Statement on Supreme Court Decision to stay Clean Power Plan

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association was pleased with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to halt implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan.

Last fall, Tennessee’s electric cooperatives joined the National Rural Cooperative Association (NRECA) in launching legal efforts to stop implementation of the Clean Power Plan. On Tuesday, the United States Supreme Court took action halting the EPA’s landmark carbon rule.

“We continue to believe that low rates and reliable power must be a part of our clean energy future. This decision opens the door to find real solutions that effectively balance environmental and economic concerns,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association.

“If this stay had not been granted, cooperatives across the nation would have been forced to take costly and irreversible steps to comply with these new regulations. The Supreme Court’s ruling validates our belief that the Clean Power Plan is an overreach of EPA’s legal authority.”

In 2014, electric consumers from across Tennessee submitted more than 14,000 comments to the Environmental Protection Agency in opposition to the agency’s proposals to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association is a trade group representing the interests of Tennessee’s 23 electric distribution cooperatives and the 2.5 million rural and suburban 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.

Electrify Africa becomes law

(ARLINGTON, Va.) — The President signed into law S. 2152, the Electrify Africa Act, with strong praise from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and America’s electric cooperatives. Three years after the bill was first introduced, this law will now bring electricity to 50 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa, and lift rural communities from impoverished conditions to improved economic activity and a higher quality of life. The presidential signature came after passage of the Act in the U.S. House of Representatives last week. This followed the Senate’s unanimous passing of the legislation in December.

“We are celebrating this achievement with all our members, because our domestic and international work has always focused on power distribution, and making it possible for people to have direct access to electricity,” said NRECA Interim CEO Jeffrey Connor. “This new law makes it possible to have a significant impact on the lives of millions, and we are proud to be part of this worthwhile effort to bring power to Sub-Saharan Africa. We applaud and thank the bipartisan leadership of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Ranking Member Sen. Ben Cardin (D-M.D.), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), who all believe that promoting economic development by expanding access to electricity will benefit people on both sides of the Atlantic.

“Sen. Corker’s leadership on this legislation has been extraordinary,” says David Callis, executive vice president of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “We are looking forward to see the lights come on for millions in rural Africa.”

NRECA’s international affiliate—NRECA International – has worked in developing countries since 1962. Its global commitment has provided electricity to more than 110 million people in 43 countries.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives in the United States. Those co-ops provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.

Gibson EMC directors Sanders and Buchanan earn Director Gold Certification

Gibson EMC Board Members Steve Sanders and Rana Buchanan recently earned Director Gold Certificates through NRECA’s new certification program. Director Gold demonstrates a director’s ongoing commitment to advancing skills and knowledge. Sanders has been on the Gibson EMC board of trustees for 15 years and has served as chairman since 2014. Buchanan has been on the board for nearly 13 years. Click to learn more about Director Certification or view upcoming classes in Tennessee.

Top five energy users in your home

A starting point for savings

By Anne Prince

While most homeowners would like to be more energy efficient and save money, often it feels overwhelming because many people don’t know where to start. How can the average family use less energy, lower their utility bill and still meet their daily energy needs? To help jumpstart your effort, it is useful to know what the top energy users are in your home. With this knowledge, you can choose a path that works best for your family.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, the top five energy users in U.S. homes are:

  1. Space cooling
  2. Space heating
  3. Water heating
  4. Lighting
  5. Refrigeration

Adjust the temperature

Together, home heating and cooling use the most energy and take the biggest bite out of your energy budget. On the bright side, there are ways you can achieve at least 10 percent savings by taking a few simple low-cost or no-cost steps.

  • During cold weather, set your thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • During warm weather, the recommended indoor temperature is 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cleaning the filters of your HVAC system can cut costs from five to 15 percent.
  • Clean the coils around your electric baseboard heater to maintain maximum efficiency.
  • Caulk and weather-strip around windows and doors to prevent heat from escaping to the outdoors.

No matter what the climate or time of year, proper use of a programmable thermostat can save you 10 percent on your monthly utility bill.

Shine the light on savings

Take a fresh look at the lighting in your home. If you still use incandescent lighting, your light bulbs are operating at only 25 percent energy efficiency. Replacing your home’s five most frequently used bulbs with Energy Star-certified LEDs can save you $75 per year. Another easy way to save is to always turn lights off in rooms that are not being used.

Water heating efficiency

Just as it is energy-wise to insulate your roof, wall or floor, it also pays to wrap your hot water heater with an insulating blanket. This is all the more critical if you have an older unit. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. For additional efficiency and savings, insulate exposed hot water lines and drain one to two gallons of water from the bottom of your tank annually to prevent sediment build-up.

Put cold hard cash back in your wallet

If your refrigerator was purchased before 2001, chances are it uses 40 percent more energy than a new Energy Star model. If you are considering an appliance update, a new Energy Star refrigerator uses at least 15 percent less energy than non-qualified models and 20 percent less energy than required by current federal standards. Regardless of the age of your fridge, there are additional steps you can take to save energy and money. For example, don’t keep your refrigerator too cold. The Department of Energy recommends temperatures of 35 – 38 degrees Fahrenheit for the fresh food compartment and 0 degrees Fahrenheit for separate freezers (used for long-term storage).

By understanding how your home uses energy, you can determine the best ways to modify energy use and keep more money in your wallet. For additional ways to save, visit our energy page or contact your local electric cooperative.

Top Five Energy Users

Top Five Energy Users


Anne Prince 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.

Residential lighting goes high-tech

Until recently, homes were lit with a single technology—incandescent lamps. This is the bulb that generations of Americans learned by, lived by—and even ate by. But those days are long gone.

Over the past 20 years, electric co-ops have promoted efficient lighting by adding CFLs to the mix. In 2012, about 30 percent of U.S. residential sockets were filled with CFLs, with incandescents making up the remaining 70 percent. Today, LED bulbs and fixtures are increasingly preferred in many residential and commercial applications for their efficiency, quality of light and compatibility with automatic controls.

Changes to federal lighting standards went into effect for incandescent bulbs in 2007, when Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), which included provisions to reduce the energy use of everyday light bulbs.

At the same time, through industry efforts and government investment, LEDs dramatically improved in performance and dropped in price, making them appealing options for many applications.

In the first quarter of 2015, traditional incandescents accounted for just nine percent of the market share in household lighting. EISA-compliant halogen incandescent replacements made up more than 44 percent of the market, with CFLs at 40 percent. And although the percentage of LED sales has increased dramatically over the last year, they made up just over 6 percent of the market share in the first quarter of 2015.

LEDs offer features beyond energy efficiency. Some LEDs are part of a system that allows the user to turn off lamps – or even change their color – via a smartphone app. This makes the LED lamp more of a consumer electronic than just a light bulb.

LEDs are essentially computer chips, so they are more difficult to produce than incandescent bulbs. This is one product where cheaper versions often produce a life span and color that is not what the consumer wants. Higher quality LEDs from reputable brands—such as GE, Philips, Cree and Sylvania to name a few—have tested well.

However, some fixtures inside the home do not work well with LEDs. Consumers with older dimmer switches often find that they must purchase newer switches to work with the LEDs. Consumers should pick LED lamps that come with a solid warranty in case there is a problem with quality.

What’s next? While LEDs are still on the cusp of becoming our everyday lighting, there are other technologies in development. Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs) are similar to LEDs in that they are solid-state devices that produce light when current passes through them. But unlike LEDs, they are made up of multiple, organic semi-conductive layers that produce diffused light. OLEDs are extremely thin and flexible, which has enabled them to be effectively used in displays, like mobile phone screens and TVs. Manufacturers are developing OLED lighting as well—primarily for decorative architectural panels at this point, although some OLED lamps are available today.

It appears that the age of the LED has begun. They are shatter resistant and have a long life. And yes, some even come with their own app.


 

Brian Sloboda is a program manager specializing in energy efficiency for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Laura Moorefield consults for utilities, state and federal governments, and non-profits on energy efficiency, renewables, and program design. Laura founded Moorefield Research & Consulting, LLC in 2013. She currently resides in Durango, CO and is a member of La Plata Electric Association.

Five quick tips to save energy

Lodge Manufacturing

120 Years Strong and Growing

Since 1896, Lodge Manufacturing has been an important economic force in South Pittsburg. And even in an age of fast-food and planned obsolescence, the cast-iron cookware standard-bearer continues to grow and become stronger than ever.

You would think that when you produce a product that never wears out and is passed down from generation to generation, you would finally work yourself out of a job. However, cast-iron cookware is experiencing a new surge in popularity fueled by cooking programs on television, food bloggers on the Internet and the “sharing” of all things “foodie” on social media sites such as Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.

The demand for cast-iron cookware, highly touted for its ability to evenly conduct heat and its natural nonstick qualities, has forced Lodge Manufacturing to get into what company President/Chief Operating Officer Henry Lodge calls “hurry-up” mode to meet the surging demand.

Lodge products made in Sequachee Valley EC's service area.

Lodge products made in Sequachee Valley EC’s service area.

“We have always planned five to 10 years out, but as we watched the demand beginning to increase and started working toward expansion, we found that we had outgrown our plan before we could even implement it,” Lodge stated. “About five years ago, we realized we would need additional product to meet the growing demand. We thought we would have about five years to meet the projected growth, but before we could actually start building the new foundry, we realized that as soon as it was built, it would be filled up. Sales had grown more than we had expected or planned.”

The recent expansion project included entirely new melting furnaces, a new Disamatic molding machine — much larger than the old one — a whole new sand system and new cleaning, finishing and packaging facilities.

“The new melting system came on-line in 2013, the new production and molding equipment in 2014,” Lodge said. “Even with all the new equipment, we still can’t keep up with the market. It is growing faster than we can produce.”

Market numbers show that sales of cast-iron cookware have increased from 4 percent to 10 percent of the cookware market. So even though people hold on to their heirloom skillets, they love their cast iron so much they are adding griddles, Dutch ovens and other pieces to their collections.

One factor to which Lodge attributes the popularity of their line is the fact that the cookware comes already “seasoned.” The care of cast iron has been seen as daunting or just “too much trouble.” However, that changed when Lodge introduced its “Logic” preseasoned pieces in 2002. The line was so popular that soon all of Lodge’s cookware left the factory seasoned.

With nearly 300 employees, Lodge is one of the largest employers in Marion County, so its growth, expansion and climbing sales figures mean a better economy for the county and the Sequatchie Valley.

“We are moving a LOT of product,” Lodge said. “We produce the largest selection of American-made cast-iron cookware, although there are a couple of small niche companies that produce small quantities of high-end ‘designer’ cookware here in the U.S.

Henry Lodge, left, Lodge Manufacturing president/chief operating officer, talks with Larry Pines, operator of a new, more-efficient, electric melting furnace, during a walk-through of the company’s newly rebuilt foundry.

Henry Lodge, left, Lodge Manufacturing president/chief operating officer, talks with Larry Pines, operator of a new, more-efficient, electric melting furnace, during a walk-through of the company’s newly rebuilt foundry.

“Our products are sold in retail stores such as Wal-Mart, Target, Cracker Barrel, Williams-Sonoma, Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops as well as Amazon. We even ship to a number of foreign countries but that only makes up about 10 percent of our sales. We haven’t really pushed the foreign markets because we are fighting to keep up with American sales.”

The 120-year-old family-owned business, now run by Lodge and CEO Bob Kellerman,great-grandsons of founder Joseph Lodge, is making plans for the next five to 10 years and beginning work on the next building project — a new warehouse across the river in New Hope — while settling into the new, larger factory store in South Pittsburg.

“A large part of our being here — keeping the business local — is to help make South Pittsburg, Marion County and the Sequatchie Valley a great place to live and work and to continue to provide families with opportunities,” Lodge said. “I can’t talk about our success without talking about our people. This growth and success are only possible because we have great employees producing great products for our customers.”

“Lodge Manufacturing has been a good corporate citizen from the beginning,” said Mike Partin, Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative president/CEO. “The company’s commitment to the community and its employees is evident in everything it does. This was demonstrated by the leadership R.L. Lodge gave in bringing electricity to the rural areas of the Sequatchie Valley and the surrounding mountains as the first chairman of the SVEC board of directors. It continues today with the leadership and support that Bob Kellerman and Henry Lodge and their team have given to community projects such as the National Cornbread Festival, which brings tens of thousands of visitors to South Pittsburg each year, boosting the local economy. Lodge Manufacturing is a long-time sponsor of the local Boy Scout troop and supports countless other local causes and events. SVEC is proud to be a partner and power supplier to such an outstanding community asset. Partnerships like this are what make our communities Co-op Strong.”

Cyber Security

Question: What do you do for a living?
Answer: I can tell you, but I’d have to kill you.

We’re not secret agents, but we do have more knowledge than the general public about cyber security concerns. We work hard to mitigate fear mongering and any sense of panic among our members.

At the same time, we need to be cognizant of the dangers of cyber theft and malicious intrusions from hackers – both in our ability to manage the grid and maintaining the privacy of our members.

In rural America, the distance between substations, even between members, can be significant. The electronic devices that we use and how we access them allow us to know when disruptions occur and to quickly respond. As the use of technology becomes more prevalent and increasingly complex, the risk of security breaches grows.

“We have in our minds the picture of a hacker as some 15-year-old in his parents’ basement. That used to be the case but it’s not now. Hackers are bots hitting 10 million systems at once, just looking for a vulnerability,” says Bill West, vice president of underwriting at Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange. He also adds, “The average cyber insurance claim costs $733,000.”

Any information technology expert that is involved in cyber security will confirm that attacks are frequent. We know this from the industry reports we read. Data breaches can expose the private information of our members and should hackers gain access to control systems, they could disrupt power flow. Throwing a political tilt into cyber issues, hacker attacks are often from foreign countries.

Across the nation, electric cooperatives are participating at every level – from local, regional and national exercises to legislative improvements that affect information sharing between governmental agencies and utilities. (S. 754, in which electric cooperatives had input)

We recognize that because we are rural and comparatively small, it doesn’t mean that we are at less risk than large utilities. As Deputy Energy Secretary Elizabeth Sherwood Randall said last year, “If we don’t protect the energy sector, we are putting every other sector of the economy in peril.”

Let’s make certain that we take cyber security as seriously as we take keeping the lights on. It’s just one more thing to add to our “To Do” list.

Be prepared for winter storm

When winter temperatures drop and storms hit, it can be challenging to stay safe and warm. Winter storm severity varies depending on where you live, but nearly all Americans are affected by extreme winter storms at some point. Tennessee’s electric cooperatives care about your safety, and we want you to be prepared.

Heavy snow and ice can lead to downed power lines, leaving co-op members without power. During extremely low temperatures, this can be dangerous. During a power outage, our crews will continue to work as quickly and safely as possible to restore power, but there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself.

Stay warm

Plan to use a safe alternate heating source, such as a fireplace or wood-burning stove during a power outage. These are great options to keep you and your loved ones warm, but exercise caution when using, and never leave the heating source unattended. If you are using gasoline-, propane- or natural gas-burning devices to stay warm, never use them indoors. Remember that fuel- and wood-burning sources of heat should always be properly ventilated. Always read the manufacturer’s directions before using.

Stay fed

The CDC recommends having several days’ supply of food that does not need to be cooked handy. Crackers, cereal, canned goods and bread are good options. Five gallons of water per person should also be available in the event of an extended power outage.

Stay safe

When an outage occurs, it usually means power lines are down. It is best not to travel during winter storms, but if you must, bring a survival kit along, and do not travel alone. If you encounter downed lines, always assume they are live. Stay as far away from the downed lines as possible, and report the situation to your local co-op.

Winter weather can be unpredictable and dangerous, and planning ahead can often be the difference between life and death. Tennessee’s electric co-ops are ready for what Mother Nature has in store, and we want you to be ready, too. For more winter safety tips, visit www.ready.gov/winter-weather.

Abby Berry writes on consumer and cooperative affairs 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.

8th Day Software – Henderson

8th Day Software specializes in highly technical solutions for healthcare companies across the country, but perhaps its greatest innovation has little to do with code and lots to do with location.

loschinskey

8th Day Software founder Dave Loschinskey.

Dave Loschinskey would fit in well in Silicon Valley. His resume includes a stint as a Fortune 50 healthcare technology executive and leader of a multimillion-dollar consulting practice at Oracle. But recently he has been spending less time in San Francisco and more time in West Tennessee.

Henderson is a community about 15 minutes south of Jackson in Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation’s service territory. The town of 6,000 is known for its barbecue, school system and proximity to Chickasaw State Park and Forest. It is certainly not the typical place to put a software company.

“People think I am either really smart or crazy to build a software company here,” says Loschinskey, CEO of 8th Day Software.

“This is the result of a couple of frustrations I had when I was the chief information officer of a big healthcare company,” he says. “We did our best to use resources responsibly, and that often meant that we outsourced some software development to other countries. Unfortunately, there were time-zone challenges, language barriers and culture differences that prevented us from creating the innovative products we wanted.”

Manny Grillis, a technical director at 8th Day Software, supervises the development of medical software that helps doctors treat patients more effectively.

Manny Grillis, a technical director at 8th Day Software, supervises the development of medical software that helps doctors treat patients more effectively.

Ruralsourcing

Companies needing custom software typically have two options: expensive consultants from Atlanta, Chicago or New York or inexpensive developers in Pakistan, India or China. “What we are doing here in Henderson is creating another option,” says Loschinskey. “We share similar time zones, languages and cultures with our clients, but our operating expenses are much lower than other U.S.-based providers. It allows us to create innovative solutions at cost-effective prices.”

“We were at Stanford University earlier this year, demonstrating a product for clients, and we showed them on a map where the product was built,” he says. “They could not believe that it could happen in such a small town.”

8th Day’s 23 software developers work at the company’s domestic solutions center in Henderson, writing code for programs used in hospitals and medical research.

8th Day’s 23 software developers work at the company’s domestic solutions center in Henderson, writing code for programs used in hospitals and medical research.

Selling small towns

Loschinskey is an advocate of rural America, quick to mention the benefits of lower taxes, inexpensive real estate and little traffic.

8th Day has seen success in finding the talent it needs in Henderson. “Millennials don’t want to sit in traffic,” says Loschinskey. “They want to ride their bikes to work and go visit their kids at school at lunchtime. These attributes are more valuable than earning a few more dollars in an urban area.”

Kaleb Glass was the first employee hired by 8th Day in Henderson. Glass was a student at Freed-Hardeman University, just down the street from 8th Day’s office, when he first learned of the company. “I received an email from a professor about this job opportunity, and I jumped on it,” Glass says.

“I expected to end up in a big city,” says Glass, a software engineer and father of two. “But Henderson is a great place to raise kids. It is a good community with good people, and there is no traffic — I always know how long it will take me to get to work.”

“We’re thrilled that 8th Day Software chose Henderson to grow its domestic sourcing business,” says Henderson Mayor Bobby King. “It offers employment opportunities for Freed-Hardeman University and other graduates who previously would have had to work in a city to pursue a career in information technology.”

Kaleb Glass is a software engineer that specializes in security. Glass, the first employee hired by 8th Day in Henderson, ensures that the sensitive medical information handled by 8th Day's software is protected.

Kaleb Glass is a software engineer that specializes in security. Glass, the first employee hired by 8th Day in Henderson, ensures that the sensitive medical information handled by 8th Day’s software is protected.

Making connections

Broadband Internet is a key part of the 8th Day story, and Henderson has something rarely found in rural Tennessee — a gigabit fiber network.

“Ninety percent of our clients are in other parts of the country, and broadband allows us to connect and collaborate,” says Loschinskey. “We have clients in places like Ann Arbor, Mich., and Chicago who can’t get gigabit Internet, and they can’t believe that we have it in Henderson.”

“Encouraging entrepreneurs is important to us in Henderson,” says King. “Offering gigabit Internet, high school coding classes, a strong chamber of commerce and a quality of life that people of all ages can enjoy, Henderson is an ideal incubator for business start-ups.”

Loschinskey says that small towns have a problem with self-esteem. “We believe that small towns can do manufacturing and retail,” he says. “We believe that small towns can have a doctor’s office and a couple of nurses. Why don’t we believe that small towns can have engineering firms and creative design firms and software development firms?

“We at 8th Day dispel a lot of myths, and people have a different view of small towns when they hear our story and see what we are doing in Henderson.”


Telling the story of rural Tennessee

Tennessee’s electric cooperatives are celebrating innovation and creativity in rural Tennessee and exploring opportunities for co-ops to be advocates for our communities. “Concern for community is one of our guiding principles,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Whether it be broadband expansion, political affairs or economic development, co-ops have unique opportunities to improve lives in real ways.”

We need you to help us tell the story of rural and suburban Tennessee. Use the hashtag #smalltownsbigideas on Twitter and Facebook to tell us about the great things happening where you live.