Cooperative News

June 5, 2024

MEET THE CANDIDATES 2024 - CANDIDATES FOR DIRECTOR POSITIONS

Members of Ouachita Electric Cooperative are voting by mail in their director elections this year. Director positions for election to three-year terms this year are Position No. 4, Position No. 5, and Position No. 6. The information on this sheet is provided to give you a brief biographical sketch of each of the candidates for the positions to be filled in the balloting. A ballot for your use and postage-paid, pre-addressed envelope for its return have been mailed to you with the annual report. PLEASE TAKE A FEW MOMENTS TO MARK YOUR BALLOT AND RETURN IT!

POSITION NO. 4
(Three-year term) Beau Morgan currently sits on the Ouachita Electric Cooperative Corporation Board of Directors as the District 4 Director for six years and has previously served as Secretary/Treasurer for two years. He has completed 10 NRECA director training courses and attended multiple national and regional conferences and meetings. Beau graduated from Camden Fairview High School in 1999. After high school, he attended the University of Arkansas at Monticello for two years. In 2002, he graduated from the Arkansas Fire Training Academy, where he obtained his Firefighter Certification. He then served the City of Camden as a Firefighter from 2002-2008, then from 2008-2018 Beau worked as Test Range Manager for National Technical Systems. In 2018, he began his career with the DoD, Defense Contract Management Agency as an Industrial Specialist. He has volunteered as a baseball coach for over nine years in our community. He and his wife, Jenny Lane Morgan, were married in 2004 and are the parents of two sons: Garrett Arnold (24) and Mason Morgan (18). Jenny has been a hair stylist for the last 30 years; she worked at Garden Oaks Salon for 22 years and has recently opened her own salon. She is a lifelong member of the Junior Auxiliary of Camden and served her final year as President. Beau is an active deacon at Grace Baptist Church in Camden, where he and his family have been members for 12 years. Beau also served as vice president of the Harmony Grove Athletic Booster Club.

POSITION NO. 4
(Three-year term) Beau Morgan currently sits on the Ouachita Electric Cooperative Corporation Board of Directors as the District 4 Director for six years and has previously served as Secretary/Treasurer for two years. He has completed 10 NRECA director training courses and attended multiple national and regional conferences and meetings. Beau graduated from Camden Fairview High School in 1999. After high school, he attended the University of Arkansas at Monticello for two years. In 2002, he graduated from the Arkansas Fire Training Academy, where he obtained his Firefighter Certification. He then served the City of Camden as a Firefighter from 2002-2008, then from 2008-2018 Beau worked as Test Range Manager for National Technical Systems. In 2018, he began his career with the DoD, Defense Contract Management Agency as an Industrial Specialist. He has volunteered as a baseball coach for over nine years in our community. He and his wife, Jenny Lane Morgan, were married in 2004 and are the parents of two sons: Garrett Arnold (24) and Mason Morgan (18). Jenny has been a hair stylist for the last 30 years; she worked at Garden Oaks Salon for 22 years and has recently opened her own salon. She is a lifelong member of the Junior Auxiliary of Camden and served her final year as President. Beau is an active deacon at Grace Baptist Church in Camden, where he and his family have been members for 12 years. Beau also served as vice president of the Harmony Grove Athletic Booster Club.

   

POSITION NO. 5
(Three-year term)
David McLeane was appointed as Ouachita Electric Cooperative Corporation Director for District No. 5 in 2010. He is certified as a Credentialed Cooperative Director and holds his Board Leadership Certificate (BLC) as well as the Director Gold Credential through NRECA. David has been a Camden resident for the past 36 years. He is the former vice chancellor for Student Services at Southern Arkansas University Tech. A former math instructor and coach for the Camden-Fairview School System, his hobbies include fishing and spending time with family. David received his BSA and MA from Louisiana Tech University. He attends Cullendale First Baptist Church in Camden. His wife is Teresa Craig McLeane. They have two daughters, Kasey 30, and Kirby 27.

   

POSITION NO. 6
(Three-year term)
David Kelley is a native of Camden and resident of the Frenchport Community. He graduated from Fairview High School in 1972 and attended Southern Arkansas University Tech. David worked for Elliott’s Sheet Metal for 30 years and retired from Aerojet Rocketdyne as a maintenance mechanic after 14 years. David has achieved status of Credentialed Cooperative Director and holds Board Leadership Certification through NRECA, serving 21 years on Ouachita Electric’s Board of Directors. He held previous positions of secretary and chairman. David is a retired volunteer fireman with 30 years at the Frenchport Volunteer Fire Department and is currently board president. He also served on the Frenchport Water Association 20 years as chairman. He is a member of Cullendale First Baptist, where he has served as deacon. Davis and wife, Etta of 50 years, have 2 children, Stephen and Alicia, along with seven grandchildren.

   

POSITION NO. 6
(Three-year term)
Terry Bettis is a longtime resident of Ouachita County and has been a member of Ouachita Electric for 20 years. Terry completed his high school education at Fairview High School and then went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in engineering/physics from Southern Arkansas University. He furthered his academic pursuits and obtained a master’s degree in operations management from the University of Arkansas. Currently, Terry holds the position of senior specialist engineer at Aerojet/L3 Harris, where he has been employed for 43 years. Terry also serves on the board of directors at River Valley Community Federal Credit Union. He is the secretary/treasurer of the Boiling Pot Hunting Club and attends Immanuel Baptist/Oasis Church. Terry and his wife, Carol, are proud parents of their son Landon; daughter-in-law, Kate; and three grandchildren.

   

June 5, 2024

Frankie Burchfield retires after 45 years

retired from his position as a right-of-way foreman on April 26. Throughout his tenure, Frankie was known for his friendly and bold personality, and his colleagues appreciated his authentic concern for others. He formed strong bonds with his co-workers, and they were always delighted by his unpredictable yet enjoyable conversations. Frankie was particularly passionate about mentoring summer interns and took pride in seeing new generations take an interest in the energy career field. When asked about his most cherished memories at Ouachita Electric, Frankie mentioned working in major storms and the powerful connections he formed with his colleagues during those times. As he embarks on retirement, Frankie intends to devote his time to gardening, hunting, fishing and savoring a slower pace of life. We thank you, Frankie, for the years of service and long-lasting imprint that you left on the co-op.


Frankie Burchfield (left) is recognized for 45 years of service by General Manager Shawn Dorflinger.

June 5, 2024

Orlando Coon retires after 25 years

On Nov. 15, 1999, Orlando Coon joined Ouachita Electric as a right-of-way worker/tree trimmer.

Throughout his time at the company, Orlando's quiet yet observant personality, wisdom and guidance proved invaluable to his colleagues, helping to shape them into the skilled professionals they are today. His commitment to his faith and strong work ethic made him an outstanding employee and a role model to others.

Orlando shared that what he'll miss most about his time at Ouachita Electric is working with his co-workers, who undoubtedly feel the same way about him.

As he enters retirement, Orlando plans to spend his time fishing, camping and working around his home. It's impossible to fully express the positive impact Orlando has had on Ouachita Electric during his 25-year tenure. Thank you, Orlando, for your eternal contributions to the co-op.


Orlando Coon (left) is recognized for 25 years of service by General Manager Shawn Dorflinger.

June 5, 2024

OECC Economic Impact Analysis

May 6, 2024

In Memory of Clarence Greg Goss

Ouachita Electric Cooperative Director Clarence Greg Goss passed away peacefully from this life on March 13, 2024, with his wife, Betsy, of 53 years by his side.

Well-known in our community as Mr. Goss, he retired after teaching agricultural education for 28 years. Many of these years were spent teaching at his high school alma mater, Fairview High School, where he graduated in 1969. He furthered his education by receiving a bachelor of science degree in vocational education and then a master’s degree in education, both from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

He was a dedicated member and leader in the National FFA Organization and fulfilled the creed of belief in “leadership from ourselves and respect from others.” In his retirement, he served for 20 years on the board of directors at Ouachita Electric Cooperative.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family during this time of grief.

May 6, 2024

Delegates selected for educational Youth Tour



Ouachita Electric Cooperative has selected two delegates to represent the co-op on the 2024 Youth Tour, an all-expenses-paid educational trip to Washington, D.C.

Austin Belt and Emma Tuberville will explore the nation’s capital June 15-21 with delegates from the other Arkansas electric cooperatives. The group will join approximately 1,500 students from across the United States.

During the trip, they’ll learn about electric cooperatives, tour historic sites, monuments and museums and meet members of the Arkansas congressional delegation.

For more information on Youth Tour, visit our Youth Tour Page.

May 6, 2024

Electrical safety do’s and don’ts

When it comes to electrical safety, take time to understand important do’s and don’ts! May is Electrical Safety Month, which promotes awareness of electrical safety and the importance of taking proper precautions when dealing with electricity.

Take a few moments to examine your home for any potential fire hazards with these tips:

  • Electrical outlets should never be overloaded. Be sure ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are installed in bathrooms, kitchens and other areas where a water source is present.
  • Conduct regular tests to ensure your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are working properly. Every year, more than 358,000 home fires occur in the U.S. It only takes a second and could save a life.
  • Check your electrical cords. Even the slightest bit of fraying creates a safety risk. Remember: Extension cords should only be used temporarily.
  • Avoid water around electric appliances. Keep electrical cords away from sinks, bathtubs and pools. If a device gets wet, unplug it, and let it dry completely before using it again.
  • Teach children about electrical safety by telling them not to stick objects into outlets and never to touch electronics with wet hands.

Electrical safety is crucial for every household every day to prevent accidents, fires and injuries. Find more safety tips at safeelectricity.org.

May 6, 2024

2024 Lineman Scholarship Winner - Connor Rowland

Connor Rowland from Hampton High School was the scholarship recipient for OECC's 2024 High Voltage Lineman Training program at ASU Newport, Arkansas.

May 6, 2024

Ouachita Electric Economic Impact Analysis

Download a PDF Version of the OECC Economic Impact Analysis

April 2, 2024

2024 Annual Meeting Official Notice

Notice is hereby given that the Annual Membership Meeting of Ouachita Electric

Cooperative Corporation will be held on Thursday, June 27, 2024, at the headquarters in Camden, Arkansas, beginning at 6:00 p.m., for the following purposes:

1. To pass on reports for the previous fiscal year;

2. To elect 3 directors for the cooperative (districts No. 4, 5, and 6), to serve a term of 3 years each; and,

3. To transact such other business as may properly come before the meeting.

OECC members interested in becoming candidates for the 2024 Directorial election for Districts 4, 5, and 6 may come to the Camden headquarters and pick up a petition and information packet. We ask that potential candidates pick up the packets in person so that we may verify eligibility at that time. The deadline to return petitions is Friday, April 26, 2024.

OECC Board Districts with Directorial Terms ending June 27, 2024:

District County(ies) Territory

No. 4
Beau Morgan

Calhoun & Ouachita All of the cooperative’s territory situated East of U.S. Hwy 79, East of the Ouachita River, West of Calhoun County Road #19, South of U.S. Hwy 278, West of Calhoun County Road No. 5, West of Arkansas Hwy 203 to its point of intersection with Two Bayou Creek, all the territory West of Two Bayou Creek.

No. 5
David McLeane

Ouachita

All of the cooperative’s territory South of the dividing line between T11S and T12S and all territory North of Hwy 278 and West of the Ouachita River except that which is in Nevada County.

No. 6
Greg Goss

Ouachita All of the cooperative’s territory lying West of the Ouachita River and East of Hwy 7 to its point of intersection with Arkansas State Hwy 376 and then East of Hwy 376.

 

 

March 5, 2024

Restoring power safely and efficiently

We do our best to avoid them, but there’s no way around it: power outages occasionally happen. Most of the time outages are rare and only last a few hours. But if major storms impact our area, extended outages can be unavoidable.

When the lights go out and it’s safe for our crews to begin the restoration process, they start by repairing power lines and equipment that will restore power to the greatest number of people in the shortest time possible.

The process typically begins with inspecting and repairing any damages to transmission lines or substations. Next are repairs to the larger main distribution lines that service a great number of homes and businesses. After those repairs are made, crews work on tap lines, which deliver power to transformers, either mounted on utility poles (for above-ground service) or placed on pads (for underground service). Finally, individual service lines that run between the transformer and the homes are repaired.

We can’t control the weather, but we can prepare for it. We keep a supply of equipment on hand so we can quickly get to work in the event of an outage. When widespread outages occur, multiple crews will be out in the field simultaneously working to repair damage at multiple locations. We also coordinate with nearby co-ops to bring in additional crews when necessary.

A proactive approach to maintenance helps minimize the chance of prolonged outages. This is why you see our crews and contractors periodically trimming trees and clearing vegetation near rights-of-way. We love trees too, but it only takes one overgrown limb to knock out power for an entire neighborhood. Trimming improves power reliability for our entire community. In addition to managing vegetation, we regularly inspect utility poles, power lines and other critical equipment to maintain a more reliable system.

If you experience a power outage, don’t assume a neighbor reported it. It’s best to report the outage yourself by calling (844) 326-4624. If you have a medical condition that requires electrical equipment, please let us know, and always have a backup plan in place. This plan could include a portable generator, extra medical supplies or moving to an alternate location until power is restored. If you plan to use a generator for backup power, read all safety information and instructions before use. Mother Nature can be unpredictable, but as a member of Ouachita Electric Cooperative, you can feel confident knowing we’re standing by, ready to restore power as quickly and safely as possible.

As a co-op member, you can feel confident knowing that, while we can't control the weather, we’re always standing by, ready to restore power as quickly and safely as possible.

March 5, 2024

Carl Burks retires after 31 years of service

Carl Burks, building and groundskeeper, retired from Ouachita Electric Cooperative after serving for 31 years. He was hired Sept. 28, 1992.

“I will miss most the friendships I have developed over the years with fellow employees,” Carl said. He said he is looking forward to not having his alarm clock wake him up so early.

“My retirement plans are to rest awhile and then figure it out from there,” Carl said. Ouachita Electric thanks Carl for his decades of dedicated work and wishes him the best on his retirement.

 
No more early mornings at work for Carl Burks who recently retired.   Carl Burks, building and groundskeeper, celebrates 31 years of service at Ouachita Electric.

 

 

March 5, 2024

OECC to offer High Voltage Lineman Training Scholarship

OECC is offering a scholarship to cover books and tuition for the candidate chosen to attend the High Voltage Lineman Technology program at ASU-Newport this fall.

Applicants must be current members (or the child of a current member) of Ouachita Electric Cooperative Corporation in order to be eligible. Those interested in applying for the scholarship should pick up an application at OECC’s Camden or Hampton offices download the application online. Return the completed form in person or by email to Angie McLendon before the April 12 deadline.

This is a 36-semester credit hour program consisting of 12 hours of general education courses that include technical math, technical writing, psychology and technical computer applications. The remaining 24 hours will involve coursework and hands-on training in the following areas: safety, electrical systems, high-voltage distribution systems, climbing and heavy equipment operation. In the final semester, students will complete an internship at their local electric cooperative as their capstone course.

Learn more

March 5, 2024

Four factors that may impact your electric bill

Bill higher than usual? Here are four possible causes:

  1. Consumption. The primary factor that impacts your monthly bill is the amount of energy used. The more energy your home uses, the higher your electric bill will be. Heating and cooling systems typically account for more than 50% of your home’s energy usage.

  2. Weather. Changes in outdoor temperatures impact your bill. Sometimes we can forget about a short, cold snap that happened earlier in the previous month. As temperatures drop, your home’s energy usage increases. The greater the difference between the outdoor temperature and your desired indoor temperature means your heating system is using more energy.

  3. Energy Costs. Because energy costs can change regularly, you may see a credit or charge each month depending on current energy prices and the amount of energy used. Energy cost adjustments are implemented to recover the varying cost of fuel used to generate electricity that is not recovered in the utility’s base electric rates. The energy cost adjustment only recovers the actual cost of fuel and purchased energy. The cooperative makes no margins (profits) on the adjustment.

  4. Billing Cycles. Billing cycles can vary depending on the dates billed. More days in a billing cycle may make your bill seem higher than normal.We’re here to help! Reach out to Ouachita Electric Cooperative at (877) 252- 4538. We can review your electric bill and your usage. We can also discuss energy audits, recommend energy-savings tips and suggest billing or payment methods that may help.

February 6, 2024

David O’Hara retires after 36 years with OECC

Operations Manager David O’Hara retired after 36 years of service working for Ouachita Electric Cooperative (OECC).

David began working at OECC on Oct. 1, 1987. His fondest memory of working at the co-op was the ice storm of 2000. “There was a month of ice, and every time we restored power in one area, another area would go out,” David says. Helping members and seeing their looks of appreciation when power was restored is something David enjoyed. “I appreciate the hardworking group of Ouachita Electric employees,” David says, “As well as contractor crews who worked with us to make our lives easier.”

David always tried to instill a good work ethic in his employees, saying, “You do everything you can to keep the lights on. When they go out, you do everything you can to get them back on as fast as you can.”

Upon retirement, David plans to be a full-time cattle farmer and spend time with his wife and family.

David O’Hara retires after 36 years with Ouachita Electric. David O’Hara (right) with former co-worker Geralene at the co-op’s 75th anniversary celebration.

February 6, 2024

APPLY FOR A TRIP OF A LIFETIME

WHAT IS YOUTH TOUR?

• An all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., paid for by Ouachita Electric.
• A week of visiting historic monuments, touring world class museums and meeting elected officials.
• Developing lifelong friendships with delegates from across the country!

HOW TO APPLY

• Applicants must be high school juniors during the 2023-2024 school year and must be members of Ouachita Electric Cooperative.
• Interviews will be scheduled with each applicant.
• For an application, contact Angie McLendon at amclendon@oecc.com
• Deadline to apply is March 1.


LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUTH TOUR

February 6, 2024

Prioritizing home energy savings By Mitch Ross

As you might imagine, my profession in the energy-efficiency field gives me extra authority as I strive to do what any good stereotypical dad does — go around the house telling my family to “Turn off lights!” and “Leave the thermostat alone!” and “Shut the doors!” I use these dad-like refrains more often than I’d like to admit. Many of us grew up hearing these catchphrases and continue the tradition faithfully.

To waste less of my own hot air (see what I did there), I’ve learned to pick and choose my energyefficiency battles at home. To me, the best way to choose worthy battles is to pick what things are going to have the largest overall impact on my home energy bill.

For the typical home, the largest expense by far is related to heating and cooling. As this is the largest expense, it makes sense to dwell on this, and find ways to reduce the energy used by your HVAC system. This could mean setting the thermostat higher in the summer and lower in the winter to reduce runtime, keeping doors and windows shut tightly and latched, reducing air leaks, increasing insulation and choosing and maintaining efficient HVAC equipment.

The second largest energy expense for most homes is hot water. There are a lot of good and easy ways to reduce this portion of your energy expenses.

Take shorter showers instead of baths. Install efficient shower heads (1 to 1.5 Gallons Per Minute or GPM) and faucet aerators (.5 to 1 GPM). Wash clothes with cold water, as most detergents don’t require hot water to clean well. Insulate hot water pipes with pipe wrap. Consider deactivating your circulation pump if you have one or, at the very least, put it on a timer to run just a few hours a day. Another easy fix is to turn the temperature on the water heater down to about 120 degrees. If you need to replace a water heater, consider the most energyefficient option — a heat pump water heater.

According to the Department of Energy, heating/ cooling units and hot water heaters constitute 72% of energy used by the average U.S. home, so these have become my focus on reducing my own energy consumption, as well as my main points to cover with homeowners. The other 28% of your energy bill comes from a lot of categories with low overall impact, such as lighting, refrigeration, cooking and other plug loads.

While I still try my best to keep these impacts low, I now save my breath on these categories with my family, choosing instead to recruit them to help tackle the big energy spenders. It’s still an ongoing struggle, but we’ve been able to keep our energy expenses below average by focusing on reducing HVAC and hot water usage, as I believe your household will as well.

For more information, visit energy.gov/energysaver/why-energy-efficiency-upgrades.

Mitch Ross is the energy efficiency manager for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas.

According to the Department of Energy, heating/cooling units and hot water heaters constitute 72% of energy used by the average U.S. home.

January 4, 2024

Understanding power curtailments

Winter Storm Uri was an unprecedented weather event in February 2021 that left a lasting impact on all electric utilities. The historic storm caused significant disruptions to the regional power grid and highlighted the need for improved resilience in the face of extreme weather events.

The bitter cold led to an extraordinary surge in demand for electricity as more power was needed for heating and other essential needs.

Part of our preparation is to educate our members about the importance of having a diverse energy mix through an educational campaign called the Balance of Power. Please read the first in a very important series of articles on page 20.

Another key component is for members to better understand and prepare for potential curtailments. When electric demand is extremely high, and there is not enough available generation, curtailments are mandated by our wholesale power generation organization to protect the electric grid from collapsing and to keep power flowing.

A curtailment is a CONTROLLED reduction of power. It has a LIMITED duration.

Curtailments are a last-resort measure to safeguard the electric grid.

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas have adopted a statewide curtailment communications plan to keep you informed of potential service interruptions. As the National Weather Service keeps Arkansans informed during potential bad weather, this communications plan serves a similar purpose. When directed by our wholesale power generation organization, we will begin the following curtailment alerts based on level of concern and action needed:

LEVEL 1 – Watch in place. Members are asked to conserve energy.
LEVEL 2 – Warning in place. Members are asked to prepare for the strong possibility of curtailments.
LEVEL 3 – Curtailments have started. Members are informed of the area impacted.

Complex graphic that shows Watch, Warning and Curtailment warnings

Ouachita Electric will make every effort to alert you about potential curtailments as quickly as possible through numerous means of communication. Unfortunately, there are times that the electric demand spikes so rapidly that there is little to no time to give warning and notify members prior to curtailments occurring. We encourage our members to keep your contact information up-to-date, especially cellphone numbers for text alerts. Also, we will utilize social media as a means of communication with members. Follow our Facebook page at facebook.com/OuachitaElectricCooperative.

Ouachita Electric works to provide our members with Affordable, Reliable and Responsible energy. Winter storms like Uri and Elliott in December 2022 were reminders of the challenges that extreme weather and the resulting high power demand place on the electric grid. The storms’ impact highlighted the need for continued investments in infrastructure, diversification of energy sources, improved communication and emergency preparedness strategies.

Learn more about the Balance of Power at aecc.com/balance-of-power/.

January 4, 2024

Estimate your home’s energy efficiency

While a professional energy audit from your local cooperative is the best way to determine whether your home is energy-efficient, you can estimate your home’s energy efficiency by taking your average electric bill and dividing it by the square footage of your home.

For example, a 1,800 square-foot home with a $260* average electric bill would cost 14 cents per square foot. Homes that cost 9 cents or higher per square foot would benefit from energy-efficiency improvements.

Adjusting your thermostat, air sealing your home, replacing bulbs with LEDs and regularly maintaining your heating and cooling unit can help to improve your home’s energy efficiency. For more low-cost and no-cost energy-savings tips, visit energy.gov/save.

*Amount may not include energy cost adjustment.

Graphic of a house values inside of it

January 4, 2024

Celebrating Christmas and the holiday season at Ouachita Electric

Last month, employees of Ouachita Electric celebrated Christmas in a number of festive ways. Employees participated in the Camden Christmas Parade with our Grinch-themed float and displayed lots of holiday cheer around our offices. Since Concern for Community is one of Ouachita Electric’s seven Cooperative Principles, employees generously donated their time and money to a couple of worthwhile causes in December.

Two children were adopted through the Angel Tree program, in which gifts were purchased to make their holidays special. Employees decorated the hallway of a local nursing home so that residents could feel the Christmas spirit. Ouachita Electric is proud to serve our members and community in the New Year and every year.

An assortmant of holiday photos of employess and the cooperative building

December 7, 2023

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Outage - By Rob Rodel and Sandy Trantham

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the state;

Not a creature was stirring, there was nothing to debate. The rights-of-way had been cleared by the men with care; Just in case a big ice storm like 2000 should appear. The cooperative members were nestled in their beds; While visions of the cooperative principles danced in their heads.

Voluntary and Open Members, a crucial decree; Democratic Member Control, meaning the cooperative belongs to you and me. Members’ Economic Participation results in equal contribution; Autonomy and Independence lets members control their institution. Education, Training and Information ensures that people are in the know; Cooperation among Cooperatives allows everyone to assist in the event of snow; and Concern for the Community is perhaps the most vital, as we all know.

When out of the sky there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. The moon of the breast of the new fallen snow, Gave the luster of midday to objects below. I reached for the light switch and gave it a turn; The power was out, I quickly did learn. When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a digger-derrick truck with eight strapping men and their gear.

With a little, old supervisor, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Willie Nick. More rapid than eagles his linemen they came, And he whistled and shouted and called them by name: “Now John! Now Doug! Now Peter and Vance! Now Bobby, Now Jimmy, Now Don, Bert and Lance!” To the top of the pole, to the break in the line, Now climb away, splice away, fix it in time! As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, they raise up to the sky. So up to the pole-top, the linemen they flew, With the truck full of wire, and St. Willie Nick, too. And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the lines, The banging and work and the trimming of pines.

As I drew in my head and was turning around, Up the pole St. Willie Nick went with a bound. He was dressed in protective gear, from his head to his toes, And his hard work was evident by the dirt on his clothes. A bundle of equipment was hooked to his belt, And the ice on the power lines just started to melt. His eyes – how they twinkled – his dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His mouth was a thin line, drawn with determination, He was certain that he would fix the situation. A line splice and fuse link he held tight in his hands, Knowing he would again light up the land. He had a bright smile and a great attitude, The members would soon be filled with gratitude. With good training and preparation, he was confident and strong,

The power to homes would be restored before long.

With a wink of his eye and a twist of his head, He soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread. He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, Fixed the situation, then turned with a jerk. Then laying a finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, his work came to a close. He brought down the bucket, to his crew gave a shout, And away they all drove to the next open cut-out. But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all … you now have light!”

September 6, 2023

Birds on a wire: Don’t shoot power lines

For many hunters, September is an exciting month, as it means the start of their season with the opening of dove hunting. It’s also a good time to urge hunters to take precautions and be aware of potential electrical hazards while hunting.

Doves often perch on power lines, making enticing targets for hunters. The risks of damaging electric and fiber-optic equipment, as well as causing potential personal harm, far outweigh the rewards of hunting.

Never shoot near power lines, fiber-optic cable, insulators or other electrical equipment. A single shot can cause vast damage to the electrical system. Damage to electrical equipment can result in power interruptions and physical threats to those nearby. In order to avoid this, note the location of power lines and other electrical equipment before you begin a hunt. Be especiallycareful and observant in wooded areas where power lines are easy to overlook.

Never set decoys on electrical equipment or utility poles. Any nonelectrical equipment attached to a pole can be an obstruction and serious hazard to lineworkers.

In preparing for the upcoming deer hunting season, obey all signs or postings that advise electrical safety, especially when selecting the location for a tree stand. Tree stands are the leading cause for hunting injuries. Although they are important for hunters to have a better perspective for game, without precautions, tree stands can be extremely dangerous. Never use utility poles to support a tree stand. When setting up and taking down the stand, make sure you do not make contact with any overhead electrical equipment. Energized lines and equipment can conduct electricity to anyone who comes in contact with them, causing shock or electrocution.

Before leaving for a hunting trip, make sure that you have safety items to signal for help in case of an emergency. Always carry emergency supplies in the event of an accident, such as a cellphone, whistle and flashlight.

Good luck this hunting season. Stay safe while enjoying the great outdoors. For more information on electrical safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.

[Image: Doves perched on power lines can be enticing targets, but shooting lines can cause power outages.]

September 6, 2023

The Power in Preparation

September is National Preparedness Month

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), National Preparedness Month is a yearly observance “to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time.” During a prolonged power outage or other emergency, this means having enough food, water and supplies to last at least a few days. While you don’t have to achieve a “doomsday prepper” level of readiness, there are several practical steps you can take to keep you and your family safe.

Here are general guidelines recommended by FEMA:

  • Assemble a grab-and-go disaster kit. Include items like nonperishable food, water (1 gallon per person, per day), diapers, batteries, flashlights, prescription medications, a first-aid kit, a battery-powered radio and phone chargers. Add supplies for your pets, too.
  • Develop a plan for communicating with family and friends (i.e., via text, social media, third party, etc.).
  • Have some extra cash available; during a power outage, electronic card readers and cash machines may not work.
  • Store important documents (birth certificates, property deed, etc.) in safe place away from home (for example, a bank safe deposit box).
  • Fill your car with gas.
  • Bring pets indoors at the first sign of a storm or other emergency. Pets can become disoriented and frightened during severe weather and may wander off during an emergency.
  • Microchip your pet, and ensure the contact information is up to date.
  • Organize your supplies so they are together in an easily accessible location that family members know about.

Visit ready.gov for more information on National Preparedness Month.

August 7, 2023

Factors that impact electricity prices

Inflation has impacted the price of everything including gasoline, eggs, and the costs for fuels required to produce electricity. There are a few key factors that impact electricity prices and energy bills.
The three primary components of your monthly electric bill include: an energy consumption charge, a service availability fee and a cost of energy adjustment charge. To understand your total energy costs and what impacts your bill, let's examine each area.

The first component of your monthly bill is the energy consumption charge, which covers how much energy you consume. You've likely noticed the amount of energy you use can vary from month to month and is typically impacted by extreme temperatures. When temperatures soar or dip, your cooling and heating equipment operate more, which increases your home energy use. Energy consumption is an area that you have some control over, and you can lower your monthly bill by actively reducing energy use.

The next component is a fixed monthly service availability fee, which covers the costs associated with providing electricity to your home. This includes equipment, materials, labor and operating costs necessary to serve each meter in our service territory, regardless of the amount of energy used. In order to ensure the reliable service you expect and deserve, we must maintain the local power delivery system, including power lines, substations and other necessary equipment. Like many other businesses, we've experienced supply chain issues and steep cost increases for some basic equipment.

Because energy costs change regularly, the cost of energy adjustment may be a credit or charge on your bill each month, depending on current energy prices and the amount of energy used. It covers wholesale fuel cost fluctuations without having to continually restructure electricity rates. It's a direct pass through, with no markup.

While we can't control the weather or the rising costs of fuels, please know Ouachita Electric Cooperative is doing everything possible to provide you with the most Affordable, Reliable and Responsible power possible.

We take our mission to provide our members with Affordable, Reliable and Responsible energy seriously.

August 7, 2023

The Energy Pyramid - By Mitch Ross

When I was in school, we were taught the food pyramid as a way to conceptualize portions and the variety of foods needed for a healthy diet. While the food pyramid has been replaced with the MyPlate concept, the simple efficacy of using a pyramid to relay priorities has stuck with me. I still remember that having a foundation of healthy grains, fruits and vegetables was considered important, while sweets were to be consumed sparingly.

As an energy auditor, I also use the pyramid concept to teach the proper sequence of priorities for those wishing to lower their energy usage and save on their electric bills. Much like those of us who wish the food pyramid foundation were sweets, I find many homeowners think the initial solution to high energy costs is adding solar. Like sweets, solar should be used sparingly and only after everything else that can be done is completed.

The Energy Pyramid has a foundation of Energy Conservation, a middle section of Energy Efficiency and a peak of Intermittent Energy.

Energy Conservation is the foundation of a strategy to lower energy costs. It is the prevention of wasteful energy use. Setting the thermostat to reduce HVAC runtime, turning off lights and fans in unoccupied rooms, sealing leaky ducts and turning off computers and gaming systems when not in use are all great examples. Focusing on Energy Conservation can have a significant impact on energy usage!

Energy Efficiency is using less energy to perform the same tasks or produce the same results. Examples include replacing old HVAC systems with efficient heat pump systems, swapping incandescent bulbs with LEDs or changing out traditional electric water heaters with efficient heat pump water heaters. Many home efficiency measures can be implemented and will pay for themselves within just a few years, making them a worthwhile investment.

Lastly, Intermittent Energy, such as solar, is energy that is not continuously available due to uncontrollable external factors. While residential solar may seem like a good solution, it is among the least cost-effective measures. It has a poor payback when compared with most energy conservation and efficiency measures. I have been to homes with solar, and the homeowners are still unhappy with their energy costs, because now they are paying an electric bill on top of their solar financing bill. I have also been in homes with solar that have ductwork in terrible condition, older inefficient HVAC systems, water heater leaks and other big issues that would have been much more cost-effective to resolve.

When addressing energy costs, it's my hope that you will conserve first and see what efficiency can do for your home - before trying to make a meal of the sweets.

Visit energy.gov for more information on energy savings, or contact Ouachita Electric Cooperative at 877-252-4538 to schedule an energy audit.

Mitch Ross is the energy efficiency manager for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas.

May 31, 2023

No-sweat guide to choosing a room air conditioner - By Mitch Ross

On one of the many scorching 100+ degree days we had last summer, I had the idea to order an above-ground pool for our family to get relief from the heat and enjoy together. Long story short … due to my lack of foresight (once it’s 100+ degrees — it’s preferable for the pool to be up and running, not just ordered), we received the pool and got it set up at the very end of summer. This means it didn’t provide any relief during the hottest part of the year, and we barely got to enjoy it at all. This year I am determined to be prepared before the hot weather comes, and I would recommend everyone do the same!

While a pool is fine and dandy, the real relief from the heat comes from our lovely, air- conditioned spaces. Arkansans owe Willis Carrier, inventor of the air conditioner (AC), a great deal of thanks. While we can all appreciate cooling off under the breeze of an AC system, I’ve seen a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation about these wonderful devices while doing energy-efficiency education. We want to make sure you enjoy the benefits of AC in the most cost-effective way possible. Here, we’ll discuss an oft used, but not often highlighted form of AC room air conditioners.

Room ACs, unlike their whole-home counterparts, central ACs, are designed to cool just one part of the home. Here are three main styles of room ACs and their pros and cons:

Grapic breaking down the pros and cons of air conditiones

Mitch Ross is the energy efficiency manager for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas.

March 1, 2023

From the Managers Desk: You are a member, not a customer

That’s the co-op difference!

Many businesses use the word “member” to describe their customers. At Ouachita Electric Cooperative, membership really does mean something more than just the right to buy electricity. We are founded on seven cooperative principles that give us guidance and strategic direction.

As a co-op member, you’re not just another customer. You are an owner, which gives you many benefits, including:

VOLUNTARY AND OPEN MEMBERSHIP

Membership is open to everyone in our service territory, regardless of race, religion, age, disability, gender identity, language, political perspective or socioeconomic status.

DEMOCRATIC MEMBER CONTROL

We follow democratic processes and allow members to vote in board elections and share their ideas or concerns. Since board members are from your community, this provides local control because they listen and respond to you.

MEMBER ECONOMIC PARTICIPATION

Members contribute equally to — and democratically control — the cooperative’s capital. As a not-for-profit coop, no profit is collected. We return revenues or margins to our members in the form of capital credits.

CONCERN FOR COMMUNITY

While focusing on member needs, we work for the sustainable development of our communities. Cooperatives are community-focused and work to improve the areas we serve. Since co-ops are owned by those we serve in our community, we have a mutual interest to ensure that both the co-op and the members do well and prosper. Working together helps to keep power affordable and ensures we can provide it in a reliable and responsible manner.

Ouachita Electric is a member-owned cooperative that strives to give you the best value of any utility. To us, you are not just a customer. You are a member, and without you, we would not exist.

March 1, 2023

WE WEATHER THE STORMS TOGETHER!

Ouachita Electric experienced widespread system outages on Feb. 1. Crews from Ozarks Electric, Arkansas Electric Cooperative, Inc., Barnett Rightof- Way Services and Platinum Power, Inc. assisted us with power restoration efforts. We had a total of 74 lineworkers working in our communities helping to restore the power as quickly as possible. Many thanks to MSTN Transformers, Woods Place, Americas Best Value Inn, Sleep Inn/Main Stay, Holiday Inn, Flaming Pig BBQ, Catherine’s, White House Café, D&J’s Country Cooking, Sweety’s Donuts, Cardinal Café, Granny’s Grill, Bulldog Drive-In, La Carreta Restaurant, B-N-G’s, Tin Top Dinner, Rusty & Carol’s Sportsman Center, Ouachita County Judge Robert McAdoo, Calhoun County Judge Floyd Nutt, Samco Stay, Scott and Cindy James, Larry Sindle, Jeremy Givens, Gerald Nutt and Dixie Dorflinger. One of the greatest values of being a cooperative is helping others in time of need. We are Arkansas strong and cannot thank you enough! We also want to say a special thank you to our members for their patience and understanding while power was being restored.

March 1, 2023

PLAY IT SAFE: Do’s and don’ts when using portable generators

Storm season is upon us, which means greater potential for power outages. If you’re planning to use a portable generator in the event of an outage, play it safe with these tips.

DO: Install backup carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. In a 2022 report, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated 85 U.S. consumers die every year from CO poisoning caused by gasoline-powered portable generators.

DO: Keep children and pets away from portable generators at all times. DO: Position generators at least 25 feet outside the home, away from doors, windows and vents that can allow CO to enter the home.

DO: Ensure your generator is properly grounded. Use a portable ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to prevent electric shock injuries.

DO: Use three-pronged extension cords that are rated to handle the load of the generator. Inspect extension cords for cuts, frays or other damage before use.

DON’T: Operate a generator inside your home or a fully or partially enclosed space. Generators produce high levels of CO, which can be deadly.

DON’T: Rely on generators as a full-time source of power. They should only be used temporarily or in emergency situations to power essential equipment or appliances.

DON’T: Overload generators. Make sure your generator can handle the load of the items you plan to power.

DON’T: Connect generators directly into household wiring unless you have an appropriate transfer switch installed. If a generator is connected to a home’s wiring without a transfer switch, power can backfeed along power lines and electrocute lineworkers making repairs.

While generators provide convenience during power outages, they
can quickly become hazardous — even deadly — if improperly operated. Before operating a portable generator, thoroughly read the owner’s manual for important safety information and tips.

Article contributed by Abby Berry with National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

December 27, 2022

Shawn Dorflinger named Manager of Ouachita Electric

The Board of Directors of Ouachita Electric Cooperative (OECC) is pleased to announce Shawn Dorflinger as the new General Manager. Dorflinger was appointed Interim Manager in February 2022.

Dorflinger is a life-long resident of Ouachita County and has been employed by the cooperative since November 1994. He is a journeyman lineman and a certified line design and staking engineer. He is also a graduate of National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s (NRECA) Management Internship Program and Supervisory Training Program.

Dorflinger has volunteered his skills and experience in several mission trips to villages in Guatemala. He traveled with several Arkansas lineman with the Operation Razorback mission program.

“Shawn is aware of what the members and the cooperative model needs to be able to move forward. He has established a great partnership with other managers statewide and continues to stay informed of current issues,” Board President Jim Garner said.

Reflecting on the death of former General Manager Robby Stinnett, Dorflinger said, “After the loss of a good friend and co-worker of 28 years, I was asked to step in and follow in the footsteps of the previous leaders. I’m honored to be among those that came before me. I look forward to serving the membership of Ouachita Electric.”

As we look to the future of Ouachita Electric, we are no longer just an electric cooperative. We have morphed into a service cooperative. With technology changing constantly, we now can provide more services to our membership. We can make life better in rural south Arkansas by providing solar, fiber internet and energy-efficiency programs.

As always, our number one goal is to keep the power on, and employees of Ouachita Electric will be here to serve our membership.

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