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Warren County Historical Search

Guest Opinion: How co-ops use the smartest technology

Co-op Postcard: East Kentucky’s new CEO

Warren County Historical Search

If you have historic information about Warren County, the Bowling Green & Warren County Historic Preservation Board would like to hear from you.

For its Sights and Sounds of Warren County project, the board would like to borrow photos, film, video, slides, negatives, and audiotapes of the area that are at least 30 years old. The board will copy the material and return the originals.

You can send them to Robin Ziegler at the Historic Preservation Board, 1141 State Street, Bowling Green, KY 42101, (270) 842-1953. More info is available at

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Guest Opinion: How co-ops use the smartest technology
by John Lowrey

As new technologies sweep across the utility landscape, the nation’s electric co-ops lead the innovation.

Using the latest technology shows how electric co-ops put a priority on helping co-op member-owners manage energy and control costs.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission found that electric co-ops have the highest deployment of automated meter reading technology of any group of utilities in the nation.

New digital “smart” meters are revolutionizing the utility business. Daily meter readings allow innovative billing and rate options, while making it easier for the co-op consumer to get involved in managing energy use at work and home.

With smart-meter technology, a co-op can answer billing questions easily and accurately. Other benefits include outage detection, resolving power-quality issues, and helping with engineering and system planning.

Robert Saint, principal engineer for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, says co-ops are much more innovative than other sectors of the electric utility industry.

“Small companies have to be innovative to stay competitive,” says Saint. “The decision-making process can be much easier for cooperatives. They have fewer layers of management, and co-op employees take more responsibility for keeping costs low for members.”

That kind of customer-focused innovation is becoming even more important as energy supplies tighten all over the world, says John Brett, vice president of marketing and operations for Tantalus Systems Corp., a wireless automated meter reading company.

“The age of cheap, abundant energy is over,” says Brett. “The industry has a lot of educating to do about the true economic and environmental costs of energy. Automated meter reading bridges the communications divide between co-ops and the people they serve.”

Brett predicts co-ops will continue to use technology to help consumers control their energy bills.

“Co-ops put member satisfaction before immediate profit,” says Brett. “They realize that automated meter reading is a way to introduce new efficiencies in reading meters, identifying and resolving outages more quickly, and providing equal levels of service to remote rural members.”

Brett says electric system automation will provide an unprecedented level of efficiency and cost control.

“We see the advent of smart energy homes where consumers can allow utilities to reduce consumption to particular devices during critical peak periods to avoid a blackout, or simply to save money,” says Brett. “Customer signaling via the Web or an in-home display will help consumers take advantage of cost-saving and conservation programs. They may choose to purchase power when it is most abundant and least expensive. Everybody wins.”

John Lowrey is editor of Illinois Country Living, published by the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives, and a contributing writer to Rural Electric Magazine.

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Co-op Postcard: East Kentucky’s new CEO

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