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Commentary Oil by rail puts squeeze on coal deliveries I


Chris Meyers General Manager, Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives


ncreased production of domestic crude oil has done wonders for our nation’s energy in- dependence and economy. Oklahomans have especially benefi tted from this boom. With pipelines at full capaci- ty, oil producers have turned to the rail system to ship


their product. Increasing use of rail for oil transport is making it diffi cult to get adequate coal supplies delivered to coal-fi red power plants. Coal has long been the largest volume commod- ity shipped by rail. According to the Association of American Railroads, in 2013, coal accounted for 39.5 percent of all rail freight tonnage. While oil is still a small percentage of rail shipments, it’s a grow- ing share of the total. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, oil shipments by rail have doubled since 2007 to a rate of 1.5 million barrels per day in 2014. Depending on the time of year, utilities store 60 days or more supply of coal on the ground in piles next to the plant. Having these reserves on site en- sures an adequate fuel supply in the event of a rail delivery problem. Rail delivery systems can be in- terrupted for weeks at a time by fl ooding, labor


strikes, or maintenance. This past year, many coal-fi red generation plants


have seen their on-site coal reserves fall well below levels needed to ensure continued operation of the plant in the event of a rail system failure. Coal re- serves at some plants have dropped to just a few days’ inventory. In some cases, utilities have made decisions to reduce generation output from coal plants for fear of running out when it may be need- ed most. Other generation sources are called on to make up the difference and usually at higher costs. The Surface Transportation Board (STB) is an economic regulatory agency that Congress created to resolve rate and service disputes between rail- roads and customers. Electric cooperatives and other shippers have recently testifi ed before the STB about delivery problems. As a result, the STB has issued an order requiring freight railroads to provide weekly status reports on service delays and backlogs. This reporting may allow for a greater understanding of the problems and—hopefully— lead to solutions. Of course it’s important that all commodities get shipped, and we understand the challenges pre- sented to rail shippers. However, it’s not okay to put your electric supply at risk by failing to deliver the fuel supplies necessary to keep the lights on.


Understanding the whole picture P


Jimmy Taylor President, Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives


ersonal experiences, whether positive or negative, can be very educational.


A lifetime of those experi- ences aid in your decision- making and help determine who you are as an individual. However, sometimes the ex- perience you had only gives


you part of the picture and needs to be investi- gated more thoroughly so that you can understand it completely and get the whole picture. Take the subject of bees for instance. Now, un- derstand that I grew up in the country and I am a rancher, so I have encountered them several times over my lifetime. I always grouped them with wasps, hornets and anything that stung. Until recently I was aware of nothing but bad


experiences concerning stinging insects. For ex- ample, the time my teenage son stirred up a nest of hornets. By running as fast as he could, he was able to keep a couple of feet ahead of them. My wife and I didn’t think it was near as funny as it had been when he took the fork in the road that led to where we were standing. I recently had my fi rst “professional” experience


4 WWW.OK-LIVING.COOP


with honeybees. Over the past four months I have gone out with two beekeepers and have partici- pated in the placing of hives, collecting honey and feeding them.


Even though I was with experienced beekeepers, I was still a little apprehensive at fi rst based on my past experiences. I realized this when I had to be told to ease up on the tranquilizing smoke. I had assumed my bee suit would cover from head to toe and would be almost as thick as armor. Wrong. The fi rst time out I was protected from the waist up and the second time wore only a hard hat with netting around my face and neck. As I learned more about the bees, it was easier to relax. I now have a completely different perspective on them. You can learn about helpful beekeeping techniques on Page 12 of this edition of Oklahoma Living. Member experiences with electric co-ops can be similar to the one I described above. Some have been members for many years while others may be new members or have had limited experiences with their co-op. I encourage every member to learn more about the cooperative program and the ser- vices they provide. An informed member is an asset to their cooperative. The more informed you be- come, the more you will understand the “whole picture.”


Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives


Chris Meyers, General Manager Jimmy Taylor, President


Kendall Beck, Vice-President Gary McCune, Secretary Scott Copeland, Treasurer


Staff


Sid Sperry, Director of PR & Communications sksperry@oaec.coop


Anna Politano, Editor editor@ok-living.coop


Daniel Yates, Advertising Manager dyates@ok-living.coop


Christy Johnson, Offi ce Manager cjohnson@oaec.coop


Kirbi Mills, Accountant/Offi ce Manager Asst. kmills@oaec.coop


Hayley Leatherwood, Multimedia Specialist hleatherwood@ok-living.coop


Alexis Mellons, Advertising Intern adintern@ok-living.coop


Taryn Sanderson, Editorial Intern intern@oaec.coop


Editorial, Advertising and General Offi ces


P.O. Box 54309, Oklahoma City, OK 73154-1309 Phone (405) 478-1455


Oklahoma Living online: www.ok-living.coop Subscriptions


$3.12 per year for rural electric cooperative members.


$6.00 per year for non-members. Cooperative Members: Report change of


address to your local rural electric cooperative. Non-Cooperative Members: Send address


changes to Oklahoma Living, P.O. Box 54309, Oklahoma City, OK 73154-1309.


Oklahoma Living (ISSN 1064-8968),


USPS 407-040, is published monthly for consumer-members of Oklahoma’s rural electric cooperatives by the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives, 2325 E. I-44 Service Road,


P.O. Box 54309, Oklahoma City, OK 73154-1309. Circulation this issue: 319,285


Periodical postage paid at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Association of Electric


Cooperatives is a statewide service organization for the following electric cooperatives: Alfalfa, Arkansas Valley, Caddo, Canadian Valley,


Central Rural, Choctaw, Cimarron, Cookson Hills, Cotton, East Central Oklahoma, Harmon, Indian, KAMO Power, Kay, Kiamichi, Kiwash, Lake Region, Northeast Oklahoma, Northfork,


Northwestern, Oklahoma, Ozarks, People’s, Red River Valley, Rural, Southeastern, Southwest


Rural, Tri-County, Verdigris Valley, and Western Farmers Electric Cooperative.


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