Jeff McCallister

Huber family with their Tesla model Y

It's electric!

Joey and Kristin Huber have been considering — consciously and subconsciously — the benefits of electricity for some time.

The Hubers are part of a growing number of people taking advantage of the benefits of using more electricity as part of a strategic plan to save money and reduce environmental impact. That, in turn, improves their quality of life and helps the stability of the entire electric grid.

Tietje family in front of solar panels

Solar power: Call us first

Nick and Amanda Kelly knew they were making a long-term investment, one they hoped would benefit not only their wallets, but the entire planet.

“It’s like most things that sound too good to be true,” says Andrew Finton, energy advisor for North Central Electric Cooperative, of which the Kellys are members. “The solar company either didn’t have or didn’t give them any information that is specific to connecting to the (co-op) system, and it would have made a big difference — things like our on- and off-peak rates and our demand charge that are designed to make our billing fair to all of our members. The numbers they were using to estimate the savings on their bill weren’t even close to real life.”

Project Ohio group

Powering up, powering through

Gathering a group of 16 linemen from across Ohio, leaving the security of home and family, and going to a remote part of Central America could never be considered a routine endeavor.

The day after they arrived in Guatemala, the team decided to make an impromptu stop in the village to check out the landscape of the job — to see the 67 homes and the school and get a look at the conditions they’d encounter.

lineworker in bucket

Co-op lineworkers: Always on

Weather forecasters knew it was a potentially devastating storm — a moisture-laden system rolling up from the Gulf of Mexico on a collision course with an arctic blast from the north, with Ohio right in the crosshairs.

“It was really just a good soaking rain that first night,” Martin says.

“We were getting a few calls, and it looked like some of our members might be out for as long as a day or two. Then when we woke up the next morning and saw it in the daylight, we knew it was a bad situation.”

Digital divide

Kyle Hicks sat at his computer at his Lancaster-area home, the homework assignment for his College Credit Plus course due in a few hours. He knew he was cutting it close.

Like a vast number of people in rural areas of Ohio and the rest of the nation, Hicks and his family have limited access to high-speed internet. The one company that provides broadband service where he lives promises connection speeds “up to 5 megabits per second,” but he says tests on the line show it’s rarely above 1 Mbps. What’s more, service in his area, even at that level, is expensive.

Satellite broadband could be an option but costs even more.

Roger Rank standing in a cornfield

Poppin' good time!

Roger Rank has grown popcorn on his fields near Van Wert for almost 40 years. For much of that time, the early part of each harvest has had to go to waste in order to comply with some of the regulations and demands of the distributors who bought the crop.

But lately, he’s found a use for those first kernels of the season. Instead of disposing of them, he donates a portion of that crop to various organizations.

Cardinal Plant Manager Bethany Schunn and Sustainability Lead Julie Jones smile together for a picture.

Fulfilling our mission

Part of the process of removing sulfur dioxide (SO2) from emissions at the Cardinal Power Plant involves the use of limestone. The process is complicated and can be messy, and when heavy deposits build up in the scrubber, the entire generating unit must come offline.

An employee at the plant suggested adding a chemical to the process that not only would allow for less limestone to be used, it would reduce those deposits in the scrubber — meaning lower maintenance time and cost.

Marc Armstrong, director of government affairs for Ohio's Electric Cooperatives, appears on TV next to a landscape of a farm.

Connecting city with country

Electric cooperatives have a long history of providing service where there was an unfilled need. It’s a story that especially resonates with Patrick Gottsch.

In the late 1990s, Gottsch, then a sales executive for a successful livestock auction, looked at cable television lineups around the country and noticed something missing: there was no rural-focused programming anywhere on the dial.

John Martin, trustee at Firelands Electric, speaks into a microphone.

Co-op trustees: Strong voices, guiding hands

John Martin braved one of those arctic January Ohio mornings to come from his home near New London to Columbus for training that would help him in his newest position.

Martin, a retired CSX signaling supervisor, had been elected to the Firelands Electric Cooperative board of directors only a few months earlier. Since a director’s decisions impact issues such as service rates, rights-of-way, and work plans, it’s a position of great responsibility. It requires people who understand their community’s needs and have a desire to serve the cooperative consumer-members’ best interests.

An enormous spile holds long wire used to supply power.

Island power

Supplying electricity to an island is no small feat. Supplying reliable electricity to the largest American island on Lake Erie is a monumental task.

Kelleys Island, one of the most popular tourist destinations anywhere in Ohio, is entirely served by Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative, which has been charged with that job since its 1967 consolidation with the former Lake Erie Electric Cooperative.