MEGAWATTS & MILLIONS
On November 12, 1938, the first employees of Sumter Electric Cooperative electrified 400 homes at the crossroads of Sumter, Lake and Marion Counties. Sumter Electric has since evolved from a small, rural electric cooperative into our d/b/a name of SECO Energy, and has grown into a regional, not-for-profit electric cooperative serving members across Central Florida.
SECO’s growth during its 80-year history is impressive. Continued economic development in our service territory, keeps us investing in new infrastructure and upgrading our existing system. When I joined the SECO team in 1979, the cooperative served less than 39,000 members. Upon becoming CEO in 1990, we served almost 70,000 members. Since then, SECO’s membership increased to almost 200,000 members – a growth rate of 186%.
Population booms create a greater demand for power. To keep pace, SECO makes investing in its electric system a top priority. As of July 31, SECO’s system wide facilities investment is $817.8 million, which equates to an investment of $2.77 million per month in SECO’s system.
Sumter County is growing with The Villages of Fenney and Southern Oaks, future home to 8,000 houses and numerous retail spaces. As a result, SECO is upgrading that area’s substation (called “Federal” because it serves the prison) from 12kV to 25kV and building additional feeders to increase capacity.
In its current configuration, the substation can serve 5,000 members. The upgrade brings the capacity to 25,000 members. The substation is currently equipped with a 34-megawatt power transformer. The upgrade adds two 56-megawatt power transformers with space for another 56-megawatt power transformer if/when needed. The Federal substation upgrade investment is approximately $3 million.
This system upgrade also gives SECO the ability to backfeed power to members served by other substations in the event of an outage.
In south Lake County, crews have already upgraded equipment at our Big Creek substation. In Marion County, crews are upgrading the relay equipment at our Oak Run substation that serves members in the western State Road 200 area. In northwest Marion County, work has begun to upgrade our Blitchton substation to increase its operating voltage and capacity.
Future power supply development by our wholesale provider, Seminole Electric Cooperative is a topic you’ll hear about in more detail soon. Seminole supplies power to 1.6 million Floridians, and the company’s plans for the future ensure an adequate power supply with a fuel portfolio that keeps costs and rates low but also expands the use of renewable energy. That said, SECO will continue to provide reliable power to current members and be ready to serve future members.
It is our pleasure to serve your family’s energy needs. Thank you for being a SECO member.
Florida is deemed the “Lightning Capital” of the nation. It comes as no surprise that lightning is the leading cause of outages in SECO’s service area, and it creates a host of problems for our electric system. Lightning can strike power lines directly, causing a sudden increase in the electrical field. This sudden increase causes outages by tripping fuses, reclosers and breakers installed along the lines to protect the circuit. Lightning also plays a role in the second and third leading causes of outages – trees and equipment failures. Lightning strikes trees, causing damage to tree branches, trunks and roots. Branches and entire trees fall onto lines, bringing down poles and lines, causing outages. Lightning interrupts the normal operation of transformers, cabinets, fusers and breakers, and lightning can spark fires that damage electrical equipment.
Squirrels, birds and bears – oh my – they wreak havoc on SECO’s facilities. Bears use SECO poles as scratching posts, creating a weakened pole that could break and cause lines to fall. Squirrels, birds and snakes travel on SECO lines and cause outages. Birds build their nests on SECO poles and woodpeckers drill into wood poles to hollow out nests.
System maintenance is a constant and costly battle. During hurricane season and beyond, SECO is Storm Ready, equipped to respond quickly and safely to major weather events and occasional outages. If you experience an outage, use your tablet or smartphone to report it through Storm Center at SECOEnergy.com.
Curb the Silent Demanders
According to energy.gov, a home’s water heater accounts for about 12% of monthly energy use. Follow these simple, easy tips to increase the energy efficiency of your water heater.
- Install a timer that turns off the unit at night or when not in use.
- Lower the temperature to 120º F.
- Wash and rinse clothes in cold water.
- Wash only a full load in your dishwasher on the shortest cycle.
- Replace showerheads and faucets with low-flow fixtures.
It may be time to consider purchasing a new water heater, clothes washer or dishwasher. Look for the ENERGY STAR® label. Tankless water heaters use less energy, but the up-front costs are higher. ENERGY STAR reports savings of $135 a year by replacing a washer that’s over ten years old. ENERGY STAR-qualified dishwashers use 31% less energy and 33% less water than older models – a double-win for efficiency.
Searching for additional energy-saving advice? SECO’s Energy Services Specialists are available to answer your questions. Visit our website to schedule an Energy Audit appointment at your home or business today.
Surge Protection Bill Credit Winner
Margaret Locke from Umatilla is the winner of SECO’s $300 Surge Protection Bill Credit. Congratulations Margaret!
You too can add a layer of protection to your home’s appliances with SECO’s meter-based surge protection. Enroll online today!
Read the full September 2017 SECO News here.