A Moment with the CEO
BY SUZANNE LANE
As we rapidly approach October, it is time to once again recognize that October is National Co-Op Month! Across our great country, there are more than 40,000 cooperatives of all types, supporting jobs that provide more than $25 billion in wages, while fulfilling the mission with which every type of co-op aligns—serving members. Studies have estimated that approximately 350 million Americans are cooperative members, including a number of whom belong to more than one co-op, so co-ops clearly impact and influence the lives of many Americans—and we are honored and proud to be a part of the co-op family.
So, as we take a moment in this month’s issue of Newsmaker to celebrate electric cooperatives (even more than we already do!), I think it’s a perfect time to step back and remember the purpose and guiding principles of your G&T cooperative. KEPCo’s purpose is clear: KEPCo strives for excellence in providing safe, reliable, economical, and environmentally responsible power supply, exceptional support, and innovative services to our Members and the Kansans they serve.
We are guided by the principles of safety, innovation, engagement, integrity, and financial responsibility. These principles have been and remain the core aspects of the vision for KEPCo, where all of these principles and our purpose guide us in every action, decision, and plan made on behalf of our members.
To further our purpose and vision, which, coincidentally, will occur during National Co-op Month, KEPCo’s board of trustees and senior management team will be conducting a strategic planning retreat during the regularly scheduled October board meeting. This important endeavor will be used to determine the near-term vision, goals, and strategies for your G&T. It has been three years since our last strategic planning session, and while we have accomplished a significant amount of work towards providing affordable, reliable power for our members, it is time to ensure that the direction of your G&T continues to align with board objectives and industry developments. We have asked National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC) to facilitate our retreat, and we look forward to communicating the outcomes with our entire membership soon.
On behalf of the entire KEPCo team, we wish everyone a happy National Co-Op Month, and an enjoyable fall and holiday season.
Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation approaching their 25th refueling outage
Wolf Creek's 25th refueling outage (RF25) begins in October. Operators will complete the process of safely down powering the plant. This process of a safe shutdown is known as “opening the breakers" indicating that the main breaker in the plant’s switchyard has been opened, and there is no longer power supply to the grid.
What is a refueling outage?
For a nuclear plant, a refueling outage is a scheduled plant shutdown to remove the used fuel from the reactor and replace it with new fuel. The fuel, also known as the reactor core, is designed to be used for the full 18-month operating cycle to power the plant. Wolf Creek operates at full power around the clock during that 18-month time frame.
Nuclear fuel assemblies contain Uranium 235 in the form of ceramic pellets the size of pencil erasers, which are stacked inside 13-foot-long metal fuel rods and bundled into groups of 264. In total, there are 193 fuel assemblies in Wolf Creek’s reactor core.
While the plant is offline, Wolf Creek performs nearly 9,000 scheduled maintenance activities while working 24 hours per day. To accomplish this, Wolf Creek brings in approximately 600 supplemental workers with specialty skills like reactor services or turbine-generator experts. The outage schedule is based around the refueling activities and is adjusted to accommodate the number of maintenance activities needed.
During each refueling outage, about one-third of the 193 fuel assemblies are replaced with new assemblies and rearranged to levelize power generation inside the reactor.
The weight of all the fuel in the core is about 88 tons and has the energy equivalency of approximately 19 million tons of coal. Before new fuel is placed in the reactor, it is closely inspected to ensure no abnormalities or damage is identified. The old assemblies are placed in the used fuel pool and the new fuel is placed in the reactor.
See Yourself in Cyber!
Since 2004, the President of the United States and Congress have declared October to be Cybersecurity Awareness Month, helping individuals protect themselves online as threats to technology and confidential data become more commonplace.
From mobile to connected home devices, technology is becoming more intertwined with our lives every day. And while the evolution of technology is moving at the speed of sound, cybercriminals are working just as hard to find ways to compromise technology and disrupt personal and business life. Cybersecurity Awareness Month aims to highlight some of the emerging challenges that exist in the world of cybersecurity today and provide straightforward actionable guidance that anyone can follow to create a safe and secure digital world for ourselves, friends, family, and co-workers while we’re online.
This year’s campaign theme – See Yourself in Cyber – focuses on the “people” part of cybersecurity and demonstrates that everyone is responsible for their own online behavior. We can greatly increase our cybersecurity online, at work, and at home by performing the four key fundamental cybersecurity best practices:
- Recognizing and reporting phishing – still one of the primary threat actions used by cybercriminals today.
- Understanding the benefits of using a password manager and dispelling existing myths around password manager security and ease of use.
- Enabling multi-factor authentication on personal devices and business networks.
- Installing updates on a regular basis and turning on automated updates.
For more information about Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2022 and how to participate in a wide variety of activities, visit staysafeonline.org/cybersecurity-awareness-month/.
Proudly, KEPCo has been designated a Cybersecurity Awareness Month Champions Program champion!
Time to Prepare for Winter
Fall is the perfect season to get your home ready for winter and to complete household chores that may have been neglected during the summer months.
If you followed a checklist for spring cleaning, it’s time to repeat many of the same tasks. This time, however, you should start with the outdoor tasks and then move indoors as the weather becomes colder. By doing some extra work now, you'll be ready to enjoy a snug, safe winter without as many worries.
Fall Cleaning Checklist:
- Clean and store outdoor furniture
- Service and store gardening equipment
- Clean gutters and downspouts
- Winterize outdoor pools and water features
- Remove window screens and install storm windows
- Wash exterior and interior windows
- Complete an outdoor home inspection
- Sweep and inspect chimneys and fireplaces
- Change smoke detector batteries
- Clean or replace HVAC filters
- Clean and reverse ceiling fans
New Employees at KEPCo
BRAD HUTTON has been hired as a Financial/Regulatory Specialist. Brad is a native of Dodge City, Kansas, and graduated from Washburn University with a BBA degree in Finance and Economics. Brad comes to KEPCo from the Kansas Corporation Commission, where he worked for the last five years as a Regulatory Auditor/Analyst in the Utilities Division. Brad married Kylie Wuestewald, a speech therapist for Topeka Public Schools, on September 3. In his spare time, Brad enjoys hunting, fishing, playing golf, and spending time outdoors.
CLAUDINE STUEVE has joined KEPCo as Executive Assistant and Manager, Office Services. She is originally from Rochester, New York and moved to St. Louis, Missouri, when she was in the fourth grade. Claudine graduated from the University of Missouri-St. Louis with a BS degree in Business Administration. She has vast professional experience, most recently with the Sports Car Club of America, where she served seven years as the Assistant Manager of Road Racing. Claudine is married to Eric, and they have two adult children. Away from work, Claudine enjoys camping, cruising on her Yamaha V-Star, hiking, and being in the outdoors.
LINDSAY CLARK has been hired as an Administrative Assistant. She is originally from Topeka and comes to KEPCo after spending the last twelve years raising her children in Celina, Texas. Lindsay holds a BS degree in Sociology from Kansas State University and a Master of Criminal Justice degree from Washburn University, a degree she put to work as a Death Investigator at the Shawnee County Coroner’s office for over two years. In 2001, Lindsay enlisted in the Air Force and served in the Kansas Air National Guard at Forbes Field in Topeka for 12 years as an Aerospace Propulsion Engineer with a rank of Technical Sergeant. She has four children, ages 22,19,10, and 6, with the oldest child being an active-duty Marine. When free time presents itself, Lindsay enjoys horseback riding, traveling, and spending time with family.
Welcome to KEPCo, Brad, Claudine, and Lindsay!
In June, CHRIS DAVIDSON was promoted to Senior Engineer. Chris has been with KEPCo for 10 years.
Also in June, ADAM LEE was promoted to Senior SCADA/Metering Technician. Adam has been with KEPCo for two years.
STEPHANIE ANDERSON was promoted to Finance & Benefits Analyst III in August. Stephanie has been with KEPCo for nine years.
Congratulations to Chris, Adam, and Stephanie!
KEPCo Submits REDLG Loan
KEPCo submitted a Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) application for the establishment of a vision care clinic in Basehor, Kansas. The application and loan are being administered by FreeState Electric Cooperative. Basehor currently does not have a vision care clinic and, as such, this project will provide a much-needed service in a rapidly growing community and add four to six fulltime employees in the community. This applicant received a REDLG loan in 2008 to expand their vision care clinic in Oskaloosa and that clinic has grown impressively since the infusion of the loan funds. “It is very satisfying to see a business repeat as a borrower. This is confirmation of the credibility and importance of the program to rural businesses. KEPCo is once again delighted to assist our members in economic development endeavors,” said Susan Cunningham, KEPCo SVP, Regulatory & Government Affairs, and General Counsel.
KEPCo Earns 5-Star Co-op Designation
This summer, KEPCo was awarded the designation of a 5-Star Co-op by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). The 5-Star program is awarded to electric cooperatives who are involved in a variety of advocacy efforts through Co-ops Vote events, in which co-ops earn stars for various activities such as program promotion, engagement with elected officials and candidates, and encouraging members to be civically engaged and exercise their right to vote.
The activities performed by KEPCo this year, which earned KEPCo its designation, included co-hosting a Co-ops Vote event at FreeState Electric Cooperative, Inc., which was attended by several area legislators and elected officials, and participating in other member Co-ops Vote events along with Kansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (KEC), our statewide association, to visit with area legislators and local officials about issues affecting electric cooperatives. “KEPCo is proud to support Co-ops Vote. Earning this designation is a confirmation of the valuable work our government relations team performs throughout the year, advocating on behalf of KEPCo and its member cooperatives,” said Suzanne Lane, KEPCo EVP & CEO.
Co-ops Vote is a non-partisan project of America's Electric Cooperatives designed to inform its members on the key issues facing electric co-ops and encourage them to vote and support their co-ops and the communities they serve when they go to the polls.
KEPCo Attends RESMA Lobbyist Clinic
Phil Wages, KEPCo Director of Member Services, Government Affairs, and Business Development, along with Leslie Kaufman, Doug Shepherd, and Regan McCloud from KEC, attended the three-day Rural Electric Statewide Managers Association (RESMA) Lobbying Clinic in Asheville, North Carolina. The clinic was attended by electric cooperative lobbyists from across the country and government relations representatives from NRECA.
Topics that were discussed during the clinic included rural broadband; federal regulatory and political briefings; the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act; balancing decarbonization with reliability, affordability, and sustainability; the grid of the future; electric vehicles (EVs) and EV charging stations; lobbying challenges – political instability in a highly partisan environment; deregulation; grassroots engagement; and legislative status reports from the individual states represented at the clinic.
“The lobbyist clinic provides the opportunity to network with other electric cooperative lobbyists to learn about issues facing their respective states and the strategies that are, or have been, used to either support or oppose particular legislation. In addition, the federal briefings by NRECA, particularly in today’s ever-changing environment in Washington, D.C., are equally as valuable,” said Phil Wages.