Written by guest blogger Carol Obando-Derstine
Regional Affairs Director, PPL Electric Utilities
It’s a beautiful day – sun is shining, blue skies. Your family just arrived at your beach rental, ready to start your week-long vacation. And then, the power goes out. Five minutes pass…then five hours…then two days. There is no air conditioning, no refrigeration and the town has limited power. Angry, upset, frustrated, you turn your car around and head home. Your vacation is over before it began.
Power is something we take for granted, especially on beautiful summer days. But about two years ago, the above scenario was a reality. The Outer Banks, North Carolina experienced more than a week-long outage when a transmission line was accidentally hit during bridge construction work. Thousands of vacations were ruined and millions in small business revenue was lost.
Why would a problem on one power line affect such a large area? It has to do with what type of line was hit.
There are two major types of lines when thinking about the large, interconnected electric grid – transmission and distribution. Transmission lines (#2) transport high-voltage power over long distances to substations (#3) where voltage is reduced and sent out over distribution lines to serve homes and businesses (#4 and #5). You can think of it like the highway and local roadway system. Transmission lines are the highways – moving electricity efficiently and safely over long distances. Distribution lines are like the local roadways, delivering electricity directly to our homes and businesses. Transmission is the backbone of the grid. It enables a cleaner energy future by connecting us to wind, solar and hydroelectric power. It helps reliability, by getting power to where it’s needed most. It provides affordable power, by connecting consumers to hundreds of large-scale generators. It assists national security by providing a strong, integrated structure to respond to the increasing number and severity of weather, physical and cyber threats. And, it also drives local economies by delivering the electricity that powers all aspects of our lives. The importance of transmission and of a safe, secure and resilient grid will continue to increase. By investing now, we’re helping to reduce outages and keeping reliability strong.
To learn more about all we do to keep the lights on, visit pplelectric.com and click on the Reliability tab.
Featured blog sent in by: Snyder & Wiles, PC
6 out of every 10 Americans who reach age 65 will need long-term care at some point in their lives. And the older they become, the greater the risk they will need some form of long term care.
Medicare does not pay the expenses of long-term care incurred for day care at adult centers, home care by relatives or employed caretakers, and nursing home care. Medicare pays limited benefits for skilled nursing care only. $341,840 is the estimated lifetime cost of care for someone with dementia; $123,600 is the maximum amount of assets that a healthy spouse can retain for the other spouse to be eligible for long-term care benefits provided by Medicaid for 2019.
The only options available to a Lehigh Valley resident to cover the costs of long term care are as follows:
The estimated annual cost for a nursing home care facility is about $113,000 per year. At that rate, any family would go broke in no time caring for a loved one.
2. LONG TERM CARE INSURANCE:
Long Term Care Insurance is not cheap, costing anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 per year for a couple depending on how old you are when you purchase the coverage and it is subject to an increase in premiums on a yearly basis.
The average Nursing Home stay is around 4 years. So you’ll need a policy that covers at least 4 years.
Medicaid financed nursing home care is available to those who qualify based on income and assets.
Available resources to an applicant for Medicaid must be less than $8,000.
With proper and advance planning, you do not have to go broke or let your family live impoverished in order to have proper care when you need it.
ONE SOLUTION IS IRREVOCABLE TRUSTS:
Medicaid Regulations impose a 5-year look back period for any transfers made to reduce assets in order to qualify for Medicaid benefits.
An Irrevocable Grantor Trust cannot be changed or terminated by the Grantor, once it has been created. It will require administration at the death of the Grantor and cannot easily be reached by the Grantor’s creditors. Unlike a Revocable Trust the Grantor does not own the assets. All of the property held in an Irrevocable Trust may not necessarily require probate.
An Irrevocable Trust is a primary tool in most Asset Protection and Estate Plans. The trusts can own almost any asset while providing shelter from the Grantor’s and Beneficiary’s divorce, creditors and legal problems. The trust can help keep assets in the family. This flexible tool allows Grantors to provide benefits for generations. These valuable benefits arise because once the Grantor transfers ownership of an asset to the trust; she/he has surrendered all incidents of ownership over that asset. It is the trust’s asset now, not the Grantor’s.
Typically, the Irrevocable Trust may be subject to PA Inheritance tax because the transfer to the trust is made for less than adequate consideration, and the trust reserves the right to income and designation of beneficiaries. But, this type of trust if properly planned for, may help insure your loved ones are taken care of and avoid you going broke in a nursing home. However, planning well in advance is the key to making any Estate Plan work for you.
To learn more, contact us at Snyder & Wiles, PC, 7731 Main Street, Fogelsville, PA, or 610-391-9500, or visit us at www.snyderwileslaw.com. We’ve been protecting your assets and your loved ones for over 22 years in the Lehigh Valley.
Featured blog sent in by: Kyle Lance, PT, DPT, Ali Narvaez, Rania Nimeh, Transformation Rehabilitation
Put down those French fries, grab some berries! Put down that soda, pour some green tea! Studies have shown that intermittent inflammation threatens one’s health. Inflammation has been linked to chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s. However, the likelihood of obtaining these conditions can be decreased — not through the pharmacy — but with your lifestyle choices through your diet, dental health, and exercise. Researchers promote the consideration of incorporating anti-inflammatory foods to help reduce the chances of such illnesses.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is a vital factor in the body’s healing process. To simplify things, the immune system causes a cascade of chemical reactions which leads to swelling and heat to protect and repair tissues in the body. Unfortunately, chronic or long-term, inflammation is essentially an over working of the immune system: it produces a steady, low level of swelling. Arteries, organs and other tissues can break down under this constant stress and this contributes to the formation of diseases such as cancer, diabetes and generalized pain. There has also been a link to the emergence of lupus, arthritis, and certain cancers after the immune system has gone awry.
Foods considered to be anti-inflammatory include:
Foods considered to coincide with inflammation include:
A diet high in inflammatory foods can be detrimental to your health but choosing the right anti-inflammatory foods can lower your risk of disease.
How we can help:
Come into Transform Rehabilitation and see our registered dietitian, Erica Smith, RD, LDN. Our dietitian can put together a personal diet plan, flexible with your lifestyle, that will promote a healthier and happier you! Next time you are reaching for the fries, pick up the phone instead and call (484) 387-1065 to schedule a consultation.
Featured blog post sent in by: Direct Kitchen
Making the decision to remodel your kitchen, bath or any other part of your home is huge. It’s fraught with anxiety and unknowns. A professional showroom’s role is to ease the fear and eliminate stress. That’s why it is important to understand that a professional showroom offers more than cabinets, countertops and appliances. A professional showroom is in the business of providing peace of mind.
How can you differentiate one showroom from another? Develop a checklist of information that a showroom needs to offer to help ensure peace of mind. You should expect a showroom to provide the following information:
Schedule: An excellent showroom will not only relate the anticipated start and end dates but the sequencing of construction. Scheduling is particularly important for kitchens and baths because of the lead times required for different products such as custom and semi-custom cabinets and specialty finished fixtures.
The team: The schedule also should identify which different trade professionals will be in your home and the timeframe for their arrival and departure.
Protecting your home: Showrooms should tell you who will lock up your home at the end of the day and how they are going to protect the space. This may include a dust prevention plan and identifying paintings, valuables and other items that may have to be removed from adjacent walls to protect them from potential damage.
Level of involvement and communication: You should expect a showroom to ask you how much you want to be involved in the project. You should identify the decisions that you want to be involved with such as how you’d like tile to be placed or approving lighting location before the space is wired. Your showroom team should also determine the best time and methodology for communicating with you if questions need to be answered or problems need to be addressed during the day and after hours.
Showroom concerns: Your showroom should identify concerns that it has before a project begins. Showrooms have designed and built hundreds if not thousands of new kitchens. They understand that on every project there is a potential for the unknown. To reduce anxiety and potential stress, expect your showroom to discuss the areas of concern it has before demolition begins.
Handling change orders: The procedure for handling change orders should be agreed upon before a project begins. Change orders are the result of a change in plans or uncovering the unexpected. Often times change orders occur because the existing infrastructure of the home does not meet current code requirements. How the changes are communicated and agreed upon should be part of the planning process.
For more info, download our resource guide “Showroom Visit”. Please let us know what additional questions we can answer for you, before you select your kitchen and bath specialist. Give us a call at 610-262-7235 to schedule a meeting at our showroom at 5585 MacArthur Road Whitehall, PA 18052. Got a quick question? Text us at 610-601-3083. Click here to schedule a meeting on line.
Read related post: Relationship between a home owner and a kitchen and bath designer
Guest blog post submitted by Murtaza Jaffer, EBC Printing
There is a lot to be learned from Target, which recently underwent a huge register outage that caused the company to lose out on nearly 100 million dollars in sales over a two day period.
On a Saturday afternoon, for roughly two hours, Target cash registers across the country stopped working, preventing customers from making purchases in stores. The next day, a similar outage occurred, causing registers to go down for 90 minutes. The problem, they said, was not caused by Target's software but by a third-party who provides their POS system.
Disgruntled customers, who were not notified of the issue until they got in line to checkout, left the store and shared their dissatisfaction across social media.
This is a prime example of how businesses are largely impacted by business downtime. Not only does it affect the hard sales from customers unable to make their purchases, but also lost productivity of employees standing around unable to work, brand damage, and data loss.
Downtime can cause more than an inconvenience, it could drive a company out of business all together; especially the smaller businesses who have less money to gamble with. In fact, according to the 2016 Cost of Data Center Outages report, unplanned downtime costs $8,851 per minute, up from $7,908 in 2013.
So what can we learn from Target's recent mishap?
• Don't panic if an issue occurs! Document everything and work towards a solution.
• Know who to contact if technology fails.
• Notify customers of the issue right away. Be upfront with what's going on and provide a timetable for fixing the problem (but don't lie if you are not sure!) Apologize and sympathize!
• Offer coupons, snacks, beverages to customers for the inconvenience.
• Once the problem is resolved, examine your system for internal and external weaknesses and find out where the problem originated. (Did someone trip over a power cord or was it a more widespread failure?)
• Moving forward, monitor your IT system so that you know about an issue before your customer does.
• If you are using a lower-grade hardware system, upgrade to an enterprise-level network infrastructure. Higher grade equipment helps maintain reliability so that productivity will not be lost.
• Have a Plan B/backup system in place, as well as a backup power supply in case weather is the culprit. Businesses can invest in an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). A UPS provides backup battery power to your IT systems which kicks in the moment regular power goes offline. Through a UPS, any loss of power will immediately transfer to the battery supply, without any noticeable interruption from the user.
• Consider using a cloud server, which are housed in colocation centers. They are more convenient and reliable due to their easy accessibility, but they’re also safer since they create automatic backups to prevent in data loss for the client.
Follow these tips and don't let downtime take your business down!
Featured blog post sent in by: T3 Technologies
There is a certain percentage of businesses who say they have a Disaster Recovery Plan, (about 95%). There are far fewer businesses who have tested their Disaster Recovery Plan, (about 72%). And there a fewer still that would be able to recover from a disaster using their Disaster Recovery Plan, (no one knows for sure!).
If there was ever an example of a false sense of security, it can be found in the topic of Business Continuity Planning. So here are some points which I don’t think anyone will challenge:
1. Disasters or traumatic business interruptions can, and have, put companies out of business permanently.
2. Having a Disaster Recovery Plan or Business Continuity Plan without having it properly tested, is only slightly better than not having one at all.
3. Testing your organization’s plan internally, or with the same company who wrote the plan can be disastrous.
4. Failures almost always happen in scenarios that weren’t foreseen or were taken for granted.
The moral of this story: “Have your company’s DR/BC Plan audited and tested by an independent 3rd party!” If it is important enough to create, it must be validated.
Featured guest blog post by Carol Obando-Derstine, regional affairs director, PPL Electric Utilities
The power grid of today is changing right along with the energy landscape and PPL Electric Utilities is keeping pace by using new technology to help keep the grid reliable for everyone.
One example is our new battery project in the Harrisburg region. In a distribution line right of way in Perry County, we’ve taken the concept of battery backup and meshed it with the grid of the future.
The result? A 50-kilowatt battery will soon be operating on a power line serving a small number of customers who have experienced prior outages. In the event of an outage on the line serving their homes, the battery can automatically provide up to six hours of power to the customers on the line. It also can help regulate line voltage, another plus for reliability.
It’s the first of its kind on our grid and we’re exploring other locations to use this same system.
In addition to the battery project, I can tell you we’re also working on ways to allow more and more customers to install renewable energy like solar panels and to better manage that power when it comes onto the grid. These kinds of energy sources, also called distributed energy resources (DER), are gaining in popularity as they grow more affordable and efficient.
There are more than 8,000 customer owned or third-party DER systems currently connected to our grid, the vast majority of them solar. And we typically get 1,000-1,500 new applications a year.
Lastly, we’ve implemented a system that alerts our grid operators to downed power lines and gives us the ability to cut power to those downed lines. That’s a big plus for safety. We still want customers to report downed wires, to stay away and always treat any downed line as energized.
We’re doing all this because we know that if you wait to see what the future holds, it’ll pass you by. These advancements show we’re ready for a future that uses technology like never before to keep the grid reliable, resilient and safe. We’re working toward industry-leading solutions that work for the long term.
Millions of people in central and eastern Pennsylvania depend on us every day and we’re proud to power their lives.
Featured guest blog post by Sara Chaparro, ServiceMaster of Bethlehem
A disaster can happen at any time and affect your business operations. Do you know what to do if you experience an emergency and need to close?
According to a study by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), up to 40% of small businesses never reopen after a natural disaster strikes. Take steps now to prepare your business to reopen in the event a disaster strikes.
Create a Natural Disaster Plan
Include locations for evacuation, employee emergency contact information, and protection of vital business records. Print and complete the Emergency Contact Sheet from ServiceMaster of Bethlehem (Link: http://smofbethlehem.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Emergency-Contact-ListB.pdf)
Keep Lines of Communication Open
Stay in contact with customers and employees about what is happening with the business, and when you will re-open.
Check Your Insurance
Make sure you are covered for any type of natural disaster that could occur in your region.
Steps to Recovery
Develop a plan to recover after a disaster. Prepare now and list steps to rebuild before a disaster strikes.
Contact ServiceMaster of Bethlehem to secure a pre-loss plan for emergency response. Count on our experts to assist throughout the recovery process, and get your doors open. Call us today at 800-253-7366.
Featured blog post by Carol Obando-Derstine, regional affairs director at PPL Electric Utilities
Did you know that an underground utility line – power line, water line, sewer line – is damaged every nine minutes in Pennsylvania? And every time someone digs into an underground power line they’re risking serious injury.
That’s why it’s so important to call 811 before digging. The call is free. Once it is placed and information about the dig area is provided, a surveying crew will visit the site to mark areas where underground utilities exist.
So, whether you’re installing a fence or mailbox post, building a deck, installing a pond or patio, planting a tree or grinding a tree stump, ensure the safety of everyone involved by calling 811.
If there’s construction going on in your neighborhood involving digging and you’re unsure whether an 811 call was placed, it never hurts to make that call just to be safe.
State law requires an 811 call before digging with any power equipment in Pennsylvania. That call must be placed three days prior to a dig. Once the call is placed, a crew will be sent out to survey the area and mark with spray paint, flags or other markers where underground utilities – power, water, sewer and gas lines and other utilities – are located.
Each year, PPL receives reports of about 60 to 75 digging incidents in which the person doing the digging failed to call 811. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission says that there are about 6,000 hits each year on underground utilities in the state.
PPL Electric Utilities recommends that an 811 call be placed for any digging activity, whether it is an old-fashioned shovel or a powered machinery, to ensure the safety of everyone involved with or living near the excavation work.
When calling 811, be prepared to share the following information:
Once you make the call, you will receive a serial number that should be kept as proof that you’ve provided the required notification prior to excavation. For more information on safe digging, visit www.pa811.org or www.pa1call.com.
Featured blog post from ServiceMaster of Bethlehem
One of the most commonly asked questions ServiceMaster of Bethlehem receives is, do I have mold? Often times, a home or business owner will ask our experts how to determine if they have mold, and how to remove it.
Signs of mold:
Mold negatively impacts your health and can lead to structural damage. It should be treated right away by trained professionals. If mold is discovered, do not try to clean it yourself. Sprays and chemicals can often worsen the issue.
At ServiceMaster of Bethlehem, our restoration professionals will respond to your home or business and take air samples. These samples are immediately sent out to a lab to be tested for mold spores present. When the data is returned, our team reviews the results and reports back to you, fast.
If harmful mold is identified, we will develop a comprehensive mold remediation plan to clean any affected areas and carefully remove any mold-damaged materials that cannot be saved. After clean-up services are provided, an independent certified industrial hygienist takes final air samples and tests them to confirm that your spore count is back to normal.
Don’t know what to do next? We do. If you believe that you may have mold, contact ServiceMaster of Bethlehem at 1-800-253-7366 to set up a mold test site visit. Your local restoration professionals have the right tools and training to assist with mold damage, and get you back into a clean, healthy home.
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