Duncan’s Digest – $36,000 Scholarship Program for 2021
HAPPY NEW YEAR! SECO Energy’s Board of Trustees has approved the 2021 SECO Scholarship Program. $36,000 is up for grabs to be split among 12 high school seniors interested in pursuing a career in the energy industry and living in a home served by SECO. If your high school senior could use $3,000 for tuition or books and might want a paid internship on holiday or summer breaks, now is the time to apply.
The energy industry is a growing field in Florida and across the nation. SECO and other energy companies are looking to hire a workforce with the technical skills and training required in this competitive field. According to the 2020 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER), Florida currently has 124,954 traditional energy workers statewide – with a number of them gearing up toward retirement in the coming years. Of these energy workers, 54,283 are in electric power generation, 18,802 are in fuels, and 51,869 are in transmission, distribution and energy storage.
Growth in electric vehicles, renewables, energy storage and the need for increased cyber-physical security drives the need for skilled workers. Not-for-profit electric cooperatives prioritize community support, environmental stewardship, corporate citizenship and sustainability. SECO Energy offers competitive wages but we also offer a pension plan and healthy 401k match – which is a hard-to-find benefit in this day and age. In addition, SECO provides employees with high-quality, low-cost medical, dental and vision coverage. It’s a great place to work, and we are an essential employer that offers a healthy balance of work and personal life with a generous paid time off program, student loan reimbursement and more.
When you talk to your kids and grandkids about who they want to be when they grow up and if they want to raise their own families here locally, SECO Energy and the electric industry is a great place to plant local career roots. Our SECO Scholarship Program is a recruiting tool that introduces us to local students pursuing a career in the growing energy industry. We hope to attract local students who want to engage with SECO for internship opportunities or as a possible future employer.
To be eligible to apply, the student must be a high school senior who is graduating in May/June 2021. The student must live in a home served by SECO Energy, plan to pursue a career in the energy industry and attend an accredited Florida college, university or vocational/technical school and be enrolled full-time by the end of 2021. Qualifying degrees or certifications are in technology, engineering, math or business.
Applications are available online beginning January 4, 2021. You can also pick up a paper application at one of our five Member Service Centers. The application must be completed and returned to SECO by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 26, 2021.
If you have questions about SECO Energy’s 2021 Scholarship program, email SECO Energy’s Communications team.
I wish our applicants the best and look forward to reading about their career plans and accomplishments.
Advice from The Old Farmer’s Almanac – Winter and Spring 2021 Weather
According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, winter and spring in Florida will be gorgeous! Expect normal precipitation and an average temperature of 58 – only 2 degrees below average in January. The average temperature is forecast at 4 degrees above average at 65 in February, with below-average rainfall expected. March is forecast to be warm with an average temperature of 69, which is 2 degrees above average, and rainfall is forecast to be slightly below average.
Keep It Clear – We Work Here
SECO Energy Services Specialists are auditing equipment to ensure a safe, clear work zone for our employees and contractors. Plants, fences, shrubbery, lawn ornaments and other obstructions placed too close to SECO’s equipment are hazardous and must be removed.
SECO personnel and contractors perform outage restoration and maintenance on energized equipment using an eight-foot hot stick. Often, multiple personnel work on the equipment as a team; therefore, a clear work zone is necessary to complete their work safely.
Safety is our top priority. We want our employees to return home to their families safely at the end of their shift. Keep the area surrounding electric equipment clear. This equipment includes padmount transformers, flush-mounted and small pedestal secondary enclosures, meters and poles.
Not only are obstructions a safety hazard to employees and contractors, they create longer restoration times. During an outage, if crews cannot access equipment safely or must perform landscaping tasks before restoration can begin, you and your neighbors will be out of service for an extended time.
Remove obstructions before auditors arrive in your neighborhood. Read our clearance requirements and view clearance diagrams online. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
Toys for Tots
SECO Energy employees ended 2020 in a flurry of giving with our annual Marine Toys for Tots drive. Employees donated hundreds of bicycles, tricycles and other toys for the event. 2020 was a challenging year for some local families who relied on Toys for Tots to put presents under the Christmas tree.
SECO’s Pennies from Heaven program chipped in $5,000 to Toys for Tots organizations as donation matches in Citrus, Lake, Marion and Sumter Counties. Marine Toys for Tots is a top-rated charity. 96% of funds collected are used to supply children’s gifts. Since 1947, the program has collected over 584 million toys and delivered hope and gifts to 265 million children.
Members also dropped off toys at our five Member Service Center locations. Thank you, members, for supporting SECO Energy’s employee-led toy drive and our Pennies from Heaven program.
Your spare change can change lives in our local communities. Enroll in our Pennies from Heaven program to round up your monthly bill to the nearest dollar. The pennies donated support member bill payment assistance and local, worthy causes. Enroll in Pennies from Heaven online. SmartHub users can enroll on the desktop or app version, click Billing & Payment Pennies from Heaven.
EV Charger Winner!
Edwin Acosta from Clermont is the December winner of a SECO Energy branded JuiceBox Pro 40 EV Level 2 charger. We’re giving one charger away each month while supplies last. To enter, text “EV” to (352) 320-4500 for a link to enter. Or click on the EV Charger Giveaway homepage banner.
Learn more about the benefits of electric vehicle ownership on our EV website pages. You’ll find an EV savings calculator, information about CO2 reduction, an EV and PHEV model finder and a nationwide charger-finder map. Visit our Electric Vehicles page for more details.
Watch SECO News for next month’s charger winner.
January 2021 SECO News Word Search
Brighten your day with this month’s word search. Read the January 2021 SECO News articles and find the key words. Happy New Year!
Solar Spotlight – Is Solar Right for You?
Members often ask SECO Energy for assistance in determining if an investment in a solar system is the right choice for their home and family. Investing in a solar photovoltaic system can help you reduce your use of utility-supplied power. But is solar energy cost-effective for you?
First, consider the initial cost of the investment. Reducing your utility-supplied power will reduce your SECO bill, but it won’t eliminate it. Unless you go completely off the grid, your home will consume utility power when the sun isn’t shining – at night, on cloudy days and cold mornings before the sun comes up. Compare the purchase price, finance charges and utility-supplied power costs to your SECO usage and costs without a solar system.
Location, location, location – will your roof support a solar system? Are there trees blocking the panels from the sun? Also consider the orientation of the solar system. Panels facing south are the best, followed by east- and west-facing panels. SECO does not recommend north-facing panels because of production loss.
Next, consider the solar system size that will meet your needs. Before purchasing a solar system, you should review your historical kilowatt hour (kWh) usage. Compare the number of kWhs consumed by your home over the last 24 months to the amount of kWhs the system can produce. Remember that a salesperson’s production calculations are based on perfect conditions – panels facing due south, on a day with full sun, no clouds and no shade.
Here’s a mathematical breakdown of purchase price and production capability of a 5 kW system with panels facing south:
Finally, do your research before signing a contract and contact SECO’s trained Energy Specialists to help you run the numbers. Upon request, our team will conduct a solar assessment at your home or business. The Specialist will review your historical usage data and use a Solar Pathfinder tool to determine if your home is conducive to solar. SECO partners with members who choose to invest in solar. We won’t try to dissuade you; we will present you with facts and data that you can use to make a wise choice.
Learn more about solar power online. Read our solar FAQs, learn about the interconnection process, view a sample bill and complete the Solar Estimator for a quick kWh use and solar capacity comparison. Contact SECO Energy’s solar group or visit our Contact page.
System Improvement – Blitchton Substatioin Conversion
SECO Energy is your not-for-profit electric cooperative committed to providing safe, reliable and afford-able service. Recently, members served by our Blitchton substation in northwest Marion and parts of Levy County were notified of an upcoming system improvement project to increase the substation’s voltage from 7,200 to 14,400.
Unfortunately, both Hurricane Dorian in September 2019, and Tropical Storm Eta in November 2020, derailed the project’s schedule. The project is rescheduled for January 2021. If you are a member who is affected by the substation upgrade, you will have received a letter via USPS and electronic notification via email, text or voice. If you’ve lost the letter or are unsure if your home or business is affected, visit our Contact page and select the Blitchton Project Map. Search for your address to identify your outage date/timeframe.
The upgrade will improve members’ service reliability in the area. Members, we appreciate your patience and cooperation as we complete the Blitchton substation upgrade system improvement project.
Energy-Efficiency Extra – Resolve to Save With ENERGY STAR
Happy New Year! Make a New Year’s resolution to reduce your energy usage and save on your electric bill. Look for the ENERGY STAR label when buying or upgrading your home’s appliances, water heater, HVAC system, electronics and more. An ENERGY STAR-rated product’s initial purchase price may be higher, but its lower lifetime costs offset the upfront costs.
The bright yellow and black ENERGY STAR label compares the product’s estimated yearly electricity use in kWh to other models. Also, look for the estimated annual operating expense in U.S. dollars based on the national electricity cost. These numbers will help you determine the operating cost over the average lifespan of the product.
ENERGY STAR-rated products are among the most efficient available. Look for doors, skylights, windows, roofing materials, insulation, light bulbs and more products with the ENERGY STAR label.
Are you interested in seeing the math associated with your energy usage? Calculate the monthly or yearly cost of the common appliances and devices in your home with our online Energy Estimator. Submit your email address to receive no-cost and low-cost energy-savings suggestions via email.
Read the full January 2021 SECO News online.