Manager’s/President’s Message

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – April 2022

You’ve likely noticed Halifax EMC’s crews out and about, working on power lines and other electrical equipment in our community. It’s no secret that a lineworker’s job is tough––but it’s a job that’s essential and must be done, often in challenging conditions. This month, as we celebrate Lineworker Appreciation Day on April 11, I thought I’d share some interesting facts about electric lineworkers with you.

The work can be heavy, in more ways than one. Did you know the equipment and tools that a lineworker carries while climbing a utility pole can weigh up to 50 pounds? That’s the same as carrying six gallons of water. Speaking of utility poles, lineworkers are required to climb poles ranging anywhere from 30 to 120 feet tall. Needless to say, if you have a fear of heights, this likely isn’t the career path for you.

Lineworkers must be committed to their career––because it’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle. The long hours and ever-present danger can truly take a toll. In fact, being a lineworker is listed in the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the U.S. Lineworkers often work nontraditional hours, outdoors in difficult conditions. While the job does not require a college degree, it does require technical skills, years of training, and hands-on learning. Did you know that to become a journeyman lineworker can take more than 7,000 hours of training (or about four years)? That’s because working
with high-voltage equipment requires specialized skills, experience, and an ongoing mental toughness. Shortcuts are not an option, and there is no room for error in this line or work.

Despite the many challenges, Halifax EMC’s lineworkers are committed to powering our local community. During severe weather events that bring major power outages, lineworkers are among the first ones called. They must be ready to leave the comfort of their home and families unexpectedly, and they don’t return until the job is done, often days later. That’s why the lineworker’s family is also dedicated to service. They understand the importance of the job to the community.

Nationwide, there are approximately 120,000 electric lineworkers. Halifax EMC has 17 lineworkers that are responsible for keeping power flowing 24/7, 365 days a year. To do this, they maintain 1716.73 miles of power lines across four counties. In addition to the highly visible tasks lineworkers perform, their job today goes far beyond climbing utility poles to repair a wire. Today’s lineworkers are information experts who can pinpoint power outages from miles away. Line crews now use laptops, tablets, drones and other technologies to map outages, survey damage and troubleshoot problems.

Being a lineworker may not seem like a glamorous job, but it is absolutely essential to the life of our community. Without the exceptional dedication and commitment of these hardworking men and women, we simply would not have the reliable electricity that we need for everyday life.

So, the next time you see a lineworker, please thank them for the work they do to keep power flowing, regardless of the time of day or weather conditions. Afterall, lineworkers are the power behind your power. Please join us as we recognize them on April 11, and follow “#ThankALineworker” on social media to see how others are recognizing lineworkers.

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – March 2022

A power surge is an unexpected increase in voltage, and it can occur from a variety of sources. Regardless of the cause, power surges can majorly damage electronic devices and equipment in your home.

Let’s take a look at common causes of power surges and how you can protect your sensitive electronics.

One of the most common causes of a power surge is lightning. Most of us have experienced this during a severe  thunderstorm. When lightning strikes an electrical system, the excess current must be channeled somewhere––unfortunately in many cases, it’s sent through a home. Your best bet is to unplug all unused devices and electronics during severe thunderstorms.

Another common cause of power surges is electrical overload. This happens when devices or appliances are plugged into an outlet that can’t handle the required amount of voltage, or if multiple devices are plugged into one outlet through an extension cord. If you’re experiencing power surges due to electrical overload, it’s time to call a qualified electrician to evaluate your home’s circuits and electrical needs.

Faulty wiring in a home can also cause power surges. Damaged or exposed wires can cause spikes in voltage, creating a potentially dangerous situation. If you notice signs of faulty wiring, like visible burns on outlets, buzzing sounds from
outlets or frequently tripped circuit breakers, your home may be due for electrical wiring repairs and updates.

Surges can also occur after a power outage. Sometimes, when electricity is being restored and reconnected, it’s common to experience a quick surge in current. Similar to advice for a surge caused by lightning, it’s best to unplug sensitive electronics during the outage––then wait to plug them back in after power is fully restored.

Aside from unplugging devices when you suspect a power surge, there are two ways you can take additional precautions to protect electronics in your home.

Point-of-use surge protection devices, like power strips, can protect electronics during most surges. But remember, not all power strips include surge protection, so read the packaging label carefully before you buy, and don’t overload the power strip with too many devices. You can also install specialized electrical outlets that offer additional surge protection. Talk to a trusted electrician to learn more.

Another option is a whole-home surge protector, which can help protect your home from larger, more powerful surges. In most cases, whole-home suppressors are connected to your home’s service panel and include features like thermal fuses and notification capabilities that indicate when a device has been impacted by a surge. Whole-home surge protection prices vary based on the size of the home and suppressor. Whole-home suppressors should always be connected by a licensed electrician, so consider the cost of installation as well.

Occasional power surges are inevitable, but by unplugging devices when you think a surge may occur and using additional levels of protection like power strips or whole-home suppressors, you can better safeguard your sensitive electronics and devices.

As always, please reach out to us if you have questions about ways to protect your home from power surges

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – February 2022

February may be the shortest month, but it’s packed with special observances like Presidents’ Day, Black History Month, and Valentine’s Day, in addition to a host of unofficial “national” days you’ve probably never heard of like “National Tater Tot Day.” But they all have something in common. They were created to draw attention to a particular issue or theme.

Valentine’s Day may seem like an observance originally created by a greeting card company, but over time, it’s become a widely celebrated day generating millions of dollars spent on flowers, candy, and of course, greeting cards professing our love. But Valentine’s Day isn’t just for the lovebirds. It’s also the perfect time to let our friends, family, co-workers, and other special people in our lives know we care about them––with or without a storebought greeting card.

So, in that vein, we’ve created our list of top five reasons why we love serving you, the members of Halifax EMC.

  1. We love serving our members because, without you, the co-op wouldn’t exist. Our purpose is to provide you with reliable, responsible, and safe electricity. Simply put, Halifax EMC exists to serve you. That’s why we were formed in 1938––to bring power to our local area when for-profit utilities would not.
  2. You enable us to complete our mission by supporting our efforts to give back. A major part of our mission is to serve our community and look after the greater good. With your assistance, we’re able to help local nonprofit groups such as volunteer fire departments, churches, and organizations that support our youth through programs like Operation Round-Up.
  3. Members of our co-op also serve on the board of directors. They provide guidance for setting co-op priorities and helping make big decisions. Because our board members live in the area, they’re able to serve as the pulse of the larger community and identify immediate and long-term needs. The broader co-op membership provides helpful input through their vote on director elections and by weighing in on co-op and community issues.
  4. You help us get it right. Halifax EMC members are great about keeping us in the know. We do our best to avoid power outages, but Mother Nature can occasionally throw us a curveball; our members are quick to report any power disruptions and are patient as our crews work to safely restore power. We know outages are frustrating, and your support as we work through storms means so much to our employees. We also appreciate your feedback on co-op programs and services like pre-pay. Your opinions are critical for the co-op’s success, and we thank you for that.
  5. You and other Halifax EMC members make up the community we serve––and for us, it’s all about community. Our employees live and work here too and care about our community the same way you do. We’re invested and work to help it thrive. That’s why Halifax EMC donates to local charities, schools, and provides scholarship funds. It’s also why we invest in economic development, and why you’ll see our employees volunteering at local schools and other charitable and community endeavors.

As a co-op, our mission is to enhance the quality of life in our community and look after its long-term interests.

We love serving our members and our local community, and just like you, want to see it continue to thrive.

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – January 2022

Small space heaters are meant to do exactly as their name says: heat a small space. But unfortunately, many people use portable space heaters to heat their entire home, which can really take a toll on your energy bills. The truth is, whether you should use space heaters really depends on your home’s efficiency and energy needs.

If you’re using a space heater to compensate for problems in your home, like inadequate insulation, drafty windows and exterior doors, or an inefficient heating system, space heaters are not a practical solution. Your best bet is to improve the overall efficiency of your home. If you’re on a tight budget, caulking and weather stripping around windows and exterior doors is a low-cost, easy way to save energy. Depending on the size of your home, adding insulation can be a great next step. Loose fill insulation typically costs $1 to $1.50 per square foot. Taking these proactive energy-saving measures rather than relying on space heaters for supplemental warmth can reduce your heating and cooling bills for years to come.

Perhaps your home is energy efficient but you’re cold-natured and want a specific room to be cozier than the rest. In this case, a space heater may work for your needs. A good comparison is ceiling fans; we use ceiling fans in the summer to cool people, not rooms. A space heater can be used in a similar way during winter months. Only use a space heater in small spaces that you’re occupying and, if possible, try to shut off other rooms to contain the warmth provided by the space heater. If you decide to use a space heater to heat a small area in your home, make sure the heater is properly sized for the space; most heaters include a general sizing table.

A word about safety: the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates more than 25,000 residential fires are associated with the use of space heaters every year, resulting in more than 300 deaths. If you must use a space heater, purchase a newer model that includes the most current safety features and make sure it carries the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label. Choose a thermostatically controlled heater to avoid energy waste and overheating, and place the heater on a level surface away from foot traffic when in use. Always keep children and pets away from space heaters.

Consider alternative ways to stay warm like extra layers of clothing or UL-approved electric blankets. If you have hardwood or tile floors, lay down area rugs to provide additional insulation (and visual appeal!) and maintain warmth.

We know it’s cold out there, but remember in addition to safety concerns, space heaters can greatly increase your energy bills if used improperly.

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – December 2021

“The holidays.” I love everything about this time of year. Just the thought of the holiday and evokes a sense of comfort
and nostalgia. Recalling family gatherings and traditions warms my heart and fills my senses. It’s a time of reflection. I’m grateful for my own family as well as my co-op family. At Halifax EMC, we’re driven by a sense of mission and purpose. Our team feels a strong connection to our community and our members, because we live here, too.

While many of our community-focused programs and activities ramp up this time of year, we have several programs and services in place to help our members year-round. I’d like to remind you about some of these offerings in hopes you’ll find them beneficial.

We hope you’ll take advantage of the HEMC Mobile app that empowers you to monitor, manage and pay your energy bill conveniently through your phone. Another service we offer is pre-paid metering, which is intended to help budget your monthly energy costs. Halifax EMC members can pay for electricity before it’s used, then use the electricity until the credit expires. During the time period paid for, you’ll receive regular feedback on your balance via text or email. We also offer energy efficiency programs to save you money and energy.

In addition to helping members save today, we’re focusing on the future. In our area, we’re seeing increased interest in renewable energy sources. Recent innovations and advances have led to significant cost decreases in renewable energy, making it more feasible and accessible. In recent years, Halifax EMC has been able to adjust our fuel mix by incorporating more renewables. Today, five percent of our fuel mix is comprised of renewable energy sources.

You may have noticed our electric vehicle (EV) “Sparky” around town. We invested in an EV to promote greater understanding of electric vehicles and promote their use, especially given the focus on electrification of the transportation sector.

But the most important investment we make is in our local youth. Halifax EMC offers scholarships to local high schoolers who plan to further their education at a North Carolina community college, college or university. We also partner with Touchstone Energy to send middle school girls and boys to basketball camp each summer. Each year, through our Youth Tour program, we send rising high school seniors to Washington, D.C. for a weeklong immersion to experience democracy in action.

At the heart of all of these programs is you––the members we proudly serve. Looking back, I’m grateful for so many wonderful community partners and for the positive impact we can continue to make.

This holiday season, I wish you and your loved ones peace, joy and prosperity. Speaking on behalf of our team at Halifax EMC, I know the future will be bright, because of you.

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – November 2021

For me, this is a time of year for refection, and topping my list of things I’m grateful for is our wonderful community. I know I
speak for all Halifax EMC employees when I say that we are thankful to be in such an incredible place. We are fortunate to live in the same place where we work, which makes our ties to this community that much stronger.
You may recall that last month, my column touched on the first three Cooperative Principles, so this month, I’d like to tell you about the remaining four principles. The Cooperative Principles are essential to the co-op business model and benefit all members of the co-op.
Autonomy and Independence
The fourth principal, Autonomy and Independence, means that the co-op operates in an autonomous way that is solely directed and guided by its members, reflecting the values and needs of our local community. This means the co-op is not being influenced by leaders or shareholders several states away. Instead, the co-op is led by the local members it serves.
Education and Training
The fifth principle, Education and Training, focuses on enhancing the knowledge of co-op employees and
board members, which enables them to contribute to the development of the co-op.
By investing in continuous learning for our employees and board members, our co-op is making a commitment not just to individual professional and personal growth, but to the future of the co-op and the high quality of service our members expect and deserve. It’s a win-win situation.
We also strive to inform our members (that’s you!) and the public about the mission and operations of the co-op. In fact, that’s why you receive this magazine every month, so we can share the latest co-op news and updates, as well as energy efficiency and safety tips.
Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Cooperation among cooperatives is the sixth principle and fosters the way that co-ops work together to address bigger challenges. While this principle applies to all types of cooperatives, it is especially relevant in the energy industry. In our case,
we put this principle in action after major storms and disasters that cause widespread power outages.
When this happens, we call on nearby co-ops to come to our aid and assist with restoration efforts––and we, of course, extend the same help to them when they need us. I can’t think of a better example of cooperation among cooperatives.
In addition, because we are part of we can connect and collaborate with other electric co-ops to tackle industry-related challenges, like cybersecurity and an everchanging energy landscape.
Concern for Community
The seventh principle, Concern for Community, is essential to who we are as cooperatives. We serve our community not only by being an essential service, but by helping to power our local economy. Whether through economic development, volunteerism or donations to local causes, we invest in this community because it’s our home too. This holiday season, like we have done for many, many years, our employees and Volunteers in Action will donate non-perishable food items for baskets that will be distributed to members in need.
I think you’ll find that most cooperatives bring good people together to make good things happen in the community. We hope you feel that way about us, your local electric co-op.
On behalf of everyone at Halifax EMC, we’re thankful for your membership, and we hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – October 2021

Do you know what Halifax EMC, ACE Hardware, State Farm, REI, and Land O’Lakes all have in common? We’re all cooperatives!
We may be in different industries, but we all share a passion for serving our members and helping our communities to
thrive. In fact, all cooperatives adhere to the same set of seven principles that reflect our core values of honesty, transparency,
equity, inclusiveness and service to the greater community good. October is National Co-op Month, so this is the perfect time
to reflect on these principles that have stood the test of time but also provide a framework for the future. Let’s take a look at the first three cooperative principles.
Voluntary and Open Membership
Just like all co-ops, Halifax EMC was created out of necessity––to meet a need that would have been otherwise unmet in our
community. So in 1938, a group of neighbors banded together and organized our electric co-op so everyone in our community
could benefit. For a modest membership fee to the co-op, any farmer could get electricity brought to his farm. Neighbors
came together to tackle a problem that they all had but couldn’t solve alone. They worked together for the benefit of the
whole community, and the newly established electric lines helped power economic opportunity in our community.
While this history may be forgotten, key parts of that heritage remain––the focus on our mission and serving the greater good. In this, we include everyone to improve the quality of life and economic opportunity for the entire community. Membership is open to everyone in our service territory, regardless of race, religion, age, disability, gender identity, language, political perspective or socioeconomic status.
Democratic Member Control
Our co-op is well suited to meet the needs of our members because we are locally governed. Each member gets a voice and a vote in how the co-op is run, and each voice and vote are equal. Halifax EMC’s leadership team and employees live right here in the community. Our board of directors, who helps set long-term priorities for the co-op, also live locally on co-op lines. These board members have been elected by neighbors just like you. We know our members have a valuable perspective, and that’s why we are continually seeking your input and encourage you to weigh in on important co-op issues and participate in co-op elections.
Our close connection to this community ensures we get a firsthand perspective on members’ priorities, thereby enabling us to
make more informed decisions on long-term investments, such as equipment and technology upgrades.
Members’ Economic Participation
As a utility, our mission is to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy to our members. But as a co-op, we are also motivated by service to the community, rather than profits. Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of Halifax EMC. At least part of that capital remains the common property of the cooperative. Members allocate surpluses for co-op programs, initiatives, capital investments and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
Because we are guided by seven cooperative principles, it’s not just about dollars––it’s about opportunity for all and being fair when engaging with our members. The cooperative way is a values-based business model.
Halifax EMC is a reflection of our local community and its evolving needs. We view our role as a catalyst for good and making
our corner of the world a better place. And by the way, that sums up the seventh co-op principle, “concern for community,” which I’ll elaborate on next month.

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – September 2021

As a member of Halifax EMC, you may be familiar with our Brighter Future vision of serving this community by providing safe and reliable access to energy that is affordable and increasingly sustainable. As we work toward this vision, it is critical that we appropriately stay ahead of trends to ensure we meet the emerging power needs of our member-consumers.

A significant emerging trend across the nation is consumer adoption of electric vehicles. In 2020, a survey provided exclusively to members of electric cooperatives across the nation showed that 1 in 6 co-op members are likely to consider an electric vehicle as their next car. Although that may not seem like a critical mass, to ensure continued reliability our engineers are planning for this increased electric demand and just as importantly, so we can provide solutions to our members making the switch.

Because we know interest in these vehicles is on an upward trajectory, we are making investments now to build public charging stations in our local community. Doing so will help make sure our region is not overlooked for tourism, commerce and economic development opportunities, and it facilitates driving electric for people here locally.

Currently, Halifax EMC has one DC fast charging station for public use in Enfield located on Highway 561 at I-95, Exit 160. The cooperative is also in the process of installing another DC fast charger in the Lake Gaston area.

If charging is managed appropriately, electric vehicles can significantly benefit the electric grid in ways that will not impact reliability and affordability of electricity. When charged at night, EVs add load to the grid when it is historically most underused. Power is the most expensive at peak demand hours, like late afternoon in the summer and early morning in the winter. Nighttime EV charging is an example of spreading load across more hours of the day to help flatten expensive peaks, and this is an area we will continue to explore.

These benefits to the grid are important, but EV drivers often realize other benefits, like cost savings, more convenience, less maintenance, better impact on the environment and, many would argue, a better driving experience.

You can learn more about the many significant benefits of driving electric, see information addressing common myths and misunderstandings of EVs and find financial incentives for driving electric here.

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – August 2021

Most of us use electricity, either directly or indirectly, at almost all times. Because electricity is so abundant and available with the simple flip of a switch, it’s easy to take it for granted.

According to the Energy Information Agency (EIA), the typical U.S. household now uses more air conditioning, appliances and consumer electronics than ever before. The average home also contains 10 or more internet connected devices. Considering
everything that is powered by electricity, it’s no wonder we occasionally might wince at our monthly bill. But keep in mind, it’s no longer just the “light bill.”

Electricity powers quality of life
From the infrastructure of your home (appliances, water heater and HVAC system) to charging your smartphones, computers, TV and Wi-Fi router, your energy bill covers so much more than lighting.

Today, there is more demand for electricity than ever before. At home, in schools and business, and in commercial sectors such as transportation, the need for electricity is increasing.

Typically when demand goes up, so does the price, as is the case with most goods or services like cable or even your favorite
specialty coffee. However, that’s not true with electricity. Let’s take a look at how the value of electricity compares to other common expenses.

Over the last five years, the cost of rent increased 3.4%; medical care increased 2.8%; and education increased 2.2%.
But the cost of electricity only increased 1%. Considering all the ways we depend on electricity, it still remains a great value.

So, the next time you’re enjoying your favorite podcast, TV series or movie, consider the value of electricity and how it
enhances your quality of life.

We care about you, the members we serve, and understand that electricity is more than a commodity––it’s a necessity. That’s
why Halifax EMC will continue working hard to power your life, reliably, safely, and affordably.

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – April 2021

Halifax EMC is proud to continue to serve you and to be able to return a portion of your electric purchases to you. The good news is that the financial condition of your cooperative is strong and allows the payment of your capital credits for helping build, sustain and grow your local cooperative. In March, Halifax EMC returned $380,981 in capital credits for 1999 through 2001.
What exactly are capital credits?
An electric cooperative operates on an at-cost, not-for-profit, basis by annually “allocating” to each member, based upon the member’s purchase of electricity, operating revenue remaining at the end of the year. Later, as financial condition permits, these allocated amounts—capital credits—are retired. Capital credits represent the most significant source of equity for HEMC. Since a cooperative’s members are also the people the co-op serves, capital
credits reflect each member’s ownership in, and contribution of capital to, the cooperative. This differs from dividends investor-owned utilities pay shareholders, who may or may not be customers of the utility.
When will I receive my capital credit?
Typically, capital credits are issued 20 years after the year in which the margins were earned. The Board continually monitors the financial condition
of the cooperative and annually reviews past multiple years’ financial performance and future capital investment needs. If the financial needs of the cooperative are met, the Board will retire margins by paying capital credits to the members.
This year the Board determined that capital credits for members from 1999 through 2001 should be retired. Those members received either a bill credit up to $199 or a check in the mail if the credit was $200 or more, which reflects their contribution of capital to, and ownership of, Halifax EMC during those years. That may seem like a long time ago. However, those funds helped us maintain lower rates, reduced the amount of money we needed to borrow from outside lenders to build, maintain, and expand a reliable electric distribution system, and covered emergency expenses.
Do I earn interest?
Although the cooperative is using your money by reinvesting it in the business operations, you do not earn interest. Since Halifax EMC is a not-for-profit, member-owned company, you do not receive interest or dividends on your capital credits. To pay you interest, the cooperative would have to raise your electric rates to cover the cost of the interest.
I moved. Will I still receive capital credits?
If you move from the Halifax EMC area, the capital credits accumulated in your name will remain in your name, but will not affect when capital credits are paid.
Whenever capital credits are paid for a given year, they are paid to everyone who paid an electric bill that year regardless of whether they are currently a member or have moved. If you do move, it is important to keep Halifax EMC informed of your current address so you will receive your capital credit check when it is issued.
Members also have the option upon termination of an individual’s membership (non-commercial) to have all of their capital credits returned early; however, these capital credits will be reduced by the discount rate.