The OEC Board of Trustees has worked tirelessly to move the project forward to improve our members’ quality of life.
We built OEC Fiber from the ground up with a deep focus on service. We started by highlighting our service areas that were lacking access to high-speed internet. From there, we have hired the best staff and contractors who boast not only leading expertise, but a commitment to member service.
In light of this, we are quickly gaining a reputation around the country for being the best.
Naturally, we expect our members to have questions about OEC Fiber, below are some commonly asked questions we have from our current members.
We thank you for choosing OEC and hope you are just as excited about OEC Fiber as we are!
I already have high-speed internet, what does OEC Fiber have to offer me?
- Our fiber strands are designed to communicate with our infrastructure, so everyone benefits even if they never have OEC Fiber. We can have better, faster, and more secure infrastructure. We have two fiber strands to each substation, so we do not have to connect to the internet. This technology allows us to have self-healing grids while increasing our overall operational efficiency.
- OEC Fiber does not want to just stop at internet services. We are currently looking at opportunities to eventually release cable and phone services as well.
Will OEC Fiber impact my electricity rates?
- It does not impact electric rates until the OEC Fiber makes enough money to flow back into the whole cooperative. We make a small margin on the project currently.
What are the rates for OEC Fiber’s high-speed internet services?
- We are offering numerous plans and rates that are solely dependent on our member’s needs. Click here to see our current rates!
I am interested in switching my service provider to OEC Fiber, where do I start?
- Choosing OEC Fiber is a great choice! Whether you are an existing member or looking to become one, you can find out all of the information for are looking for here!
Top 5 Reasons Cooperatives Are Cool
There are many benefits to becoming a member of a cooperative. Norman, Oklahoma is the heart of Oklahoma Electric Cooperative (OEC). Not only does OEC have reliable and secure electricity, we also provide exceptional member service. Whether it is an ice storm outage or simple everyday issue, we are committed to providing the best service to our members. OEC has been in action for over 80 years, we know electricity and how to satisfy our members. Are you still not sold on the concept of OEC? Below are five reasons that make OEC and all cooperatives awesome!
1. Member Owned and Not-for-Profit
Cooperatives are member owned and do not focus on gaining profits for their services. Contrary to a for-profit business, cooperatives give their surplus funds back to their members. This is called capital credit. At OEC, capital credits are returned to members on an approximately 11-year rotating basis. For instance, if a person began their membership in 2009, he could expect his capital credit to be returned to him in 2020 via check.
Not only do members get a capital credit back, they also help set and continue to regulate policies. This is done because cooperatives operate within a paradigm of democracy. Members who have been elected to serve on the Board of Trustees are typically the individuals that have the most jurisdiction over the regulations and policies.
2. Promotes Autonomy and Democracy
Cooperatives work together through local, regional, national, and international structures in order to better understand the needs of their communities, improve services for their members, and even bolster the community’s economic dependence. In short, this means that everyone is eligible to be a member of a cooperative. It also means that our members control the direction and investments of the overall entity through our member-elected Board of Trustees.
3. Emphasizes Non-discriminatory Values
Memberships are open to all people who can use the services and are willing to take on all the responsibilities of the membership. It is against the seven core cooperative principles to discriminate against a person who is seeking membership based on race, religion, gender, political, or economic circumstances. Every cooperative must uphold the cooperative principles.
4. Focused on Education and Learning
Cooperatives care about our youth. There are many programs for kids of all ages that are educational, innovative, and fun! Some examples of youth programs OEC has to offer are Youth Tour and Energy Camp. High school juniors can write an essay and be granted a scholarship for an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C. Energy camp is for eighth graders. The eighth graders must apply, and if chosen, get to go on a short four-day getaway in the Ouachita Mountains. During the four days, the kids will learn what a cooperative is and how to run one. They are also able to work hands-on with real electric equipment and climb a utility pole!
5. Dedicated to Community Involvement
Many cooperatives have nonprofit organizations that aim to help organizations and communities within the cooperative’s service territory. Operation Round-Up (ORU) is a nonprofit that many cooperatives participate in. ORU provides grants to individuals and organizations in order to help the community financially. OEC is involved with ORU and has helped many school districts and organizations like Transition House and United Way. The grants can range from medical and dental assistance to providing funds for common household essentials. Nonprofits do an astronomical amount of work for communities in order to assist organizations and individuals with necessities.
The dawn of OEC Fiber
Some of you may recall the day your home or farm received electricity for the very first time. Others no doubt have heard stories about how work was done before the lights came on. How life-changing that moment must have been: to finally experience a world previously accessible only to “city folk.” Only accessible to those who could bring profits to investor-owned utilities. Entire rural communities were forgotten and overlooked until a handful of farmers in 1937 said otherwise.
Would you believe it if I told you this exact scenario exists today? Here, in 2018, thousands of rural residents don’t have access to internet service in OEC’s service area. President Obama dubbed broadband “the electricity of the 21st century,” and we believe it is time everyone has reliable access to it.
REPEATING HISTORY WITH A TWIST
“I can’t fathom what it was like living before electricity,” said CEO Patrick Grace. “The reality is our members are living without reliable internet service. We can’t expect to do business, teach our kids or lead communities in today’s world without access to internet.”
Rural internet customers are currently expected to pay exorbitant fees for subpar service. They deal with data caps, unreliable service and speeds too low for something as simple as loading an image, much less streaming video. Some don’t have internet access at all.
Eerily similar to those 1937 farmers being ignored by investor-owned utilities, today’s rural residents are being overlooked by investor-owned telecommunications companies, despite the fact that federal grants are offered to meet the needs of those rural communities. This reason alone explains OEC’s endeavor to ensure all members have access to reliable, affordable internet service.
“Offering this service is a natural extension of our mission to improve our members’ quality of life,” said Grace.
BROADBAND & CO-OPS: A GROWING TREND
Electric co-ops across the nation have begun rising to the challenge of connecting their typically rural memberships. Here in Oklahoma, three other co-ops have broadband subsidiaries up and running. We thought our membership — more urban than typical co-ops — wasn’t experiencing such issues, until an early 2017 survey showed otherwise.
“The board and I were very surprised to see the lack of internet service being offered to our members who choose to live in rural areas,” said Grace. “We proceeded to consult with experts in the broadband field and conducted feasibility studies to determine if it would be something worth pursuing.”
Fast forward to April 2018, and crews are attaching fiber wire to our existing infrastructure with the goal of connecting all of our substations. This communication means increased reliability for current and future OEC members and the possibility of providing a service to those who never thought they would see it.
“Members can expect to have the same, high quality experience with their fiber service as they do their electric service,” said Grace. “Our standards are high across the board and we will serve our members to the best of our abilities in every way we can.”
Stay up-to-date by visiting www.OECFiber.com(link is external).
Solar Garden Surpasses Expectations
Did you know as an OEC member, you have been capitalizing on the benefits of solar power for the past year without the drawbacks of actual solar panels on your home and without a subscription fee? You might be surprised to learn that data collected from the first year of operation for the OEC Solar Garden shows it powered more homes than expected at a lower-than-anticipated cost.
This innovative approach to large-scale solar power has proven to be a win-win for OEC and its members.
“A year ago, the Solar Garden in Norman and Solar Farm, a 40-acre facility near Tuttle, were coming online, and we weren’t exactly sure what would happen to the price of the solar power being generated,” said CEO Patrick Grace. “The operation of the Solar Garden and the price of its power has exceeded our expectations.”
The Solar Garden, located at Interstate 35 and Highway 77 in Norman, generated enough electricity in July 2017 to power 31 homes for the entire month. OEC engineers originally thought it would power about 20 homes at its peak.
“Not only is the Solar Garden outperforming what was initially planned, it’s producing the most electricity when members need it the most — those scorching summer afternoons,” said Grace. “That timing coincides perfectly with WFEC’s (Western Farmers Electric Cooperative, OEC’s wholesale power supplier) peak-producing time, which ultimately determines our demand and could influence our rates in the future.”
In addition, the cost of solar power has drastically decreased in the past year. In August 2017, solar power cost 4.182¢ per kilowatt hour (kWh). Today, its cost is considerably less, mostly due to its peak operation time being the same time as our peak energy demand.
“What’s most unique about each of our solar facilities is they allow us to provide renewable energy to members so the consumers themselves are not burdened with significant capital investments and the upkeep required to maintain solar panels on their individual properties,” said Grace. “We’re also offering this clean energy to all members without requiring them to pay a hefty, per panel subscription fee, which seems to be a trend in the industry.”
Members may view real-time generation output and environmental benefits of OEC’s Solar Garden by visiting
Lives on the line
Every year, we take the time to thank our extraordinary lineworkers who dedicate their lives to keeping the lights on in our local communities. Forty lineworkers maintain over 5,500 miles of line in OEC’s service territory, and without them, our world would be dark.
We depend on our entire staff to keep OEC running smoothly, but on April 9, we honor all lineworkers who often find themselves in dangerous and challenging situations, so our lives may be a little bit brighter and safer every day. These brave men repair damaged lines and maintain critical infrastructure for our communities. Without their hard work and commitment to the job, our co-op would not thrive. No matter the time — day or night, weekday or weekend — if the lights go out, so do they.
Perhaps you have seen them raising their bucket trucks in howling winds and torrential rains, or in freezing, icy conditions. They work around the clock near high-voltage power lines until electricity is restored to every member in our co-op community.
In addition to aiding members in our local service territory, lineworkers are always willing and eager to volunteer when a neighboring community, county or state is in need after a major outage occurs. Our linemen can also be seen conducting safety programs at local schools and participating in educational opportunities in communities across our service area.
We hope you will join us in thanking the many lineworkers — both locally and around the world — that light our lives. Remember, your power works because they do! Use #ThankALineman on social media to show your support.
Change Your Bulbs to Change Your Bills
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Ever wondered why we recommend updating your light bulbs at home? Wonder no more! This week’s #wattsupwednesday illustrates how LED bulbs use fewer kilowatts and save you money. We also discussed efficient shower heads. See all the tips here:[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=”https://www.facebook.com/OklaElec/videos/2225825477434556/”][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Filter Savings Filter Savings
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]We are committed to finding ways to save you money and energy. Learn how to leverage your filters and vents to keep your home cool AND efficient. #wattsupwednesday
Full steam ahead for OEC Fiber
All summer, OEC Fiber networking and construction crews have been building a broadband network to bring you high-speed internet. You may have seen some crews working near your home or office making the magic happen. While there’s still a way to go, we’re getting closer every day.
We hope you were able to attend OEC’s 81st Annual Meeting Aug. 10. We were absolutely thrilled to see how many of you are interested in OEC Fiber and bringing our services to your communities.
When we say we’re taking high-speed internet where no one else will, we really mean it.
“With fiber connections all the way into the home or business, we are not slowing the connection down with copper wire or connections outside of the building. You will receive true fiber speeds,” said David Goodspeed, OEC Fiber president. “In addition, we will never slow you down by throttling your speeds. What you pay for is what you get.”
Fiber internet is capable of bringing you the fastest internet on the market today. We will offer affordable high-speed fiber solutions for homes and businesses of all sizes. With the excitement around OEC Fiber building, we know many of you are wondering how much our packages will cost. We are still working on finalizing several internal processes before we can officially announce pricing. If you haven’t done so already, we encourage you to sign up for updates at www.oecfiber.com(link is external) to be sure you’re the first to know when we announce our pricing.
“Because we are able to use OEC’s existing electrical infrastructure to build out our network, we are able to bring you quality, high-speed fiber services at some of the lowest rates in the business,” said Goodspeed.
Fiber Ring Map
Has our ring map left you with questions about our accessibility and timeline? We have some answers to common questions below to help explain the map further.
What if I’m not inside a ring?
These rings simply represent our basic infrastructure. Just because you’re outside of a ring doesn’t mean we won’t be coming your way. We will build from and into these rings. Make sure you’re signed up for updates at www.oecfiber.com(link is external) so we can gauge your interest.
How quickly can you get TO MY home or business?
How quickly we make it to your home or business depends on where you are located on the map and in relation to the rings. Once our fiber optic network rings are constructed, we will be able to begin hooking up homes and businesses that lie within a certain radius of the ring lines. And don’t worry if you aren’t in that approximate 500-foot radius — it doesn’t mean we won’t be hooking you up! It just means you may need to be a bit more patient as we continue to our construction process.
As we continue hitting milestones on our end, we will continue to update you with more information. Visit www.oecfiber.com(link is external) for more information and to make sure you’re hearing the news first.
OEC helps fight hunger, feed hope
Fourteen OEC employees on Aug. 22 spent the afternoon volunteering at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma’s Moore Food and Resource Center as part of OEC Empowers, an internal initiative encouraging employees to give back to the communities we serve.
“The Moore Food and Resource Center is a vital part of the community of Moore that helps feed thousands of families each month,” said Brianna Wall, editorial and events coordinator. “Many of the employees who volunteered — including myself — live in Moore and are proud to give back to a community that gives us so much.”
Volunteers sorted produce, stocked the freezer and refrigerators, organized the warehouse, helped clients shop for groceries and offered smiling faces to all who came through the center that day.
“We could not have helped feed over 110 families if it weren’t for the efforts of OEC’s employees,” said Moore Food and Resource Center Director Skyler Parker. “We are grateful for their hearts to volunteer and for the leadership at OEC to allow them the opportunity.”
The Moore Food and Resource Center, located at 2635 North Shields in Moore, serves clients in Moore and south Oklahoma City. For more information and to learn how you can volunteer, visit