Southern Pioneer Electric Company enters into three-year pilot program for remote service connections and disconnections

Southern Pioneer Electric Company  is participating in a three-year Pilot Program as a temporary waiver of certain Commission-required “knock and collect” requirements. The program was approved by the Kansas Corporation Commission (“Commission” or “KCC”) in Docket No. 15-GIMX-344-GIV,  and is applicable only to those electric customers with Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meters installed, also known as digital meters. This will allow Southern Pioneer the capability to connect and disconnect service remotely without physically dispatching service personnel to the customer’s location. Further explanation of the program is available here.

Local Students Attend Cooperative Youth Leadership Camp

Joining their peers from Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Wyoming, high school students Chris Hernandez (Southwestern Heights) Makalah Henke (Medicine Lodge) and Brian Martinez (Liberal) developed leadership skills at the 41st annual Cooperative Leadership Camp in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, from July 14-20. Approximately 100 youth learned about the cooperative principles at the week-long educational retreat.

Chris, Makalah and Brian began their adventure meeting campers as the rode across the plains. When the bus arrived in Denver, Colorado, they were treated to a snorkeling experience at the Denver Aquarium where campers swam face-to-face with a school of cownose rays, moray eels, nurse sharks and 400 other exotic underwater species.

The 2017 Youth Leadership Camp delegation.

The group then arrived at Glen Eden Resort and immediately began forming friendships through various activities. Several demonstrations and presentations introduced students to the cooperative model and the reach of cooperatives throughout their communities. Campers competed to build a model transmission line out of craft supplies, formed their own candy cooperative, held daily membership meetings, toured Trapper Mine and Craig Power Plant, checked out a solar array and experienced a high-voltage safety demonstration. The campers also raised $390 to donate to the NRECA International Foundation.

“It was cool to see how much cooperatives do for our communities,” said Hernandez. “You really start to appreciate all that they do.”

Henke said, “I learned that people can become closer as they work together. It was very cool seeing all of us grow so close in such a short amount of time.”

The week-long experience also gave participants an authentic camp feel with river rafting, a volleyball tournament, swimming, a dance and a talent show. In between activities, campers had the opportunity to hangout and meet one another.

Makalah and Christian take a quick picture at the Trapper Coal Mine in Colorado.
Makalah and Christian take a quick picture at the Trapper Coal Mine in Colorado.

“I will always remember the friendships I’ve made and will continue to treasure them forever,” said Martinez. This camp is the true definition of creating bonds beyond friendship and becoming a family.”

This was Martinez’s second year at camp. Last year, he was selected to attend the camp for Southern Pioneer Electric. Martinez was then elected by his peers to return as an ambassador of the program for 2017. As an ambassador, he was a junior counselor, facilitated camp leadership activities and acted as a role model for the incoming campers.

“It was awesome to see the campers become great leaders by coming out of their comfort zone,” said Martinez. “It was a privilege to help guide these campers to become amazing leaders.”

Preparations for next year’s Youth Leadership Camp are well underway. Southern Pioneer Electric will open up applications for the 2018 Youth Tour this fall. Sophomores and juniors who attend Ashland, Cunningham, Fowler, Kiowa County, Kiowa South Barber, Liberal, Medicine Lodge, Minneola, Satanta, Skyline, South Central, Southwestern Heights and Sublette high schools are encouraged to apply.

“The Youth Tour program, whether it is the Washington, D.C. trip or the leadership camp in Steamboat Springs, Co., is a life changing experience for sophomores and juniors,” said Energy Services Coordinator Dee Longoria. “They leave for the trip feeling apprehensive and excited and come back sharing with us all the wonderful things they learned about our country and electric cooperatives. They have a deeper appreciation of our country and learned about how the cooperative model works. Oftentimes, we see past winners become involved in leadership roles in their community, state and local government.”

Additional information regarding Youth Tour and other programs offered by Southern Pioneer Electric is available online here.

H.U.G.S. Presentation: Seward County Extension 4-H Club

LIBERAL, Kan.—Southern Pioneer Electric’s Helping Us Give to Society (H.U.G.S.) program presented the Seward County Extension and 4-H program with a $2,000 donation to help the 4-H’ers with furnishing their new building.

The new building will allow the youth organization to hold various projects such as arts and crafts, cooking, sewing and shooting sports at a central location. The projects were held at various locations around the local area prior to the building’s construction, as the group hadn’t had a central location for nearly a decade.

Seward County Extension Agent Kylee Harrison said, “The kids are enrolled in different projects throughout the year and once they are in those, they have project meetings. We use many different buildings and meeting rooms in the area, but it was always a ‘where was it going to be today’ and we had to haul stuff back and forth all the time.”

The Seward County Extension’s new 4-H building, currently under construction.

“So this will be really nice having a central location so the kids always know where it will be.”

With an overall goal of “making the best better,” the 4-H group feels that having a safe and caring environment and location for the youth and leaders to meet will make for a more positive learning experience. The building will also be used as part of the Seward County Extension program in addition to the 4-H activities—adding even more educational opportunities to the county’s youth.

With 50 area youth enrolled in 4-H full-time, there are also 70 youth that will attend educational events during the summer months. Both the 4-H and non-4-H youth events will be held in the new building.

Donations are a key part of the groups success, helping the local area youth really make the most of their time with the Extension and in 4-H. The H.U.G.S. donation will help furnish the building with things like stoves, refrigerators and other appliances for its fully stocked kitchen.

“Our budgets aren’t huge; we have a fairly tight budget to run off of for Extension and 4-H,” said Harrison. “So any donations we receive are amazing and that’s really what we function off of.”

To get more information on the Seward County Extension programs and 4-H, or to make a donation, please contact Kylee Harrison at kharrison@ksu.edu.

Southern Pioneer Electric Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pioneer Electric Cooperative, is headquartered out of Ulysses, Kansas. Southern Pioneer Electric Company has local offices in Liberal and Medicine Lodge, Kansas. Southern Pioneer Electric Company serves approximately 17,200 customers and operates in 10 counties and 34 communities. Southern Pioneer Electric Company’s service territory stretches east from Liberal to Medicine Lodge and north to Kingman and back west to Greensburg, Kansas. Southern Pioneer Electric Company is dedicated to providing customers with safe and reliable electric service. For more information about the H.U.G.S. program, please contact Vice President of Energy Services, Anita Wendt. (Phone: 620.424.5271 and E-mail: awendt@pioneerelectric.coop)