Check out these opportunities for to learn about the energy industry!

Want your school to learn more about the energy industry? Dakota Valley can help!

Energy tours:
  School districts wishing to tour the Antelope Valley coal-based generating plant, the Coteau Freedom coal mine and the Great Plains coal gasification plant, located near Beulah, N.D. can receive assistance from Dakota Valley.
  The tours allow students a first-hand look at the generation of electricity from coal, a look at one of two gasification plants in the entire world, and a ride down into a coal mine. They visit a power plant and learn about the many job opportunities available in North Dakota’s energy industry. The tour provides insight into one of North Dakota’s most promising and brightest industries.

Scholarships:
  This scholarship program recognizes and encourages the academic achievements of students in the region, serves as an investment in the economic future of rural areas.
  Annually, each of the 135 electric cooperatives that make up Basin Electric Power Cooperative (including Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative) receives $1,000 from Basin Electric to award a scholarship to a qualifying dependent of a Dakota Valley Electric member, who will be enrolled as a college freshman for the 2012-2013 school year.
  Applicants for the scholarship must be high school seniors enrolled or planning to enroll in a full-time course of study at an accredited two-year or four-year college, university or vocational/technical school.
  Scholarship recipients will be chosen based on a combination of SAT/ACT scores and overall grade-point average, work experience, participation in school and community activities, a personal statement of career goals, a written recommendation by a third party and a written essay.

School lyceum: The Story Behind The Switch
  Every three years, Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative and Basin Electric team up to provide area schools and Hutterite Colonies with a lyceum entitled “The Story Behind the Switch.” This program is offered to students in grades 4 through 6.
  The lyceum emphasizes safety and respect for electricity. It also teaches students what electricity is, how it is generated and distributed, and the important role it plays in our lifestyles.
  During the program, students are allowed to participate in electrical demonstrations such as the Van de Graff generator, which literally makes participants’ hair stand on end. This demonstration is a big hit with students and demonstrates how electricity travels on the outside of conductors.

Legislative field trips:
  Recognizing that school budgets are often tight, and to help defray trip expenses, Dakota Valley Electric’s board of directors has approved a $100 donation to any high school in the cooperative’s service area that takes a group of students to the state Capitol to view North Dakota’s legislative process in action.

Are All Fires the Same?

By Kelly Trapnell

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And
while all blazes may look the same, fires should not be treated equally.

 

Electrical fires

 

According to the Federal Emergency
Management Agency, more than 26,000 electrical home fires result in property
damage, injuries, and even death every year. Remember this acronym F.I.R.E for
electrical safety:

 

Find the source before it starts

            Old or faulty wiring often emerges
as the main culprit in causing electrical fires. In electrical fires, heat from
wiring or an overloaded system can provide the strike that leads to a fire. But
there are often signs before a fire even starts.

 

Investigate the signs

            If you notice flickering lights,
recurring trips in a circuit breaker, or a tell-tale sizzling sound around
wiring and hot light switches, call a qualified electrician. These may indicate
an imminent fire hazard.

 

Remedy the problem

            If you have any signs of a pending fire
or have worries about old wiring, contact a professional electrician. Other
precautions include:

  • Use
    correct wattage bulbs to prevent overheating fixtures.
  • Avoid
    using damaged cords or running cords under rugs.
  • Do not
    overload outlets or extension cords.
  • Do not
    use appliances in wet areas.
  • Routinely
    check appliances for signs of wear and tear or overheating.

 

Exit the Building and Learn to
Extinguish Properly

            If you are faced with an electrical
fire, call 911 immediately and have everyone exit the building. If you feel you
must face a small fire, know the proper way to approach it.

  • Never use
    water on an electrical fire. Water conducts electricity, so it will not smother
    the fire and may lead to electrocution.
  • If the
    circuit breaker does not trip in the area on fire, shut off the main breaker to
    the house if possible. Be sure to approach the breaker only if the fire is not
    nearby and if your hands are dry.
  • Never use
    a Class A extinguisher on an electrical fire. Use a Class C or a multi-purpose
    ABC model. If there is no extinguisher available or the class of extinguisher
    is not known, baking soda may help smother the flames.
  • Again, if
    the fire is not quickly extinguished, exit the building.

 

 Even though the source and treatment of fires
may differ, they produce the same results. You are no match for the force of a
house fire—learn F.I.R.E. and protect yourself.

 

Sources: U.S. Fire Administration, Electrical Safety
Foundation International, National Fire Incident Reporting System

 

Kelly Trapnell writes on safety and energy efficiency issues
for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington,
Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit
electric cooperatives.

North Sargent teachers learn about lignite

Lignite isn’t exacly on the list of top 10 vocabulary words or in the first 10 chapters of standard science books. But it is a very vital source of power in North Dakota, not to mention vital to the economny of the Peace Garden State.

Do you know what lignite is? If you don’t, check here or ask some of the friendly teachers of North Sargent School in Gwinner, N.D. Husband and wife Ardell and Lavonne Ptacek were two of about 130 educators who participated in the Lignite Energy Council’s annual seminar for teachers. At the seminar, teachers learn about lignite and the energy industry from different perspectives like science, history, economics, agriculture, etc., so they can then teach those lessons to their students.

The Ptaceks agreed: the lignite impressed. Especially how clean it was, said Ardell who teaches ag education, and how farmers could reclaim the land. Lavonne, who teaches family and consumer science, was interested in career opportunities for high school graduates.

The seminar is especially great because it’s free to our hard-working educators and also offers them two credit hours at an institution of their choosing. Many times, educators have to pay for those hours, so this seminar is especially valuable.

Read more about Lavonne, Ardell and the lignite seminar in September’s issue of North Dakota Living!

Deck the Halls with energy savings!

My two-year-old insists on hanging every ornament “up dere!!!” on our 5 foot-tall, pre-lit “Kiss-miss” tree. He loves the lights, adores the shimmer and even listens sometimes when we tell him Santa doesn’t bring presents to boys who color on the kitchen floor.

The holiday season has begun.

And with it, comes a wallop to our wallets.

That’s why I’m considering LED lights for my outdoor decorating this year. LED lights are pricey compared to standard commercial lights.

At first glance, the price difference is a little shocking: $10+ for a box of 100 mini LED lights compared to $2 or so for the standard bulb equivalent. But overtime, those savings add up, both in energy costs and the longevity of the product. While the standard bulb set will likely get tossed in two years, the LED sets can last a decade.

Most LED strings are rated for 20,000 hours of use, or 10 times the longevity of incandescent lights, according to Electric Cooperative Today.

Plus, consumers can connect more LED strands and the LEDs don’t break as easy, according to the Pasadena Star-News.

So weigh in what works for you. Do you intend to keep your lights forever – saving yourself some coin and reducing your global footprint? Or are you a new-light-every-year kind of person. Depending on how you light up your holidays, LEDs just may be for you.

And here’s a little LED Christmas light video, to get you in the holiday spirit!

 

 

Have a happy and safe one!

Power-bill scam reported in North Dakota

Mortified my grandmother would be if she knew I were writing this: Two years ago, she fell victim to a phone scam. Someone called the home of my independent and well-meaning grandmother, pretending to be my cousin. He conned and convinced her to wire “him” more money than a I make in a month. Of course, once the money is gone, it can never be retrieved.

I share that story only because I know how easy it is to fall victim to these scams and I don’t want it happening again, especially to our members. I’m sure grandma feels the same way. Please read the article below and if you remember nothing else, please note: IF SOMEONE CALLS YOU, DON’T EVER GIVE THEM PERSONAL INFORMATION and WIRING MONEY = RED FLAG.

Power-bill scam reported in North Dakota

The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is warning businesses and consumers about a scam claiming the president will pay their utility bills through a new federal program. Both Minnesotans and North Dakotans have reported instances of this scam.  However, none have been reported in Dakota Valley Electric’s service area.   
            General Manager Jay Jacobson said he encourages member-owners to be wary when someone issues a call asking for information.
            “Our employees do not take bank account information over the phone.  If a customer wants to set up an automated pay account, they will need to file that information with us on a written form.  Any subsequent changes to the account will need to be again re-submitted in writing.  We would never call our customers to request that information,” Jacobson said.


How the scam works:

Consumers have been contacted through telephone calls, flyers, social media and text messages with claims that President Barack Obama is providing credits or applying payments to utility bills.  To receive the money, scammers claim they need the consumer’s Social Security and bank routing numbers.  
            In return, customers are given a fraudulent bank routing number to pay their utility bills through the automated telephone payment service. The payment service initially ‘accepts’ the payment but then declines it within a few days when the bank discovers the account number is fake.

To avoid becoming a victim of this scam:

* Investigate any offer that sounds too good to be true by contacting the BBB at 800-646-6222 or bbb.org.

* Do not provide your Social Security number, credit card number or banking information to anyone who calls you, regardless of whom they claim to be representing.

   * If you receive a call claiming to be your utility company and feel pressured for immediate payment or personal information, hang up the phone and call the customer service number on your utility bill. For Dakota Valley, that number is 1-800-342-4671.

   * Always think safety first. Remember, once your personal information is out there, you don’t know who will be using it or how it will be used.

            People who have provided sensitive personal information in situations like this should be aware of the heightened risks of identity theft and take steps to protect themselves by visiting www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft.
            For more consumer tips, visit www.bbb.org/us/Consumer-Tips.

Donate to the Dakota Valley food drive!

I visited with a woman once who was waiting for services at the Salvation Army in Jamestown. With her was one of her children, a young girl in a wheelchair. The girl’s father had recently died, leaving the child without insurance, and quite obviously, the girl had major medial needs. The mother was working, but couldn’t afford both the hospital bills and food for the table.

That family is one of the many examples of hard-working people who hesitate to ask for help, but swallow their pride when children are in need.

As part of the month-long celebration of International Year of Cooperatives, Dakota Valley Electric is organizing a food drive to benefit the LaMoure and Sargent County food pantries.

Of the 280,000 or so households in North Dakota, more than 25,000 received public assistance income or food stamps in the past 12 months, according to 2010 census data. That includes about 70 households in LaMoure County and about 130 households in Sargent County.

We’re quick to blame the poor sometimes: why aren’t they working? Are they lazy? But of the food stamp recipients, almost half have earned income/jobs, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Of course, just because a family is on food stamps doesn’t mean they require assistance from the food pantry and just because a family requires temporary assistance from a food pantry doesn’t mean they qualify for food stamps. But the statistics show that the need is real, even in our tight-knit, rural communities.

So Dakota Valley Electric is pleased to celebrate the International Year of Cooperatives by reaching out to the communities we serve. But we need your help. Bring nonperishable items into our Edgeley or Milnor offices as well as the Edgeley Food Center and Milnor Jack & Jill by Nov. 1 and we will donate them to the LaMoure and Sargent County food pantries. According to Brenda at the Sargent County Food Pantry in Forman, toilet paper and peanut butter are two of the most needed items, followed by dry pasta and cans of soup. Thanks in advance for all your help!

For more information, please call us at 1-800-342-4671.

Be Ready for Santa with a Safe Holiday Season

            The most wonderful time of the year can also be the most stressful—particularly
when it comes to keeping your kids safe through parties, presents, travel, and
meals. Follow these tips from the Electrical Safety Foundation International
(ESFI) to protect your little ones this holiday season. For more information,
visit holidaysafety.org.

 

Electronic gifts

            About 70 percent of child-related electrical accidents occur at home when adult
supervision is present, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Commission. So make sure those new toys don’t pose a danger.

Outlet Covers

 

  • Electric-powered
    toys and other devices can be extremely hazardous if improperly used or used
    without proper supervision.
  • An adult
    should supervise the use of any electrical product.  Consider both the maturity of the child and
    the nature of the toy when deciding how much supervision is required.
  • Do not buy
    an electrical toy, or any toy, for a child too young to use it safely. Always
    check the age recommendation on the package, and remember that this is a
    minimum age recommendation. You should still take into account your child’s
    capabilities.
  • Never give
    any child under 10 years old a toy that must be plugged into an electrical
    outlet. Instead, choose toys that are battery-operated.
  • Make sure
    all electrical toys bear a fire safety label from an independent testing
    laboratory, such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.).
  • Inspect all
    electrical toys periodically.  Repair,
    replace, or discard deteriorating toys.
  • Ban play
    with electrical toys near water, and make sure they understand that water and
    electricity don’t mix.
  • All
    electrical toys should be put away immediately after use in a dry storage area
    out of the reach of younger children.

 

Decorating safely

            Christmas,
Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Day lead the year for candle fires, according to
ESFI. Mind your festive decorations for safety hazards:

  • Read
    manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels for any decoration that will be
    used around young children, like electronic trains or animatronic dolls.
  • Keep
    candles, matches, and lighters out of reach, and never leave children
    unsupervised when candles are lit.
  • Instead of
    traditional candles, try using battery-operated candles.
  • Cover any
    unused outlets on extension cords with plastic caps or electrical tape to
    prevent children from coming in contact with a live circuit.
  • Place
    electrical cords out of the reach of small children.
  • Never allow
    children to play with lights, electrical decorations, or cords.

 

Cooking

            In
2009, ranges and ovens were involved in an estimated 17,300 thermal burn
injuries seen in U.S. hospital emergency rooms. Of these, 36 percent of the
victims were younger than 5. Keep little kitchen helpers in check:

Cooking safety

 

  • Never leave
    the kitchen when something’s cooking—a fire or accident can happen in an
    instant.
  • Keep
    children at least three feet away from all cooking appliances.
  • Never hold
    a child while cooking or when removing hot food from the microwave, oven, or
    stove.
  • Turn pot
    handles in, away from reaching hands.
  • Use the
    back burners on the cooktop whenever possible.
  • Hot tap
    water scalds can be prevented by lowering the setting on water heater
    thermostats to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or below and by installing anti-scald
    devices in water faucets.
  • Once your
    holiday meal is ready, check that the stove and oven are turned off and that
    other kitchen appliances are unplugged and out of reach.

 

Source: Electrical Safety
Foundation International

‘Tis The Season To Save Energy And Money

Source: Touchstone Energy

In addition to some minor tweaks and improvements, The Save Energy, Save Money app features a new refrigerator calculator. It shows the cost (based on size, type and age) to operate a refrigerator or freezer and how much can be saved by switching to an ENERGY STAR© model.
 
The app also includes a handy “Tip of the Day”, and the popular lighting and appliance energy use calculators. There is even a feature that lets you send notices and alerts to your members.
 
Stay tuned as water heating and space heater calculators will be added in the coming months. The free app is available for Apple iPhones and iPads at the iTunes store and for Android smartphones at Play.Google.com; search for: Together We Save. (iPhone, Droid)
 
Questions? Contact Alan Shedd, Touchstone Energy’s energy efficiency wizard at alan.shedd@nreca.coop.