Blog Archive

Friday, December 10, 2010

Glasgow Residents on the Nice List

Our fiber optic connections to the world allow us to be in constant contact with Santa’s workshop, and we are happy to report that all EPB customers have been placed on the “nice” list! We thought you should know about this good fortune and what each of you will be getting for Christmas as a result of your niceness.

For those of you who have HD televisions, the good news is that our HD tier of programming is growing by six new channels. They are: Channel 554 - TBS-HD, Channel 555 - CNN-HD, Channel 556 - MSNBC-HD, Channel 557 - CNBC-HD, Channel 560 - Nickelodeon-HD, and Channel 564 - Comedy Central-HD. Along with the new HD channels, all of our nice Digital Tier customers will also be getting eight new DMX music channels.

Oprah Winfrey fans have something coming from St. Nick as well. Just after the first of the year our channel 104 will become OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network).

Our internet customers are on the nice list as well and they will suddenly start seeing even faster internet service at no additional cost. For those customers using our present 2.5 mb service, it will very soon become 3 mb service. For those customers using our faster 5 mb service, they will soon be faster still at 6 mb. These upgrades are just the beginning as further upgrades and other faster speed products will become available a bit later in 2011. HO HO HO!

The most expensive gift that EPB customers have coming to them just after Christmas is Glasgow’s new electric power delivery point at East Glasgow Substation. This is not something you will notice everyday, but it will dramatically improve the reliability and sustainability of our electric power supply in Glasgow for the next several decades. This new $8 million investment will give all of us a redundant power supply in case of failure or damage to our old power delivery substation at Haywood.

Thanks to all EPB customers for being nice and getting recognized as such by the North Pole gang. From all of us at the EPB to all of you folks who we serve, we wish you the Merriest of Christmases and a New Year filled with joy.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Recommended by Local Elves

The elves in Glasgow’s technology toy land (Glasgow EPB) are busy year round, but at this time of year they are particularly involved in planning upgrades to our internet services. When we gaze into our crystal ball and try to guess what products many of our customers will be putting under their tree, we see a lot of on-line gaming and streaming video products heading toward Glasgow. Since we are virtually certain those items are coming to town, we have had our team busy testing them on our networks, and here is what we have learned.

First of all, we introduced a very large streaming video-over-internet application a few weeks ago when we brought ESPN 3 to our customers. Just last night, when UK played Boston University, we saw a stunning amount of streaming video traffic on our network as many of our customers watched the game via their internet connection on ESPN 3. When folks start using this service and adding video streaming products from Netflix.com and Hulu.com, it is going to require us to dramatically upgrade our network capacity - and we are in the process of doing just that.

Using these streaming video services and some of the new gaming software successfully at your home will also require that you think about upgrading your personal internet connection. Tests in our laboratory find that ESPN 3 and Netflix both work much better using our 5 MB internet service instead of the generic 2.5 MB service. At 5 MB the video does not have to do much buffering, rather, it plays continuously like you are watching a DVD. We have also found that the 5 MB connection is a necessity for viewing HD content over the internet.

The 5 MB connection is $36 per month compared to the $26 that most folks are paying for the 2.5 MB product, but that $10 per month more buys you a lot better performance for the Christmas presents you might be putting under the tree this year. If you are bringing home an Apple TV, one of the new Google TV devices, or any of the many new streaming video appliances, you will not be happy with them unless you also opt for the 5 MB internet service. So, before you open the presents and hook them up, give us a call at 651-8341 to order your higher speed internet service. We can upgrade your service remotely so you won’t have to worry about finding time to meet us at your house.

There is more to this recommendation too. Very soon (perhaps about the same time you open those Christmas gifts), we will be upgrading all of the speeds on our internet services to go even faster! We will also be adding more HD channels for your enjoyment. Christmas time is a big thing for the people of Glasgow who are served by Glasgow EPB. We have gifts coming your way that will bring you additional enjoyment throughout the year, and we aren’t even keeping a list and checking it twice!
Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Basketball Talk

Every year as the leaves jump from on high to the ground, thoughts around here turn to University of Kentucky men’s basketball, and this year is certainly no exception. We are thrilled to have some better news to report on the availability of some UK and U of L sports events this year due to our new agreement with ESPN relative to their internet sports site, ESPN 3. We are also finding that many of the UK men’s basketball games that normally are unavailable to us can be found on tape delay and, sometimes even live, if we are diligent in doing our research (and we are being very diligent!) But, still, there will be a few games that we will lack access to again this year.

Let’s take our annual look at this situation and review how we came to be in this position. First of all, in the very beginning, the University of Kentucky was born as a function of the Morrill Land-Grant Act. This act caused federal land to be granted to the Commonwealth of Kentucky and that land was eventually sold to provide the initial funding for the university. Since then, the people of the Commonwealth have repeatedly stepped up to fund this asset which is owned by the people of Kentucky. The school, its buildings, its brand, its sports teams, and all other assets are owned by we the taxpayer/citizens.

Of course, we all know that many Kentuckians, including a lot of folks in Glasgow, are more concerned with the exploits of UK’s sports teams than the important research taking place in the UK College of Agriculture. In pursuit of success in those sports programs, University of Kentucky has undertaken many expensive projects which must be financed somehow. Our problems come as a result of many years of relentless pursuit of sports excellence and the money required to finance those programs. In particular, we have a problem with the way the UK Athletics Department has been willing to enter into agreements to sell the television rights to this programming to companies that, in turn, demand ridiculous fees and outlandish profits for the rights to view the games they purchase right here in Kentucky.

Remember, at the beginning and end of the day, the sports teams belong to the people of Kentucky. The buildings they practice and play in belong to the people of Kentucky. The faculty and staff that deliver the education of those sports stars is paid for by the people of Kentucky. As a result of these simple facts, we have developed a simple belief – we think that the people of Kentucky should get a special Most Favored Nations rate for access to the games played by our teams. In short, since we are paying for all of the facilities while folks in other states watching these games are generally NOT paying for UK’s buildings and faculty, we think it is fine for them to pay whatever the programming company wants to charge them for the games, but we think we citizens of Kentucky should get them for the price of the taxes we have already submitted!

This seems like a simple matter and a fair solution, right? Well, as yet, no Kentucky legislator has been willing to suggest this solution in the form of a bill. As a result, small cable operators like Glasgow EPB, even though well within the boundary of Kentucky and made up of folks who have already paid for these teams once, are asked to pay about $100,000 per year for the games on Fox Sports South and other newly minted UK basketball game owners. We cannot add these services as premium channels so that only those willing to pay the price get them. No, the aggressive demands of the likes of Fox Sports South mean that we would have to provide the service to all of our customers, and pay for each of those customers, or not distribute the programming at all. So, even though many would gladly pay their portion of this ransom, our customers have repeatedly told us that we should stick by our guns and refuse to pay this rate because it is blatantly unfair and unjust. Just like the movement that is now sweeping into our federal government, it is time to say no to those who think we are a soft touch and unable to stand up to their demands. This determination to do what is right is the reason why a very few of the UK men’s basketball games will not be available on our cable system again this year.

Remember, most games will be available to our customers via cable or the ESPN 3 site. We urge you to become familiar with the link at the middle of the www.glasgow-ky.com home page called “What’s On EPB Cable?” where you can find special information about local programming and the highly desirable UK and U of L sports programming. Click on that link to see where you can find the games you want to see (and lots of very good local events programming on Cable6 as well as our suggestions for other programming you do not want to miss). As always, please call us with any questions you have about these issues.
Thursday, September 23, 2010

New E-bill Coming Your Way

A lot of us now routinely get e-bills from our utilities and credit card companies instead of the old conventional paper bill. Glasgow EPB started offering e-billing several years ago, before the process really had all of the kinks worked out of it. A large number of our customers in Glasgow opt for the e-bill and many follow up on the e-bill by also making their payments online. If you are one of those, or if you want to check into becoming an e-bill customer, things are about to get a lot easier and better for you!

As part of the process of preparing for new electric rate designs starting next year, we are changing all of our billing over to a new system. While this process is dreadful for the folks on the EPB team, it is going to open the door to a much nicer e-billing system. Very soon all existing e-bill customers will be getting an email from us with a link to a new sign up site. Do not be afraid that this is some sort of fraud email! It will be the real deal! Once everyone signs up as they are prompted to do, then they will start getting the new e-bill and they will have access to some exciting new features. First of all, everyone will have access to their historic bills. Folks who pay online will have the new option of storing their credit card information so that they will not have to enter it each month.

These new features will not be just for existing e-bill customers. We are hoping that these features will cause everyone to reconsider going paperless and getting their bills via email. We will be posting a link to the service so that everyone can sign up at their leisure. I can assure you, once you get started using this method and reducing the amount of paper piling up on your desk, you will fall in love with e-billing.

Call us at 651-8341 if you need help signing up for the new e-billing from Glasgow EPB!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Want to Save $50 per Month?


Saving money was not the goal when I started down the path toward having no wired telephone service, but that is the final result! Like everyone else that was using the EPB/Cinergy/Norlight telephone service, I was told that Norlight planned to abandon the Glasgow market by the end of the year and that I should make arrangements for an alternate service provider. After procrastinating for a couple of months, here is what I did.

Our situation is probably very similar to thousands of other families in Glasgow. I have a cell phone, my wife has a cell phone, and we had the old reliable wired phone service to our house. For years we have seen the habit of younger folks to save money and complication by simply using one cell phone and one phone number for all voice communication. As we contemplated the move from Norlight’s service to some other provider, we decided to jump into the same sort of telephone environment which has been working fine for our children. Not only has it worked just fine, we are saving the $50 or so per month that we were sending to Norlight!

The first step was to go to our cell phone provider (we happen to use AT&T but this will work with any of them) and tell them that we needed a new cell phone with Bluetooth and GPS features, and we told them we wanted to port our home phone number to the cell phone. This took a bit of discussion as they needed our Norlight account number and we had to agree to pay a $30 one-time charge to port our home phone number to the cell phone. We were also told that the actual port might happen anytime from three days to thirty days out, but we were determined to accept this vague transaction. My wife left the AT&T store with a new Samsung phone armed with Bluetooth and GPS.

Next we bought this amazing little device http://www.myxlink.com/xlink_bt.aspx called a Bluetooth gateway. We got ours online and simply plugged it in and followed the directions to pair it up with the new cell phone. The thing is simply amazing. When the cell phone is within about twenty feet of the device, they “pair” using the wireless Bluetooth technology. Once they are paired and the device is plugged into any telephone outlet in your house, all of your home phones ring when someone calls the cell phone. Similarly, you can use any of the regular phones in your house, just like you always have, to answer and make calls. The only difference is that the calls are coming and going through the cell phone instead of through a wired telephone provider but you really cannot tell the difference. This is all accomplished simply by bringing the phone into the range of the Bluetooth gateway. After the initial pairing, it happens automatically as you come and go from then on!

About four days after the initial visit to the AT&T store, calls to our old home number started ringing through to the new cell phone. Once that happened, we disconnected our home from the Norlight service and finished plugging in the new Bluetooth gateway. Since then, our home phone service acts just like it always did when we are at home and the cell phone is paired with the gateway. When we are gone, we take our home phone number with us via the cell phone. And there is more.

One of the fears we had in making this transition was the lack of location identification if we had an emergency and had to call 911. However, since we activated the GPS feature on the new cell phone, I am happy to report that test calls to 911 have, so far, reliably resulted in them seeing my address on their screens! I find this simply amazing.

So, at the end of the day, we are saving the $50 per month that we were spending on our Norlight telephone line. We canceled the old cell phone so now we are just out for the monthly cost of two cell phones. This should be very exciting for all of you who are trying to decide what to do about the end of Norlight telephone service in Glasgow as well as everyone else who has a wired telephone line and the desire to save some money. This solution seems to work amazingly well and we will miss fewer calls since we will be taking our home phone number with us when we are away. If you would like help in accomplishing this same result at your home, give us a call or an email.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Glasgow - An Internet Savvy City

Back in 1994, Glasgow EPB brought the internet to Glasgow and introduced the world to the use of broadband to deliver high speed internet access. In those days many already had internet access, but, other than in Glasgow, it was done via exceedingly slow and cumbersome telephone based connections.

Sixteen years later, most would be shocked to learn just how much data comes and goes between Glasgow EPB internet customers and the rest of the world. New switching equipment at our Jama M Young Technology Center gives us the details. Each day our customers send and receive over two terra bytes of information via their EPB internet connections. That is the equivalent of 500,000 digitized songs per day, or about 500 million average magazine pages! In fact, at the present rate of data transmission to and from Glasgow EPB customers, we are consuming information equal to all of the printed books in the United States Library of Congress every week.

You might also be amazed to learn just how popular Glasgow’s original website, www.glasgow-ky.com is. On average, that page is called up four times per second, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.

Glasgow may be a very small rural city inhabited by only about 15,000 folks, but those folks all have a tremendous appetite for information!
Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What We Did This Summer

Now that the hottest summer on record is finally winding down, we have had some time to do some work other that just trying to keep power flowing and the air conditioning running in Glasgow. Part of that work is now visible on the main www.glasgow-ky.com page in the form of a new link to ESPN 3.

About this time every year we are faced with customers that want certain sports programming that is not available in our market, or which is so highly priced that it is out of the community's budget range. This year we have found an affordable solution in ESPN 3. ESPN 3 is a way to deliver just about all sporting events that ESPN covers, from anywhere in the country, to your computer screen. Say you just moved to Glasgow from Texas and want to see the Aggies play -- you can watch the game on your computer via our new deal with ESPN 3! If you want help figuring out how to hook your computer up to your television so it feels the same as watching the event on regular ESPN, just give us a call and we can help you with that as well. Look for the ESPN 3 logo and click on it via the Glasgow home page. After you do, finding the game you want should be pretty self-explanatory.

This service is just another expansion of the high speed internet service operated by your locally owned Glasgow EPB. There have been a lot of rumors and bad information circulating around Glasgow of late regarding our cable and internet services as we distance ourselves from the telephone business. Anyone who tells you that this company, or that company, has bought out the EPB's cable or internet business is simply telling you something that is totally untrue. We are in the midst of massive upgrades to both our cable and internet services, and if you leave our services for a competitor just because of our change in philosophy about the telephone business, you are leaving the very best services available in the 42141 zip code! We invented high speed internet access in Glasgow, and our services will always be the ones where new technology is first delivered to the people of Glasgow. We have no other communities to serve but this one.
Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Very Hot Evening for 350 Homes

About 4:00 yesterday afternoon Glasgow was struck by a particularly intense lightning storm. We had lightning strikes that resulted in damaged equipment in many parts of town, but the worst damage and largest group of customers suffering an outage came from a strike to one of our circuits feeding out of Gorin Park Substation. This circuit fed all of the East Main area and a large portion of the central business area of Glasgow.

When that particular strike occurred the circuit opened immediately plunging about 350 customers into sweltering darkness. Normally lightning strike outages are a pretty quick fix, but the time of day and the temperature combined to make it nearly impossible to restore the circuit to normal yesterday.

When temperatures are extreme and electric power usage is very high, restoring power after an outage can be difficult. This comes from us attempting to pick up the starting load of every air conditioner and computer and industrial machine connected to the circuit at one time. This is a bit complicated, but suffice to say that such conditions can result in momentary electric demand being roughly twelve times the normal demand until the air conditioners and motors get back up to speed. That happened to us yesterday evening and then we had to go to extreme, and time consuming measures to cut the circuit down and pick it up in little pieces to get it to hold. This was our first extensive outage caused by the extreme heat this summer, and we certainly hope it will be the last.

You can help prevent these events by paying close attention to the clock, the temperature, and the appliances in your home or business. Until this amazing heat wave breaks, every weekday afternoon from 2:00 until 8:00 p.m. will be critical to the electric system. ANY electric power usage you can defer from those hours will help stabilize the electric grid. More particularly, if your home or business does experience an outage, please turn all possible loads off while we are attempting to restore the power. This will greatly enhance our chances of getting overloaded circuits to hold.

For those of you who suffered nearly five hours of power outage during extreme heat, we sincerely apologize. Also, for those of you who did suffer but continued to call and encourage us, thank you so very much. We truly are all in this together!
Thursday, August 5, 2010

Little Storm - Big Power Outage

If you are one of the many who follow our Twitter feed at this link or our Facebook page at this link you already know what happened last night. In fact, if you have our Twitter feed going to your cell phone, you got our updates as the outage unfolded. If you are not taking advantage of these services, then this will give you some information about what happened last night.

About 10:00 p.m. a burst of wind, or a lightning strike, caused a large tree, several dozen feet away from our transmission line just south of town on 31E, to fall toward the transmission line which also carries one of FRECC's distribution circuits. Since we had 90% of the town switched to feed from this line as part of our abnormal configuration during the construction of our new primary substation, when that tree tripped out that transmission line, 90% of our customers were in the dark.

We knew this was a risk when we decided to build the new substation and to reconfigure our network to allow its construction. It is just like major construction on the interstates. We all hate the reduced speed limits and the endless ocean of orange barrels and concrete barriers, but it sure is wonderful when the work is done. Such will be the case after November when East Glasgow Primary is energized and serving our community. But, until then, we are going to be constantly aware that falling trees can wreak havoc on our lives here in Glasgow.

Last night our team found the tree and, in concert with FRECC folks, got it cut up and removed from the transmission line, allowing us to restore all power in about 90 minutes from when the tree fell. Some of our customers were back in service sooner as we found a way to re-route power to about half of the city by about 11:00.

Again, if you will click on the links above and sign up to receive our Facebook and Twitter updates, you will know about these events as they happen! Thanks for your understanding and confidence in us as we work to create an electric power network which will serve our community very well for many years into the future.

UPDATE:
At about noon on Thursday, 3,000 EPB customers experienced another outage when an undetected wiring problem at Front Street Substation resulted in a circuit breaker trip during a maintenance operation. We were doing this during extreme weather, just to make doubly sure that the system would hold after reconfiguring several things during the Wednesday night outage. Hindsight is 20/20 and now we wish we had just left everything alone until early Friday morning, but, we took a chance and it bit 3,000 of our customers as a result. We are very sorry and will learn from this mistake. Everyone was back in service within an hour, but even that was a major inconvenience that we are sorry to have caused.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Stream of Wind, and Falsehoods Blowing Through Glasgow

There is a lot of buzz in Glasgow these days about telephone, cable, and internet service. A very small amount of that buzz is about something that is actually true. The rest of it is being promoted by out-of-town representatives of a large telephone company that does business in Glasgow, even though they don't care enough about our community to actually keep an office open here.

The true part is that Norlight, Inc. (the company that used to be called Cinergy Communications) has made the decision to leave the Glasgow market by early next year. This is the company that provides telephone service over the Glasgow EPB network, and for whom EPB used to do the billing and perform trouble call work. Norlight recently announced in their monthly billing that all Norlight telephone customers in Glasgow need to begin the process of looking for an alternate telephone provider. We understand this decision since wired telephone service is really on the decline as more and more folks go for cell phones instead.

The false part of the buzz is being created by sales people for the large telephone company. They are reportedly knocking on doors all over town and telling a variety of untruths. They say EPB is leaving the internet business. This is totally untrue as we are in the middle of major upgrades to our internet system. They say EPB is leaving the cable television business. This is totally false as our commitment to providing the best cable television service available anywhere is a main priority for our team.

So, we are pulling out all of the stops with our video advertising, this blog, and even our Facebook pages, to make sure that those of us who actually live and work here know the facts. If someone knocks on your door and tries to continue spreading these lies, please feel free to set them straight for us!









Click Here To View The Video

Monday, July 19, 2010

Internet Road Construction Warning!

While you are sleeping on Tuesday night, we will be working on some of the technology that makes your internet service work. At about 11:00 p.m., we will be dramatically upgrading the main switch that connects Glasgow’s broadband network to the outside world. If everything goes well, everyone’s internet service will be down for only a few minutes. If everything does not go well . . . well, we will get back to you on that.

Keeping Glasgow’s internet service slippery fast and reliable requires constant equipment upgrades and improvements. This one just happens to be one of the biggest ones we have had to tackle in a long time. But, that also means it is likely to be one of the most important and should help prepare us for a long list of future upgrades we already have planned. As always, we will keep you posted as these projects develop.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010

About this Morning...

Unless you are one of a very small group of EPB customers served by our R.R. Donnelley Substation, you got a surprise this morning around 5:30 when your power went off. Even though this happened on what is going to be the hottest day of 2010 (so far), it really had nothing to do with the heat or the capacity of our network. Rather, like most power outages that are not associated with a storm, it happened because of something really small cascading through our network to become something large, all within a time of less than one second.

For those of you interested in the blow-by-blow account of what happened, here goes. First, a number of birds congregated on a pole near the square in Glasgow and caused a short circuit from a 7200 volt circuit to ground. That fault should have been cleared by the nearby Front Street Substation circuit breaker, which would have opened and closed, clearing the bird issue and causing only a momentary blink to the power of about 300 homes and businesses. This morning, that circuit breaker failed to do its job, so its backup protective device took over. That device is something we really don't like, and we are actually preparing to replace, but today, on June 22 2010, it was still in service. This device, a grounding switch, creates another fault on our 69 kV transmission line so that yet another device at our Haywood Substation operates to clear the fault. That circuit breaker at Haywood did interrupt the circuit and the fault, but that operation created a very large outage affecting nearly everyone in Glasgow.

Once the EPB team got some pants on and got rolling, we were able to diagnose the problem pretty quickly and started getting Glasgow's electric power back on. All but that original circuit at Front Street were back in service an hour later. We finally bypassed the circuit breaker that failed to properly clear the fault initially and our folks are still doing triage on it to ascertain why it failed to perform. Hopefully it will be back in service and all of our assets will be available for duty later in the day when the temperature is supposed to be 100 degrees. This is all in a day's work at the EPB.

This whole event just underscores and validates our decision to add a second power delivery point to Glasgow (which is under construction right now). By the end of the year an event like this would affect a much smaller segment of the community since the transmission circuits will be smaller and more redundant. The ground switches and Front Street Substation and Industrial Drive Substations will be removed and replaced with modern protective devices driven by our ubiquitous fiber optic network. Still, even with all of the new technology that is on its way, strange events relating to birds, squirrels, car accidents, and other odd circumstances will happen. When they do, you can count on the EPB team to jump up and take action. That is what we do!
Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Glasgow's Chance to Plug the Hole in the Gulf

One out of twenty people on the face of planet earth is an American, but Americans use one out of every four gallons of oil produced on the planet. This obvious imbalance is the underlying reason why an out-of-control oil well in the Gulf of Mexico is fouling the ocean and is going to foul hundreds, perhaps thousands, of miles of pristine shoreline. This environmental disaster proves that there is really no such thing as cheap energy. There is always a price to be paid which is far greater that the price at the pump or the price at the electric meter. The only way to reduce the price is by reducing our consumption to a level equal to our fair share of the world’s resources. We need to stop using 25% of the world’s energy and move toward that 5% level which is proportionate to our population.

How can we Glaswegians help move our society in this direction? Obviously, even if everyone in Glasgow drastically reduced their fossil fuel footprint, the result would not make a toenail’s worth of difference in that footprint. Still, every move we locals make in the right direction improves Glasgow’s economy and our quality of life. We might not solve our country’s problems, but we can certainly improve our back yard. Let’s talk for a minute about how we can do that.

The most direct route to reducing the need for risky offshore oil drilling is for us to use less oil. Driving less is the best way to accomplish this reduction (also using less plastic would help a lot too), and, as it turns out, fewer miles driven has an immediate impact on the livability of Glasgow. Substituting bicycles or walking shoes for vehicle miles benefits the community as a whole and you personally. Did you know we have a newly formed group that is trying to convince local governments to create better sidewalks, trails, and cycling facilities to make it easier to commute by walking or cycling? The group is a subset of Sustainable Glasgow, Inc., called Bicycles of the Barrens. You can read more about their work, join them, and participate in this movement by clicking here and following them on Facebook.

Reducing the number of miles we drive is not something that will come easily, but, even without the present crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, everyone must recognize that oil supplies (like coal supplies) are finite and sooner or later we will all be driving less because less cheap energy is going to be available. Does it not make sense for us to prepare for this now instead of being caught off guard some time in the future?

Of course, for us to be able to enjoy a pedestrian lifestyle and save on the amount of gasoline we use, we need to have plenty of local shops and restaurants open within easy reach of folks walking or cycling from their homes. How can we bring this about? We can commit to spending more of our dollars within our own zip code! If we want more local restaurants that we can walk to, then we need to go to local restaurants more. If we want more local clothing stores, bakeries, bookstores, coffee shops, hardware stores, and appliance stores, then we need to stop wasting the gas going to another town to spend local dollars in their stores and restaurants. We can save our community and help plug the hole in the Gulf with simple, enjoyable acts like walking to a locally owned restaurant and eating there. This is not an act of sacrifice! It is an opportunity to have a vacation experience right here in Glasgow and do something to plug that hole in the Gulf.

All forms of energy, oil, electricity, natural gas, suffer from the same risks and environmental costs that are never accounted for until a disaster like the TVA coal ash spill or BP’s present oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico strikes. So, we should talk about what we can do to reduce our energy demands on the planet through electric power as well. For many months we have been using this blog to talk about the need to reshape the way we use electric power during the day. Not only have we been talking with you about it, but for the last twenty years we have been preparing for a world where electric power would be priced according to the time of day in which the energy is used. There is a reason for this.

We purchase our power from TVA and TVA mostly burns coal to produce that power. For about twenty years TVA has sold that power at very low rates which sent the signal for folks to use all of the power they wanted, no matter what time of day they might want to use it. This signal has worked so well that, today, on a hot summer afternoon from 2:00 until about 8:00, TVA no longer has the capacity to generate all of the power we are using. To keep the system stable, TVA calls up it neighbors and purchases power from them. Of late, even the neighbors do not always have enough reserves to satisfy our spiraling demand for electric power. So, TVA finally decided to face reality and announced that they would join nearly every other electric utility in the nation and start charging for electricity based upon the time of day. We are fine with that as we have the technology to do that, but, a majority of the other TVA distributors feel they are not ready and have steadfastly opposed any move toward this imminently sane solution to a real problem. As a result, Glasgow’s readiness to help with our nation’s energy problems is still moot because our energy supplier will not sell us energy in a way which allows us to utilize our technology. Meanwhile, our coal plant smokestacks keep belching CO2 into the atmosphere much like BP’s gusher is sending oil and natural gas into the Gulf.

Glaswegians can make some headway on this problem as well. On weekdays this summer, start thinking about what you could do to reduce the energy consumed by your home or business between 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Delay washing clothes until later or do them on the weekends. Start thinking about these peak hours and how you might actually reduce the money we send out of Glasgow to TVA by proving how you can respond to price signals like these. Then, when TVA finally allows this system to be implemented, you and we will be ready and able to exploit these new rates. We will reduce Glasgow’s energy footprint and, hopefully, spend those dollars saved in local businesses which will, in turn, continue to enrich our lives in Glasgow. This vision of a perpetual circle of economic vitality is what we are talking about when we talk about creating a sustainable local economy. This is what we call localism. Localism might be the only fabric strong enough to patch the hole at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico and we can start weaving it right now.

Want to help solve our energy mess? Live Local.
Friday, May 14, 2010

This Sounds Impossible, But Read On

If you have been watching the news lately you might have heard about the wayward satellite. This link takes you to the ABC News report on the matter. It sounds like science fiction, but we are actually beginning to get warnings from some of the programmers about what this might look like at our homes.

The fact is that one of the satellites orbiting the earth, normally used to bounce cable television signals off of for distribution to cable head ends like ours, has stopped responding to commands from the control center. Even worse, it has started wandering around up there and is about to drift in front of another satellite that carries a lot of the programming you watch on our cable system. Yikes! This is likely to result in some interference to the programming carried on that satellite.

The predictions we are getting go like this: beginning on May 23 and lasting until possibly June 7, you may experience tiling, freezing, or total signal loss for periods, from minutes to hours, on many cable channels as the errant satellite comes between the working satellite and our receiving dish here at the EPB. This problem will affect all North American cable systems!

Obviously, the satellite operators are working on contingency plans to make this as painless as possible, but then I hear BP is doing the same thing at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico right now and most of their solutions are not working. I hope the satellite folks have more luck with something 22,000 miles above our heads! At any rate, start thinking about this in the coming weeks. If you see a program fall apart, it could very well be caused by this wandering satellite!


Friday, March 26, 2010

We Lost on Jeopardy

CATEGORY - COMPANIES WHO CANNOT STOP DEMANDING MORE FROM GLASGOW

For $100 - This Bowling Green based television station does not want you to be able to watch Jeopardy at 6:30 on cable in Glasgow.

*ding* What is WNKY in Bowling Green? CORRECT!!

This little imaginary segment of Jeopardy is meant to bring the latest demand from WNKY into focus for Jeopardy fans in Glasgow. Hot on the heels of demanding that we interrupt WLKY network feeds on our cable system, comes the latest from WNKY. They now want to use their broadcaster powers to force us to also black out the Jeopardy broadcasts from WLKY which appear at 6:30 weekdays on our cable system.

We have agreed, since we really have no legal alternative, to start interrupting Jeopardy on WLKY at 6:30 just as soon as the other video providers in our area start doing the same. This could occur as soon as April 1, so we want everyone to be prepared for this. Concerns and complaints about this demand should go to the folks at WNKY - Bowling Green. Their phone number is 270-781-2140.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010

BG Friends to Interfere with Your Cable Reception

There are things in the cable television world known as “network non-duplication” and “syndicated exclusivity.” You don’t actually want to know about these things because they are only rights, requested by a bevy of lobbyists working for the National Association of Broadcasters and granted by the legislators and regulators they have been able to “influence.” Once granted, these rights cause you to get less than what you should from your cable television service. We wish we had never heard of these terms either.

Instead of explaining these ill-conceived rights, let’s just talk about what affect they are about to have on your television viewing pleasure. Starting very soon you will notice that channels 43 and, maybe 540, (WLKY - CBS from Louisville) will be dark when CBS national programming is on. This comes as a demand from our friends in Bowling Green at WNKY. You see, our carriage of their programming on channels 7, 8, 514, and 543 is apparently not enough to satisfy WNKY as they are intent to press their Network Non-Duplication rights. They want to use these rights to make themselves the only CBS signal you can receive in Glasgow (and were it not for the fact that the FCC forbids them from interrupting WTVF - CBS from Nashville, they would likely be successful). So, with the exception of some locally originated WLKY programming, like their nightly news, and a few sports events, you can pretty much say goodbye to WLKY because of the demands of WNKY in Bowling Green (their phone number is 270-781-2140).

Syndicated Exclusivity, the other thing you really don’t want to know about, is another tool that WNKY in Bowling Green is attempting to use on you and it may cause even more inconvenience and interruption to your television viewing habits. Under this right they can make us black out dozens of syndicated programs like Rachel Ray, Martha Stewart, Dr. Phil, Judge Judy, Jeopardy, and many others so long as they appear on a channel other than WNKY. This would cause havoc, not to mention great expense for us, and your immediate reaction will be to be mad at us. So, we are attempting to negotiate some sort of settlement with them to avoid this ridiculous demand which will do nothing but cause pain for the people of Glasgow due to the demands of a broadcast company in Bowling Green.

We will keep you posted on how these discussions with WNKY are going.
Thursday, February 25, 2010

Glasgow's Economy -- We have an Idea or Two

Even though I now sport a head full of thinning gray hair, I still am not old enough to know all of the story behind why the large industries, that once were the economic backbone of our community, originally came to Glasgow. But a large part of the story likely involved the fact that, back in the 60's and 70's, labor and land were cheap here compared to the large cities. Those advantages, coupled with the robust and underutilized infrastructure, and a highly dedicated pool of workers, that already existed in places like Glasgow, lead facilities like R.R. Donnelley, Tyson Bearing, Eaton Axle, and Mallory Capacitor to come here, and provide employment and prosperity here, for many years. Unfortunately, those same advantages are now available to companies in places far from Glasgow, and, as we all know, some of our key industries, the former lynch-pins of our prosperity, are leaving Glasgow to drink from those new reserves of cheap land and labor.

What should we do to reinvent ourselves and create new reasons for companies to come here and offer jobs and prosperity to our community? Perhaps everyone has an idea or two about how to answer that, but we are working on one of our own that you might want to know more about. Our idea is another angle on the principles which underlie our Sustainable Glasgow initiative. In other words, we thinking about new ways to improve our local economy by drawing upon assets that we already possess. Sustainable Glasgow presently focuses on factories that we own that are not about to leave - our land and our ability to grow food on that land. The new idea that Glasgow EPB and Glasgow Barren County IDEA are working together on also focuses on the assets that are unique to Glasgow which cannot be easily copied by another community.

Glasgow already possesses robust utility infrastructure. We have redundant water plants. Our water supply at Barren River Reservoir is virtually limitless. Our electric system is about to have redundant feeds to the community. We have our own hospital and that hospital serves as the nucleus for a large network of health care professionals. Perhaps most unique, we own our own fiber-rich broadband network which is already connected to a large number of internet-based electric meters and connected to every one of the other assets listed above.

It just so happens that, in 2010, the planets are lining up for the whole world to be interested in learning how to deliver electric power and health care in a more efficient manner, using a robust broadband network. Many, many manufacturers of the technology which will be necessary to deliver electric power via a “smart grid” will be looking for a place to conduct pilot projects and tests of their technology. Similarly, folks who write software and invent new medical devices that need broadband connections to complete the improvements they claim for health care will be looking for a place to test their inventions. In our mind, that puts Glasgow in a perfect position to offer itself up to these companies as a laboratory for them to conduct the research. Looking over the horizon, if we can successfully sell ourselves as a laboratory, perhaps some of the technology tested here will become very successful and the inventors will then need a place to manufacture those devices. If that comes to pass, maybe our old buildings that formerly produced parts for the automotive industry will be reborn as places where new appliances and high tech devices are made. Perhaps this will be the rebirth of our economy. Isn’t it worth trying?

So, that is the vision we are presently pursuing in the hope of breathing new life into our economy. Already we have accepted a couple of small demonstration projects for heat pump water heaters and ductless heat pumps through TVA and EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute). We just completed a proposal to Kentucky Department of Energy Development and Independence for a two year long project to evaluate new energy saving appliances created by General Electric (read more about that here), in partnership with the Gatton Academy of Math and Science at WKU, University of Kentucky, and muNet, Inc. Soon we will be applying for another smart grid demonstration project through TVA. We are even trying to convince the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services to pilot the planned Kentucky Health Information Exchange (more information about this here) network here in Glasgow.

Will any of these proposals be accepted? We don’t know. Will the use of Glasgow as a laboratory for new technology ideas immediately bring in a lot of new jobs? While not likely as an immediate result, we definitely believe this may be the ultimate result.
The most important thing about this story is that we have ideas – new ones, that might possibly turn into very big ideas for our little community. These ideas are not the kind that totally depend upon the whims of a small group of board members in a distant city or country. These ideas can be enriched and supported by the people who live here and show their willingness to be a part of these experiments. This kind of economic development is like planting a garden and growing our own food. No one can take this away from us so long as we continue to work and pull together as a strong, united community.

We will keep you posted when something is ripe and ready for the picking!

Solar Cable Outages -- A Rite of Spring

The delivery of cable television programming bounced off of an orbiting satellite is an amazingly useful and reliable way to get a wide variety of entertainment, but, twice a year, it has some hiccups. Over the next few days those hiccups will affect your television viewing for ten to fifteen minutes per day. Then it will happen again in late summer at the end of September and first of October.

During the equinoxes, as the apparent path of the sun across our sky moves from the southern latitudes toward the northern ones (bringing with it SPRING!!), our satellite dish has trouble picking up the signals from the satellites out in space which are transmitting the cable programming. Anyone who has driven by our offices, and observed the giant dish looking at the southern sky, has seen the technology we use to deliver most of the cable channels you see in your homes. Except for about eighteen days per year, that dish easily receives those signals from a number of satellites parked out about 22,000 miles in the sky.

On those other days, the sun actually moves directly into a line stretching from the sun, to the satellites and then to our dish behind 100 Mallory Drive in Glasgow, Kentucky. For the time that those three elements line up (normally about 20 minutes per day), the satellite dish is blinded by the sun and cannot "see" the satellite. That results in your cable programming getting sparkles in it, then progressively getting worse until it actually falls apart for a few minutes. Then, as the sun moves along and the satellite reappears from the glare, the programming starts returning to normal gradually.

So, over the next few days, anytime between 10:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. you might see this happening. Do not be alarmed. It just means that Spring is arriving in Glasgow!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

There's a New Channel (or two) in Town

Few conversations have taken place in Glasgow recently that did not include some discussion of the weather. In fact, we talked about it so much at the EPB that we decided to add a new channel dedicated to nothing but Glasgow weather! If you check out channel 42 on our cable system, you can see the new channel that we have yet to name. You will notice that it is customized with the EPB logo and it features the latest local conditions from our local weather station. It features local radar views which toggle back and forth from zoomed in to Barren and surrounding counties, to a view of Kentucky and Tennessee. It is really a constant flow of the sort of information that we all were accustomed to seeing on The Weather Channel during their “Local on the 8's” segment, that is before they started interrupting it all of the time with long form programming that few are interested in seeing. We will also be helping to pay for the equipment necessary to create the new channel by selling local advertising on the sides of the main weather window. You will also hear music from the many different channels available to you through our DMX service that comes along with any of our Digital Tier packages. Tonight, as this is written, the audio accompanying the weather on channel 42 is from the digital channel 406 - Lite Classical, and I feel more cultured just sitting here listening to it! So, you can now dominate all conversations about the weather just from the knowledge you will gain by beginning to watch Channel 42 on EPB channel 42. No longer will you be dependent upon any of the many weather persons on the various broadcast channels on our cable service. With EPB Cable and our new 42, you will be able to watch the weather without it being interrupted for a Power Ball drawing!

There is also another new channel up in the High Definition Tier as well. ESPNU-HD is now available on channel 505. And, just to keep all of the ESPN programming together and in nice neat order, we moved ESPN2-HD up to channel 506. Now you can watch those UK and U of L basketball games on ESPNU in high definition!
Monday, January 25, 2010

Your Electric Bill and the Customer Charge

With the cost of electric power higher than it used to be, combined with the cold weather causing most of us to use a lot more of that expensive power, some folks are scrutinizing their bill a lot more than ever before. That must be the case because we have gotten a lot more questions lately about one item which appears on all electric bills issued by us – the Customer Charge.

On your residential electric bill, this charge is presently $10 per month. If you have a small commercial account the Customer Charge is $15 per month and if you have a bit larger commercial account it is $45. Bigger businesses have correspondingly larger monthly Customer Charges.

Most folks want to know why this charge appears on the bill at all, and hopefully, this blog post will answer that question. The short answer is that the Customer Charge is designed to pay the expense associated with the fixed cost of delivering electric power to a home or business. The energy charge portion of the bill (expressed in kWH and/or kW demand) is designed to pay for the actual energy we purchased for you from TVA.

The fixed costs associated with delivering electric power to you each month include a long list of things that have nothing to do with the actual volume of electric power you purchase each month. Those things include: cost of the meter, service conductors, transformer, and other plant that serves your home or business; the cost of reading the meter, producing, and mailing the bill; the cost of owning the trucks, tools, equipment and paying the personnel necessary to maintain your electric service; the cost of tree trimming and storm damage repairs associated with maintaining service to your home or business; and the cost of tax equivalent payments to local schools and governments.

After considering that list of things that cost money but are not associated with the number of kilowatt-hours you use each month, it becomes pretty clear that the Customer Charge is actually much smaller than it really should be. For many years, by popular demand of the customers, kWH charges have actually been kept a bit higher than they really ought to be because customers just did not like the idea of paying a larger fixed charge, and that has always confused all of us in the electric power business. An appropriate Customer Charge protects the average electric consumer from subsidizing the unusual customer that maintains an electric service at a location that uses a very small amount of energy. If there were no Customer Charge at all and if the EPB collected all of the revenue necessary to maintain the network through kWH charges, then those who just wanted a service maintained for their convenience though little energy is consumed, would get that service virtually for free, paid for by all of the normal customers. It amazes me that anyone would favor such an unfair system.

We are all accustomed to paying our car payments for the right to have a car, whether we use it or not, and paying for our gasoline depending on how many miles we drive. The same philosophy should be customary for electric power. The Customer Charge is equivalent to the car payment and the kWH charge is equivalent to buying gasoline for the car. Hopefully, this will help everyone to understand why there are the two charges on the monthly bills from EPB.
Friday, January 15, 2010

MTV vs. EPB and Other Small Cable Systems - A Truce is Declared

At the last possible moment, the MTV folks and our representatives, the National Cable Cooperative, reached a tentative agreement which will mean that the MTV suite of channels will not be interrupted today. We are very happy to get this news and we are extremely proud of the support we got from the majority of our customers for our decision to “get tough” and stick with the cooperative as they carried out these negotiations.

This means that the present danger of losing these channels has ended but it does not mean that the battle is totally over. We still need to see what kind of deal the cooperative agreed to and decide locally if we are willing to pay what they agreed to (although it is quite likely that we will, even though we assume the deal will call for us to pay more for these channels). That information should be arriving at our door step within the next week or two.

Again, thanks so much for your willingness to hang in there with us as we went eyeball to eyeball with a giant. This will make our future negotiations with programmers big and small much easier for us to accomplish. You guys rock!
Friday, January 8, 2010

Roll Over or Get Tough - Part 2

A couple of weeks ago we talked about this issue as it relates to our agreements with some broadcast stations and as it related to the controversy between Fox and Time-Warner Cable. The broadcast station issue will not be an emergency until the end of 2011. The Time-Warner/Fox matter really only affected us as an observer and as a harbinger of things to come for us in the future. However, now we find ourselves directly and immediately affected by a breakdown in negotiations with MTV Networks.

Because of our small size in a market dominated by behemoths, we belong to a cooperative that purchases much of cable programming on behalf of hundreds of small cable systems like ours. That cooperative has done wonderful work in getting us lower prices and attractive terms for our cable programming, but now they find themselves in a "Roll Over or Get Tough" battle of their own. This battle is not looming over the horizon. It is upon us today.

The battle is over the programming we purchase from MTV Networks. On our system, these channels come from MTV Networks:

Comedy Central
MTV
MTV Hits
MTV2
MTV Tr3s
Nick Jr (Noggin)
Nickelodeon Toons
TeenNick (The N)
Nickelodeon
VH1
VH1 Classic
VH1 Soul
Spike TV
TV Land
CMT
CMT Pure Country

This is not an insignificant list and some of these channels might be your very favorites. So, we face the question again. We can stick with the cooperative and hope they can finalize a deal which is acceptable. Presently the negotiations are not going well and MTV is threatening to turn off those channels to our system on January 15 if the cooperative does not capitulate to their demands for increased fees. In the alternative, MTV has offered to sell us the programming directly, at much higher fees than we presently pay, if we break away from the cooperative and sign a direct deal with them by January 12. Of course, they are trying to break the back of the cooperative by convincing the members to move to direct deals like this.

So, we ask our customers once again. Do we roll over or get tough? The clock is ticking.

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