ElectriCities Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources – Read more

Faces of Public Power: David Schlabach, The Birthday Gift

David Schlabach, Senior Programmer Analyst at ElectriCities, took on a fun DIY project for his son on nights and weekends during the stay-at-home order. Hear it from him, but only if you’re ready for some serious inspiration!

Nice to Meet You

“I am a Senior Programmer Analyst with experience ranging from medical claims editing to laboratory management and pallet manufacturing. I received a Computer Science Degree from UNC Asheville and an Animation Degree from School of Communication Arts. I am both a commercial pilot and a licensed drone operator, as well as a ground and flight coordinator for the Bandit Flight Team. With each new position I always end up as a problem solver, tasked with finding ways to streamline current processes so our staff can focus on the customer experience. For example, lately I’ve been tasked with improving the billing experience. I’ve developed a number of tools that allow billing and load management to generate various reports in seconds compared to the hours of manual work it took before.”


The Birthday Gift

“One day I was talking to our neighbor and he asked if my son would be interested in their son’s old Power Wheels® car. I said sure, and the timing was perfect, since my son Henry’s fifth birthday was right around the corner. The car was in pretty good shape, but I wanted to turn it into something really special — I decided to make it into Lighting McQueen from Pixar.”

“Like most projects, this one began with a good cleaning: I wiped down the #24 Jeff Gordon replica and vacuumed it. Then came the research: I looked into the various McQueen paint schemes to find one that Henry would like and that was feasible for me to pull off. I got the right supplies and set to work breaking down the car. (TIP: Be sure to take pictures before you break the car down! It helped me put everything back together easily.)”

“Up next was some custom craft work. The car’s original bumper had indented headlights that I completely filled in with Bondo. I sanded, primed, and painted all of the pieces of the car. I hand-painted details such as the inside of the wheels and the car’s ‘eyes.’ I got creative with other details, such as using aluminum duct tape to create the gas cap.”

“This was to be a birthday surprise, so I was doing everything under a curtain of secrecy, only working on the car when Henry was asleep or otherwise preoccupied with schoolwork. I didn’t let any moments go to waste. At night, when it was too dark to paint, I would use a projector and contact paper to mask off lettering and numbers.”

“The project was challenging! I had an issue with getting the paint to stick to the car’s plastic material and with various masks pulling the base coat off. I had to sand everything down and restart, but it was well worth it in the end.”

“The day for the big reveal finally came. Henry loved it! He posed like a racecar driver without any prompting, and couldn’t wait to take the car for a spin.”

“I picked the car up from our neighbor right before COVID-19 precautions went into effect, so the timing was perfect. This project was so much fun for our family, and for the birthday boy!”

 


We Want to Hear from You!

We want to shine a light on the folks who keep the lights on, the faces behind the public power that drives our communities. We’ll be sharing a few stories about our team here at ElectriCities, from what inspires us to some of our favorite hobbies.

But this isn’t just about us. We want to hear from you! Do you have an employee who goes above and beyond? What about a team member or leader with an impressive extracurricular accomplishment? Let us know by sending your stories and ideas here.

Elizabeth City Upgrades CIS

Transitioning or upgrading to a new technology solution can be taxing, which is why ElectriCities offers many Technology Services to members. Elizabeth City recently upgraded its customer information/billing system (CIS) to one offered by Tyler Technologies and hosted by ElectriCities.

Besides the technical transition support, the new CIS decision limits the on-site server requirements for the public power community. “We offer a secure, redundant environment with all kinds of security mechanisms built within it,” says Dave Turner, IT operations manager at ElectriCities. “It’s one less thing our members have to worry about.”

By providing hosted solutions for member communities’ CIS, we help secure your access to these crucial systems. For 15 years, you might know we’ve worked with one primary vendor, NorthStar. A few years ago, we added a second solution from Tyler Technologies, which is what Elizabeth City integrated. “Tyler seems to be more well-suited for some of our smaller members,” says Angela Strickland, manager of customer facing services at ElectriCities. The Tyler Tech CIS system is no-frills but gets the job done well, and it’s competitively priced. When combined with ElectriCities hosting, it adds up to a lot of cost-savings.

What’s more, the ElectriCities Technologies Services team is constantly working on ways to integrate hosted CIS with smart metering/AMI technology. “It’s really interesting how we can get the billing system to talk to the AMI system,” Turner says. “It’s something definitely of value to communities,” Strickland adds. But you can leave the nuts-and-bolts to them — that’s the point. “Working with an ElectriCities-hosted solution is a load off of the city’s shoulders,” Turner says.

Hurricane Preparedness

Be prepared before, during, and after the storm.

Nobody looks forward to hurricane season and the destruction storms can bring to our communities. But rest assured, our experienced, locally based electric crews are prepared to respond and restore power quickly and safely. Here are some tips to help you and your family prepare in the event a hurricane hits our community.

BEFORE the storm:

  • Gather emergency supplies such as flashlights, battery-operated radios, and batteries.
  • Move yard items and furniture inside.
  • Monitor official weather bulletins.
  • Charge your devices, like your phone or external backup batteries.

DURING the storm:

  • Turn off and unplug electrical appliances and equipment, such as televisions and computers.
  • Stay indoors in an interior room, away from windows.

AFTER the storm:

  • Watch for downed power lines. Stay back and consider them energized. Energized lines can conduct electricity through the ground up to 35 feet away from the line.
  • Check for electrical damage inside your home, such as frayed wires, sparks, or the smell of burning insulation. If you find damage to your meter box or weatherhead, don’t turn your power on until an electrician inspects your system and makes necessary repairs.
  • Do not connect your generator directly to your home’s electrical system. It is dangerous to you, your neighbors, and utility workers.

 

Downloadable Resources:

Hurricane Preparedness Bill Insert

Hurricane Preparedness: Checklist

Hurricane Preparedness: Social Media Images

N.C. Department of Emergency Management: North Carolina Hurricane Guide

FEMA Hurricane Guide

Apex and Lincolnton loan programs help small businesses in a time of great need

We all know how important small businesses are to the overall financial health of the United States. According to an April 20 Harvard Business Review article, “Businesses with fewer than 500 employees account for 48% of American jobs and 43.5% of GDP. Yet while these smaller firms are an essential part of the U.S. economy, they’re often financially fragile, with little cash on hand or resources to buffer even a minor financial shock.”

At critical times like this, public power shines brightest. The ElectriCities public power communities of Apex and Lincolnton are just two examples — among many others — of how communities are stepping up and taking the initiative to keep their small businesses afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Town of Apex’s loan program will give an immediate infusion of funds to businesses that may (or may not) be waiting on federal loan programs as well. The Town has approved an appropriation of $1 million for the loan program, with a maximum of $50,000 for each business. Apex is also working with the NC Rural Economic Development Center as third party administrator of the loan program.

“Small businesses are a major part of the heartbeat to our community,” stated Apex Mayor Jacques Gilbert. “They have always aimed to make Apex thrive and now it’s our time to give back.” Interested businesses can find more information at apexeconomicdevelopment.org/loan.

Over in the western foothills of North Carolina, the City of Lincolnton is offering $300,000 in small business emergency loans to locally owned, non-franchise businesses located within the Lincolnton corporate limits during the COVID-19 state of emergency. Loans to eligible small businesses will be awarded in amounts up to $5,000 per month for up to three months, not to exceed a total of $15,000. All loans are intended to assist with business operating expenses until state or federal assistance is available or until the economic crisis passes.

It’s great to see our ElectriCities public power communities stepping up to help small businesses during this time of crisis and for keeping the lights of so many businesses burning. To learn more or apply for a loan, visit https://www.ci.lincolnton.nc.us/561/Small-Business-Emergency-Loan-Program.

North Carolina companies switch gears to pitch in against COVID-19

All across the state, companies in ElectriCities public power communities are demonstrating manufacturing agility by retooling to produce hand sanitizer and masks to help in the battle against COVID-19.

In the public power community of Kinston, Mother Earth Brewing, known for its award-winning craft beer, solar-made spirits, and spiked seltzer, is manufacturing hand sanitizer for nursing home patients and healthcare workers battling on the front lines of the global pandemic. So far, the brewery has filled more than 1,400 12 oz bottles of Mother Earth Spirits’ hand sanitizer for 50 nursing homes across North Carolina, Virginia, and Kentucky.

Over in Morganton, a consortium of area businesses, led by the Carolina Textile District manufacturing network, is using reclaimed furniture fabric to make N95 mask covers, which they say will help extend the life of the masks. Because of the limited supply of masks, healthcare workers often wear them longer than recommended.

In Pineville, New York-based Strong Manufacturing has a medical mask production facility. “Our soldiers of today are the doctors and nurses,” said Alan Bagliore, CEO of Strong. Other North Carolina-based manufacturing companies have accelerated or shifted production of masks and other supplies to help address the outbreak, including Honeywell and Owens & Minor.

Statesville’s Southern Distilling Company, a craft liquor distiller, has shifted its focus from producing alcoholic beverages to manufacturing significant quantities of hand sanitizer for first responders, healthcare providers, essential businesses and other agencies needing the product. The distillery will create 32 oz sanitizer refill bottles containing 80% alcohol and manufactured to the approved World Health Organization specifications, the company says.

In Fayetteville, AEC Consumer Products is also producing hand sanitizer and distributing through Amazon. Sales are surging and the company has had to hire extra workers to meet demand. The product contains benzalkonium chloride, a compound that destroys microorganisms. The company is producing 3,000 gallons of hand sanitizer a day and shipping to all 50 states.

And in High Point, Culp, Incorporated, a bedding and upholstery fabric manufacturer for the mattress industry, has retooled their business model to help meet the high demand for face coverings. In the coming weeks, the company expects to produce more than one million 100% cotton, 3-layer antimicrobial masks for national distribution.

ElectriCities salutes all these companies and our public power communities that support them for stepping up at this time of need!

ElectriCities Smart Sites® are genius for growing communities

Even in the midst of our current economic situation, communities across North Carolina are investing in their future with the help of ElectriCities of N.C. and their Smart Sites® program.

 

Pamlico Yachtworks drops anchor in Beaufort County

In Beaufort County, a new yacht building company is bringing 207 new jobs (with 40 to 50 new jobs added each year) and a $12 million investment over the next five years, according to a November, 2019 article in the Washington Daily News. Boston-based yacht manufacturer MJM Yachts is creating Pamlico Yachtworks, a new division of the company located at the Beaufort County Industrial Park.

The operation will make its new home in the Beaufort County Committee of 100’s Industry-Ready Building, a 24,300 square foot structure that was the result of collaboration between the Committee of 100, Beaufort County Economic Development and the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners.

 

Global packaging manufacturer chooses Wilson, N.C.

Neopac, US, Inc., a global manufacturer of primary packaging for the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries, chose the public power community of Wilson for its first U.S. manufacturing plant and new North American headquarters. The company will build a new high-tech facility for high barrier Polyfoil® tube production at the Wilson Corporate Park. The total yearly capacity of this line will be 80 million tubes, and the facility will have room for expansion of up to four high speed production lines.

 

A great development in Drexel

An ElectriCities Smart Site® has just been certified in the public power community of Drexel, North Carolina. This site features 50+/- acres ready for development and is located in a business park zoned for manufacturing. It is close to I-40, just 60 minutes from Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, and only 10 miles from the nearest general aviation airport. The site also has railway access. For more information, call the Town of Drexel at 828-437-7421 or email sbradshaw@townofdrexel.net.

 

Prime opportunity available in Tarboro, N.C.

An Electricities Smart Site® is available right now in the public power community of Tarboro. Situated on 90+ acres of land, the Tarboro Commerce Center shell building is now under-construction and is close to major highways and roughly an hour from the Raleigh-Durham International Airport. It is also located equidistant from the ports at Norfolk, Va. and Wilmington, N.C. For more information, visit https://www.electricities.com/smart-sites/tarboro-n-c/.

“Keeping the Lights On” License Plate Becomes Reality

UPDATE: The “Keeping The Lights On” License Plate is now available to order!

‘To apply for the new plate, complete the License Plate Application and submit it to the address listed on the top of the application, along with your payment. If you are within 90 days of updating your vehicle registration, the plate will be sent once your new registration is processed. As of April 30, 2020, the plate is not available to order via the DMV website, but we expect that to updated in the coming weeks.

 

Great news! The “Keeping the Lights On” License Plate will become a reality now that House Bill 449 has been passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor. This special plate celebrates the work of all lineworkers and utility employees across the state who work tirelessly to keep our lights on, especially after natural disasters. The proceeds from the plate go to the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center.

On September 17, the governor and legislative leaders joined NC Jaycee Burn Center representatives and lineworkers from across the state to highlight the important work line crews and utility workers perform. Crews from Duke Energy, the Cooperatives, and Public Power were present to represent North Carolina lineworkers.

We have had a great response to the introduction of this specialty plate, and wanted to let everyone know the following:

  • The design is still being finalized but will look very similar to the depiction above
  • In addition to the normal registration costs, the license plate will cost $30 — $20 of that will benefit the burn center
  • Find out more about North Carolina specialty license plates — yes, you can personalize a specialty plate here (note that as of the date of this post, the DMV site does not yet mention the lineworkers plate since it is not yet available)
  • You may download and fill out the N.C. DMV License Plate Application here (for questions, contact the N.C. DMV).
  • If your vehicle is registered in North Carolina, watch this space for information on when the plate will be available for public sale.
  • If you’re not in North Carolina and think this is a great idea (you’re right!), contact your state’s Division of Motor Vehicles for information specific to your state

Check back here for the latest updates on the license plate. Further questions? Please contact Government Affairs Liaison Drew Elliot at 919-760-6322 or delliot@electricities.org.

NC Public Power Communities Take Home Honors at 2020 NC Main Street Conference

It was a proud day for NC Public Power as 18 leaders and six communities were awarded North Carolina Main Street Conference awards earlier in March in New Bern, North Carolina.

The three-day conference (March 10 – 12, 2020 in New Bern) is held annually in a rural community of North Carolina. The conference is open to anyone interested in downtown economic development. Attendees network with other downtown enthusiasts and attend conference sessions facilitated by an impressive lineup of downtown professionals.

The N.C. Annual Main Street Conference is one of many offerings provided by the N.C. Main Street & Rural Planning Center (a division within the state’s Department of Commerce). The Main Street Awards Ceremony showcases the top economic development projects in the state. The Main Street Champions Ceremony recognizes citizens and groups that have made an impact in their community’s downtown revitalization efforts.

The 2019 Main Street Award Winners included the following projects in six NC Public Power Communities or Universities:

  • Best Public-Private Partnership in Downtown Revitalization, Award of Merit: “The View at Hotel Concord,” awarded to Rehabe Development, the City of Concord, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, and Cabarrus County in Concord, N.C.
  • Best Public-Private Partnership in Downtown Revitalization, Award of Merit: “Tis the Season,” awarded to Tis the Season Leadership Team, the City of Laurinburg, and Downtown Merchants and Property Owners in Laurinburg, N.C.
  • Best Innovation: “Elite to Lil Elite Boutique,” awarded to Elite Boutique, Lil Elite Boutique, Downtown Goldsboro Development Corporation, East Carolina University Miller School of Entrepreneurship, and the City of Goldsboro.
  • Best Public Relations Effort: “Downtown Edenton ‘Follow the Dollar’ Commercial,” awarded to Destination Downtown Edenton, Kyle Kettler, The Taylor Theatre, and Downtown Edenton Businesses in Edenton, N.C.
  • Best Downtown Special Event or Event Series: “The Cherry Bounce Festival,” awarded to Explore Forest City, Town of Forest City, The Agency Group, Artifacturing, LLC, Foundation Performing Arts and Conference Center, Banfield Gallery, Russell Wicker, WNCW 88.7 FM, and WGWG Streaming, in Forest City, N.C.
  • Best Downtown Special Event or Event Series: “NC Gravity Games,” awarded to Lenoir Main Street Program, City of Lenoir, Google, Appalachian State University Department of Physics, Appalachian State University Graduate School, NC Science Festival, UNC Morehead Planetarium, NC Space Grant Academic Consortium, and GBW Strategies.

The 2019 Main Street Champions included the following award-winners from 18 NC Public Power Communities:

  • Peter Asciutto, Albemarle
  • Bob Barker, Cherryville
  • Cabarrus Arts Council, Concord
  • Candace Thompson, Edenton
  • James Flanigan and Kevin O’Leary, Elizabeth City
  • Melissa Cantrell, Forest City
  • Frank Stewart, Kings Mountain
  • Cory Hughes, Laurinburg
  • Robin Bivens, Lexington
  • Angela Shores, Morganton
  • Bill Faulkenberry and David Griffith, New Bern
  • Angela and Neal Powell, Newton
  • David White, Shelby
  • Jud Patterson and Suzanne Taylor, Smithfield
  • Steve Hill, Statesville
  • Douglas Pearce, Wake Forest
  • Alex McKay, Waynesville
  • Wilson City Council, Wilson

To learn more about the N.C. Main Street Conference and get information on next year’s event, visit: https://www.ncmainstreetconference.com/

You can view the press release from the N.C. Department of Commerce here.

Are You Guilty of These 3 Energy Wasters? STOP NOW and Save Big!

You probably didn’t even realize you were doing these things that increase your monthly energy usage, but it’s true! Check out our list below for three quick and easy fixes that will save you money on your utility costs.

You’re keeping your house too cold in the summer (and too warm in the winter).

78°F is the recommended temperature setting for your thermostat in the summer. 68°F is the recommended setting in the winter. Every degree off from those amounts adds 3 to 5% to your energy costs! To put it simply, every degree below 78°F in the summer or above 68°F in the winter is costing you extra money. But fans of sweater weather, rejoice — the reverse is also true! Every degree below 68°F in the winter will save you roughly 3 to 5%, but don’t go crazy. You don’t want your pipes to freeze.

You’re still using incandescent bulbs.

Switch to LED’s. They last longer (try 15,000 plus hours!) and save you $25 to $45 dollars in energy costs over the life of the bulb. LED’s emit 80% less heat than incandescent bulbs. And if you plug them in to a smart switch, you can program your lights to turn on and off automatically, streamlining your energy routine.

You’re washing your clothes in hot water.

Cold water cleans your clothes just as well as hot water, and it costs you less because you’re not paying for the energy to heat the water in addition to the energy to run the washer. According to Energy Star, 90% of the energy used to wash your clothes goes towards heating up the water. Only 10% is used to actually run the motor in the washing machine.

Bonus Tip:

Turn that water heater down to 120°F, which is a safer temperature setting to avoid accidental burns. Plus, it saves you money! Every 10° lowered from factory settings saves you 3 to 5% on your water heating costs.

Fayetteville Artist Recaptures The Magic Of Childhood

The whimsical characters artist Katie Crawford Allen brings to life take viewers on a magical journey through the storybooks of their youth. Simpler, carefree times when pictures and tall tales could cast spells, whisking them away to the farthest reaches of their imagination, and filling them with a sense of awe and wonder.

Based in the public power community of Fayetteville, Crawford Allen’s art features fanciful interpretations of ordinary, everyday creatures like bumblebees, frogs, and whales. Her unique vision transforms them into extraordinary characters embodied with charming human characteristics that make them delightfully mysterious, yet somehow reassuringly familiar.

A debonair beaver in a bowtie and bowler ensemble. A sophisticated sea otter bejeweled in her Sunday best. A spiffy penguin in suspenders and dungarees. And the list goes on. They start out as pencil and paper sketches. From there, she refines the drawings until she gets them just right. Until finally, they become finished watercolor paintings — and of late, 3-D needle felting sculptures made of soft, unspun, fluffy wool. Each one, a wonderful childhood memory, rekindled. To learn more about these whimsical creations, visit www.katiecrawfordart.com.