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Cleaning Up After Right-of-Way Clearing - Rappahannock Electric ...

Cleaning Up After



What happens when

the work is done?

Tree trimming is one of the most important maintenance

activities at Rappahannock Electric Cooperative

(REC). Although we appreciate the environmental benefits

that trees provide, trees near power lines can easily lead to

problems. In fact, fallen limbs and toppled trees during strong

winds are the number-one cause of power outages.

REC’s main priority is to provide members with safe

and reliable electric service. The right-of-way management

department trims trees that could pose safety or reliability

issues before power outages are experienced. Crews are

diligent in pruning only what is absolutely necessary. At

times complete removal of the tree is the only way to

eliminate the hazard.

REC is responsible for cleaning up and removing debris

resulting from routine pruning and planned maintenance.

Since a separate crew is responsible for chipping the branches,

debris may remain in a yard for a day or two before being

removed. In wooded areas that are not maintained by the

landowner, REC generally grinds the debris with a bush-hog

mower rather than chipping it. Mowing of debris in wooded

areas is usually completed within a week after clearing, but

may take up to a couple of weeks in some situations.

When it is necessary to remove a live tree as part of our

routine maintenance, REC will chip the branches resulting

from the removal and cut the large wood into manageable

lengths. The wood is then placed on the edge of the right

of way for landowners to use as they see fit.

Dead trees will not be chipped. Cleanup and disposal

of dead trees and limbs is the property owner’s responsibility.

In yards and other areas maintained by the member, dead trees

will be cut into manageable pieces and piled on the edge of

the right of way. In wooded areas REC will often top the dead

tree below the height of power lines and leave the remainder

of the tree standing for wildlife habitat.

When a tree falls during a storm, REC will simply clear

the tree enough to repair the damage to our facilities. It is

the member’s responsibility to clean up the tree and dispose

of all branches and wood.

The REC right-of-way management department carefully

follows the pruning guidelines established by the International

Society of Arboriculture. We have been recognized as a Tree

Line USA utility by the National Arbor Day Foundation for

the past seven years by demonstrating practices that protect

and enhance our forests.•


Rappahannock Electric Cooperative




Stepping Up to

Provide Power

Electricity enhances your quality of life, from lights and

entertainment to the comfort level of your home. But since

power plants usually aren’t next door to homes, electricity must

travel long distances to reach your doorstep. The complicated

process needed to accomplish the feat of delivering power from

point A (power plant) to point B (your home) combines several

key components, including substations.

Energy cannot be stored, so moving electricity requires packing

power as heavily as possible onto transmission lines. By increasing

electricity’s voltage — an electromotive force that acts like water

pressure — it moves more efficiently. Some energy gets lost along

the way, but the bulk reaches its destination.

Substations serve as essential “transit” points in this system,

with the ability to raise or “step up” and lower or “step down”

voltage. High voltage may be great for speeding power along

transmission highways. However, if electricity enters your home

at too high a level, it can damage electronics. As power gets

closer to its destination, substations decrease it to a safe level.

Substations also keep voltages constant, preventing harmful


Several types of substations are found between power plants

and homes. Each contains a wide array of equipment, including

transformers, lightning arrestors, circuit breakers, insulators and

more. A transformer performs the heavy work, altering voltage

as needed.

Initially, step-up substations at power plants increase

electricity’s voltage to various levels (between 115,000 volts

and 765,000 volts) so it can be shipped through high-voltage

transmission lines. Once electricity gets closer to its destination,

transmission substations typically reduce the voltage to between

23,000 volts and 69,000 volts.

From there, the power moves over smaller transmission

facilities to electric co-op distribution systems. Distribution

substation transformers then slash the voltage even lower,

normally to 12,500 volts.

At this point, the distribution lines you see running up and

down rural roads and across fields bring power to you. To make

that energy safe for household use, a pole-mount transformer

(the round object resembling a small, gray garbage can located

near the top of a utility pole outside your residence) or a padmount

transformer (the olive green boxes dotting your housing

development) cuts the voltage once more, to between 120

and 240 volts.

Substations remain an important part of REC’s electric system.

Remember, the voltage entering and exiting substations far exceeds

anything you’ll find at home. Substation fences protect you and the

equipment housed within and help ensure that REC can continue

providing you with a safe, reliable and affordable supply of power.•

January 2010





Source: National Rural Electric

Cooperative Association







After almost 35 years of service to the Cooperative,

Region III director, Lee S. Estes, retired from the REC

Board of Directors as of the December 2009 board

meeting. He was elected to the Northern Piedmont

Electric Cooperative board in 1975, and has served

on the REC board since 1980, having also served

as chairman from 1991 to 1994. Mr. Estes is a

retired assistant manager with State Farm Insurance

Company. He has been active in local government

and community service, serving 12 years as

tiebreaker for the Greene County Board of

Supervisors, 15 years

as the seventh district

representative to the

Regional Planning

Commission, and

12 years on the Board

of Directors of the

Jefferson Area Board

of Aging, and many

years on the Five

County Regional

Jail Board. He and

his wife, Nora, live

in the Greene County

community of Ruckersville.

The board took action to assign the at-large

director residing within Region III, Darlene Carpenter,

to complete the term through 2012. This will reduce

the number of directors to 10.•

County of Louisa Board of Supervisors chairman, Willie Harper,

and REC Board member Lee Estes, met in the early ’90s to

discuss the development of the Louisa Service Center located

in Bumpass, Va.


Who Gets Power First

Important Information About REC’s Restoration Process

We have come to expect that if we lose electric

service it will be restored within a few hours at

most. However, when a devastating event like a

hurricane, ice or snowstorm causes major damage to

REC’s system it takes a systematic plan to get electricity

back on. Restoring power after a major outage is a big job

that involves much more than simply throwing a switch

or removing a tree from the line. Crews work long, hard

hours restoring service, but it is a task that needs to be

done methodically to be done safely.

Any damage that has caused life-threatening

situations is top priority. Members with special needs,

like home life-support systems, are also given priority, if

possible. (Please notify us and provide a letter from your

doctor to have your address placed on our LifeLine list.)

REC follows a basic principle when it comes to

restoring power — priority goes to the lines that will get

the most people back in service the quickest. This usually

begins with the substation and the main distribution lines

from the substation that can restore power to the most

members at once, and continues out to tap lines, which

may affect fewer members, and then to individual service

lines affecting just one to five members.

Here’s a simplified look at how REC typically goes about the task of restoring electric service:


The substation is energized but a main distribution line

is damaged near the substation, leaving most members

without power. All repairs start with the main line. A

large number of members will have power returned once

this line is fixed. All other repairs are secondary until

this main line is restored that feeds all the other lines.

Repairs start here.

Energized power lines

Un-energized power lines

Location of damage


With the main line restored, the line crew can isolate

other damage and prioritize repairs. Though a couple

of repairs were closer, fixing the line that serves this

subdivision down the road will get a larger number

of consumers on more quickly.

One stop and entire subdivision

has power again.


Moving back down the road to fix this tap line will

restore electricity to the three marked with arrows.

Back down the road, the crew makes one repair

and restores power to this stretch of line.


Rappahannock Electric Cooperative


Energized power lines

Un-energized power lines

Location of damage

A smaller tap line serving a number of homes and

the farm on the hill is next on the list for the line crew.

The move probably does not make the folks in the blue

house too happy. They have seen the crew driving by

their home and working right across the road. They

see lights in homes of all their neighbors but they do

not have power. That is because even though electricity

is coming to their pole (that happened with the first

repair in Step 1), the service line from their pole to

their meter is damaged. Individual repairs come after

all distribution and tap lines are restored.

This repair restores power

to these homes and farms.


Only after the tap lines are repaired does the crew start

work on individual service lines. The crew had been

past the blue home three times and could have stopped

to restore power anytime after the first main line was

repaired and electricity was flowing to the pole nearby.

But it’s not fair to other members for a crew to spend

hours fixing one outage, when the crew can move down

the road and restore power to dozens of homes in the

same amount of time.

Individual repairs begin once

all other lines are repaired.

We appreciate your patience and understanding during times when outages occur.

Please be assured we are doing everything possible to restore power as quickly and safely as possible.

If you experience an outage, please call us at 800-552-3904.•


I’m saving $280 a year just by programming my thermostat.

What can you do? Find out how the little changes add up at


January 2010


With REC IT’S FREE to Go Green!

Join more than 30,000 REC members who are already

doing their part to reduce the carbon footprint and the

demand for electricity. Sign up for a free electric water

heater load management switch from REC.

On days when the demand for electricity is high and

the most expensive, REC manages the energy use to your

water heater, reducing the demand for electricity. Most

water heaters hold 40-50 gallons of water, which usually

provides enough hot water for use during the control period.

A trained REC technician comes to your home and

installs a load management switch on your water heater.

The switch detects signals sent from your Cooperative

through the power lines. These signals tell the switch when

to turn off the flow of electricity to the water heaters and

when to return it to normal operation. The Free Water

Heater Repair program allows us to manage the energy use

of water heaters so that demand is reduced during peak

times. This saves millions of dollars each year and helps

your Cooperative hold down the price we pay for

electricity. This is just one way REC works to maintain

affordable rates for you. Programs such as this help delay

the need for new power generation. A bonus for having

a switch installed, you will receive FREE service calls and

repair on the electrical components of your water heater!

Each month, REC visits members’ homes due to coldwater

complaints and 98 percent of those are directly

related to a water heater problem. Our technicians are

able to perform the free repairs to the electrical components

of the water heater for our members enrolled in this

program. This service can save them the cost of plumber

services, which averages over $100 per service call.

So join the crowd and go green ... for free.

Call 800-851-3275 or visit for more




Every little bit counts!

At REC we believe in the power of pennies.


(ORU) we aim to prove the power of the penny.

Beginning this month we challenge all REC members

to request to have their electric bills rounded up to

the next whole dollar amount. For example, a $78.23

bill becomes $79. That’s a difference of 77 cents,

and that amount would become a contribution to

the program. Imagine if thousands of participants

contributed that same amount.

The ORU fund is administered by C.A.R.E. Charity,

Inc. Organizations within the REC service area that

are not-for-profit can apply for funding to support

their worthwhile social and civic endeavors. Please

consider joining the campaign to round up your

electric bill to the next whole dollar and give

those powerful pennies a chance to work

in your community. Call REC at

800-552-3904 or visit our

Web site.•

45c/100 kWh

Green Energy Certificates

At REC we are looking for ways to help you go green.

In addition to energy saving ideas, we now offer

Green Energy Certificates for purchase by members.

Visit for more information

or call 800.552.3904.


Rappahannock Electric Cooperative

Youth Tour Applications


Cooperative’s program teaches the

“Power to Make a Difference”

Afree trip to Washington, D.C., and the chance to

witness democracy at work are just two of the many

benefits of the 2010 National Rural Electric Cooperative

Association’s (NRECA) Youth Tour. REC will select six

high school juniors to attend the 2010 NRECA Youth Tour

to be held June 13–17.

This once-in-a-lifetime experience teaches students to

be aware of important issues and to become active citizens

working to make a positive difference in their communities.

It is an experience like no other and students learn that they

truly have the “Power to Make a Difference.” Those selected

interact with other students from around the country, tour

historical and cultural sights, and meet their congressional


“I made lasting friendships and memories through this

wonderful program,” said Whitney Hosey of Riverbend High

School in Spotsylvania County. “I was able to meet Congressman

Rob Wittman and he personally answered my questions.

Together our group learned about how government works

and how important it is to be involved in the decision-making


To be eligible, students must be high school juniors and

complete an application form, including a 400-word essay.

Applications are available to students through their high

school guidance department, at any REC office or online at Completed applications must be dropped

Are you looking for funds to support your local school,

non-profit organization or emergency service team?

Well, look no further! Apply today to be awarded one of REC’s

2010 Literacy, Education, and Rural Networking (LEARN)

grants. REC will award a total of $10,000 in grants in

three categories:

The grants are a supplement to other funding including

federal, state or local resources. Eligible REC members are

encouraged to apply. Grants will be awarded at the Annual Meeting in August. Apply today, and take advantage

of your opportunity to be a winner!

Applications are available online at:

Contact: Public Relations Specialist – Brian Wolfe

800-552-3904 ext. 5914 or e-mail

Application Deadline: postmarked by April 5, 2010{Education

off at one of REC's offices or postmarked by March 22, 2010.

Additional information about the Youth Tour program can

be found at or by calling Brian Wolfe,

REC’s public relations specialist, at 1-800-552-3904, ext. 5914,

or e-mail•



$10,000 available in Learn Grants

Two $500 and two $1,000 grants to individual

teachers, or groups of teachers, from grades K-12

who demonstrate creative teaching methods to

students of Cooperative member-owners.


One $2,000 and two $1,000 grants will be

awarded to non-profit groups serving REC

members, or whose services directly benefit them.

Emergency Service

Two $1,500 grants will be awarded to an

emergency response team whose services directly

benefit REC member-owners.

January 2010





Things to Remember for 2010–


6 AM and 6 PM.





Get Organized!

Fire, smoke & heat monitoring

oring Call Today for your

Security cameras

FREE estimate!

Video surveillance


Carbon monoxide monitoring



Access control

Flood sensors

Switch &

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Rappahannock Electric Cooperative



An Important Citizen Reference Tool

Look for your copy of the

2010 Virginia Legislative Guide

in the February issue of your

Cooperative Living.

President &

Chief Executive Officer:

Kent D. Farmer

Board of Directors:


Richard C. Oliver

Region VII

Vice Chair

Darlene H. Carpenter

Region III





Linda R. Gray

Region VIII


William E. Lane

Region IX

William M. Alphin

Region I

Thomas T. Grady

Region II

A. Nash Johnston

Region IV

Frank B. Boxley, Jr.

Region V

William C. Frazier

Region VI


Contact usat 800-851-3275 or

visit us at


*RSS service is provided through Rappahannock Electric Cooperative’s

wholly-owned, independently operated subsidiary, Rappahannock Electric

Communications, Inc.

**Financing offered to REC members only and subject to credit approval.

Wickham B.



Rappahannock Currents:

Local Pages Editor – Ann M. Lewis

Staff Writer – Casey M. Hollins

Contact Information:

P.O. Box 7388

Fredericksburg, VA 22404

540.898.8500 / 800.552.3904

January 2010 25

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