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Take Control of Summer Energy Bills

Everyone expects Florida summers to make their air conditioner run overtime. But, do you sometimes wonder if you are doing everything possible to keep your home comfortable while keeping power costs down?

Each of us has the power to help control our energy costs. I encourage you to make thoughtful choices to make energy savings pay off.

Look to the west of your home. Do you have trees, a porch overhang, or awnings shading windows exposed to the afternoon sun?  If not, radiant heat may be driving up indoor temperatures and adding to your overall cooling costs.

Window coverings can help. Blinds or shades can deflect the sun, and draperies lined with a thermal radiant barrier can block up to 95% of sunlight and 100% of ultraviolet rays.

Are you taking advantage of airflow? A ceiling fan can pull warm air up above your living zone and make a difference during the summer. Plus, air blowing across our skin makes us feel more comfortable. However, make sure you turn fans off in unoccupied rooms to save energy.

Airflow is important when it comes to HVAC filters too. Dirty filters restrict air circulation, causing your cooling system to work harder. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on replacing disposable filters or cleaning permanent ones. If you’ve got pets, check the filter more often.

Consider these energy facts:

  • One open window can pull as much conditioned air outside as an uncapped chimney.
  • Lighting and ventilation fans add convenience and provide benefits when needed but waste energy when left on and unattended.
  • A bag of ice poured into a cooler will chill summer beverages as effectively and less expensively than keeping an aging refrigerator in a hot garage.

Visit www.preco.coop/energy/saving for more energy-saving tips and ideas that can help you control energy costs and reduce summer energy use.

Consider talking to a PRECO energy advisor at 800-282-3824. We can help you identify and correct problems that may be contributing to higher bills and increased energy use in your home.

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PRECO Closely Monitoring Tropical Storm Elsa

Peace River Electric Cooperative (PRECO) is closely monitoring Tropical Storm Elsa’s projected path and is prepared to meet any challenges presented by this storm.

PRECO is committed to restoring service to each of its members as quickly as possible. The cooperative has a proven emergency response plan designed to adequately guide storm preparation and restoration efforts, as needed. To prepare for situations such as this, PRECO employees undergo annual training. They stand ready to quickly respond if power is interrupted by this storm.

In the event of a power outage, PRECO reminds you that improper generator hookup can create serious problems in safety and service. A generator attached to a home electrical system must have a proper transfer switch installed by a qualified electrician in order to provide safe backup power. This device prevents the deadly backfeed of electricity onto power lines which could endanger the lives of PRECO line crews working to restore power.

For your safety, never approach a downed power line because it could kill or injure you if it is energized.

To report an outage, use PRECO’s SmartHub mobile app, text OUT to 800-282-3824 or call 800-282-3824. For updates, find us on Facebook or visit www.preco.coop.

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Our Daily Bread Receives ORU Grant to Expand Operations

Our Daily Bread of Bradenton feeds approximately 27,000 Manatee County residents per year. This local ministry provides dry goods, fresh produce and frozen meats and serves mid-day meals to needy families at no charge. But, to meet a growing demand for their services, ODB has found it necessary to purchase an adjacent property. They turned to Operation Round Up for help and received a $10,000 grant.

As the charitable wing of Peace River Electric Cooperative, Operation Round Up makes grants to individuals and organizations related to food, shelter, health and clothing needs.

“The building and property next to our present facility became available, so we seized the opportunity and purchased them,” shares Robert Eikill, ODB treasurer. “The building needs lots of work, including a new roof, paving, interior demolition and renovation. Not only has the property resolved our storage problems, but it has also helped alleviate our parking issues. This grant from Operation Round Up will help us better serve our community for years to come.”

To learn more about ODB, visit www.ourdailybreadofbradenton.org.

Operation Round Up is made possible through the donations of Peace River Electric’s consumers who allow their electric bills to be rounded up to the next dollar for charitable purposes. For more information about the Operation Round Up program or to download an application, go to www.preco.coop.

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PRECO 2021 Scholarship Winners

Fulfilling Hopes and Dreams

PRECO’s Operation Round Up Foundation invests $104,000 in scholarships to help local students achieve their career goals.

The future is looking bright for 21 local students receiving college scholarships from their electric cooperative. Operation Round Up, the charitable foundation of Wauchula-based Peace River Electric Cooperative, recently granted a total of $104,000 in scholarships for a group of hard-working college-bound students.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a financial toll on many families in our service area,” states Ellen Hamel, Operation Round Up chairperson. “For some students, this scholarship opportunity may spell the difference between going to college or staying home this year.”

Funding for Operation Round Up comes from the donations of PRECO’s consumers. Each participating consumer’s electric bill is “rounded up” to the next dollar to provide charitable funds in the areas of food, shelter, clothing, health, environmental and education needs. Participation is voluntary.

Since 2006, Operation Round Up has granted more than $1 million in college scholarships to 214 local students.

$8,000, 4-year scholarships

Sophia Coscia – Booker High School
New York University
Entertainment Production and Design

Kyle Evans – Southeast High School
Cornell University
Environmental Engineering

Julia Kuehn – Lakewood Ranch High School
Florida State University
Pediatric Medicine

Kyndra McLeod
University of South Florida
Health Science/Physical Therapy

Emma Paliotta – Lakewood Ranch High School
University of Florida
Veterinary Medicine

$4,000, 2-year scholarships

Kaila Amato – State College of Florida
University of South Florida
Psychology/ Dental Hygiene

Garrett Andrews – Lakewood Ranch High School
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
Civil Engineering

James Ansley – Cardinal Mooney High School
University of South Florida
Doctor of Pharmacy

Brett Bennett – Hardee High School
Universal Technical Institute
Automotive Technology

Karleen Cassidy – Palmetto High School
Southeastern University
Elementary Education

Lance Duch
University of Florida
Microbiology and Cell Science

Abby Duke – Hardee High School
South Florida State College
Associate of Arts

Lauren Genewick – Palmetto High School
Florida State University
Biological Sciences

Karson Goodwyn – Hardee High School
Johnson University
Elementary Education

Madison Kahler – Lakewood Ranch High School
Florida State University
Doctor of Dentistry

Connor Keclik – Lakewood Ranch High School
University of Central Florida
Aerospace Engineering

Natalie Novak
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Doctor of Healthcare Administration

Jean Ozit, Jr.
University of Central Florida
Aerospace Engineering

Kelly Rome
Galen College of Nursing
Associate Degree in Nursing

Hayden Ross – Southeast High School
University of Florida
Biomedical Engineering

Hayden Simon – Southeast High School
Carnegie Mellon University
Materials Science

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Hurricane Tip: Use Portable Electric Generators Safely

Electricity powers many conveniences in our lives, so it’s only natural for families to turn to portable electric generators during long-term outages. However, if generators are not used properly, things can turn deadly.

During 2009 – 2019, 686 people died due to carbon monoxide poisoning related to portable generator use, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Practice portable generator safety

  • Follow manufacturers’ directions for installation and operation.
  • To avoid electric shock, ensure the unit is properly grounded as described in the operation manual.
  • Never use indoors, in garages or carports.
  • Use only in a well-ventilated, dry area away from air intakes to the house.
  • Do not overload the generator by powering more appliances and equipment than the unit can handle. Check the operation manual for the unit’s output rating.
  • Plug appliances directly into the receptacle outlet of the generator using heavy-duty extension cords. Cords should be rated for outdoor use and have a grounded, three-pronged plug.
  • Never plug a generator into a household outlet.
  • Do not refuel a generator while it is running.
  • Store fuel outside of living areas and away from heat sources like water heater pilot lights.
  • Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting it down.
  • Keep children and pets away from generators.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends using a portable generator at least 20 feet from your home. Please keep your loved ones safe by practicing safe generator use.

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We’re Ready for Storm Season. Are You?

From the desk of the CEO

Summer is here, and I welcome more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors like many of you. For me, summertime means more afternoons on the water and cooking out with family and friends.

But summer months also make conditions favorable for dangerous storms. Hurricane season officially kicks off on June 1. These powerful cyclones can severely impact our electrical system. But, PRECO has a proven recovery plan if hurricanes or summer storms occur.

When major storms knock out power, our line crews take all necessary precautions before working on downed lines. I encourage you also to practice safety and preparedness to protect your family during storms and outages.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends the items below as a starting point for storm preparedness. Visit www.ready.gov for more resources.

  • Stock a three-day supply of non-perishable foods, such as canned goods, energy bars, peanut butter, powdered milk, water, and other essentials like diapers and toiletries.
  • Gather hygiene supplies, including towelettes, soap, and hand sanitizer.
  • Your First Aid kit should contain pain relievers, bandages, and other medical essentials. Don’t forget your prescription medicines.
  • Set aside the basics, like flashlights, batteries, a manual can opener, and battery-powered radio or TV.
  • Organize emergency supplies so they are easily accessible in one location.

For prolonged power outages, turn off major appliances, TVs, computers, and other sensitive electronics. This will help avert damage from a power surge and avoid overloading the circuits during power restoration. Leave one light on to alert you when power is restored. If you plan to use a small generator, make sure it’s rated to handle the amount of energy you need, and always review the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation.

Listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio for storm and emergency information, and check our website, www.preco.coop, for important updates.

After the storm, avoid downed power lines and walking through flooded areas where power lines could be submerged. Allow ample space for utility crews to perform their jobs safely, including on your property.

Advance planning can reduce stress and anxiety in the aftermath of storms and hurricanes. At PRECO, we recommend that you act today because there is power in planning. From our co-op family to yours, we hope you have a safe and wonderful summer.

Randy Shaw

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PRECO Electric Rates Go Down – Again!

For the second time in under 5 years, we are reducing base electric rates. Recent studies performed on PRECO’s costs and revenues show that an overall rate decrease of 4.1% is warranted. In addition, the Cost of Power Adjustment is being lowered to pass even more savings on to our members. New rates go into effect on April 1, 2021.

Residential Rate Change Summary

Type of Charge                                       March 2021                               April 2021    

Energy Charges:

First 1,000 kWh                                       $ 0. 11456  per kWh                    $ 0.11100  per kWh

Over 1,000 kWh                                      $ 0. 13456  per kWh                     $ 0.12100  per kWh

Cost of Power Adjustment                     $ (0.02150) per kWh                    $ (0.02300) per kWh

Facilities Use Charge                                  $26.50 per month                     $28.00 per month


Power Cost Adjustment – Did you know?

Over the past 2 years, PRECO has reduced your energy charges through the Cost of Power Adjustment (CPA) 6 times, for a total reduction of $7.50 for each 1,000 kWh purchased.

PRECO purchases all your power needs from Seminole Electric Cooperative through a wholesale power contract.

PRECO does not mark up the price of power it purchases from Seminole. The power you consume is sold to you at PRECO’s cost.

Approximately 60% of the total charge on your bill comes from the purchase of wholesale power.

The kWh charge in our base rates includes an estimate of $0.090000 per kWh for wholesale power cost.

PRECO uses the CPA to “true up” the estimated $0.090000 per kWh sold to the actual price of kWh sold. Currently, the CPA is a credit of $23.00 per 1,000 kWh.

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Avoid Solar Energy Scams

Solar energy is booming, and the future is brighter than ever. Through the use of rooftop solar panels, many homeowners can now harness the sun’s natural rays to produce their own electricity that’s environmentally friendly and cost effective.

But with the increasing popularity of solar, unfortunately, some businesses are taking advantage of consumers who are interested in generating their own energy through rooftop panels.

While many solar companies are genuine and truly want to help consumers with a successful solar installation, there are the occasional bad apples.

You’ve likely heard a story or two about solar vendors that promised rooftop panels that would generate enough electricity to power the entire home. Then, after the homeowner has paid thousands of dollars for the installation, the solar panels aren’t working, and the vendor is nowhere to be found. Sadly, this story has been the reality for many consumers.

If you’re interested in solar panels for your home, consider these tips before installation:

  • First, talk to an energy advisor at Peace River Electric Cooperative. We want you to feel confident about any decisions you make about your home energy use, especially decisions about generating energy at home.
  • Collect at least three quotes from different solar companies to ensure you’re getting a competitive deal. As with any major purchase, research is key, so thoroughly read customer reviews for each of the three solar vendors.
  • If you speak to a solar vendor and they use high-pressure tactics, like an offer that’s only good for 24 hours, run! Any reputable solar company will recognize that you need time to review a proposal and thoroughly weigh your decision.
  • You know if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So, if a solar company is making promises that sound unachievable and outlandish, they probably are. Remember, if you have any questions, you can always count on PRECO for unbiased advice.
  • Finally, when it’s time to review and sign a solar contract, make sure the language is clear and easy to understand. Ensure any prior verbal (or emailed) promises are also included in the contract.

Going solar is a major decision, so you’ll want to conduct a good bit of research first. If you’re looking for a general starting point, check out the Department of Energy’s Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar.

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Budget Billing Helps You Plan the Year

If there is one thing I’ve learned in 2020, it’s the fact that no one can foresee the future. A year ago, who could have imagined the effect COVID-19 would have on our nation and the world? While Peace River Electric can’t help you predict the future, we can help you predict your monthly power bills. How, you may ask? With our Budget Billing program, you can know the amount of your bill even before it prints.

Budget Billing takes the guesswork out of paying your electric bills by providing you with the same monthly bill amount for one year. The monthly budget amount, recalculated annually, is based on the average monthly energy use for your account during the previous 12 months. At the end of the 12-month period, your monthly amount recalculates, and any outstanding debit or credit reflects in your new budget amount.

Keep tabs on your actual use each month by looking at your account online, using our SmartHub mobile app, or reviewing your monthly billing statement. Throughout the year, primarily due to the weather’s effect on your heating and cooling system, your kilowatt-hour use fluctuates. But, even as your energy use rises and falls, you may rest assured that your monthly power bill will not change.

To be eligible for Budget Billing:

  • Your account must be current or paid in full
  • You must reside at the same service address for 12 continuous months for us to accurately calculate your average monthly use
  • You must have a residential account.  Solar accounts are not eligible

With Budget Billing, it is important to pay the exact budget amount each month on or before the due date. If the balance remains unpaid, your budget billing plan may be cancelled.

Are you ready to give your household budget a boost by signing up for Budget Billing? Enroll by calling us at 800-282-3824. The program is voluntary, and you can cancel at any time.

We are honored to be your electric service provider in 2021. I wish you a prosperous new year.

Randy Shaw
CEO/General Manager

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Maurice Henderson Retires from PRECO Board after 55 Years

Maurice Henderson has retired from Peace River Electric Cooperative’s Board of Directors after serving as the District 5 Director for 55 years.

Maurice, a Hardee County native, grew up in the Lemon Grove community, east of Wauchula. Growing up in a time when rural areas lagged behind the big cities in receiving electric service, he recalls the day his parents’ home was electrified.

“We got electricity around ’42 or ’43,” he adds. “I’ll never forget the first night we had electricity. We sat down for supper—we had probably a 60-watt bulb in the middle of the room.” Chuckling, he explains how his mother saw the room in the glow of the new light and exclaimed, “I didn’t know my house was so dirty!””

Retired Dir. Maurice Henderson sits in a rocking chair
Retired Dir. Maurice Henderson, after serving on PRECO’s Board for 55 years, reflects on his time spent with the Co-op

After finishing high school, Maurice joined the Marine Corps where he served for three years. Afterward, he chose a career and stuck with it. He decided on cattle ranching.

“After getting out of the military,” shares Maurice, “I knew what I wanted out of life: to have cows and land.” He wholeheartedly applied himself to his chosen career and has never looked back.

Maurice lives in Wauchula with Betty, his wife of 62 years. Together, they have two sons and five grandchildren. Looking back over the years he says he wouldn’t change anything and that “life’s been good to Betty and me.”

What caused Maurice to pursue a position on PRECO’s Board of Directors, you may ask?

“Betty used to work for the co-op,” explains Maurice. “She was hired before she finished high school in ’53 and worked there until ’65. After we were married, I would go with her to PRECO’s district meetings every year. It was at these meetings that I became interested in serving on the Board.”

In PRECO’s 80-year history, the co-op has only had four general managers and Maurice has worked with all of them.

“A few months after I came onto the board, Ivon Tilyou, PRECO’s first general manager, announced that he was ready to retire,” says Maurice. “We advertised the job, then hired Richard Maenpaa. Some years later, we hired Bill Mulcay, followed by Randy Shaw, who is the current manager.”

“We were fortunate to have Mr. Henderson on the board of directors for 55 years,” says Randy Shaw, PRECO General Manager/CEO. “A man of integrity, he is well-respected by the members of the board and has always made decisions based on the best interests of the cooperative and its members.”

Along with his duties as a member of PRECO’s board, Maurice also served on the board of Seminole Electric Cooperative, PRECO’s energy provider, for 14 years.

“The cooperative owes a debt of gratitude to Maurice for 55 years of selfless service,” adds Randy Shaw. “We wish him the best in retirement.”