Jeff McCallister

Jeff McCallister and an electric vehicle

EV road trip

In 2010, the first year that plug-in electric vehicles were commercially available, 300 were sold. The following year, that number climbed to almost 18,000, and by 2019, plug-in EV sales totaled 327,000 — about 2% of light-duty automobile sales that year.

Electric cooperatives across the nation are preparing for the increased EV market share — especially as automakers begin rolling out electric pickup trucks and medium SUV models that are more popular with rural drivers.

Several Ohio co-ops have installed chargers at their offices, some offer rebates on home charging equipment, and all include calculators on their websites that help their members determine the potential savings if they switch to EVs from their current combustion model. 

Government relations

80 years serving our members

Shortly after the first electric cooperatives formed in the 1930s, their leadership began to see some of the same challenges that small businesses everywhere face — chief among them being a lack of the buying power that larger companies enjoy.

The leaders of the co-ops started talking among themselves to find ways to negotiate better contracts to buy electricity, and they saw immediate benefits. It didn’t take long before they began to see real value in working together in other aspects of their business, as well. So, in 1941 — a little more than five years after Piqua-based Pioneer Electric Cooperative set the first co-op pole in the nation, and 80 years ago this summer — co-ops officially formed a statewide trade association: Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives. 

Car crash

Costly diversions

More and more people get behind the wheels of cars these days with a phone or a sandwich in hand — or in any number of other attention-hogging situations — and give less and less of their concentration to driving safely.

From mere property damage to ruining — or ending — lives, some of those costs are easier to figure out than others. According to a survey of electric cooperatives in Ohio, for example, it costs $2,576, on average, to replace a pole that has been damaged in a car crash. Generally, that’s paid by the driver’s insurance, but not always. There are other costs, too. 

Lorain-Medina school donation

A little help

School districts across the country struggled with how to continue their operations through the COVID-19 pandemic. How could they keep kids and teachers safe during in-building instruction?

But the coronavirus did force changes. The district needed to find a way to teach the 230 students who chose online instruction, while keeping those in the buildings safe with increased personal protective gear and gallons upon gallons of sanitizer for hands and high-touch surfaces, as well as other incidentals that came up every day.

“Contrary to what anyone may think, these expenses have not been just a drop in the bucket, and there has not been much help forthcoming from the state or federal government,” Clark says. “All of our COVID-related expenses have really added up.”

Firelands ACRE meeting with Bob Gibbs

Collective voice

Allen Heindel of Celina says he’s not particularly active politically, beyond voting for issues and candidates that represent his views. 

“I feel that Midwest does a nice job keeping us informed about what’s happening legislatively and how those things might affect the cost of electricity,” says Heindel, an engineer with Crown Equipment Corporation in New Bremen. “It just makes sense for electric cooperative members to have a voice in the legislative arena, because these are things that affect us every day.”

Valerie Williams reads to her children

A book for every child

Valerie Williams knew she wanted in from the moment she heard that the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library/Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library program was coming to Highland County.

When Ohio first lady Fran DeWine announced the program’s expansion into Highland County last March, Williams was not only one of those instrumental in promoting the program in the county, she was among the first to sign up.

Her sons, 4-year-old Porter and 1-year-old Moxley, now each get an age-appropriate book in the mail every month at no cost to the family.

Anthony Smith

The right way

Every now and then, Anthony Smith, president and CEO of Union Rural Electric Cooperative in Marysville, finds he’s dashed out of the house in the morning without eating breakfast, so he ends up in the drive-thru lane at the fast-food place next to his office to grab a bite

Every now and then, Anthony Smith, president and CEO of Union Rural Electric Cooperative in Marysville, finds he’s dashed out of the house in the morning without eating breakfast, so he ends up in the drive-thru lane at the fast-food place next to his office to grab a bite on his way to work. 

Co-op annual meeting

In the know

For customers of an investor-owned utility like AEP or Dayton Power and Light, communication with their electric company probably extends no further than paying their bill or finding out how long an outage might last.

“Members who are engaged are the ones who will attend the annual meeting — for more than just the chance of getting a bill credit,” says Michael Wilson, director of communications at Logan County Electric Cooperative, based in Bellefontaine. “Without engaged and educated members, the cooperative business model could not exist.”

Co-op employee at drive-thru

COVID rules

AJ Atkinson arrives to work at Carroll Electric Cooperative in Carrollton the same as he has every day since he was hired as the co-op’s manager of marketing and member services — but it’s different lately. 

At Carroll Electric, that meant a new office schedule that included a rotation of staff members working remotely so that those in the office would be able to maintain plenty of distance. While the full staff has now returned to a normal five-day on-site week, all are expected to wear masks when on the grounds, and office hours have been reduced to try to further limit close contact through the day.

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.