Watts Inside: - Maquoketa Valley Electric Cooperative

March 2015
For Our Members
Voluntary and Open Membership
Baling for a Cure
Why this principle still applies to electric cooperatives
“We want to improve
our farming methods
When electric cooperative members look at the seven cooperative
in a way of which
principles, many may question if they really live up to the first principle:
we can be proud.”
Voluntary & Open Membership. It is a fair question. There is a two-part
First, it is important to remember that when MVEC was first being
formed back in 1935, every potential member had the option to refuse
service. While it may be hard to believe today, there are numerous stories
from electric cooperatives throughout the country where the farmer said,
“No thanks. We are doing fine with kerosene.” Of course over time they
changed their minds and eventually became members of the Cooperative.
Mark Knuth, Cascade
Page 4
Due to the incredible cost of offering electric service, the vast majority of
people and businesses only have one choice if they want to connect to “the
grid” and receive electricity. While that may change in the future due to
other generation sources, the best option for most people for safe, reliable
and affordable power is from your electric cooperative.
Today, electric cooperatives focus on the second part of the principle,
“Open Membership.” All residents and businesses in the service territory
of MVEC are welcome to receive power. Cooperatives continually strive
continued on page 2
Member Appreciation Nights
April 7
5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Lawrence Community
April 9
5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Delaware County
Community Center
(on the Fairgrounds)
Watts Inside:
Momentum Is Building
Page 2
National Ag Day
Page 3
Make Efficiency Affordable
Page 3
Baling for a Cure
Page 4
Face Pa
The easiest and most
cost-effective way to
insulate your home
is to add insulation
in the attic.
Pull the Plug
Page 5
Balloon Sculptin
Member Appreciation Nights
Implementing Quality Surge
Page 6
Fact or Fiction
Page 7
Momentum Is Building Conference
Local building professionals attend energy efficient building conference
The annual Momentum Is Building conference,
sponsored by Iowa’s Touchstone Energy
Cooperatives and the Iowa Energy Center, was
recently held in West Des Moines. Attendees
included cooperative staff and building professionals
from across Iowa, including electricians, HVAC
professionals and building contractors.
Topics addressed at the conference included:
The two-day conference focused on energy
efficient building practices by nationally known
speakers, displays of the latest building products
and techniques, and networking among the building
professionals and electric cooperative staff.
* Remodeling for energy efficiency
* Improving homes for energy efficiency, while
providing a safe, healthy environment for residents
* Electric Code updates and conserving energy
* Geothermal troubleshooting and hydronics
* Electrical service for agricultural lighting
* Planning building projects for energy efficiency
Several of the sessions provided continuing
education credits for the attending professionals.
Gary Weber, MVEC Member Advocate says, “Each
year MVEC participates in the conference, along
with our local building trades professionals to
learn new energy efficient techniques and building
science principles that can be applied to building
and remodeling projects in our community, as well
as have an opportunity to check out exciting new
products, such as new geothermal technology.”
To learn more about attending Momentum Is
Building in the future, contact Gary Weber at 800927-6068.
MVEC area contractors joined MVEC’s Gary Weber and Al
Schilling (at left) at the Momentum Is Building Conference.
Voluntary and Open Membership
All cooperatives, whether it is your credit union,
farm cooperative, telephone cooperative or any
other of the 29,000 cooperatives that exist in
the U.S. today, live by these seven cooperative
continued from front page
to ensure that your membership has value to you not
just through the service of electricity but by being an
active part of your community.
Cooperatives offer and welcome your participation
in the governance of the organization through a
democratically elected board of directors. As a
locally owned and controlled utility, cooperatives
are in a better position to understand the needs of its
members and can be quicker to react to help ensure
the membership receives the best service possible.
Members are welcome to suggest improvements
to the Cooperative’s operations and, unlike large
investor owned utilities often with millions of
customers, you can be assured your ideas will
actually be read by a real person in real time.
1. Voluntary & Open Membership
2. Democratic Member Control
3. Members’ Economic Participation
4. Autonomy & Independence
5. Education, Training & Information
6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives
7. Concern for Community
By using all of these principles integrated together,
MVEC is able to serve your needs every day.
National Ag Day
Make Efficiency Affordable
National Ag Day is March 18, 2015. It’s a time
when producers, agricultural associations,
corporations, universities, government agencies
and countless others
across America gather to
recognize and celebrate
the abundance provided
by American agriculture.
If you have purchased a new appliance recently, you
probably found yourself comparing the annual energy
consumption of various models. You probably also
noticed that efficiency costs extra. When it comes
to appliances, water heaters and HVAC systems,
consumers face a classic dilemma: pay now or pay
(more) later. The answer is simple: Make efficiency
Energy efficiency is part of Maquoketa Valley Electric
Cooperative’s DNA. More than 95% of electric
cooperatives nationwide offer efficiency programs. As
consumer-owned, not-for-profit utilities, cooperatives
are constantly looking for ways to keep members’
bills low, including programs to make high-efficiency
appliances and equipment more accessible.
As the world population
soars, there is even
greater demand for the
food, fiber and renewable
resources produced in the
United States.
Maquoketa Valley Electric Cooperative offers
incentives on insulation and ENERGY STAR® rated
clothes washers, water heaters, and air source heat
pumps. We also offer home energy assessments to
members. The assessment will provide you a report
outlining suggested improvements and your return
on investment information. For more information on
rebate requirements and the energy assessment, call
our office at 800-927-6068 or visit www.mvec.coop.
The National Ag Day program believes that every
American should:
1. Understand how food, fiber and renewable
resource products are produced.
2. Value the essential role of agriculture in
maintaining a strong economy.
3. Appreciate the role agriculture plays in
providing safe, abundant and affordable
4. Acknowledge and consider career
opportunities in the agriculture, food, fiber
and renewable resource industries.
Working together at the national level, electric
cooperatives advocate for federal policies and
programs that can reduce the upfront cost of energy
Agriculture provides almost everything we eat,
use and wear on a daily basis, and is increasingly
contributing to fuel and other bio-products. Each
year, members of the agricultural industry gather
together to promote American agriculture. This
effort helps educate millions of consumers.
At Maquoketa Valley Electric Cooperative, we want
our members to be armed with the information they
need to make cost-effective investments in efficiency.
Good information will lead to smart choices not only
about appliances but about efficiency upgrades. A
good place to start is online at TogetherWeSave.com,
where members can conduct an interactive energy
audit and gain access to a library of energy-saving
how-to videos.
By far, the most effective part of this program is
the role you play in helping spread the word. A
few generations ago, most Americans were directly
involved in – or had relatives or friends involved
in – agricultural-related endeavors. Today, that is
no longer the case. That is why it is so important
that we join together at the community level…our
voices, in concert, become a shout that carries our
message a great deal further than any one of us can
do alone!
We understand there is no such thing as a one-sizefits-all efficiency solution. Our staff can help you sort
out which energy efficiency investments make sense
for you and your situation. Maquoketa Valley Electric
Cooperative strives to be a trusted energy partner for
every single one of our members. So come talk to us
about how we can help save you money!
Baling for a Cure
Grace Zimmerman, Anamosa, Iowa
It was a rainy Monday morning when, as I usually
do when told of new ideas, methods, and bold
entrepreneurs, I found myself following up on my
latest lead for Watts Current readers. It was the
MVEC guys themselves that brought the impetus
of the Bale Barn in Cascade, Iowa, to the forefront.
Just north of Highway 151 and clearly visible from
the thoroughfare stood a big, red building flanked
by two semis emblazoned with the Bale Barn’s
company logo and motto: “Baling for a Cure.”
Within these doors, business managing partner,
Mark Knuth,
and a handful of
employees were
hard at work taking
large round bales
straight from Knuth
Farms, Inc.’s, own
fields and turning
The Bale Barn in Cascade.
them into small
square bales perfect for livestock and hobby farmers
alike. True to his hardworking character, as I pulled
up to the Bale Barn for our tour and interview,
Knuth was in the middle of one of the last steps:
using a Bobcat skid loader to prepare the small
squares for sale and shipping and moving them to
the building’s 150’ x 90’ temporary storage facility.
Once Knuth’s job was complete, he took me to
the baler itself to explain all the steps of the baling
process and how the men and machines came
together. Starting at the first step, large round hay
or straw bales made by Knuth Farms wait their
turn on a conveyor. The conveyor moves each bale
forward to step two: unrolling. Each round bale is
unwrapped and then unwound in the same order
it was baled so all that is left is the grass or straw
itself. The resulting material is then forced through
the steel tedder, which I called the “inner workings”
of the process. This phase takes the straw or hay
that had been
flattened due to the
intense pressure
of the large round
bale and fluffs it in
order to simulate
a natural winrow
to feed the small
square baler more
Small square bales being formed.
evenly. It is at this point that the small squares are
formed. Once the small squares emerge, they are
pushed into a bundler which ties them together 21
at a time. The resulting bundles are then taken to the
warehouse and stored on concrete slatted floors so
air can ventilate the hay
allowing for maximum
quality. Knuth explains,
“Bales work better if
they’re stored awhile, a
natural curing process
occurs. It doesn’t work
very well to take them
The bundler ties 21 bales
right out of the field.”
At this point, Knuth points out the control room,
a large box-like structure raised off the floor a
few yards away from the baler setup, where one
of the Bale Barn employees can observe and
troubleshoot all the action from beginning to end. I
stepped inside to observe Jason Zalaznik, a six-year
employee of Knuth Farms, at the electrical controls.
If something isn’t working correctly, it’s up to
him to stop the process and correct it. “One thing
depends on another,” explains Knuth. Each phase
of the unrolling, rebaling, and bundling is closely
monitored and controlled to maintain consistency
of product. It was
not unusual to see
one of the men
notice a small bale
had fallen apart,
at which point he
would quickly
pluck it out of the
assembly line and At right is the control room where
bring it back to the employees can observe the baling
proper position to process from beginning to end.
start its journey over again. “Two guys can run it,
with one being in the control room. We usually
have three, but today there are four at work. The
employees are part of our farm operation,” stated
Knuth. “We want to improve our farming methods
in a way of which we can be proud. Our goal is to
raise crops and use the end rows for our hay crop.
As the business grows, I want to keep employees
around, focus on being right, and providing year
round work.” Growing the business and perfecting
their product is a learning curve that Mark; his wife,
Cathy; his sons, Ryan and Eric; daughters, Amanda
and Kayla; and their employees have worked to
perfect in the past three years of the Bale Barn’s
(formerly Families of SMA) helped the family learn
how to best meet his needs. “I just felt I wanted
to do something for SMA funding, which has
been such an important part of working with my
grandson’s quality of life. So the baling for a cure
operation began as a result.” A percentage of each
bale sold from the Bale Barn is donated to SMA
research and funding, helping families just like
“I heard about someone in Arkansas doing this. It
seemed there was a demand for a similar product
around here because of the large number of
acreages in the area. So I went down to Arkansas
to see it in action, and about three years ago, I
brought it back home,” Knuth explained when
questioned about his business’ beginnings. In past
decades, small square bales were the norm, but as
technology advanced, balers became bigger and
bigger, resulting in an abundance of the large round
bale variety. Thus small bales, which are ideal for
small livestock and hobby farmers, were hard to
come by. Knuth felt that by bringing the Bale Barn
operation to Cascade, he could supply area farmers
who needed such a product.
As an ole’ farm gal, I told Mark that I thoroughly
enjoyed my time at the Bale Barn. The smell of the
hay and dust brought back memories of my own
time as a girl breaking twine, but I do have to admit
it was a noisy, messy process! It was definitely a
learning experience, and I hope readers of Watts
Current will be able to get the gist of the procedures
involved. “We really are glad to be a part of
Maquoketa Valley Electric Cooperative,” Knuth
stated. “They’ve been a big part of our operation
which wholly depends on the great service which
they provide.”
A business man by nature, Knuth also saw an
opportunity to help raise money for a cause close
to his heart. In July 2010, Knuth’s grandson
was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, a
neuromuscular disease that affects the motor nerve
cells in the spinal cord and prevents diagnosed
individuals from walking, swallowing, or even
breathing. It is the number one genetic killer of
infants with 1 in 10,000 babies born with one of
the four types of SMA. One in 50 Americans are
carriers of this genetic disease, many of whom
don’t even know it (“About SMA”). Such was the
case for Knuth’s family, and upon learning of their
grandson’s diagnosis, the organization Cure SMA
A final reminder—square bales of grass, alfalfa/
grass mix, and straw are available year round,
offering both pick-up at the Bale Barn located at
1193 Farley Road in Cascade or on-site delivery.
To find out more about “Baling for a Cure” or to
observe the Bale Barn in action, contact Mark
Knuth at 563-590-9983 or email [email protected]
net. I assure you that you’ll enjoy his outlook on
the family business and goals in life. His son and
business partner Ryan Knuth can also be contacted
at 563-543-7216, or you can visit their website at
www.balebarn.com for more information.
Pull the Plug
Do you have old appliances no longer in use
and taking up space? We can help you recycle
them! The Pull the Plug program pays you for
saving energy responsibly. Appliances in working
condition will qualify for the following rewards:
Window AC
Sign up today by calling MVEC at 800-927-6068.
Our program contractor, Conservation Services
Group, will call you to schedule a collection time
for your appliance to be recycled. (Limited to three
appliances per year.)
Implementing Quality Surge Protection
There is little, if anything, you can buy today that
does not have some electronic component. Now
is the time to take a look at making sure your
electronics last as long as possible from electrical
devices that allow themselves to be destroyed rather
than allowing the surge to pass through. Noble
devices indeed!
The third prong is to protect expensive devices at
their point of use. Computers and entertainment
equipment are prime examples.
Remember that surges can enter
the home via avenues other than
the power lines. Computers and
entertainment equipment are
frequently connected to cable and
phone lines. Those devices need
to have protection at the point
of use that covers all possible
avenues. These are generally in
the form of a power strip or wall
device most of us are familiar
with. Use a quality product from
a manufacturer such as Monster,
Belkin, Tripp Lite, or APC, to
name a few. Look for one with
a joule rating of at least 1,000, a
connected equipment warranty
and compatibility with digital
signals from cable and satellite.
While you are at it, look for a
“smart” strip that turns off all but
one connected device when not in
The first order of business is to define a surge.
Alternatively known as a line surge, a surge is an
unexpected increase in voltage in an electrical
current that causes damage to electrical equipment.
For example, the standard United States voltage
is 120V. If an electrical current above this rating
was to come through a power outlet for more than
three nanoseconds, this would be considered a
surge. Anything less is considered a spike. A surge
is usually created by lightning and can damage
unprotected computers and sometimes even
protected computers.
Many people think a blink from Maquoketa
Valley Electric Cooperative’s system is a surge,
but these are generally caused by something like a
tree contacting a line. In such cases, the system’s
protective devices work, causing an interruption to
protect the wires and other components. These are
not surges, but more like turning a light off and on.
True surges will enter a home through any number
of avenues. The most obvious is through the power
lines. Less obvious is through the telephone lines,
cable/satellite connections, water lines and any
other metallic system that connects to your home.
So, to protect against surges, you need to take a
three-pronged approach.
Save money on your electric bill while protecting
your equipment. It’s a definite win-win.
2015 Tri-State Home & Builders Show
Perhaps the most important thing to do is to be
sure all the grounds in your home are good and
that they are bonded together. Over the years,
grounds can deteriorate, new services can be added
with inadequate grounding and so forth. A faulty
ground will allow surges into the home rather than
bleeding them off into the earth. Get a qualified
electrician to test and correct your grounding
Next, protect your electrical service entrance with
a surge device. They can be mounted at the main
electric panel. When a surge travels down the
electric lines, these devices will act to “clamp” the
surge and reduce its power. These are sacrificial
Grand River Center
Dubuque, IA
March 6: 5-9 p.m.
March 7: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
March 8: Noon-5 p.m.
MVEC members thinking about building, remodeling,
or looking for ways to save money on their electric
bills, should plan to stop by our booth (#176).
Fact or Fiction
Myths About Electrical Safey
Sometimes conventional wisdom, even if it comes from a trusted source can
be deadly—especially if it pertains to electrical safety. This is one time that
checking facts just might save your life.
Here are some common electrical safety myths and the truth behind them:
• MYTH – A downed power line will be arcing and smoking if it still
has power.
FACT – Power lines do not automatically shut off when they fall and
do not necessarily arc, flash, pop, or smoke when they hit the ground.
There is no way to know for sure if a line has potentially deadly
current running through it unless it has been properly discharged by
a utility crew, so stay away from all downed power lines and keep
others away.
• MYTH – Household current cannot kill you.
FACT – Household current can and does kill. Case-in-point, a
10-year-old girl was killed by household current when she touched a
lamp while still damp from a swimming pool.
Watts The
1. Member Appreciation
Nights are April ___ & ___.
2. There are ___ cooperative
3. A __________ is an
unexpected increase in
voltage in an electrical
current that causes damage to
electrical equipment.
• MYTH – Power lines are insulated.
FACT – The majority of outside power lines are not insulated. The
coating you might see on the lines are just weatherproofing that will
offer no protection from the electricity flowing through the lines.
• MYTH – Light digging in the yard won’t be deep enough to hit any
wires or pipes.
FACT – Unless you call 811 and have a professional come to your
home and locate the utilities, you can never be sure where lines and
pipes are buried. Even if you are just planting flowers or a shrub, you
might come into contact with power lines that could kill you. Keep
in mind that the locations are approximate, so if you are digging near
one of the marked lines, do so with caution.
• MYTH – Tires insulate my car from electrical dangers.
FACT – If a wire falls on your car while you are in it, the tires are
not keeping you from being injured by the electricity. You are not
being hurt because you are not a path to ground for the electricity—as
long as you stay in the car. Once you step out of the car, you become
that path to ground and can be seriously injured or killed. If you find
yourself in a situation where your car has hit a utility pole or has a
power line come down on it, the best place for you to be is in the car.
Call for help, and keep others away until a utility crew can kill the
wires. If you must exit the car, it is critical for you to make sure not
to touch the ground and the car at the same time. Jump out of the car,
keeping your feet together. Then bunny-hop away.
Source: SafeElectricity.org
Mail your answers in with
your energy bill or email
them to:
[email protected]
Two winners will each
receive a $10.00 credit on
their energy bills.
January winners:
Michael Knowles, Bellevue
Lisa Lueken, Worthington
Maquoketa Valley
Electric Cooperative
109 North Huber Street
Anamosa, Iowa 52205
Printed by Julin Printing Company
Monticello, IA