Manager’s/President’s Message

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – November 2022

I don’t know about you, but I consider my four-legged companion part of the family. Cooper, our Labrador, has been part of our family for 13 years and I can’t imagine life without him. I know others feel this way, too. That’s why during the winter months, we make sure our whole family, including our four-legged members, is cozy––without taking a big “bite” out of our budget.

This month, I’d like to share a few simple ways you can make your home more comfortable this winter, which can ultimately help you save on energy bills.

At the onset of the cold weather season, we replace the HVAC filter for better air quality and to help the unit operate more efficiently. You can also keep your home cozier by caulking and weatherstripping windows and doors. If your home is particularly chilly, you can tape or affix heavy, clear plastic to the inside of your window frames to create an additional barrier against the cold. Ensure that the plastic is tightly sealed to the frame to help reduce infiltration.

We know winter can be “ruff”, so we set our thermostat at 68 degrees, a “purr-fect” temperature for people and pets. This is especially important for smaller, short hair and senior dogs––not just for warmth, but for their general health. Puppies, kittens and older pets with arthritis or other ailments may have a harder time controlling their body heat and need the additional warmth when it’s chilly out.

Pets that sleep close to the floor can be subject to cold drafts that enter your home through windows and exterior doors. If your pet’s bed is near a window or door that feels drafty, tightly
roll up a towel and place it near the bottom of the door or window to eliminate the draft. Cutting down on cold drafts helps everyone feel more comfortable during colder months.

If possible, elevate your pet’s bed so it’s not placed directly on a cold floor. An old chair or sofa cushion works well. If you don’t use a dog bed, take some old blankets and create a donut shape on the cushion so the dog can snuggle and “nest” within the blanket. You can do the same for cats but on a smaller scale. Blankets enable pets to nestle into them, even when they aren’t tired, and provide a comfortable place for dogs and cats to curl up.

During the day, open your blinds and curtains to allow sunlight to warm your home. Close window coverings at night for an added layer of insulation.

At Halifax EMC, we want to help you save energy and money. Visit our website at halifaxemc.com for additional energy-saving tips.

We can’t control the weather, but we can provide advice to help you save energy and keep your family and furry friends more comfortable during the winter season.

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – October 2022

Fall is a busy time, and October is a particularly eventful month with school, community and sports activities in full swing. It’s also when all cooperatives celebrate National Co-op Month.

When I say Halifax EMC celebrates Co-op Month, it really means we are celebrating you! After all, our co-op wouldn’t exist without you, our members.

Our core business purpose is to serve as your electricity provider, but the larger mission of the co-op is to help make our corner of the world a better place. “Concern for community” is one of seven guiding principles that all co-ops share.

Similar to how our wires run through our service territory, our concern for community flows through all of our decisions–– because being a co-op means being a responsible partner and good neighbor.

Halifax EMC works to help our community thrive through initiatives led by our employees and local board that’s comprised of neighbors who live right here in our community. Because we’re local, we understand our community’s unique needs and strive to help meet them.

We’re proud to support local youth through our Youth Tour and scholarship programs. With your help, we offer Operation Roundup to provide financial assistance to our community’s non-profit organizations. We also distribute grants to teachers for classroom projects through the Bright Ideas Education Grant program.

The word “cooperative” is close to “cooperation,” meaning people working together towards a common goal—mutually benefitting one another and the larger community. That’s the essence of the cooperative spirit. Our employees and member-elected board members are invested in the community in which they live and serve. They coach little league teams, serve as 4-H and scout leaders, and represent the cooperative in community-minded service organizations.

Above all, as a co-op we put our members’ priorities first. As your trusted energy partner, we know that saving energy and money is important to you. We want to empower you to manage energy use at home. If you haven’t already, I encourage you take a moment and download our app, HEMC Mobile. Through the app, you can conveniently monitor and manage your energy use. And we’re of course here to help, so give us a call if you have questions about your energy bills.

Halifax EMC is continuously examining ways to operate more efficiently while continuing to provide the highest level of friendly, reliable service you expect and deserve. After all, we’re your local co-op. We were built by the members we serve.

Finally, as we celebrate Co-op Month, don’t forget that we are celebrating you. Join us Tuesday, October 4, for Member Appreciation Day at the Enfield Operations Center located on Highway 481 in Enfield or at the Macon office. Register at either location and receive your goody bag as well as a hot dog, chips and a drink!

Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – September 2022

It’s September and summer is winding down, but as I write this article, we’re in the midst of the dog days of summer and are experiencing late afternoon/early evening storms that really pack a punch. To be honest, the end of July and beginning of August were brutal.

Our outage numbers were some of the highest we have recorded in years and it’s all thanks to the weather. While our service area as a whole had scattered outages as a result of these daily weather events, Warren County appeared to catch the brunt. The majority of these late day storms brought heavy rainfall, bursts of wind, and staggering numbers of lightning strikes; the combination of which results in long nights for our line crew. Our own Macon office suffered damage from a lightning hit, which took out computers, credit card machines and the telephones. Many of you may have noticed that office was closed for a time while repairs were made and we waited for new equipment.

We all know that summer storms can lead to power outages and the best we can do is try to reduce the potential problem
areas. Halifax EMC prides itself in its right-of-way maintenance program and has seen a vast improvement in the reduction
of outages caused by tree limbs throughout the years. Our right-of-way contractors clear trees up to the designated right-of-way and clear dead danger trees as needed that could potentially hit the power line. However, the saturated ground created by drenching downpours leaves live trees vulnerable. A tree’s root system can lose grounding in soggy soil and the tree tops may even become top heavy. Add in wind gusts and those trees, well outside of the right-of-way, fall on the power lines.

The timing of these late-day storms slowed restoration efforts as well. While Halifax EMC is on call 24 hours a day, outages after normal working hours require a two-man crew to be dispatched. Once dispatched to the area, the line crew must assess the area to determine the source of the outage and if assistance will be needed to make repairs. Assessment times are often longer at night because crews must drive the area in darkness, using only the lights from their vehicle, or in some cases may even have to patrol lines on foot, to identify the culprit.

During outages that affect a large number of members, we strive to keep you updated on Facebook, if possible. If you use this form of social media, please follow us. We often share pictures which hopefully offer a better understanding of why the lights are out and the damage that crews are facing in their repair efforts.

Your patience is greatly appreciated as we weathered these recent storms and we could use your help in making sure our
outage response times are even quicker. If you have an outage, don’t just assume your neighbor or someone else in your area has reported it. Call 1-800-690-0522 to report an outage at your residence. Make sure we have your up-to-date contact information. If we don’t have your current telephone number (home and cell) in our system, which is linked with your physical address, it may take longer to properly identify the outage location.

Whether facing summer storms or everyday obstacles, know that Halifax EMC is here for you. We strive to provide reliable service to each of our members but rest assured when the lights do go out, we want to get them restored for you as quickly and safely as possible.

 

Hali Facts, Manager's Message

Manager’s Message – July 2022

It’s no secret that consumers with a water, gas or electricity connection have long been targets for utility scams, but fraudsters have changed their tactics since the Covid-19 pandemic. As consumers became more reliant on technology for work, school, and commerce, scammers noted these shifts and adapted their tactics to this changed environment.

Imposter scams are the No. 1 type of fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission. While scam artists may come to your door posing as a utility worker who works for the “power company,” in today’s more-connected world, attempts are more likely to come through an electronic device, via email, phone or text.

Common Types of Scams

A scammer may claim you are overdue on your electric bill and threaten to disconnect your service if you don’t pay immediately. Whether this is done in person, by phone, text or email, the scammers want to scare you into immediate payment so you don’t have time to think clearly.

If this happens over the phone, simply hang up. If you’re concerned about your bill, call us at 252-445-5111. Our phone number can also be found on your monthly bill and on our website,
halifaxemc.com. If the scam is by email or text, delete it before taking any action. If you’re unsure, you can always call us, access your account via the website, or log into the HEMC Mobile app to check the status of your account. Remember, Halifax EMC will never attempt to demand immediate payment after just one notice.

Some scammers may falsely claim you have been overcharged on your bill and say they want to give a refund. It sounds easy. All you have to do is click or press a button to initiate the process. If you proceed, you will be prompted to provide banking or other personal information. Instead of money going into your bank account, the scammers can drain your account and use personal information such as a social security number for identity theft.

If this “refund” scam happens over the phone, just hang up and block the phone number to prevent future robocalls. If this scam attempt occurs via email (known as a “phishing” attempt) or by text (“smishing”), do not click any links. Instead, delete it, and if possible, block the sender. If you do overpay on your energy bill, Halifax EMC will automatically apply the credit to your next billing cycle. When in doubt, contact us.

Defend Yourself Against Scams
Be wary of calls or texts from unknown numbers. Be suspicious of an unknown person claiming to be a utility worker who requests banking or other personal information.

Never let anyone into your home that you don’t know unless you have a scheduled appointment or reported a problem. Halifax EMC employees wear uniforms with the Halifax EMC logo and carry ID badges. When we perform work on our members’ property or come into your home, our employees are professionals and will always identify themselves.

We want to help protect our community against utility scams, and you can help create the first line of defense. Please report any potential scams to us so we can spread the word to prevent others in the community from falling victim.

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.