MLEC brings wireless internet to Hickman County

(October 20, 2014)MyMLEC Now, a free wireless hotspot offering by Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative, came to life Thursday, Oct. 16, for Hickman County. The service makes free wi-fi available at the Centerville River Park and Jerry Dixon Walking Trail.

The MyMLEC Now – connecting you wirelessly test model is an extension of MLEC’s fiber core network which connects the cooperative’s offices and substations in five counties. Security and safety filters are in place for the protection of users, and individual access time is currently limited to four hours a day.

“We’re excited to bring this to Centerville,” says MLEC President and CEO Hal Womble. “It is a way to give back to our members and promote technology in the area. Our goal is to use what we learn and create similar models for the other counties we serve.”

Lewis County Memorial Park in Hohenwald was the first test location and came on line in June. A search for test sites for the other counties served by MLEC is underway.

Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative is a non-profit organization offering reliable, low-cost electricity to over 33,500 members in Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Lewis and Perry Counties. Member – electric power companies of Middle Tennessee.  Remember – play it safe around electricity.

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One million comments

America’s electric cooperatives have collected one million comments in opposition to the EPA’s proposed rule targeting existing power plants. This milestone boosts our relevance in the nation’s capital and sends a powerful message to EPA officials.

Our drive to one million has not been a simple task, and it would not have been possible without the support of co-op members.

“This has been a concentrated effort to protect our members from expensive and ineffective government regulations,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “I thank everyone who has helped us take a stand for affordable and reliable energy.”

While reaching this milestone is cause for celebration, now is not the time to take a break.  There’s still more time to grow the number of comments that we’ll send on this proposal. Because the EPA recently extended the comment deadline to December 1, there’s now an additional 45 days for all of us to encourage more people to make their voices heard.

You can submit your own comments to the EPA by visiting takeactionTN.com.

Safety for All

By Meghaan Evans

Tennessee’s electric cooperatives have always been dedicated to providing safe, reliable and affordable utility service to you, our member-owners. The lengths we go to keep you, your family and our linemen safe are a point of pride for us and are never taken lightly.

From acquiring new equipment and implementing new procedures – including installation of new breaker systems that react more quickly in case of a disruption – to increasing awareness of back-up generator systems within the cooperative community and supporting the Rural Electric Safety Achievement Program (RESAP), America’s electric cooperatives strive to promote the highest standard of safety.

A lot has changed for the electric utility industry in the United States over the last 130 years. In the 1880s, power came to New York City through the direct current (DC) supply method. Direct current supply required generation stations to be within a mile of a consumer’s home, which was great for city residents – but not so great for those living in the suburbs or rural areas.

Because of its inability to travel long distances – and the higher cost – the DC system eventually lost out to the more economical alternating current (AC) system. The AC system allowed power to travel across greater distances through the use of transformers located at power stations. These transformers required higher voltage to pass through stations in order to bring power to homes at the end of the wire. This increase in voltage spurred the need for increased electrical safety procedures.

High voltage is considered in the U.S. to be a voltage above 35,000 volts. Designations of high voltage also include the possibility of causing a spark in the air or causing electric shock by proximity or contact.

High voltage wires and equipment are a constant danger for cooperative lineworkers, but they can also pose a danger to cooperative members. That is why electric cooperatives are proud to be at the forefront of electrical safety equipment development, as well as electrical safety education.

Line crews participate in monthly training sessions and courses to ensure that employees are constantly reminded of the safety aspect of the job and the importance of using equipment in the safest manner possible.

In addition to safety training for employees, electric cooperatives are continuously raising awareness of electrical safety in our communities by performing demonstrations at local schools and community events. There, we show members just how easy it is for an accident to occur when working with electricity and how to prevent these dangerous, and sometimes deadly, mishaps. We also increase awareness of electrical safety by engaging with volunteer fire departments, emergency medical teams and sheriff’s departments on a regular basis, offering education courses and demonstrations. These programs keep service men and women, as well members of the community, safe.

Tennessee’s electric cooperatives know that the more people we have in our communities who are knowledgeable about electrical safety, the safer we all will be. That’s why we strive, every day, to raise awareness of, and encourage development in, electrical safety.

Meghaan Evans writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nations 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.

Governor: October is Co-op Month

Governor lauds Tennessee’s member-owned organizations during Co-op Month in October

The proclamation, also signed by Secretary of State Tre Hargett, reads, in part: “Tennessee cooperatives improve the well-being of rural residents and communities across our state by providing electric, internet, and telephone services to homes, farms, and rural businesses; financing for land, assets, and inputs; products and services, including genetics and seed, nutrients and feed, crop protection and health, equipment and fuel for growing and marketing crops and livestock; and insurance for individuals and family businesses, resulting in employment for thousands of Tennesseans.”

Haslam also stressed that rural cooperatives are important partners with today’s farmers “as they work diligently to produce safe, abundant, dependable, and affordable food and fiber for both a rapidly growing world population and an increasingly interconnected and proactively health-conscious local consumer.”

What sets cooperatives apart from other types of businesses is that they are owned and controlled by the people who use their products and services, so members have a chance to share in their successes and have a voice in their operation. Cooperatives are led by their membership through an elected board of directors and share profits with members by reducing costs of their products or services or by providing patronage refunds.

“Governor Haslam recognizes the importance of cooperatives, particularly to our rural communities,” Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson said. “Cooperatives illustrate the very best of the American Way through members who participate in local, community ownership, and where shared responsibility not only helps reduce the cost of products and services but provides economic opportunity.”

Haslam also had good things to say about the Tennessee Council of Cooperatives (TCC), calling it “the state’s flagship organization for coordinating, promoting, educating, and extending cooperative development in Tennessee.”

“It often serves as a clearinghouse for the open exchange of information and experiences among cooperative businesses, a sounding board for new ideas, and a forum for discovery, discussion, and dissemination,” he said.

Tennessee Farmers Cooperative Marketing Manager Keith Harrison, current president of TCC, said, “Our board of directors is committed to promoting the cooperative way of doing business.  That’s evident in many of our current programs.  The council sponsors scholarships for agricultural students at each of Tennessee’s four-year agricultural colleges, hosts an annual leadership conference for more than 400 young leaders from across the state, sponsors an annual education workshop for more than 50 employees of cooperatives in addition to providing leadership, cooperation, and support to various other programs.  We truly believe the cooperative business model will continue to play a vital role in strengthening our state’s rural economy in the future.”

Nationwide this year, more than 29,000 cooperatives will celebrate October Co-op Month, promoting the advantages of cooperative membership and recognizing the benefits and value co-ops bring to their communities. The observance has been celebrated annually for the past 84 years. This year’s theme —“The Co-op Connection”— celebrates the ways co-ops connect with each other, their communities, and their world.

Visit tennesseecouncilofcoops.org for more information about Tennessee cooperatives or the TCC and its programs. Visit ncba.coop/coop-month for more information about the national Co-op Month celebration.

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Photo caption: Gov. Bill Haslam, front center, presents a proclamation to the Tennessee Council of Cooperatives board of directors proclaiming October as “Cooperative Month” in Tennessee.  Pictured with the governor are, front from left, Greg Anderson, Bledsoe Telephone Cooperative, and Keith Harrison, Tennessee Farmers Cooperative. In back are Todd Blocker, Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association;  Scott Lewis, Farm Credit Mid-America;  Dan Strasser, Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation; and Tom Womack, Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

View high-resolution photo here.

INFOGRAPHIC: Power sources

A new infographic from Tennessee’s electric cooperatives outlines the sources used to generate the power we use each day and outlines Tennessee’s commitment to renewable sources of energy. A diverse mix of generation sources is important to the reliability and affordability of energy. You can help us maintain this diversity by visiting takeactionTN.com.

 

 

 

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EPA grants comment extension

The EPA announced on Tuesday that it will grant a 45 day extension to the comment period for its climate rule on existing power plants.

The announcement of a new Dec. 1 deadline comes after more than half of the Senate asked the EPA to extend the comment period for another 60 days. Both Sens. Alexander and Corker signed the letter sent to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy last week.

“The EPA’s proposed regulation will have significant impacts on the affordability and reliability of power and poses a threat to American jobs and the economy,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “We applaud the EPA’s decision to extend the comment period, we thank Senators Alexander and Corker for their support on this issue, and we encourage all Tennesseans to visit takeactionTN.com to send your own message to the EPA.”

Learn more about this issue at tnelectric.org/takeaction.

Co-ops light midway at state fair

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Sept. 5, 2014 – Tennessee’s electric cooperatives lit the midway during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Tennessee State Fair on Friday evening. John Spence, a lineman with Gibson Electric Membership Corporation in Trenton, Tenn., threw the switch that officially started the nine-day event.

“Each day electric cooperatives deliver power and opportunity to more than two million rural Tennesseans,” said David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “The fair is a celebration of life in rural Tennessee, and that is why we are proud to be a sponsor of tonight’s opening ceremony.”

The Tennessee State Fair presented by One Main Financial runs Sept. 5 – 14 at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. Learn more at tnstatefair.org.

During the opening ceremony of the Tennessee State Fair, electric co-op representatives had a chance to meet Zoe, a young lady struggling with a serious medical condition. Her wish of being a princess came true as she proudly wore her tiara on stage, a moment made possible thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. You can learn more about their work at middletennessee.wish.org.

About TECA
The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association is a trade group representing the interests of Tennessee’s 23 electric distribution cooperatives and the more than two million consumers they serve. The association publishes The Tennessee Magazine and provides legislative and support services to Tennessee’s electric cooperatives. Learn more at tnelectric.org.

 

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Contact:
Trent Scott | Director of Corporate Strategy
tscott@tnelectric.org | 731.608.1519

 

Download a high-resolution photo here.

Caption: John Smith, a lineman with Gibson Electric Membership Corporation in Trenton, assists Zoe from the Make a Wish Foundation to flip the switch and kick off the 2014 Tennessee State Fair.

Energy efficiency workshop

NASHVILLE, Sept. 5, 2014 – A workshop held today in Nashville explored opportunities to provide energy-efficiency assistance to Tennessee’s low-income homeowners. The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, its member cooperatives and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Office of Energy Programs hosted the event.

Tennessee is one of six states selected to participate in the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices’ State Policy Retreats on Innovations in Energy Efficiency that aim to reduce energy consumption, stimulate economic demand for local energy-related jobs and services and lower emissions associated with the generation of electricity.

The workshop focused on the development of a program to help co-op members finance energy-efficiency activities such as weatherization improvements, HVAC upgrades, ground-source heat pumps, lighting, small-scale renewable generation, consumer education and outreach and energy audits.

“Tennessee’s electric cooperatives are committed to improving the lives of their members and the communities they serve,” said Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau. “We are privileged to be working with TECA to identify ways to access capital for energy-efficiency improvements in Tennessee’s rural communities. Energy-efficiency improvements result in reduced energy demand and consumption, thereby lowering energy costs for consumers.”

“We’re excited about this joint effort and the agencies that are working with us,” said David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “The cost of heating and cooling a home can be a burden for low-income, rural Tennesseans, so energy efficiency can do more than make homes more comfortable – it can change lives. These improvements can have long-term impacts for homeowners and the communities where they live.”

Representatives from the Office of Gov. Bill Haslam, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, other state agencies, the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and several member cooperatives, the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Services, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Appalachian Voices and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy participated in the workshop.

About TECA

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association is a trade group representing the interests of Tennessee’s 23 electric distribution cooperatives and the more than two million consumers they serve. The association publishes The Tennessee Magazine and provides legislative and support services to Tennessee’s electric cooperatives. Learn more at tnelectric.org.

 

Download high-resolution photo here.

Cutline: Frank Rapley, senior manager, energy right solutions for homes, with the Tennessee Valley Authority speaks at a workshop today in Nashville. Participants explored opportunities to provide energy-efficiency assistance to Tennessee’s low-income homeowners.

 

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Contact:
Trent Scott | Director of Corporate Strategy
tscott@tnelectric.org | 731.608.1519

Are you grounded? GFCI outlets can help!

Did you know there are different types of electrical outlets? Each are designed for different purposes; however, there is one specific type that stands high above the rest—the ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. GFCIs have saved thousands of lives and cut the number of electrocutions in half since the 1970s. If your home lacks GFCI outlets, don’t fret—you can learn how to “get grounded.”

GFCIs are the most efficient outlet in protecting from electrical shock. If it senses a loss of current, the outlet switches off power to that circuit. These devices can either be installed in your electrical system or built into a power cord. The third hole at the bottom of the outlet is known as the “ground” slot, and it monitors electrical currents that flow through the left “neutral” slot and the right “hot” slot on each outlet. A GFCI can react faster than a blink of an eye to any imbalance of power by immediately shutting off the electrical current. These outlets are now a requirement in all places where water could potentially come into contact with electrical products such as bathrooms, garages, outdoors and kitchens. GFCIs are not exclusive to three-prong outlets. They can be installed into standard outlets, and there are even portable devices available when installation is not practical.

GFCIs should be tested at least once a month to ensure they are working effectively. The first step you need to take is to test an item, such as a lamp, that visibly powers on when plugged in. Push the “reset” button to prepare the outlet then push the “test” button. Did your lamp turn off? If it did, the GFCI is working properly. Now, hit the “reset” button once again to power it back on. If your lamp did not power off, then you should contact a certified electrician to correct the problem.

Next time you have a free moment, take the time to look around your house. If you’re not “grounded,” consider updating your electrical outlets to GFCIs.

Sources: Electrical Safety Foundation International, Consumer Product Safety Commission

Amber Bentley writes on energy efficiency issues for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.

Perkerson joins TECA staff

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Aug. 26, 2014 – The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, a trade group representing the interests of electric cooperative members across the state, announced today that Alex Perkerson joins the association as government affairs specialist. In this role, Perkerson will assist with the association’s legislative and grassroots efforts.

“Tennessee’s electric cooperatives work to inform and protect their members,” says Perkerson. “It is exciting to be a part of their mission to serve the people of rural and suburban Tennessee.”

A 2011 graduate of the University of Alabama with a degree in political science, Perkerson previously worked as a legislative assistant at the Tennessee General Assembly.

“We are thrilled to add Alex to our team,” says Mike Knotts, director of government affairs for TECA. “I am confident that she will make positive contributions on behalf of our members.”

About TECA

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association is a trade group representing the interests of Tennessee’s 23 electric distribution cooperatives and the 1.1 million consumers they serve. The association publishes The Tennessee Magazine and provides legislative and support services to Tennessee’s electric cooperatives.

A high-resolution photo is available here.