News & Events

  The safety and well-being of our members and employees is our top priority at HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative. As part of that commitment, we wanted to take a moment to share our response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic. For us, matters like this essentially come down to three key factors: Employee Safety: We have taken several steps to help keep your employees safe and healthy during this time. First, in order to limit face-to-face contact, we are closing our office lobbies until further notice. Our call center and drive-thru stations will remain open. We are also restricting work-related travel for 60 days and limiting internal in-person meetings. We have increased the frequency with which we clean and disinfect surfaces at our offices, and advised employees to stay home if they are sick. We have also made all employees aware of current CDC recommendations, amongst many other steps. Member Safety: We want you to stay healthy and safe, so please join us in exercising prudent precautions. As mentioned above, we are closing our office lobbies until further notice. This is in order to limit face-to-face contact, for your safety and ours. Our call center and drive-thru stations will remain open, and we also offer a variety of other convenient ways to Pay Your Bill. For your protection and the protection of others, please familiarize yourself with the CDC recommendations regarding COVID-19, and if you have symptoms or possible exposure and have a service appointment with us scheduled at your home, please contact us at 800-562-8232 to reschedule. Likewise, if our employees have symptoms or possible exposure, they will stay home and avoid contact with members. Reliable Service: We are a 24/7 organization providing critical services. We have a very detailed Emergency Response Plan in place to ensure readiness of business-critical functions during a crisis, and we have reviewed the plan and prepared to enact it if needed in response to COVID-19. We want you to know that we do not anticipate any disruption to your HomeWorks electric, propane or internet service at this time. We are closely monitoring the news and updates from the CDC, and as this fluid situation progresses, we will continue to communicate our response to you with the same transparency and care that you have come to expect from HomeWorks.  We are in this together! Let's be kind to one another and help those in need where we can. Thank you for your support as we work to keep our communities safe.
HomeWorks members in districts 2 and 4 will carry out one of the most important duties of a cooperative's membership this year when they elect a director to represent them on the Co-op board. Current directors Jim Stebbins of Clarksville (District 2) and Kimber Hansen of Edmore (District 4) have both announced they will seek re-election in their respective districts. Other district 2 and 4 members interested in running for the position should contact their district's nominating committee by Feb. 5. Candidates may also be nominated via a petition signed by at least 25 members from within their district. Petitions must be submitted by Feb. 20.  For more information, view our page on director elections. 
The Michigan Public Service Commission has approved a 92-cent per meter charge to support the Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund, starting September 2019 and running through August 2020. HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative has opted in to the program for the third straight year to ensure members will be able to take advantage of this safety net for their families. The Commission sets the LIEAF funding factor each year based on participation by utilities around the state. The monthly fee is assessed on retail electric billing meters (only one per residential site) in all rate classes and cannot be more than $1. The total amount collected is capped at $50 million annually. Last year’s surcharge was 93 cents. LIEAF funding is distributed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services through the Michigan Energy Assistance Program. MEAP provided 61,322 households across Michigan, from October 2018 through May 2019, with help toward energy self-sufficiency and with an average of $534 for utility payments.
Download a fact sheet, and watch a video Never connect a standby generator into your home’s electrical system. There are only two safe ways to connect a standby generator to your equipment. Stationary Generator: An approved generator transfer switch, which keeps your house circuits separate from the electric co-op, should be installed by a professional. Portable Generator: Plug appliances directly into the outlet provided on the generator. Set up and run your generator in a well-ventilated area outside the home. Make sure it’s out and away from your garage, doors, windows and vents. The carbon monoxide generated is deadly. Use a heavy-duty extension cord to connect electric appliances to the outlet on the generator. Start the generator first before connecting appliances. Source: SafeElectricity.org  
Safety is the number one priority at HomeWorks Tri-County Electric, and leaders at the cooperative took steps to make the workplace even safer recently when they completed the process to achieve Gold Shovel Standard certification.  Gold Shovel Standard (GSS) is a nonprofit organization committed to promoting safer digging practices and protecting the integrity of buried infrastructure, including power and gas lines. The organization strives to promote the use of common safety management systems specifically tailored for damage prevention to achieve the industry-wide goal of zero accidents. GSS also seeks to achieve universal adoption of the one-call process, in which industry workers and members of the public are asked to call 811 to check for buried lines before digging. “To become Gold Shovel certified, a company has to commit to a high standard of proper digging education with not only their employees, but with every single contractor they work with, as well,” says HomeWorks Manager of Engineering Services Chris Jensen. “This certification means our members can feel confident that we are hiring contractors who are fully educated in safe digging practices. That’s going to keep the members and the workers safe, and on top of that it should also reduce outages and interruptions in service, which is a great thing.” Goals of the Gold Shovel Standard Program: Fewer Injuries: Improve workforce and public safety by ensuring that those who work around buried infrastructure are educated in damage prevention.   Transparency: Achieve greater transparency in damage prevention through performance measurements, technology, and universally recognized standards. Reduced Outages: Protect the integrity of buried infrastructure, resulting in fewer outages and service interruptions caused by damaged underground power lines.  
After 17 years with the cooperative, you can’t fault billing specialist Rita Owen for feeling a little bittersweet about her retirement this month. “I think I’m probably going to miss everything about this place,” she says. “It’s really become like a second home to me.” Owen came to HomeWorks in 2001, after 15 years as a home daycare provider. At the time, she was ready for a new challenge, and the Westphalia native says she found that and more at the cooperative. “The timing was perfect,” she says. “It was a good change for me, and it happened at a good time in my life. Right from the start, everything here has just been great for me.” The best part of any home is the people inside it, and Owen says HomeWorks is no exception to that rule. It’s the relationships she has forged with her colleagues at the cooperative that are the hardest part about saying goodbye. “I’ve learned a lot from everyone I’ve worked with at HomeWorks,” she says. “You learn and you grow together, and you become like family. I will miss everyone for sure, but I plan to stay in touch and come back to visit.” Not that she will be lacking for other things to do. An avid adventurist, Owen is looking forward to spending her retirement traveling to new places with her husband, Mike, spending time with their three children and families, including six grandchildren, and volunteering as much as possible. “I’m most excited about just being able to do what I want, when I want,” she said. She’s also excited about the opportunity to join an exclusive club made up entirely of the HomeWorks retirees who have gone before her. “They’ve already invited me out with them,” she says. “Now I get to see if I can keep up with the retirees.”
Waiting for things to load will soon be a thing of the past! Just look at the difference in time it takes to download a 2-hour long movie with HomeWorks Connect instead of with a cable internet provider. Don't miss out on this time-saving service - pre-register at http://bit.ly/HWConnectFiber_ today!
Waiting for fiber internet to get to your home? To stay up-to-date on our progress, join our waiting list at http://bit.ly/HWConnectFiber_.  
HomeWorks Connect, our fiber-to-the-home high-speed internet service, is moving along in Phase 1. We expect to build service to our first retail customers in September; meanwhile, we’ve had crews out engineering and inspecting our power lines to make sure they’re ready for the addition of fiber optic cable when construction starts in May. Phase 1 includes building along the PT2, PT3, PT4, GE2, GE3, and GE4, OD1, and OD3 circuits (see map), in these townships: Woodland (Barry County); Eagle and Westphalia (Clinton County); Benton, Oneida, and Roxand (Eaton County); and Berlin, Danby, Ionia, Lyons, Odessa, Orange, Portland, Sebewa, and Sunfield (Ionia County). Over the next several months, we’ll post updates here in Michigan Country Lines, as well as on our Facebook page and homeworks.org. Whether you’re in the Phase 1 area or not, you can join our waiting list at HomeWorksConnect.org – the information will help us determine where to go for Phase 2 and beyond. Fiber Readiness Tip #1:  Make sure you have a portable email address. If your email goes through your current ISP, i.e., sbcglobal.net or similar, set up a new account with Google, Hotmail, or another no-cost service. Start moving your subscriptions and contact list over now to avoid a last-minute rush. Fiber Readiness Tip #2:  Don’t sign any long-term agreements with your current carrier. Many services will try to lock you in with a slight discount, keeping you from taking advantage of fiber as soon as it’s available to you. Fiber Readiness Tip #3: Tell your neighbors! Direct them to HomeWorksConnect.org to join our waiting list - no matter where you live, we'll be using member interest to help us determine where the next phase or two will take us.   This service is not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission.  
by Charly Markwart Anyone who’s ever purchased a new vehicle knows there are seemingly countless factors to consider before deciding upon the model that’s right for you. Should you go for space or fuel economy? Manual or automatic? What options should you add? And now, an added key question on the minds of many consumers is this: “Should I go electric?” For HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative CEO Mark Kappler, the answer to that question, in reference to both his own personal vehicle and a new fleet vehicle for the Co-op, was a resounding “yes.” Kappler purchased an all-electric Chevy Bolt for himself in the summer of 2017, and approved a purchase of the same model to replace an aging Cooperative fleet vehicle in December. “I thought it was time to purchase an electric vehicle for the Co-op because the technology has finally matured to the point that the economics work,” said Kappler. “We want to continue to reduce the Cooperative’s carbon footprint, and this was a great way and a great time to do that.” When it came to buying a new personal vehicle, Kappler and his wife had to carefully consider what their primary use of the vehicle would be, among other factors, before deciding to go electric. But once they did their research and weighed the pros and cons, Kappler says all signs pointed towards the Bolt. “As we analyzed the way we used our existing small car, for short trips to the grocery store, to work and school, to events at Michigan State, etc., we found that the Bolt’s maximum mileage range of 238 miles per charge would more than meet our needs,” he said. “We worked it out and realized the lower operating costs of the vehicle would result in a cost savings for us. After that, the decision was easy.” That’s an analysis currently being conducted in many households across America. According to Inside EVs, a newsletter and website dedicated to publishing information about electric vehicles (EVs), U.S. sales of EVs increased by more than 25 percent last year in comparison to 2016. In total, nearly 200,000 EVs were sold in the United States last year (about one percent of the total vehicles sold). That’s an upward trend that HomeWorks Energy Advisor Brandon Trierweiler expects to continue through 2018 and the years to come. “Going forward, electric vehicles are going to continue to play a more vital role in the auto industry,” he said. “With recent news that other countries like France and China are going to stop the sale of petrol-fueled vehicles over the next couple decades, and with manufacturers increasing the range of electric vehicles to make it possible for the general consumer to consider electric as a viable option, I think the sales are just going to keep increasing.” EVs have a battery instead of a gas tank, and an electric motor rather than the internal combustion engine that powers traditional vehicles. Most EVs can be charged by plugging into a standard 120 V outlet, but for a faster charge, many owners opt to install a specialized 240 V charging system in their garage. While the driving range varies considerably among models, FuelEconomy.gov notes the average midsize EV has a range of about 150 miles per charge. (The Bolt, a small hatchback with a driving range of up to 238 miles per charge, far exceeds that average.) “Probably the biggest misconception regarding electric vehicles is the range anxiety that can come from not understanding how people use their current vehicles,” said Kappler. “Studies have shown that most people use their vehicles for shorter trips most of the time. My wife and I have a small SUV that we use for long trips and more carrying capacity, but for short trips, which make up the majority of our driving, we use our electric car exclusively.” Potential EV consumers especially concerned about driving range might also consider a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). PHEVs have a battery and an electric motor, but they also have a gas tank and an internal combustion engine to provide back-up power when the battery runs low. Kappler notes that public charging stations are becoming more prevalent, especially in urban areas, making it easier to recharge away from home. (On average, a full charge of an EV with a range of 150 miles takes about 6 hours.) Most EVs have an app built in to locate nearby charging stations, and the app can be downloaded to smartphones, as well. While some EVs are more efficient than others, FuelEconomy.gov notes the average midsize EV needs 28 kWh of electricity to travel 100 miles. At HomeWorks’ current electric rate, that would make the average cost of driving an EV about $0.04 per mile, and the average cost to fully charge an EV with a 150-mile range about $6.65. Annually, the typical midsize EV driver spends less than $600 to charge their vehicle, compared to the approximate $1,300 the average driver spends on gasoline in a year (based on current Michigan gas prices). In addition, electric rates are historically more stable than gas prices, meaning EV owners typically don’t have to worry about sudden spikes in their driving costs. Another concern EV drivers don’t have to worry as much about is vehicle maintenance. EVs have no oil, transmission, spark plugs, fuel filter, or other parts known to commonly cause headaches for drivers. Generally, the only parts requiring regular maintenance are the tires and brakes. (Eventually, an EV’s battery pack does need to be replaced.) “Even the brakes last longer due to the regeneration technology built into the car,” said Kappler. “Electric vehicles are very high-tech, the performance is great, and due to the low center of gravity with the battery, they drive and ride very well. For my wife and I, the experience of going electric has exceeded our expectations.” Currently, EVs run a bit more expensive than comparable petrol-fueled vehicles, but those prices are expected to even out over the next few years as EVs become more prevalent. There is incentive to get in on the technology ahead of that curve, though. At least through 2018, new EVs and PHEVs may qualify for a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500 (credit amount may vary based on the capacity of the battery used to power the vehicle). Additional state and local incentives may also apply. And, of course, there are the environmental benefits of driving an EV. With no tailpipe emissions, EVs produce far less pollution than petrol-fueled vehicles. Charging the car still generates emissions, but with our electric power supply from Wolverine Power Cooperative reaching 56 percent carbon-free this year, the total greenhouse gasses emitted to power an EV remain significantly lower than petrol-fueled vehicles. “As a new EV-owner, I would encourage any HomeWorks member purchasing a new vehicle to consider an electric vehicle,” said Kappler. “Part of the reason for us buying an electric vehicle for the Co-op was so we could speak intelligently to interested members about them and have it available for them to see. I would also be happy to speak personally with any member considering an electric vehicle.” To reach Kappler, call 517-647-1281. You can also learn more about electric vehicles at www.epa.gov/greenvehicles.

Pages

Together We Save