Community, Meteorology

Lightning Strikes and Power Outages

Can lightning cause power outages?

As it turns out, lightning doesn’t even have to strike a power pole or knock over a tree to cause a power outage. The build up of charge nearby can actually cause power surges -no contact necessary.

Additionally, lightning gives off electromagnetic radiation. The phenomenon itself is called “sferic“, and it means you might notice static on the AM radio frequencies around the time of a strike.

That said, outages are more likely to be due to tree branches hitting power-lines than an actual lightening strike; Power-lines are often in the position of being the most attractive thing around for a lightening strike, and that is considered in their design.

What brought all this to mind?

It was a dark and stormy night. Well, it was a bit after midnight on what had just become Saturday morning. Heavy Rain. A flash. A house-shaking kaboom. The power suddenly out. It seems to have been the start of an outage on the section of power-line that goes up along Griffin Road. Lincoln Electric had everything back up and running later on Saturday.

Speaking of outages, though- there’s a planned one this week (11 PM Wednesday ’til 5AM Thursday) for everyone served by Lincoln Electric. Another overnight maintenance outage, courtesy of Bonneville Power Administration, since they need to replace structures damaged by gunshots (They’d love to have more information about that- call the BPA Hotline if you have any).

Community

Comparing Annual Meetings

InterBel Telephone Cooperative held its annual meeting on Saturday.

Registration- two lines

It was a bright, sunlit morning and a well attended meeting; 311 people were registered when the meeting began (Unlike Lincoln Electric’s Meeting with only 97 members registered).

Attendance: InterBel definitely had better attendance- but more about whether or not that’s a virtue for attendee’s later.

Registration: The lines were definitely longer for InterBel; Unlike Lincoln Electric, InterBel had a single registration point. Of course, they were handing out capital credits at that point, so the reason for the lengthy line was pretty self-explanatory.

The Radio: InterBel wins this one. Unlike the static of Lincoln Electric’s pre-meeting, when visitors sat in cold cars and wondered if they had the right station, InterBel provided a concert. By a local musician, no less!

Length: About equal, actually. And they felt equally long. InterBel’s had what felt like longer stretches with people talking, but the cold and nasty weather made the Lincoln Electric Meeting feel long as well.

Content: If you wanted to learn what was going on, InterBel held the better meeting. It was almost a shame to attend in person and miss the livestream, because there was a video and presentation.

The representative of the audit firm didn’t just state that they’d provided an unbiased opinion (which was the case for Lincoln Electric) but actually explained some of the features of the balance sheet. While seeing the graphs would have been helpful (printouts next-time?) it was a fairly clear, easy to follow, useful explanation.

In related news: InterBel is working on converting the Eureka business corridor to fiber optics, extending fiber to the West Kootenai, and expects to have fiber access to most of Eureka by the end of the year.

Trustees Election: When was the last time we had an election? And I don’t mean election by acclamation, I mean an actual election where people voted. Neither meeting had an actual election with voting. No, not even Lincoln Electric- there was literally no more candidates than vacancies, despite the mail-in ballot members received.

Prizes: Lincoln Electric definitely had more available. InterBel had 8 total (Including the grand prize). The odds were also better at the Lincoln Electric Meeting -far lower attendance! With only 97 people registered, and over ten prizes, the odds of winning something were at least 10% (and increased as each winner was removed from further drawings). The prizes for InterBel were a bit larger though.

My preference was for the InterBel meeting, which ran smoothly, included plenty of content, and for the most part seemed better planned. But folks interested in winning prizes (any prizes) would definitely have been better served by attending the Lincoln Electric Meetings. Not to mention the Luck of the Draw scholarships which Lincoln Electric provides.

One complaint: No bathrooms- this does limit the people who are able/willing to attend somewhat.

Community

Lincoln Electric Held Annual Meeting

Saturday, Lincoln Electric Coop held their annual meeting as a drive-in meeting at Lincoln County High School.

As with last year’s meeting, it was drive-in, with attendees tuning their radios to listen in. Unlike last year’s smoke, this year’s meeting was cold, wet, and windy.

View from one of the registration checkpoints (before the weather really started to worsen)

At 9 am when the meeting started, there were 97 members registered. With last meeting‘s bylaw change, a quorum only required 2% of coop members, so the meeting was able to continue.

To say the meeting was uneventful might actually be an understatement. Members did vote by mail -over 200 of them, in fact- but it made little difference since there were no more people running than open seats. In fact, each incumbent was reappointed.

Capital credit checks were mailed, we heard a few California jokes, and a bit about the state legislature.

What’s the difference between California and the Titanic? The Titanic had its lights on when it sank.

(I’m paraphrasing the joke, but it was something along those lines)

The discussion on legislation was informative; We learned about House Bill 475 which proposes to classify hydroelectric power as a renewable resource. The representative of the Montana Electric Coop Association was optimistic that the bill will be signed.

As renewable energy sources become increasingly required, having a reliable energy source that qualifies (such as hydroelectric) becomes important in avoiding blackouts and brownouts.

Other news: Rural Propane Services had a rough year but “is on the rebound”, expect to see a rate adjustment (but most residential members won’t see much of a change)

The meeting closed in under 45 minutes.

Weird Words

Developing International Socialism

As you could figure, the problem with Marx’ theoretical communism is in two concepts – first “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” kind of breaks down fast in the real world scenario, and second, when all property is publicly owned,  real decision-making is in the hands of the manager.  Lincoln Electric is our closest example – with the slogan “owned by the people we serve.”  I remember how many of the owners showed up over 30 years ago to take the co-op back – and what an unusual accomplishment it was.  The cooperative is technically owned by the members – but it is controlled by the manager except for rare occasions.

The term for the manager controlling a socially owned means of production was first used by Joseph Weydemeyer – a lieutenant colonel in the Union army, a Republican and a Marxist. He formed the first Marxist organization in the US.  I never did get a quiet chance to ask Winton Weydemeyer politely about what he might know about Joseph, and still regret the unasked question – there just never was a courteous opportunity.   Anyway, since a socially owned means of production can’t be managed by the owners, Joseph Weydemeyer gave us the term “dictatorship of the proletariat.”  It is an important term in differentiating between Marx’ view of communism and the international socialism we think of as communism.

While Marxist communism couldn’t get past this management problem, it wasn’t a problem until the Russian Revolution.  All at once the communists had a big country to manage – and the successor to Marxism was Leninism.

“Leninism can be explained as the political theory that works towards the organization of a vanguard party which is revolutionary and achieves to attain dictatorship of the proletariat in order to establish socialism. This vanguard party’s aim was supposed to provide the proletariat consciousness about their class in order to destroy capitalism in Imperial Russia. He knew that imperialism was caused by capitalism and it was the exorbitant point of capitalism. Communism is a higher form than that of capitalism, it was proposed that the revolution by the proletariat had to occur first in the economically and industrially advanced countries.

According to Lenin, the Communist party consisted of a scientific understanding of the history and of a society guided by the Marxist principles. They were deeply committed to ending capitalism and replacing it with socialism. They believed that this was only possible with the acquisition of political power. The aim of achieving this political power made them do anything that was possible, be it violence or revolution if required. Lenin argued that the workers or proletariats alone could acquire revolutionary and class consciousness that was needed. Deep within he was afraid that the proletariats would become easily content with smaller gains in their living as well as working conditions acquired through the various trade union activities. He feared that the proletariats would be diverted easily in their motive to dethrone capitalism. This was the point where Leninism differed from Marxism. For the Marxists, material conditions were enough to facilitate the workers to realize their need for revolting . . . Some of the unprecedented results of Leninism were that its pursuit of creating a socialist society led to the creation of a totalitarian state where all the social, economic, cultural, aspects of life were being controlled by the Communist party. Marxism and Leninism predicted the victory of the proletariat; it resulted instead in the increased power of the state.”

Basically, Joseph Weydemeyer and V. I. Lenin melded the dictatorship of the proletariat to the utopian socialist ideals of Robert Owens and the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels to develop the ideology of Leninism – the ideology of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics – international socialism.

Community

Lincoln Electric Cooperative held Annual Meeting Saturday

The meeting began at eleven with well over the required numbers, despite the heat and increasing smoke. In order to have a quorum, 5% of members were required to attend, which meant that 238 Lincoln Electric Cooperative members needed to arrive and register. Most people appeared to be staying in the vehicles, the stands far from full.

In the background, traffic could be heard along with the happy, active sounds of young people playing soccer. The radio broadcasting worked quite well, with speakers quite audible. While some were as easy to hear with the windows rolled down, many did require the assistance of the car radio to be audible from where we were parked.

In the interest of brevity- an interest made more pressing by the heat and smoke, questions were not being addressed. We can expect to find any questions of public interest in a Q/A on the LEC facebook page.

The Election of Trustees went by voice vote- there were no more individuals running than vacancies. This year, voice vote involved car horns in addition to the more conventional verbal response.

While Votes on the proposed By-Laws changes were collected, attendees listened to the Financial Report, the Manager’s Report, Education benefits of Unclaimed Capital Credits, and the results of the prize drawings. The meeting formally ended when the votes were all collected and counted, though departures began after the prize winners were announced.

The financial report was upbeat, noting that LEC’s largest expense remains the cost of power, and that they are showing profits up from the previous year.

The manager’s report, also upbeat, was probably most memorable for the anecdote that LEC’s manager carries a picture of an electrical outlet in his wallet. He did take the time to acknowledge LEC’s employees and remarked that the biggest effect the Corona virus situation has had was the lack of travel -LEC actually saved money.

Prizes, when announced, included gift certificates to Gibbons Garage, Car Jacks, Steins, and Sunflower Moose, among others, in addition to the year’s supply of electricity and truck advertised in the Notice of Annual Meeting.

A summary of the voting

Proposed By-Laws ChangeIn FavorOpposedTotal
#1 “This change would enable the board to potentially reduce board expenses while continuing to manage your cooperative in a responsible, sustainable manner” (Board size reduction)29159350
#2 “Current By-laws detail how to become a member, but do not clearly define when membership terminates. This is especially important in regards to defining what constitutes an entity to have voting privileges”33117348
#3 (Rather than quote the explanation, I’ll quote the text added to the By-laws, which is shorter ) “The Cooperative shall retire capital credits in the manner, method, timing and amount as approved and at the discretion of the Board of Trustees”27971350
#4 (Keeps postponing the annual meeting from dissolving the Cooperative, Mail in Voting, Reduces Quorum from 5% to 2%)27678354
#5 “Qualifications for trustees needed to be more clearly defined to help protect the cooperative and members”33118349
Read the changes in full in the Notice of Annual Meeting
*Numbers are what we heard, but it was via radio, and mistakes can happen.
Community

LEC members voted to let all members vote

Lincoln Electric Cooperative members voted to give voting rights to all members. Granted, that’s not actually what Proposed By-Laws Change #4 said, but it is precisely what it accomplished. While there was a delegate certificate included in the Notice of Annual Meeting, it applied only to voting “the membership of a corporation, association, school, political body, church or firm with multiple ownership”. Individuals cannot vote by proxy (See article 3, section 4 of the by-laws).

Individuals cannot vote by proxy, and members were required to register and vote at the meeting in order to vote. So, who couldn’t vote at this last meeting?

Effectively, for Canadian Members of LEC, voting was prohibited this year. While our Canadian neighbors have some capability to cross the border, it’s limited and comes with a mandatory 14 day quarantine -It’s insane to expect anyone to donate 2 weeks of their lives purely for a LEC meeting, however exciting the meeting.

But it wasn’t just Canadian Members that couldn’t attend. This year’s Notice of Meeting included the warning of limited bathroom facilities, and for some members of our community that’s a huge issue [It’s hard to imagine that bathroom visits every10-15 minutes aren’t sufficiently limiting of major life activities to qualify under ADA].

But- no more! While some members of LEC have been previously denied their vote at the annual meetings, this will no longer be the case. The Proposed By-Laws Change #4, passed at Saturday’s meeting will give them the same ability to vote as other LEC members. This change introduced mail-in ballots, which means physical attendance of the meetings will no longer be a requirement to vote.

While mail-in ballots are not without problems, this change will make LEC more accessible to its members. To read the by-law changes (all passed), check out the Notice of Annual Meeting, found here.