Updates and Resources Related to COVID-19 – Click Here

Grant Funding Available for Level 2 Charging Stations

In late 2019, North Carolina kicked off the first of its zero-emission vehicle programs using funds from a national settlement with Volkswagen. The DC Fast Charge Program focused on stations installed on segments of interstates or future interstates, which was exciting news for many of our member communities located along those key highway segments.

“We had successful DC Fast Charge Proposals in Morganton, Lexington, New Bern, Kinston, and Wilson,” says Phil Bisesi, ElectriCities Supervisor of Residential Energy Services. (Next time you find yourself passing through one of these communities, keep an eye out for their brand-new energy-efficient options!)

We continue to usher in the future of energy. Plug-in electric vehicles, also known as electric cars or EVs, are cost effective and environmentally friendly, making them an advantage for our customers — and an opportunity for public power utilities. Beginning January 2021, eligible communities will be able to apply for funding reimbursement for Level 2 Charging Stations.

There are a few different types of EVs, with the common denominator being that they plug-in to charge from an electric power source. In the wake of a national settlement with Volkswagen, North Carolina has and will continue to receive funds designated specifically for zero-emission vehicle programs. The first round focused on DC Fast Charging stations, and now there are opportunities for the Level 2 Charge Program.

“Level 2 stations could be in any community downtown,” says Phil Bisesi, ElectriCities Supervisor of Residential Energy Services. “These stations are less expensive and they don’t charge quite as quickly. They are more appropriate for a workplace parking lot or a downtown square area, where a car might be able to plug-in for multiple hours.”

The Volkswagen settlement funds are a rebate-style program, where communities must purchase and install the charging stations before receiving reimbursement of up to $5,000 per charging station. Cities can apply for multiple charging station locations and receive up to $25,000. Eligible projects will be pre-approved by the state and a key detail is that the charging station must be accessible to the general public.

Proposals will be accepted beginning January 25 for Level 2 Charging Stations.

Bisesi recommends using the time between now and then to get your ducks in a row if you’re interested in applying. “Start by deciding where you might want to put a Level 2 charger,” he says. For a full list of what details you should consider, visit the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality website’s information center here. Once you’ve reviewed the nuts and bolts, contact us for assistance through the process. “We are always here to help,” Bisesi says.

 

Interested in applying for a grant for an EV Charging Station?

The State of North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ) released the Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Level 2 ZEV Infrastructure Rebate Program under the Volkswagen Diesel Settlement Environmental Mitigation Trust.

What can you do to prepare?
Between now and early January, interested applicants should:

  • Download and become familiar with the Rebate RFP here
  • Begin researching possible vendor partners that could help provide equipment quotes and possibly technical support for the application
  • Begin the registration process for an NCID by following the instructions here (once completed, you will receive an email with steps to activate your account)
  • Complete the DAQ Access Authorization Form.
  • Complete the State of North Carolina Substitute W-9 Form
  • Email the DAQ Access Authorization and State of North Carolina Substitute W-9 Forms to svc.NCVWApplication@ncdenr.gov with “Level 2 Program” in the subject line.

VW Rebate Q&A Webinar: January 13, 2021 at 1:00 pm
A second question and answer webinar will be held from 1pm – 2:30pm on January 13, 2021, for interested stakeholders and applicants. You may register from the link on the Level 2 Program webpage or by following this link. During this webinar, staff will answer questions regarding requesting new user access to the DAQ Grants Management System, the Request for Proposals, Level 2 application details, and required documentation.

The recording of the Applicant Level 2 Webinar held on December 11, 2020, is now viewable on DAQ’s webpage in the Workshop Documents tab.

NC GreenPower’s Solar+ Schools Grant Program Open for Applications

NC GreenPower, an independent nonprofit working to expand public knowledge of cleaner energy technologies to North Carolinians, has opened the application period for its annual Solar+ Schools grant program as of January 2, 2021. Solar+ Schools, started in 2015, provides grants to install educational solar PV systems at K-12 schools in the state.

All K-12 schools in North Carolina are eligible to apply. The grant application window will close February 28. If you think a school in your community would be a good fit for the program, we encourage you to share this information with them.

NC GreenPower has provided several resources to help communities spread the word:

  • NC GreenPower Solar+ Schools Media Kit – contains post samples and graphics for email and social media use both before the grant opens (December 2020) and during the application period (January-February 2021).
  • FAQ – contains background information on NC GreenPower and FAQs about the Solar+ Schools program.

Customer Donation Option

Utilities can also provide customers with the option to contribute to NC GreenPower through their utility bill. The program is designed to support renewable energy, carbon offset projects, and provide grants for educational solar installations at K-12 schools in North Carolina. For every $4 donated, 125 kilowatt hours (kWh) of renewable energy is supplied to the electric grid in North Carolina. Each donation also supports the Solar+ Schools program in the state. Click here to read more.

For more information, or if your utility would like to become involved, please reach out to Vicky McCann at vmccann@ncgreenpower.org. You can also read more ways to get involved here.

 

Faces of Public Power: the Internal Services Team

Nice to Meet You

On to the Next Adventure
Barbara Scheib, ElectriCities Manager of Internal Services, is a Jack of all trades. Make that a Jill. Actually: “I think of Jill as a young name, so I’m the Esther of all trades!” she says with a laugh. In her 25 years at ElectriCities she has worked in administrative roles, in purchasing, in HR, and now in her current role overseeing any and everything related to the daily operations of our building, fleet management, copy services, and mail systems. “There is no typical day,” she says. “We come in, we check our email, see what anybody needs that day, and get to work.”


2020 has added even more curveballs to the mix. “We are so connected to the building that we pretty much can’t work from home,” Barbara says. “We can check emails, but it’s not like being here at the copier, or being here at the mail machine.” Her team has also managed shipping PPE equipment to member communities, another in-person task. While most of the ElectriCities staff will continue to work from home through at least February, Barbara and her two colleagues still hold down the fort at the Raleigh HQ. “It’s very strange … the building is pretty empty,” she says.

Luckily, Barbara embodies adaptability — it’s why she’s an effective Internal Services Manager. And it’s a trait she’ll emphasize even more when she retires at the end of January. “In retirement, the first thing my husband and I are going to do is take a 6-month road trip across the U.S. and into Alaska,” Barbara says. While she does normally like a bit of a plan, on this trip the sky is the limit. “We’re going to just get in the car and drive. We have two reservations: at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and the ferry in Alaska. Other than that, we’re just flying by the seat of our pants. Where we end up at night is where we end up at night and we’ll stay in a hotel wherever we are.”

After that exciting six months, Barbara and her husband will return to their new house in Pinehurst, where they’ll have plenty of time to devote to their shared passion: golfing.

Back here at ElectriCities, Barbara’s team is ready to hold down the fort. She works with two fellow “Jack/Jills of all trades,” Senior Copy Services Coordinator Gwen Newkirk and Mail Services Coordinator Jason Hogan. “They both do a whole lot more than mail,” Barbara explains. “If you need it, they can do it.”

Learn more about the Internal Services team below, and join us in wishing Barbara a bon voyage on her retirement adventure.

Barbara Scheib, Manager of Internal Services

  • 3 things I can’t live without: my family, duct tape and WD40, campfires by the fire pit
  • One of my favorite holiday traditions is… spending Christmas Eve night with my siblings (I’m still a kid at heart!)
  • To the (imaginary) ElectriCities potluck, I’m bringing… sausage dressing

Gwen Newkirk, Senior Copy Services Coordinator

  • 3 things I can’t live without: my family, my shoes, and good friends
  • One of my favorite holiday traditions is… my family and I get together to try to make sweet potato pies
  • To the (imaginary) ElectriCities potluck, I’m bringing… mashed potatoes
  • Contact Gwen here

 

Jason Hogan, Mail Services Coordinator

  • 3 things I can’t live without: my dog, Italian food, live sports
  • One of my favorite holiday traditions is… Friendsgiving
  • To the (imaginary) ElectriCities potluck, I’m bringing… chicken riggies (Utica, NY dish)
  • Contact Jason here

 


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.

APPA Recognizes Outstanding Mutual Aid Assistance

We thank and honor the extraordinary individuals who, at nature’s worst, showed their best. The record-breaking 2020 hurricane season has officially ended, after producing 30 named storms, 13 of which became hurricanes, including 6 major hurricanes. (For comparison, an average season brings 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes.) This is the most storms on record, surpassing the 28 in 2005, and the second-highest number of hurricanes on record. And every storm hit on top of the COVID-19 pandemic, rapidly and constantly impacting lineworker response protocol. Despite all these challenges, public power showed up.

It was a tough storm season all around, and it revealed the true, committed soul of our public power utilities.  In times of crisis, the ElectriCities Emergency Assistance Program provides a network of support, bringing public power workers together to restore, rebuild, and get the power back on safely. We all work together to organize restoration efforts and ensure those efforts are directed exactly where they’re needed.

During every hurricane season, our member communities’ mutual aid assistance is outstanding. But we know that’s just when it takes center stage – public power teams go above and beyond all year long to help their fellow communities.

We extend our wholehearted congratulations and appreciation to the following American Public Power Association 2020 Mutual Aid Commendation Award recipients!

  • The City of Concord provided aid to the Town of Drexel.
  • Fayetteville Public Works Commission provided aid to the City of Morganton.
  • The City of Gastonia provided aid to the Town of Dallas and the Town of Drexel.
  • The City of High Point provided aid to the City of Danville, VA, Lafayette Utilities System, LA, the City of New Bern, SLEMCO, LA, Sevier County Electric System, TN, and the City of Statesville.
  • The City of Kings Mountain provided aid to the Town of Granite Falls.
  • The City of Monroe provided aid to the City of Newton.
  • The City of Newton provided aid to the Town of Maiden and the City of Morganton.
  • The City of Rocky Mount provided aid to the Town of Belhaven, the City of Danville, VA, SLEMCO, LA, the City of St. Martinsville, LA, Sevier County Electric System, TN, and the City of Washington.
  • The City of Shelby provided aid to the City of Statesville.
  • The City of Statesville provided aid to the City of New Bern, Lafayette Utilities System, LA, and Sevier County Electric System, TN.
  • The Town of Tarboro provided aid to the Town of Edenton and the Town of Scotland Neck.
  • The City of Wake Forest provided aid to the City of Lexington, Lafayette Utilities System, LA, SLEMCO, LA, the City of Statesville, and the Town of Windsor.
  • Wilson Energy provided aid to the City of Washington, Duke Energy, and Knoxville Utilities Board, TN.

 

 

Holiday Traditions With A Twist

COVID didn’t steal Christmas this year! Public Power communities around North Carolina have plenty of activities planned to get you and yours into the holiday spirit without risking health. Here’s just a sampling of how your neighbors are spreading tidings of great (socially distanced) joy.

 

High Point’s COVID-Compliant Nutcracker

Revel in the wonder and awe of a Triad family Christmas tradition, The Nutcracker, presented by two different beloved companies. Gary Taylor Dance and High Point Ballet will both stage joyful, magical performances complete with heroic toy soldiers, sword-fighting mice, and the glittering Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Performances alternate the weekend before Christmas, and there will be compliant seating, social distancing guidelines, mask-wearing, and approved sanitizing procedures. Plan your night out here.

 

Forest City’s Magical Holiday Lights

Back in 1930, Forest City hung its first set of lights on a mere two trees. Today, the magical Hometown Holidays display takes over the town to create spellbinding, twinkly cheer straight from a Hallmark movie. No matter what you celebrate, you’re sure to light up with joy. 2020 marks a new milestone as the town adapts for COVID-19 precautions while still welcoming visitors near and far. Bundle up and enjoy driving or walking through the lights any night free of charge, or reserve a private horse-drawn carriage available weekends in December. See the full festive lineup and ho-ho-have a great time here.

 

Apex’s Drive-Through Cheer

Since Christmas parades are a no-go this year, Apex has turned to the community for a charming Holiday Tour of Lights. Get cozy in your own car — pack a picnic of hot cocoa and cookies! — and make your way through the town’s tour map. You’ll pass by both homes and businesses decorated with delight. It’s a perfect way to go at your own pace and connect with neighbors near and far. Check back here for the updated tour map.

Safety Stands Out in Hurricane Season 2020 Mutual Aid

As if the year hasn’t defied enough records, public power pulled off remarkable mutual aid efforts in October. “This hurricane season, we not only assisted public power entities within our own membership, we also assisted at the national level, as well as assisted co-ops and investor-owned utilities,” says Kenny Roberts, ElectriCities Senior Safety and Training Specialist.

In response to Hurricane Delta, several ElectriCities members sent crews to help with storm restoration — in Louisiana. Roberts helped coordinate the ElectriCities response through the APPA Mutual Aid Network. Crews from High Point, Statesville, Rocky Mount, and Wake Forest traveled a day-and-a-half to work hard … and receive rave reviews. Across the board, public power’s dedication to safety stands out.

 

“Without exception, every person I spoke to over here about the men who worked with us from North Carolina gave above and beyond positive feedback. They especially all mentioned how safely these men worked. […] The crews are a credit to their organizations. They rocked it and we are grateful. So are our customers. They are all welcome back in our neck of the woods anytime!” —Mary Laurent, Communications Manager at SLEMCO, Lafayette, La.

 

 

Read more feedback from the Louisiana crews below.

“I’d give [the High Point crews] an 11/10 and would highly recommend them to work with us again.” —Aaron Deville, Substation Foreman at SLEMCO

“Next time we have something, we can call [the Wake Forest crews] first. I would take them back anytime!” —Luke Bourgeois, OH Operations Superintendent at SLEMCO

“[The High Point crew] understands line work as well as anyone I know. They work safely and communicate very well, working efficiently and effectively.” —Aaron Deville, Substation Foreman at SLEMCO

“We were in the swamp and [the Wake Forest crew] didn’t hesitate to get the job done. They worked. Hard.” —Brandon Hebert, Class A Lineman at SLEMCO

Hurricane Season 2020

“They step up and help each other, time and time again”

When nature shows its worst, public power shows its best. The record-breaking 2020 hurricane season has officially ended, after producing 30 named storms, 13 of which became hurricanes, including 6 major hurricanes. (For comparison, an average season brings 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes.) This is the most storms on record, surpassing the 28 in 2005, and the second-highest number of hurricanes on record. And every storm hit on top of the COVID-19 pandemic, rapidly and constantly impacting lineworker response protocol.

Public power teams go above and beyond all year long to help their fellow communities, but it’s times like these when their efforts take center stage. “It’s a testament to the mutual aid network within our membership,” says Kenny Roberts, ElectriCities Senior Safety and Training Specialist. “They step up and help each other time and time again.”

When Hurricane Isaias made landfall on August 3, it passed through quickly and left approximately 30,000 public power customers without power. In just 18 hours, all but 2,500 customers had been restored.

When Hurricane Delta struck in October, several ElectriCities members sent crews to help in a remarkable mutual aid effort — all the way to Louisiana. Read more below.

When remnants of Hurricane Zeta entered the state on October 29, it caused 25,000 public power customers to lose power at its peak. Most members had scattered outages and were able to restore power by 5 p.m. that night. Among the mutual aid efforts, Wilson crews traveled to assist Duke Energy in nearby communities. “It’s the first time in a long time that we’ve organized with Duke,” says Gregg Welch, ElectriCities Manager of Programs and Services. “I’m glad we were able to help them out.”

Many, many people were helped out thanks to public power workers. We salute all those folks on the front lines of keeping the lights on. Hard hats off to you!

 

Mutual Aid during Summer Storms, July 2020

  • High Point assisted Danville, Va.
  • Newton assisted Morganton and Maiden
  • Gastonia assisted Dallas

Hurricane Isaias Mutual Aid

  • High Point and Statesville pre-staged crews to assist New Bern prior to the storm’s arrival
  • Tarboro assisted Scotland Neck and Edenton
  • Wake Forest assisted Windsor
  • Rocky Mount assisted Belhaven and Washington
  • Wilson assisted Washington

Hurricane Delta Mutual Aid

  • Rocky Mount sent crews to St. Martinsville, La. They were later re-deployed to SLEMCO
  • High Point and Wake Forest sent crews to assist Lafayette, La., and then were deployed to SLEMCO
  • Statesville sent crews to Lafayette, La.

Hurricane Zeta Mutual Aid

  • Fayetteville PWC assisted Morganton and Statesville
  • Monroe assisted Newton
  • Kings Mountain assisted Granite Falls
  • Concord and Gastonia assisted Drexel
  • Wake Forest assisted Lexington and Statesville
  • Rocky Mount assisted Danville, Va.
  • Shelby and High Point also assisted Statesville
  • Wilson Energy traveled to assist Duke Energy

Celebrate Safely

Happy Holidays from ElectriCities of North Carolina!

Make your list and check it twice — here’s how to stay safe while decking the halls and holiday shopping this year.

Electrical Safety

  • Lights out. Turn your holiday lights off being leaving home and going to bed. There’s no wiggle room: turn ALL of them off, every single time!
  • Careful with cords. Don’t overload extension cords (even though it’s tempting!).

Online Safety

  • Read subject lines. Be cautious online. During the holidays, scammers are more likely to send fake emails. Don’t open any email that seems suspicious, and avoid clicking on links from unknown senders.
  • Stick with what you know. Shop online through trusted retailers. If that ad on Facebook to a new store seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Personal Safety

  • The COVID clause… of course, we must all consider how COVID-19 will affect our holiday plans. When possible, connect virtually — Zoom, FaceTime, and Skype are all good options. Check the latest government information about travel restrictions and mask requirements here. Read more tips for managing the holidays during COVID here and here. And if it all starts to feel overwhelming, here are some ways to manage stress.

 

For a comprehensive list of tips and tricks to stay safe in a variety of areas this holiday season, please visit Ready.gov and their holiday safety toolkit.

 

Preparing for Winter Peak

It’s the dog days of… winter? That’s right.

“It’s important to prepare for winter peaks just like you would summer peaks, because winter peaks tend to be similar in capacity,” says Steve Allen, Manager of Field Operations at ElectriCities of NC. Since generator start times are when temperatures are at their lowest, winter temps can be even harder on equipment. “In some cases, electrical current on a feeder circuit can rise high enough to trip the feeder breaker, which leads to customer outages,” adds Jason Thigpen, Manager of System Operations at ElectriCities.

Here’s a checklist to prepare your utility for cold conditions:

  • In general, run equipment at least every two weeks during winter to exercise it.
  • Order fuel ahead of time when you anticipate snow or cold weather. Load management can last 4-6 hours on snow days.
  • Increase the frequency of visual engine inspections, so you catch leaks before they’re a major problem.
  • Check block and space heaters weekly, to keep your engine warm.
  • Keep your fuel topped off, in case winter storms last longer than expected.
  • Top off engine coolant, and be sure it meets cold temperature requirements.
  • Check your generator’s batteries – are they charging properly? Are they well within their expiration date?
  • Increase the frequency of generator run tests to keep engine parts lubricated.

When to lighten the load: If your feeder circuit loads rise to a point where feeder tripping is possible, consider implementing load management and voltage reduction as a way to drop some load and keep the lights on.

 

Note: Over the last six years, Duke Energy Progress has seen its annual system peak occur in the winter.  Duke Energy Carolinas is still a summer peaking utility; however, polar vortex conditions are causing the winter peaks to get closer and closer to the summer ones.

Danville, VA and Pitt County, N.C. Announced as 2020 All-America City Award Winners

NC Public Power Shines Bright in National Civic League Awards

Danville, VA and Pitt County (including ElectriCities members Ayden, Farmville, Fountain, Greenville, and Winterville) were among the 10 finalists in this year’s award round. Awarded by the National Civic League, the awards highlight communities across the country enhancing the health and well-being of its residents through local civic engagement and collaboration.

Winning communities faced the added challenge this year of fostering collaboration and creating change in their communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Danville’s submission highlighted their efforts to create an inclusive, healthy community by providing free fitness and nutrition tips through their Fit Mobile program. The city’s submission also focused on their Youth Health Equity Leadership Institute (pictured left) and their work helping students plan for their future, as well as community health worker efforts in managing chronic illness. Details on Danville’s programs and initiatives can be found here.

In Pitt County, programs centered around helping incarcerated individuals through their Reentry Council, providing healthcare to the underserved in the area through the Community Paramedic Program, and establishing a healthy sustainable food system in the community. To read more about what Pitt County is doing to foster well-being in their community, click here.

A full list of 2020 All-America City Award winners and finalists can be found here.

Congratulations to All-America City Award Winners Danville, VA and Pitt County, N.C.!

 

 

About the National Civic League

The National Civic League advances inclusive civic engagement through our community assistance programs, including tools, trainings and facilitation services, our award and recognition programs, and nationally recognized research and publications. We promote efforts that seek to listen to, and to learn from residents in ongoing conversations and leverage those insights to help reshape communities so they will thrive.


About the All-America City Awards

Since 1949, the National Civic League has recognized and celebrated the best in American civic innovation with the prestigious All-America City Award. The 2020 awards event, held virtually for the first time in its 71 year history, reflected the concept that good health for the entire community requires a focus on mental, physical, spiritual, cultural and economic well-being.