News

PSC Reminds Kentuckians to Call 811 Before You Dig

New law takes effect in July; PSC will begin imposing penalties when natural gas pipelines are damaged by excavators who did not call to have lines marked

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Apr. 19, 2018) – With the arrival of warmer weather, homeowners, contractors and others are getting outside to work on projects that have been on hold through the winter. This increase in excavation activity is usually accompanied by an increase in the number of incidents of damage to underground utility facilities.

That is why April is national Safe Digging Month. The Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) is joining with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and utility regulators across the country to remind anyone planning a project involving excavation to call 811 before beginning work.

“Striking a utility line while digging not only causes damage and disrupts service, but it also can pose a danger of severe injury or even death,” PSC Chairman Michael Schmitt said. “Hitting a natural gas line can cause a fire or an explosion, while digging into a power cable can lead to electrocution.”

Like every other state, Kentucky has a statewide 811 service that, by law, should be called at least two days prior to beginning excavation. That will allow ample time for utility lines to be located and marked so that excavation can proceed safely.

Natural gas providers are required to provide the location of their lines to the 811 center. Most electric utilities, larger water providers and telecommunication companies also provide location data to 811, but, in some cases, it also may be necessary to contact a local utility service provider directly.

Beginning in mid-July, failing to call 811 in Kentucky may have consequences beyond the risks that go with striking an underground utility line.

A new law (Senate Bill 104), enacted by the Kentucky General Assembly and signed by Governor Matt Bevin, gives the PSC the authority to enforce existing provisions in Kentucky statutes that are intended to protect natural gas and hazardous liquids pipelines. The PSC will investigate incidents of damage to pipelines to determine whether a location request to 811 was made in a timely manner, whether the pipeline was located accurately and properly, and whether the excavation was conducted safely.

Excavators, including homeowners, could be penalized for not calling 811 or for ignoring location markers. Utilities could be penalized for not responding to requests to locate lines or for improperly or inaccurately locating or marking underground facilities.

Penalties are up to $1,250 for a first violation, $3,000 for a second violation, and $5,000 for subsequent violations

“Not every incident in which a gas line is hit will result in a violation being issued and a penalty assessed, especially if 811 has been called,” said John Lyons, director of the PSC division of Inspections, which will investigate incidents. “However, a failure to call 811 is much more likely to trigger an enforcement action.”

About 75 entities provide natural gas service in Kentucky. They include local gas distribution companies fully regulated by the PSC and municipal natural gas providers that are regulated by the PSC for safety only.

In 2017, there were more than 1,200 incidents in Kentucky in which a gas line was damaged during an excavation. A PSC review of a sampling of the damage reports indicates that:

• Contractors and other professional excavators were responsible for 85 percent of the incidents, with water and sewer line repairs, building construction, swimming pool installation, and irrigation system installation among the most common causes.

• About 60 percent of the excavators who hit natural gas lines called 811 before digging.

• Homeowners accounted for the remaining 15 percent of incidents. The most common causes were installation of mailboxes or fencing, landscaping work, and water or sewer line repairs.

• Only about 27 percent of those landowners called 811 before beginning work.

PSC Chairman Schmitt said that the stepped-up enforcement of the call-before-you-dig statutes and regulations reflects a greater emphasis nationally and at the state level on pipeline safety.

“This new law brings Kentucky into line with tougher federal standards, which the PSC enforces under an agreement with the US Department of Transportation,” he said. “More importantly, it is an effort to significantly improve public safety by reducing the unacceptably high number of dangerous dig-in incidents involving natural gas pipelines.”

Schmitt said the PSC will be providing more information on the new enforcement efforts as the effective date of the law approaches.

The PSC is an independent agency attached for administrative purposes to the Energy and Environment Cabinet. It regulates more than 1,500 gas, water, sewer, electric and telecommunication utilities operating in Kentucky.

Kentucky HB 227 Coops Vote

When the Kentucky House of Representatives voted on solar reform legislation in March, 2018, the trust between lawmakers and Kentucky’s electric cooperatives was a compelling and decisive factor in a close vote.

 

 

It’s Time to Upgrade to the Latest Version of your Web Browser

As cyber threats can happen anytime, we want to ensure our online payment option, My Account, is as secure as possible for our members. To do that, our payment service provider, NISC Solutions has increased their encryption security for both the web and mobile versions of My Account.

What does this mean for you? Both the web and mobile My Account formats now require the latest version of your preferred web browser, such as Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox or Apple’s Safari. Without an updated browser, you’ll no longer be able to access My Account due to outdated security measures.

Upgrading to the latest version of your web browser is a fast, easy and free process. Visit one of the links below or navigate to the website of your preferred web browser, for the latest updated version.

 

Winter weather means more energy consumption

Because weather has the single largest impact on energy bills, electric bills for December and January can be expected to jump this year. We hope this helps answer some questions you may have regarding your electric bill.

Why is my bill so high?

High bills are the direct result of high usage. Kenergy Member Service Reps are always happy to assist you with your billing questions, but you may consider gathering the following information prior to calling. It may answer your questions or provide valuable information when you call.

Accurate history

Review how much power you’ve used for the last 12 months. We call this the kilowatt hour (kWh) history. This history is provided for you on every bill.

Weather fluctuations may be a factor in any major differences, but this is a good place to start your search.

The kilowatt hours you use are the main driver of costs on your electric bill.

True electric bill

Check to be sure this is a true high electric bill. Are there other charges beyond electric service? Any additional service fees?

Have any past-due amounts from a previous bill been added to the total?

Were there additional charges added to the bill such as security lights or a deposit?

Days of use

Kenergy has 12 billing cycles. Your particular billing cycle is noted on your bill.

Check the number of days that are billed for your electric use. A billing cycle may be a bit shorter or a bit longer due to the number of days in the month.

Is the number of days greater than other months in question? Is the daily average of kWh consumption significantly different from other months in question?

Seasons

The additional heating or cooling load will cause an increase in electric use. According to the Department of Energy, heating and cooling your home accounts for about 56 percent of total energy use in a home. Using space heaters, fireplaces, and livestock heaters in the winter can dramatically increase your energy consumption. Aside from air conditioning, running things such as a dehumidifier in the summer months will increase your energy use.

Compare winter to summer

Check the kilowatt hour total by month. Are the winter months higher? If so, your source for heating is most likely an electric furnace, or you may have an air source heat pump that uses emergency strip heating when the outdoor temperature falls below a certain degree. Is your water heater electric? Do you use space heaters in the home? They can cost you an additional $100 or more a month.

Do the summer months most likely indicate your air conditioner was running? Were temperatures higher or lower than normal during that period?

Kenergy offers a budget billing program to help Members with seasonal fluctuations, where monthly payments are the same amount each month, with an annual true-up in September.

Leaving your home for vacation

If leaving your home for an extended period of time for business or vacation, any appliance you leave plugged in or connected will continue to use electricity even while you are gone, especially your water heater, freezer, refrigerator, heating and cooling system, etc.

Most of us note that the television and lights were not on, but we forget about these other items.

For your heating and cooling unit, consider purchasing a programmable thermostat so you can control your usage even when you are away. Consider keeping your water heater at 120 degrees.

Lifestyle

No two households use energy the same way, so comparing your energy bill to your neighbor’s is like comparing apples to oranges. It is best to compare your current usage to your past usage.

Determine if the size of your household has increased, or did someone stay at home more?

Have you added anything new to your house that may use more electricity?

Have you had guests stay for an extended period?

Do you have hobbies that include the use of electric power tools, ovens and other appliances?

Lighting, refrigeration, cooking and appliances

Never place a refrigerator or freezer in direct sunlight or in spaces such as a breezeway or garage. The refrigerator or freezer will have to work harder to overcome excessive heat during warmer months.

Make sure that your refrigerators and freezers have adequate ventilation.

Go to https://energy.gov/energysaver/estimating-appliance-and-home-electronic-energy-use to easily calculate what each appliance is costing you each month.

Equipment maintenance

If an appliance is more than 15 years old, the efficiency of that appliance is most likely decreasing significantly and requiring more energy to do its job.

It is important to clean or replace the condenser, coils or filters on some appliances regularly.

You may need to replace the appliance itself. Many times, old electrical wiring will have loose connections resulting in increased electrical use and could create potential safety hazards.

Consider taking advantage of the Kenergy rebate program and replace your old appliances. For more information go to https://www.kenergycorp.com/incentives-rebates/.

 

Please review these recommendations to find the cause for higher energy consumption. If you still need clarification, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our Member Service Reps at 1.800.844.4832.

Three Directors to be elected in 2018

Prior to Kenergy’s Annual Membership meeting to be held on June 12, 2018, individuals will be elected to represent Districts 2, 7 and 10.

A ballot listing the qualified candidates in a contested district election will be mailed in May to each Kenergy member residing within the district. Members will also have the option to vote online.

District 2, which currently is represented by Bob White, includes Union County and a portion of Crittenden County north of Highway 70.

District 7, which currently is represented by John Warren, includes that area of Daviess County bounded on the west by U.S. 431, on the north and east by Kentucky 54 and on the south by the Daviess County line.

District 10, which currently is represented by Jonathan Ayer, includes McLean and Ohio counties.

Any 15 or more members may make nominations of eligible persons for district director. Such nominations shall be by signed written petition and shall be submitted to the Corporation not less than 110 days prior to the annual meeting. Only members eligible to vote in a district are authorized to sign a petition nominating a member from that district. Directors shall be elected only from nominations by petition.

It is not a requirement to use a petition form prepared by Kenergy, however, anyone wishing to do so may request one by contacting Debbie Hayden at 270.689.6101 or email at dhayden@kenergycorp.com.

The petition must be submitted to the cooperative by 4:00 p.m., February 22, 2018. Thereafter, if the petition is valid, the name of the nominee will be posted at each corporate office.

A Kenergy “Socktober” – socks for kids and families

Kenergy is asking its members and employees to bring in new pairs of socks for the needy. We anticipate a great demand for children size socks to fit infants through high school-aged children. Warm socks are appreciated as many children walk to school each day or wait in the cold for school buses. Socks for men would be great too as many work outdoors. Not only will new socks make a disadvantaged child/adult feel comfy and warm in the cold, but will give dignity and respect that will warm them all over.

Rummaging through a drawer full of socks is something we take for granted, but some don’t have that luxury. Something as simple as a new pair of socks will bring smiles to those that have none.

Why socks? Socks are the most needed but least donated article of clothing.

Collection Dates –October 1 through October 31
Members and employees can bring donation(s) to any Kenergy office during these dates. However, the main day – of concentrated effort to collect socks – will be at our Member Appreciation Day, Thursday, October 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at all Kenergy office locations – Henderson, Owensboro, Marion, Hanson, Hartford and Hawesville. Donations of new socks are appreciated every day; but on this day, we have over a thousand members coming by our offices. It is our hope that – on this day especially – members and employees will bring new socks to share the warmth for the upcoming winter season.

Distribution – Working mainly through county central school offices in Henderson, Daviess, Hopkins, Hancock, Ohio and Crittenden counties, socks will be distributed to Family Resource Centers at schools throughout those counties. Whichever Kenergy office you donate your socks in is the county that will receive your donation.

Collection Locations — New socks – size infant through adult – may be donated at any Kenergy office.

 

Online and phone payments are currently down

Our billing software provider, National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC), is currently experiencing a large power outage. As a result, Kenergy members are not able to make payments online through My Account or by phone. We apologize for the inconvenience, and we currently do not have an estimated restoration time. Thank you for your patience as all parties work to quickly resolve the issue.

Kenergy announces Craig Roberts will serve District 1

 

Craig Roberts of Princeton has been selected to fill the Kenergy board seat left vacant by the death of long-time Director Glenn Cox.

Cox served District 1 in Caldwell, Lyon and portions of Crittenden and Hopkins counties for 22 years before his passing on April 7, 2017.

Roberts will take his seat on the board at the September 12 board meeting.

Roberts is a native of Caldwell County. He is the owner/operator of Roberts Farms in northern Caldwell County and an owner/operator of P&R Logging & Roberts Logging. He is a member of the Kentucky Soybean Board, Kentucky Farm Bureau Board, serves on the Caldwell County 4-H Council, Trade Water River Board, and Caldwell County Young Farmers.

He is a member of Chapel Hill Baptist Church where he is a deacon, Sunday school director and member of the building committee. He and his wife Karen, who is a speech language pathologist for Hopkins County Schools, have two grown children and three grandchildren.

In accordance with Kenergy’s policy, the board chairman appointed a search committee to recommend a new director after Cox’s death. The committee included three directors and three member-owners from District 1.

Four candidates were interviewed by Kenergy’s board of directors before a decision was made.

Roberts’ term will expire in 2019.