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Along Those Lines
22 minutes | Aug 24, 2021
Understanding Essence, a Co-op-Created Cyber-Defense System
As utilities have deployed new connected technologies to monitor the grid, the need for strong cybersecurity on the operations technology side has grown exponentially. NRECA worked with co-ops and other partners to develop the Essence tool, which began as an innovative way to quickly identify anomalies on downline systems and evolved to become a robust method for detection, visualization and reporting of potential cyberattacks. Learn more about Essence from Emma Stewart, NRECA’s chief scientist.
28 minutes | Jul 26, 2021
‘A Cultural Reset’ -- How the Pandemic Has Elevated the Value of Soft Skills at Co-ops
The concepts of emotional intelligence and soft skills in the workplace have been around for a long time, but the COVID-19 pandemic has brought them to the forefront. As electric cooperatives assess how they've managed the challenges of the past 18 months, how have lessons they've learned informed business practices going forward? Hear from NRECA's Tracey Steiner and Charlie Dunn, CEO of Farmers Electric Cooperative in Greenfield, Iowa.
24 minutes | Jun 22, 2021
Harnessing Distributed Wind: Inside the RADWIND Project
The electric utility industry has been moving dramatically in the direction of renewable generation in recent years. Solar has found widespread adoption, with a broad mix of residential, community and utility-scale installations, while wind power has been nearly all at utility scale. Now, the Department of Energy is working to change that with a new program called Rural Area Distributed Wind Integration Network Development (RADWIND). In this episode, we go inside this innovative initiative with Michael Leitman, NRECA’s system optimization director and the RADWIND project manager, and Aaron Ruschy, vice president of operations and engineering at Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative.
27 minutes | May 25, 2021
Lessons Learned From the Texas Power Crisis
When an unprecedented Arctic blast and winter storm hit the Midwest and South in February, Texans faced days of outages and crippling power supply shortages. What happened in Texas, why was it so much worse there than in other states, and what can we learn from this situation? Hear from Mike Williams, CEO of Texas Electric Cooperatives, as well as Mark Jones, who was part of a University of Houston research team the surveyed Texas power consumers in the immediate aftermath of the storm.
25 minutes | Apr 22, 2021
Making Solar Power Accessible to Low-Income Members
NRECA’s Achieving Cooperative Community Equitable Solar Sources project, a three-year initiative funded by the Department of Energy, aims to bring the benefits of solar into low- and moderate-income communities. NRECA is partnering with seven co-ops across the country to deploy solar projects that help LMI consumer-members and share the lessons they learn. Hear from ACCESS principal investigator and technical adviser Deb Roepke, NRECA's Keith Dennis and Oklahoma Electric Cooperative's Nick Shumaker.
18 minutes | Mar 23, 2021
Along Those Lines: Hear From Women Making Inroads in Male-Dominated Job Roles
The bulk of the electric cooperative workforce has traditionally been filled by men due to the nature of the work that co-ops do. But over time, women have been stepping into more and more jobs across the industry spectrum. In honor of Women’s History Month, hear from several of the women making strides and taking on leadership positions in the co-op world: Amanda Opp of Flathead Electric Cooperative, Libby Calnon of Hood River Electric Cooperative and Janet Rehberg of Tri-County Electric Cooperative.
27 minutes | Feb 23, 2021
The Ins and Outs of the FCC’s Biggest Rural Broadband Auction
The need to close America’s digital divide is as crucial as ever, and the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund stands to have a huge impact, with billions in funding for deploying broadband to unserved communities. NRECA’s Brian O’Hara and NRTC’s Greg Santoro break down how the RDOF auction works and outline concerns about winning bidders with unproven technologies, and Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative’s Rachel Hauser gives the perspective from a co-op that’s looking to use RDOF funding to make major progress in its broadband efforts.
32 minutes | Jan 26, 2021
Advocating for Co-op Priorities in a New Political Landscape
With a new Congress and new administration in place, how will electric cooperatives engage with the government on their policy priorities—from the immediate COVID-19 health and economic crises to infrastructure to climate policy? Hear from Stacey Alexander, a former congressional staffer and now a political and policy consultant with the firm Subject Matter, and Louis Finkel, NRECA’s senior vice president of government relations.
22 minutes | Dec 14, 2020
Curtis Wynn on Co-ops and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
NRECA President Curtis Wynn is coming to the end of his two-year term. When he took office, he set out to focus on how co-ops can navigate the rapid pace of change in our industry. This platform took on new meaning in 2020 with a heightened focus on racial inequality in America. In the latest episode of Along Those Lines, Wynn discusses diversity, equity and inclusion in the co-op workforce and reflects on how the industry is managing change and innovation.
25 minutes | Nov 16, 2020
How Data Is Revolutionizing the Electric Utility Industry
The proliferation of sensors and other downline devices means electric cooperatives now have access to mountains of system data. During the 2020 NRECA TechAdvantage Conference and Expo, NRECA's Venkat Banunarayanan and Rappahannock Electric Cooperative's John Hewa discussed how co-ops are using that data to improve reliability, plan for the future and better serve their members. This episode is sponsored by IPKeys.
21 minutes | Oct 6, 2020
Heroic Co-op Employees Go Above and Beyond
In celebration of National Co-op Month, we talk to electric cooperative employees whose routine workdays turned into lifesaving rescue missions as they came to the aid of community members. Crew members describe rescuing a woman trapped in a flooded creek in Tennessee, pulling two men from a fiery armored truck crash in Missouri, and saving an older resident from his burning Mississippi home. Hear these stories of co-op heroism from Mollie Ingle and Rick Courtner of Mountain Electric Cooperative in Tennessee, Kurtis Brown of Southwest Electic Co-op in Missouri, and Wade O'Briant of Yazoo Valley Electric Power Association in Mississippi. This episode is sponsored by Hubbell.
22 minutes | Sep 16, 2020
What Is the Beneficial Electrification League?
The beneficial electrification movement—using electricity to replace fossil fuels for everything from mowing your lawn to powering your car—has gained momentum and led to the formation of the Beneficial Electrification League. With chapters in states across the country and a national board, the league's mission is to increase understanding of electrification's economic, consumer and environmental benefits. The league's co-chair, Gary Connett, formerly of Great River Energy, and Tri-State G&T CEO Duane Highley, who heads its Colorado chapter, chat with us about their goals for the group and how co-ops are getting involved. This episode is sponsored by NRTC.
25 minutes | Aug 6, 2020
How Co-ops Work With Federal Partners to Mitigate Wildfire Risks
Wildfires have caused massive destruction in Western states and across the country during recent summers. Electric cooperatives reduce fire risk by maintaining rights of way and keeping equipment up to date, but their efforts are often complicated by the need to coordinate with multiple government agencies that oversee federal lands. We talk to NRECA Regulatory Issues Director Janelle Lemen, Dave Markham, CEO of Central Electric Cooperative in Oregon, and the U.S. Forest Service's Jim Menakis about how these partnerships work and how they plan to make them better.
16 minutes | Jul 7, 2020
Engaging Co-op Members in the 2020 Election: Part Two
As local and national campaigns gear up across the country, electric cooperatives work to ensure their consumer-members are informed of the issues that matter most to rural communities and have the opportunity to make their voices heard at the polls. In part two, Stephanie Johnson of Jasper County REMC in Indiana describes what these efforts look like on the ground in her rural service territory. This episode is sponsored by Sensus.
24 minutes | Jul 7, 2020
Engaging Co-op Members in the 2020 Election: Part One
As local and national campaigns gear up across the country, electric cooperatives work to ensure their consumer-members are informed of the issues that matter most to rural communities and have the opportunity to make their voices heard at the polls. In this two-part episode, we talk first to NRECA's Laura Vogel and Nonprofit Vote's Brian Miller about national initiatives and resources for co-ops and possible changes to the election process. This episode is sponsored by Hubbell.
23 minutes | Jun 9, 2020
How Co-ops Come Together to Recover from Storms
Electric cooperatives across the South have already seen massive storm damage across their systems, and the 2020 hurricane season is just now getting started. When outages are too much for one co-op to handle, neighboring co-ops from within their state and across state lines are quick to lend a helping hand to get power back up and running quickly and safely. Martha Duggan, who oversees NRECA’s state and national coordination initiatives, and Michael Kelley, safety and loss director at the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives, talk us through how co-op mutual aid is coordinated and what it looks like on the ground, even with the added challenges of a global pandemic. This episode is sponsored by OFS.
21 minutes | May 20, 2020
Co-op Communications in Times of Crisis
Electric cooperatives, by their very nature, are accustomed to dealing with disruptions large and small. But the landscape for managing crises is changing dramatically. Stephen Bell, NRECA's senior director for media and public relations, and Bill Coletti, CEO of the reputation management firm Kith, talk us through their advice on how to plan for, respond to and recover from events that interrupt our normal course of business. This episode is sponsored by G&T Communications.
28 minutes | Apr 21, 2020
Keeping Crews and Members Safe, Powered and Connected During the Pandemic
While many Americans are working remotely to curb the spread of coronavirus, cooperative line crews and broadband technicians are essential workers, keeping members connected to power and internet. We talk to an expert at Great River Energy, a generation and transmission co-op in Minnesota, about how his co-op is maintaining the electric grid while keeping crews safe and cybersecurity tight. Then we hear from leaders at SEMO Electric Cooperative in Missouri and Jackson Electric Cooperative in Texas about safety measures for staff and meeting the challenge of growing demand for co-op broadband. This episode is sponsored by Ribbon.
23 minutes | Mar 20, 2020
Workplaces Evolve Amid New Generations, Changing Expectations
With the American workplace changing dramatically due to new technologies and generational shifts, how are electric co-ops adapting while facing additional challenges unique to their rural environments? Hear from Cheryl Cran, a workplace and leadership expert, and Holly Wetzel, NRECA's senior director for marketing and member communications.
24 minutes | Feb 14, 2020
What’s Next for Co-ops and Battery Storage
More and more electric utilities are deploying large battery systems to store power, but it’s a technology that’s still very much in its infancy. How are co-ops integrating storage, and how are they using it to serve their members? Hear from NRECA’s Jan Ahlen about the state of this key technology and from Anza Electric Cooperative's Kevin Short and AEPCO's Barry Brown about a joint utility-scale storage project to help Anza battle resiliency challenges.
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