By Russell Hood The Webster Progress-Times
The Natchez Trace Electric Power Association highlighted accomplishments and activities of the previous year during its annual meeting April 23 at Eupora High School’s Latham Auditorium. Special guests included Rick Misso, area Tennessee Valley Authority customer service manager, and Tim Weston, TVA customer service manager. Misso presented a slideshow/video of TVA’s response to the April 2011 tornadoes. Weston, who presented a TVA update, said he was proud of the way TVA, NTEPA and other power distributors handled themselves in response to the storm. He noted that two major tornadoes hit the region that day and another the week before. Mantee native Norma Kilgore, NTEPA general manager, also praised the association’s crews for their response. “TVA continues to work with our cooperatives,” Weston told the crowd of about 70 in attendance. “I continue to be inspired with the co-op model.” Directors Election These candidates for director were re-elected to three-year terms: Earline Wilson of Houston, District 1 (Chickasaw and Pontotoc counties); Pete Fortner of Eupora, District 2 (Webster and Clay counties); and Jimmy Ball of Calhoun City, District 3 (Calhoun, Grenada and Yalobusha counties). Fortner, who has served on the NTEPA board of directors since 1980, currently serves the board as president. NTEPA retirees who were recognized included Kase Pulliam, former branch manager of the Eupora office. Kilgore also recognized EHS senior Daulton Newman, who received the 2011 Electric Power Associations of Mississippi Youth Leadership Council Award. As the statewide youth leader, he represented Mississippi at the national YLC meeting in San Diego in March. Manager’s Report Kilgore, in her manager’s report, said NTEPA has had another good year both from a financial standpoint and in providing reliable service. She noted that NTEPA buys 100 percent of its power from TVA and serves about 15,800 meters in parts of seven counties, including Webster. The report gives these highlights since last year’s meeting: The board approved a four-year Construction Work Plan that was effective beginning Sept. 1, 2008. Allen and Hoshall, engineering consultants out of Memphis, prepared the plan. The CWP projects the facilities needed and the financial requirements specifically for these four years. It also provides a broad “picture” of the power needs and financial outlook for the next 15 years. This is an essential “roadmap” for planning and providing future reliable electric service at the lowest possible cost. The work plan will end in September, when a new work plan will start. Automatic Meters Automatic-read meters: About 15,300 meters have already been converted to automatic in the association’s service territory. The NTEPA is continuing to work on the last 500. Converting to automatic meters is a major step toward using modern technology. These meters not only provide readings electronically over the power line but will also provide benefits in safety, power quality, engineering, power outage detection, and customer billing and service. An AMR can be identified by an amber light flashing about every four seconds at the lower left of the meter. Under the Construction Work Plan, NTEPA continues to work on the conversion from 14 KV to 25 KV in the Eupora and Houston districts. Also, a few miles of distribution lines have been upgraded from single to three phase, mostly in the Houston area. Routine pole change-outs are going on in all three districts. Right-of-way maintenance continues to be a key part of the electric utility’s business. The NTEPA right-of-way crew is now working in the Calhoun City district and rotates to this area about every three years. Incentives Natchez Trace continues to offer through TVA a high-efficiency heat pump financing program. The interest rate is currently 6 percent for electric heat pumps that meet or exceed certain efficiency (SEER) ratings. The cooperative also offers certain incentives through TVA to build an Energy Right-efficient home that meets certain program requirements. Members can also receive $50 for the installation of an electric water heater if certain program guidelines are met. “Everyone is encouraged to do whatever they can do operate more efficiently to save on utility bills,” Kilgore stated.