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Congratulations Communities First Fund Winners !

To promote and recognize participation in the PIE&G Communities First Fund, all current and newly enrolled members were automatically entered to win one of three prizes in a random drawing held February 6, 2017. The following lucky members were selected:

1st prize –Kyle Kowalewsky (HP notebook computer) 

2nd prize –John Fritzer (Samsung Tablet)

3rd prize –Jacqueline Calhoun ($50 bill credit)

Thank you to everyone who participates in the Fund and for helping to support our local communities. Your small change adds up to make a big difference in northeast Michigan!

Kyle Kowalewsky

MPSC: Stay safe during power outages caused by windstorms

LANSING, Mich. – In the aftermath of widespread windstorms, many Michiganians have found themselves without electricity as utilities work to restore power. The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) and the Michigan Agency for Energy (MAE) are urging utility customers to exercise caution using supplemental home heating sources or when using portable generators.

“Safety is of paramount importance during power outages,” noted MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg. “MAE’s tips sheets on what to do when electric power is lost, safely using supplemental home heating sources and the safe use of a portable generator provide important life-saving information. It is also of extreme importance to treat all downed wires as ‘live’ and avoid contact.”

Other useful information on how to stay safe before, during and after winter storms or extreme cold is available on the Ready.gov website.

For more information about MAE, please visit www.michigan.gov/energy.

For more information about the MPSC, please visit www.michigan.gov/mpsc.

PIE&G Partner CoBank Launches"No Barriers" Program for Veterans With Disabilities

December 12, 2016 (Onaway) – CoBank, a cooperative bank serving rural infrastructure providers throughout the United States, including electric cooperatives like Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op, recently announced a new program for veterans with disabilities.  In partnership with its customers and the nonprofit group “No Barriers USA”, CoBank will sponsor up to 50 veterans from rural areas across the U.S. to participate in outdoor expeditions that challenge them mentally and physically and help them to transform their lives. PIE&G and other eligible CoBank borrowers will be able to nominate veterans from their local communities to participate in the No Barriers Warriors program, with CoBank covering the full cost for each veteran, including travel expenses. Selected veterans will go through the program in 2017.

“Every American owes an enormous debt of gratitude to the men and women who serve in the armed forces and protect our country,” said Brian Burns, PIE&G’s chief executive officer.  “Those who are wounded or injured in the course of duty are even more deserving of our thanks.  At PIE&G, we want to do our part to honor veterans and repay them for their service to the nation.”  Burns noted that over 5 million of the nation’s 22 million veterans are located in rural areas. PIE&G is looking to its members to nominate deserving individuals from their communities who would benefit from the No Barriers experience.

No Barriers was co-founded by Erik Weihenmayer, an internationally renowned mountain climber and the only blind person in history to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.  Weihenmayer has been a regular speaker at CoBank meetings over the past several years and has shared his inspirational message about overcoming barriers and challenges to live a life rich in meaning and purpose with the bank’s customers and employees.

“Through the Warriors program, No Barriers has been working with veterans with disabilities for years,” said Weihenmayer. “We’ve seen the transformation that takes place when veterans are able to overcome the mental and physical challenges involved in one of our expeditions, and then apply the skills they’ve learned to the challenges faced in the day-to-day lives. We’re grateful to CoBank for their partnership and opportunity to serve even more of our nation’s veterans with disabilities.”

Mr. Burns added “We look forward to partnering with CoBank to make this effort a success.”  Nominations of rural veterans with disabilities to participate in the 2017 program are being accepted immediately.  Candidates must have a VA disability rating.  Detailed information about the nomination process and requirements is available on Facebook (Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op), or by calling PIE&G Member Services at 1-800-423-6634.

 

Sign Up and Win 1 of 3 Prizes!

Enroll Today in the Communities First Fund!

All members enrolled before February 6, 2017 (including those already participating) will be automatically entered to win one of three prizes: first prize is an HP notebook computer, second prize  is a Samsung tablet, and third prize is a PIE&G $50 bill credit.  

Call Member Services at 1-800-423-6634 to enroll now, or complete the form here and drop it at our office or mail it with your utility payment to PIE&G, P O Box 308, Onaway, MI  49765. Good Luck!

Challenge rider on a horse

Helping Local Communities

ALL ENROLLED IN THE COMMUNITIES FIRST FUND ARE ELIGIBLE FOR PRIZE DRAWING HELD FEBRUARY 6, 2017

PIE&G members who volunteer to round up their monthly utility bills to the next whole dollar generously fund the PIE&G Communities First Fund, which was created in 1998 to help boost important nonprofit groups in Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op’s service area. If you are among the 33 percent of PIE&G members who participate – helping generate about $51,400 per year – thank you! The average contribution is 50 cents per month, or around $6 annually per meter, but these donations add up to make a BIG difference in northeast Michigan. More than $1.39 million has been awarded to date to benefit our communities.

PIE&G needs your help to expand this program in the coming year. If 50 percent of members participated, they would generate $78,000 for local food pantries and schools, the Presque Isle County Servicemen’s Club, Boy Scouts, the Cheboygan County Equine Unit, Girls on the Run Sunrise Side and many more. You can help by enrolling in the program. Simply complete the enrollment form here, drop it off at our office or mail it with your utility payment to PIE&G, P.O. Box 308, Onaway, MI 49765. Or just call us at 1-800-423-6634.

Members enrolled in the PIE&G Communities First Fund before Feb. 6, 2017 (including those already participating), will be automatically entered to win one of three prizes.First prize is a notebook computer valued at $250, second prize is a tablet computer valued at $100, and third prize is a $50 PIE&G bill credit.

You can be confident that all member donations go directly to help communities; the small administrative costs involved are paid by PIE&G. Contributions are tax deductible and your total annual contribution will be listed on your January energy bill for tax purposes. An all-volunteer, independent board of directors reviews the applications and determines the awards.

Thank you for enrolling – and good luck!

Challenge Riders

Safety During Hunting Season

Be aware of what’s behind that big buck or it might cost big bucks.

Your electric co-op’s time and money are spent every year repairing equipment and power lines that have been struck by a stray bullet. As a not-for-profit cooperative, owned by the members, we all share in this expense.

This doesn’t even include the inconvenience, damages, and hazards to members down the line that require power for medical equipment or other needs, while a lineman does some hunting of his own looking at spans of line trying to locate the problem.

Hunters and other gun-owners should be cautious not to shoot near or toward power lines, power poles, and substations. A stray bullet can cause damage to equipment, could be deadly to the shooter, and potentially interrupt electric service to large areas.

Sometimes the damage isn’t noticed for several weeks or months and is only discovered when an
unexplained outage occurs.

Landowners are also encouraged to take note of nonmembers who are hunting on their property and remind them to be aware of power lines.

Shooting near overhead power lines or insulators can result in severe injury or death.

The main safety points to remember are:
• Do not shoot at or near power lines or insulators.
• Familiarize yourself with the location of power lines and equipment on land where you shoot.
• Damage to the conductor can happen, possibly dropping a phase on the ground. If it’s dry and the electricity goes to ground, there is the possibility of electrocution and wildfire.
• Be especially careful in wooded areas where power lines may not be as visible.
• Do not use power line wood poles or towers to support equipment used in your shooting activity.
• Take notice of warning signs and keep clear of electrical equipment.
• Do not place deer stands on utility poles or climb poles. Energized lines and equipment on the poles can conduct electricity to anyone who comes in contact with them, causing shock or electrocution.
• Do not shoot at, or near, birds perching on utility lines. That goes for any firearm, including pistols, rifles or shotguns.
• Do not place decoys on power lines or other utility equipment. Anything attached to a pole besides utility equipment can pose an obstruction—and a serious hazard—to electric cooperative employees as they perform utility operations.
• Avoid the use of lofting poles near overhead power lines. Remember, electricity can jump across a considerable distance.

PIE&G 79th ANNUAL MEETING HELD IN ONAWAY

Approximately 450 people attended the Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op’s 79ᵗʰ Annual Membership Meeting at the Onaway High School today. According to Board Chairman John Brown, “The annual meeting is a perfect example of our cooperative principles in action. Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by its members. Each member has equal voting rights –one member, one vote – and elections are held in a democratic manner.”

Each year elections are held for three (3) positions on the board of directors.  After all votes were counted, the successful candidates winning election to three-year terms (2016-2019) were:  Brentt Lucas (incumbent, Alpena District), Kurt Krajniak (incumbent, Alpena District) and Raymond Wozniak (incumbent, Presque Isle District). 

The number of votes each candidate received is listed below.

Alpena District (two vacancies):

Bob Grohowski                     433

Duane Jennings                    572

Kurt Krajniak                         919*

Brentt Lucas                          761*

Presque Isle District (one vacancy):

Greg Diller                             428

Leo Romel                             373

Raymond Wozniak                 866*                                                                     

Immediately following the meeting, the board of directors held their election of officers and the results were as follows: Chairman – John Brown; Vice-Chairman – Allan Berg; Secretary – Sandy Borowicz; and Treasurer – Daryl Peterson.

Mr. Jeffrey Ostman, a senior at Cheboygan High School, spoke at the meeting about his experiences at the Youth Leadership Summit in Michigan. In 2015, Mr. Ostman was also was selected to attend the annual NRECA Youth Tour conference in Washington, DC. From there, Jeffrey was elected by his peers to represent Michigan’s electric cooperatives at the NRECA Annual Meeting in New Orleans. 

In other business, members heard reports from the cooperative’s auditor and from Brian Burns, President and Chief Executive Officer.

The winner of the $100 prize raffle for voting by mail was Lyle C. Ballard of Armada.

Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op provides electricity and natural gas service to approximately 42,500 active meters across its nine county territory in northeast Michigan. PIE&G headquarters is located in Onaway.

Annual Meeting

Michigan Co-ops Lead The Way In Renewable Energy

Sun. Water. Wind.

Michiganders know these elements can make for a great day at the beach. Michigan’s electric cooperatives also know these raw energy sources can be a great way to power your home.

From solar to wind to hydroelectric (hydro) power, Michigan’s electric cooperatives are the state’s undeniable leaders in renewable energy.

Collectively, Michigan’s nine electric cooperatives will receive more than 20 percent of their energy from renewable resources in 2017. Meanwhile, the statewide average for other utilities is closer to the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requirement of 10 percent.

Michigan’s cooperatives have been ahead of the curve on renewable energy for more than a decade.

In 2006, Wolverine Power Cooperative* partnered with John Deere Renewables to develop Michigan’s first commercial scale wind farm in Huron County. The wind farm was fully operational in 2007 with an output of 50 megawatts. The following year, Michigan adopted the RPS which mandated a 10 percent supply of renewable energy be utilized by electric providers by 2015.

After Michigan’s first wind farm, progress continued with the state’s very first community solar project at Cherryland Electric Cooperative in 2013. Another community solar project was built by HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative in 2014. Community solar offers an affordable, convenient way for members to use renewable energy as a power source. A solar panel subscription entitles members to a share of energy produced on a utility-scale community solar array. Participants receive solar credits on their utility bill. It’s a great way to remove up-front costs and installation barriers of solar, making it available to the wider membership.

Cloverland Electric Cooperative operates one of the largest hydropower facilities in Michigan. Located along the St. Marys River in Sault Ste. Marie, the hydro plant produces one-fifth of the power needs of the eastern Upper Peninsula.

Now there’s the new $200 million clean natural gas Alpine Power Plant. Commissioned just this year, it was developed to meet peak demand needs for Michigan co-op members and to supplement the often intermittent nature of renewable energy.

This fall, a partnership that includes several of Michigan’s electric cooperatives will begin construction on a large solar project located in Missaukee County, between Cadillac and Lake City. This large-scale array will begin generating electricity using the sun starting in January 2017. The project is still in the early stages, and more information will appear in future issues of Michigan Country Lines as it develops. Additionally, members can sign-up to receive project updates at spartansolar.com.

So why do Michigan’s electric co-ops continue to lead the way in renewable energy?

“We listen to our members and are able to capitalize quickly on renewable energy opportunities,” said Craig Borr, CEO/president of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association (MECA). MECA is the service organization representing electric cooperatives in Michigan.

“Michigan's electric cooperatives got into renewable energy because it was the right thing to do from an environmental standpoint,” said Borr. “But it turns out it’s also the responsible thing to do from a financial standpoint.”

Clean, renewable energy generation is where the future of energy is headed.

And for Michigan co-ops, that future looks pretty bright.

Clean energy graphic with solar panels and wind turbines

Northern Michigan’s New Alpine Power Plant Is A Powerhouse

Wolverine Power Cooperative generates and transmits power to our rural substations so we can distribute it to you, our members. They help us ensure that your energy is affordable, reliable, clean and safe. We rely on Wolverine to make well-informed decisions about the future of your electricity.

We're proud to announce that the newest addition to the Wolverine supply mix, the Alpine Power Plant, is now fully powered and generating enough power for 120,000 member households across the state of Michigan!

What is the Alpine Power Plant?
Just 18 short months ago, Wolverine's board of directors—made up of co-op members just like you—set the Alpine Power Plant in motion. Alpine is the largest and most efficient generator in northern Michigan, including the Upper Peninsula.

Alpine is fueled by natural gas, a clean, reliable, and affordable alternative to coal. Its unique, state-of-the-art technology includes two GE simple-cycle combustion turbine generators that together are capable of producing up to 432 megawatts of power. Alpine is a “peaker plant,” meaning it can be fired up quickly to provide electricity for surges in demand.

Wolverine invested approximately $180 million into Alpine to ensure a quick start and flexible operations. As Michigan transitions away from coal plants toward more renewable forms of electric generation, Alpine provides us with a new, affordable, efficient and flexible generation asset, essential for years to come as the industry changes.

How does Alpine impact me?
Wolverine Power Cooperative and its members, including Cherryland Electric Cooperative, Great Lakes Energy Cooperative, HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Midwest Energy Cooperative and Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op, are proud to be leaders when it comes to providing long-term solutions for Michigan's energy capacity. Old coal plants are retiring, leaving a void that new power plants can and need to fill.

Adding Alpine's output to Michigan's energy supply will help maintain affordable rates in the midst of coal plants retiring, by giving us an additional option when market rates fluctuate. The plant will also serve to integrate new renewable energy sources, as we expect to receive 30 percent of our electricity from renewable sources in the future.

Beyond the energy benefits for Michigan as a whole, Alpine Power Plant offers economic impacts for its local community. Strategically located to support reliability in northern Michigan, the middle-of-the-mitt location in Otsego County provides a boost to the local economy. During construction, the site was host to more than 300 workers that, in turn, contributed greatly to the local economy. The plant will be maintained by nine full-time employees. The plant also provides a tax boost to units of government in Elmira Township, the City of Gaylord and Otsego County.

Michigan's energy future is secured in part because of projects like the Alpine Power Plant. We hope you're as excited as we are to see your electric bills stay low and your quality of life stay high!

Get more information about the Alpine Power Plant by visiting alpinecleanenergy.com.

Power plant

PIE&G Communities First Fund Awards $5,850 in Grants

September 27, 2016 (Onaway) Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op members continue to generously assist area community organizations and individuals through the voluntary round up of their electric and natural gas billings.  Member contributions to the Communities First Fund provide funds for grants and scholarships in their local communities within the PIE&G service area. 

At a recent meeting, the PIE&G Communities First Fund Board of Directors finalized awards of $5,850 in grants to the following recipients:

District Health Department #4 ($2,000) to host the Girls on the Run Sunrise Side program in the spring for schools in Alpena, Cheboygan, Montmorency and Presque Isle counties. The program uses running to inspire and motivate girls, encourage lifelong health and fitness, and to build confidence. Sessions will be held bi-weekly for ten weeks after school for girls ages eight to eighteen.  The funds will be used to purchase the water bottles, t-shirts, and medals for girls who participate.

Alcona County

Hubbard Lake Sportsman & Improvement Association (HLSIA) ($500) to assist with the costs of constructing fifty (50) fish shelters for placement in the lake this fall to improve fish habitat. The Association works closely with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Quality to monitor fish populations and promote sport fishing. Shelter construction will start in September and the project is expected to be completed in October 2016.

Cheboygan County

Cheboygan Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA) ($1,350) to purchase a new laptop for the Onaway office for VITA, an IRS sponsored program that works with community organizations to provide high quality tax preparation to low income tax filers and senior citizens. Federal, state, home heating credits and property tax credits are prepared and e-filed free of charge. For the 2015 tax season, 2,003 returns were processed and 1,346 returns in 2014. 

Presque Isle County

Onaway United Methodist Church ($2,000)  for the Caring Closet to purchase certain non-food items that cannot be purchased by food stamps including laundry detergent, personal hygiene items and toiletries.  The Caring Closet will purchase and make these items available for local families in need.

Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op provides electric and natural gas service to more than 42,000 member-owners, and serves a nine county area across northeast Michigan. PIE&G headquarters is located in Onaway.

 

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