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commentary currents Celebrating the Co-op


The utility that keeps your lights and appliances humming along every day is a cooperative business, not a corporation.


Cooperatives are owned by the consumers who use their services: you and your neighbors. In fact, your electric cooperative doesn’t even refer to you as a “customer.” Instead, everyone who works there knows you are a “member.”


Every October is Cooperative Month, when members from more than 29,000 cooperatives nationwide—including more than 900 electric cooperatives— celebrate their heritage.


Take a few moments this month to learn a little more about the way your electric cooperative does business.


Here is the basic cooperative business philosophy: They are not-for- profit, democratically controlled, volunteer-run and member-owned.


That means cooperatives don’t sell stock to out-of-state shareholders and let outsiders decide what’s best for their local consumer-members.


It also means that any member— including you—can run for election to the cooperative’s board of directors. It is the board’s responsibility to hire the cooperative manager and set policies for the utility.


Even if you don’t want to be a board member, you still can vote for the candidates you would like to represent you. That’s the beauty of belonging to a co-op: You are an owner of the co-op, and you have a say in how it is run.


Details on Kiwash Electric trustee qualifications and elections are found in the co-op bylaws. For a copy of the bylaws, please call 888-832-3362.


‘m betting there’s an extension cord in practically every home or garage on Kiwash Electric lines. While they are handy devices, light-duty extension cords have their limitations so it’s wise to be aware of over-use and over-heating.


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With cold weather on its way some of you may be reaching for an extension cord to power an extra heater in your home or shop. Winter is commonly the season when extension cord use is at its peak. Both inside the home and out, extension cords are useful for extending power to temporary heaters , not to mention our beloved holiday lighting displays. But when the decorations come down, please don’t use those same light-duty cords for mismatched applications elsewhere.


Extension cords with a small wire size (16 gauge or smaller) will overheat if used to power electric heaters, high-wattage halogen lights, or other loads that draw large amounts of current. The fire hazard becomes even greater when cords are covered by rugs or other material that traps the heat.


In addition, a lightweight cord that extends power long distances will experience voltage drop from one end of the cord to the other. All conductors (wires) have a resistance to the flow of electricity. If the wire size is small and the cord is long, the voltage will drop to a level that shortens the life of electric motors, and reduces the performance of appliances. This is particularly true when two or more extension cords are strung together.


“Use only light-duty extension cords for indoor lights and small appliances. For all other applications, use larger diameter cords with wire sizes of 12 gauge or greater.”


The simplest rule of thumb is: only use light-duty extension cords for indoor lights and small appliances such as reading lamps, holiday lights, radios, counter- top appliances, and so on. For all other applications, use larger diameter cords with wire sizes of 12 gauge or greater (gauge designates wire thickness). When checking extension cord labels, remember that the smaller the gauge number, the larger the conductor diameter. For example, a 12 gauge wire is thicker than a 14 gauge wire.


A final tip, sunlight and temperature extremes can slowly degrade the outer insulation on extension cords over time. If a cord is cracked, brittle, or separated anywhere, throw it away. The costly hazard of keeping a damaged or undersized cord far outweighs the expense of a new one.


Keeping these tips in mind will help you weather the approaching winter in comfort and safety.


For more information on electrical safety for all seasons, please visit the Kiwash Electric website at www.kiwash.coop, or the Electrical Safety Foundation website at www.esfi.org.


BY DENNIS KRUEGER G E N E R A L M A N A G E R


Play it Safe With Extension Cords


2 | OCTOBER 2014 | Kilowatt


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