Press Releases

Local youth participate in Electric Cooperative Youth Tour

Each year, East Mississippi Electric Power Association and other cooperatives across Mississippi and the United States, send high school juniors to represent their associations on the Washington, D.C., Youth Tour. This event is hosted nationally by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and statewide by the Electric Power Associations of Mississippi. EMEPA sponsored three delegates on the 2015 Youth Tour. Alec Marlow, Zoria Nicholson and Kiera Phillips joined 55 other Mississippi students, and more than 1,700 students from 44 states across the nation to further develop their leadership skills, learn about the nation’s history, the role of government, and inspire youth to become public servants. Alec will be a senior at Southeast High School and is the son of LeeLee and Steve Marlow of Meridian. Zoria will be a senior at Louisville High School and is the daughter of Toni and Rev. Dennis Jackson of Louisville. Kiera is the daughter of Patrick and Deffany Phillips of Noxapater and will be a senior at Noxapater High School. During the week of June 13-19, these students enjoyed an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. For seven days, the students visited all of the major monuments and memorials including the Jefferson, FDR, Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Air Force, World War II, Korean War and the Vietnam Veterans Memorials. “I feel as if I met my lifelong friends on this trip,” said Alec. “Treat everyday of Youth Tour like its your last.” Many of the students that traveled to Washington, D.C., for Youth Tour had never experienced traveling on an airplane. The experience was life-changing for many and gave them a first-hand look at their government in action. The students spent a day on Capitol Hill, and thanks to the generosity of Congressman Gregg Harper, they were given a private tour of the United States Capitol building, where he invited them onto the U.S. House floor and allowed them the privilege to view the Washington Mall from the Speaker’s Balcony. After the tour, students visited with Senator Wicker in the Russell Building rotunda. One of the highlights of Youth Tour was the popular Marine Corps Sunset Parade at the Iwo Jima Memorial. Since 1956, this event has honored men and women in uniform. The Marine Drum and Bugle Corps commences the occasion with popular music, which leads into the Silent Drill Platoon. In the spirit of honoring our nation’s military, the students visited Arlington National Cemetery where they witnessed the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The students joined other states for several activities throughout the week, including a boat cruise on the Potomac River and a dinner and dance with all 44 of the participating states. They also participated in national Youth Day where they were able to hear inspirational speeches and interact with students from across the United States in a high-energy atmosphere. “To say I made friends would be an understatement, it is more like I made a family here at Youth Tour,” said Zoria. Alec, Zoria and Kiera also toured Mount Vernon, the home of our nation’s first president George Washington and went to Ford’s Theater where the infamous assassination of President Lincoln occurred. They visited the White House Visitor’s Center where they were able to learn about the celebrated home and several of the first families who have occupied it over the last few decades. In addition to witnessing our country's history firsthand, the students spent a day touring the Smithsonian museums, including the museums of Air and Space, American History, Natural History, American Indian Museum and the National Gallery of Art. The week ended with a visit to Nationals Park where the students saw the Washington Nationals play the Tampa Bay Rays. “This was the best trip I have ever taken. I have been deeply inspired and have made lifelong friends,” said Kiera. “Now I stand and believe that unity is the key to success!” The Youth Tour is part of an extensive Youth Leadership Program supported by EMEPA, and we congratulate these students on their accomplishments. “We are proud to be able to offer this opportunity to deserving students in our service area,” said Wayne Henson, EMEPA chief executive officer. “It is important for our future leaders, including these three impressive young people, to see how our country has been shaped through history, as well as how hard our current leaders work on behalf of Mississippi.” East Mississippi Electric Power Association will be considering next year’s Youth Leadership participants later this fall. Be sure to contact your school’s guidance counselor for more information on the 2016 Youth Leadership Program. For pictures of this year's Youth Tour, visit the 2015 Youth Leadership Program Facebook page.

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How does the MS Supreme Court ruling affect EMEPA members?

We are aware of today’s ruling by the Mississippi Supreme Court ordering Mississippi Power Company to refund all retail rate increases resulting from the construction of the IGCC Lignite Power Plant in Kemper County. EMEPA is a wholesale customer of Mississippi Power, and therefore, not included in this ruling. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in Washington, D.C, not the Mississippi Public Service Commission, regulates EMEPA’s wholesale rates. EMEPA will be reviewing options to request similar action by FERC.

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Winter weather energy tips

Extreme winter conditions are forecasts for East Mississippi this week. With these extreme cold temperatures in the area, we'll all see a rise in our power use, which translates into higher energy bills. But here are a few tips to help keep you warm while also managing your energy use wisely.

  • Run ceiling paddle fans on low, blowing up in winter.
  • Change HVAC filters monthly.
  • When installing new air filters, make sure they are facing in the correct direction. (Look for arrow on side of filter.)
  • When heating, keep windows locked.
  • Insulate electric wall plugs and wall switches with foam pads.
  • Caulk along baseboards with a clear sealant.
  • Close fireplace dampers when not burning a fire.
  • Caulk around plumbing penetrations that come through walls beneath bathroom and kitchen sinks.
  • Caulk electrical wire penetrations at the tops of the interior walls.
  • Close shades and drapes at night to keep heat in during the winter.
  • Make sure drapes and shades are open during the day to catch free heat from the sun in the winter.
  • Ensure attic access door closes tightly.
  • Insulate attic access door.
  • Make sure insulation in your attic does not block soffit vents.
  • Ensure return air grilles are not blocked by furniture or bookcases.
  • Ensure windows and doors are properly weather-stripped.
  • Make sure outside soffit vents are not blocked.
  • Do not use roof-top power ventilators for attic exhaust as they may evacuate conditioned air from your home.
  • When using the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening damper in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly.
  • Caulk around basement windows.
  • In a basement, seal the sill and band joist with durable caulking or foam sealant.
  • Ensure floor registers are not blocked with rugs, drapes or furniture.
  • Outside your home, caulk around all penetrations including telephone, electrical, cable, gas, water spigots, dryer vents, etc.
  • Caulk around storm windows.
  • Use heavy-duty, clear sheets of plastic on the inside of window to reduce the amount of cold air entering your home.
  • Verify your supply air duct “boots” (behind supply air registers) are caulked to your ceiling or wall sheetrock or flooring.
  • Verify all outdoor doors (including storm doors) close and seal tightly.
  • In two-story homes serviced by one HVAC system, a paddle fan at the top of the stairs can push down hot, second-floor air.
  • Keep your garage door down. A warmer garage in the winter will save energy.
  • Use kitchen, bath and other ventilating fans wisely; in just ONE hour, these fans can pull out a house full of warmed air.
  • Install 15 minute, spring-wound timers on bathroom ventilator fans.

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New meters to help us serve you better

East Mississippi Electric Power Association will begin installing new meters in the spring of 2015 to increase the efficiency and reliability of the electric system. Improving the efficiency of operations and power delivery can help keep costs down for our members. The biggest change? With the new meters from Landis+Gyr, EMEPA will be able to monitor, control and read meters remotely. This will save time, labor and operational expenses. In addition to reducing operational expenses, the new meters will help improve the reliability of our system. The new technology enables EMEPA to be proactive in detecting problems quickly and locate outages more precisely, sometimes even before a member has a chance to report it. Advanced meters can provide detailed information that empowers members to control their overall energy cost, helps operators monitor the electric system in near real-time and enables customer service representatives to address billing questions. At EMEPA, taking advantage of new technologies allows us to improve efficiency and reliability, which is one more way that we are looking out for our members. Frequently Asked Questions about Advanced Meters How does my new automated meter work? With these new meters, EMEPA can read the meter remotely from our central office.  Information from the meter is generally transmitted back to EMEPA four times a day. This means that a meter reader no longer is required to come to your house each month. However, EMEPA representatives will continue to occasionally come on your property for maintenance inspections and to ensure safety during storms and outages. What’s the difference between the new meters and the old meters? EMEPA has been using both electronic (digital displays) and electro-mechanical meters (mechanical dials) for many years. All new meters being installed will be electronic and have a digital LCD display. New meters will store metering information electronically inside the meter rather than through mechanical dials and registers, and it will periodically transmit the information securely to EMEPA’s office. What information does the new meter record? The new meter records the total kWh usage like your existing meter. In addition, it can record the usage over time and the maximum demand as well as quality of service measurements such as the number of blinks, outages, low and high voltages and times of outages and restorations.  How does the new meter communicate and transmit data? The meters use radio signals in a selected frequency range to transmit and receive information. The meters are able to transmit messages in a matter of seconds or less, very similar to sending a text message, at power levels less than half of a mobile phone. This technology has been used effectively in the utility industry for over 20 years and is also found in common consumer devices such as cordless telephones, baby monitors and WIFI routers. Are there any potential health impacts from a meter that can receive and send data? No. Research conducted by the Electric Power Research Institute, the Utilities Telecom Council and others has revealed no health impacts from advanced meters. The radio frequencies emitted by digital meters falls well below the maximum recommended in federal guidelines. Contrary to some misconceptions, the new meters transmit radio frequencies (RF) infrequently, only when responding to a request for data from EMEPA office, or periodically when reporting readings or quality of service events, typically once every four hours for less than a second. When compared to other consumer devices enabled with radio transmitters such as your cell phone, cordless phones, baby monitors, wireless headphones or other blue tooth devices, which are constantly sending and retrieving data, the new meters send and receive data at an RF density hundreds of times less than devices you use every day– and the meters are installed on the outside of your house not next to your ear! How will new technology improve our energy future? Advanced meters enable new applications by providing homes and businesses new ways to save energy and money. It has been consistently proven that being able to see your daily usage can reduce your energy consumption by 3 to 5 percent, simply by making you aware of how fast your power bill is growing, well before it is due. Another application enables alternative rates like time-of-use, for those who choose to take advantage of them. Some members may be willing to change their habits or use smart appliances with timers so they don’t operate when power is in high demand, like a hot summer afternoon. With time-of-use rates, saving money can be as simple as running appliances like dishwashers, water heaters and clothes dryers later in the evening or mid-morning. Why are we changing to the advanced meters? The meter upgrade provides EMEPA members with numerous benefits. The new meters will help us:

  • Save money by eliminating the labor and transportation costs of in-person meter reading– a savings we pass on to our members
  • Improve billing accuracy, minimizing misreads or inaccurate readings
  • Pinpoint the exact location of outages more quickly, meaning a faster response time
  • Help our consumer-members troubleshoot high-bill problems by providing information about power use patterns
  • Improve electric service reliability and quality by reporting outages, blinks and voltage fluctuations
  • Provide members with opportunities to save energy and money
  • Help secure the overall safety of the EMEPA employees
How much is this going to cost? There is no rate increase anticipated in association with this project. Following the installation, members will continue to receive a bill as normal, and meters may be read manually for one to two months to ensure the system is operating properly. What other additional installation parts will I need? No additional parts are anticipated or required. However, if something is identified as faulty or hazardous with members’ equipment, EMEPA will repair it if possible. What if my bill reports more kWh usage than normal or I think my meter is not working correctly? The new meters installed have been tested and meet American National Standards Institute (ANSI) regulations. The new meters allow for accurate readings and a consistent number of days on each bill. The manufacturer tests new EMEPA meters, and we also test a random sample of meters before installing them at customer locations. Tests have shown that advanced meters are very accurate and reliable, but contact your nearest EMEPA office to discuss your billing concerns. Will meter readers ever need to come to read the meter manually again once the new meter is in place? Meter readers will no longer need to spend valuable time traveling to every meter for a monthly reading. All meter readings will be transmitted back to EMEPA headquarters. EMEPA employees will occasionally return to perform a safety inspection or perhaps troubleshoot a meter if it stops operating or is damaged. And other employees will continue to come on your property to perform line inspections, change equipment and trim trees. What day of the month will the meters be read? All of EMEPA’s new meters can be read at a variety of times;, however for billing purposes meters will continue to be read on a monthly schedule, much like it is today. Once EMEPA employees no longer need to read the meter, can obstacles be constructed that may make the meter inaccessible? No. National safety standards require that reasonable access to equipment must be maintained. This provides EMEPA employees access to the meter for maintenance, inspection or troubleshooting when required. Firefighters also need access to meters so they can disconnect power for their safety. Will someone other than EMEPA be able to read the new meter? Just like today, a reading will be displayed on the meter. Regarding electronic information, EMEPA’s suppliers are incorporating security features such as encryption technology into their meters and support systems, as recommended by national security experts. Can EMEPA disconnect electric service using the new meters? The majority of meters EMEPA is deploying have remote disconnect capabilities. Will the new meter notify EMEPA when the power goes out? Most meters affected by an outage will report the loss of power before shutting down. The meters will also report when power has been restored. How will advanced meters benefit members? Advanced meters will help EMEPA continue to provide affordable energy and reliable service, while providing these additional improvements:
  • remote access to meter readings
  • more accurate and consistent billing
  • better power quality and reliability monitoring
  • automatic outage and restoration notification
  • opportunities for members to reduce power bills
Do I own my electric meter? No. Electric meters are owned, installed and maintained by EMEPA as a condition of providing electric service to the member. The meter base and service entrance cables are the member’s responsibility. When installing meters, if EMEPA finds a problem, we will make every effort to arrange the repair while on-site, at no cost to you.  In some cases a qualified electrician may be required to make repairs to the meter base and service entrance cables. How do we know that the billing usage data being sent wirelessly is actually my data and does not belong to my neighbor? When data is collected from a meter and transmitted to EMEPA, the data contains unique identifiers associated with that meter. These identifiers are validated numerous times to ensure accuracy before the data is used for billing. EMEPA abides by stringent policies to protect the privacy and security of our members’ personal information including metering and billing information.

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Of the people, by the people, for the people

Abraham Lincoln's closure to his famous 1863 Gettysburg Address, a speech of merely two minutes, is thought by many to be a purely American concept. It ends with the phrase "government of the people, by the people and for the people." Most of us studied this as a pivotal concept of American government. Well, I hate to disappoint you, but President Lincoln borrowed the words. They actually belonged first to theologian John Wyciffe, an English Protestant reformer, and were written in 1384.   The words were part of a prologue to one of the earliest translations of the Bible from Latin into English. The Bible was translated into the common language of the people for the following purpose: "This Bible is for the government of the people, for the people and by the people.” Wycliffe believed the people should read the scriptures for themselves and not be told what the scriptures said by either the priests or the government.   Empowered by this newfound access to the scriptures, Wycliffe believed men and women could and would make up their minds about theological issues. This would, in turn, free them to make independent decisions about secular-governmental issues as well. Civil and religious liberty are linked in concept and practice. Although the concept of individual accountability was not purely an American concept beautifully expressed by the American Constitution or an important American President, it has certainly been institutionalize in American thought and government.   As a new Congress is convened in Washington after an election where "the people" returned some to office and replaced others, we continue our process of self-government. The Mississippi Legislature also reconvenes for another session as we move towards another election cycle in our State. All those who serve us are a reflection of who we are as a nation. Even when we complain about government, we should remember it's government we helped create, a unique exercise in freedom that you and I enjoy. When you see one of our elected officials remember to thank these men and women for their service. Our government "for the people" will only be as good as those who "by the people" elect these representatives "of the people." Individual liberty and individual responsibility expressed as our generation practices freedom. Practice leads to perfection. Maybe one day we will get it right.

Wayne Henson, CEO

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Unwrap winter energy savings

EMEPA reminds you of a few ways to be energy efficient during this busy time of year. The holidays are upon us! It’s that special time of year when we spend a great deal of time with friends and family, either in the kitchen or out and about shopping for the perfect gift. As you find yourself wrapped up in the holiday excitement, EMEPA reminds you of a few ways to be energy efficient during this busy time of year.   Cooking efficiently • Be kind to your oven. Every time you open the oven door to check on that dish, the temperature inside is reduced by as much as 25 degrees. This forces the oven to use more energy in order to get back to the proper cooking temperature. Try keeping the door closed as much as possible. Also, remember to take advantage of residual heat for the last five to 10 minutes of baking time – this is another way to save energy use. If you’re using a ceramic or glass dish, you can typically set your oven 25 degrees lower than stated, since these items hold more heat than metal pans. • Give your burners some relief. The metal reflectors under your stovetop burners should always be clean. If not, this will prevent your stove from working as effectively as it should. • Utilize small appliances. During the holidays, the main appliances used are the oven and stovetop. Try using your slow cooker, microwave, toaster oven or warming plate more often. This will result in substantial energy savings. Home efficiency • Take advantage of heat from the sun. Open your curtains during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill from cold windows. • Find and seal all air leaks. Check areas near pipes, gaps around chimneys, cracks near doors and windows and any unfinished places. • Maintain your heating system. Schedule services for your heating system before it gets too cold to find out what maintenance you may need to keep your system operating efficiently. • Eliminate “vampire energy” waste. When you are not using an appliance or an electronic, unplug it to save energy. Power strips are definitely a good investment for your home. Efficient shopping • Purchase LED holiday lights. A string of traditional lights uses 36 watts of power and a string of LED lights only uses 5 watts. They can even last up to 10 times longer! • Ask for Energy Star-rated TVs and appliances. This will save you a lot of power use because the standby-mode is lower and the device will use less energy overall. • Combine errands to reduce the number of small trips. To do lists seem to pile up around this time of the year. Believe it or not, several short trips in the winter can use twice as much fuel as one longer trip covering the same distance as all of the shorter ones. Being energy efficient is usually not top priority when celebrating the holidays, and most of us do not realize the lack of efficiency until the next bill comes in. Prevent your post holiday shock this year by thinking creatively and remembering all of these tips! Amber Bentley writes on 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.

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