Resolve to make your home more energy efficient

Happy New Year! This is the time of year when we often resolve to make changes of all types. Here’s an idea for you. Instead of focusing on the typical resolutions, such as losing weight and exercising more, why not resolve to make your home more energy efficient? And with winter in full swing, this is a good time to think about making energy-efficiency improvements to your home. Your thermostat is in full heating mode and generally, winter heating requirements cause us to spend more money than we do for cooling. This is because the laws of nature dictate how heat behaves on Earth. As a reminder, heat moves to cool.

On a cold winter day, the heat generated by a heating source is moving through building materials, cracks around doors and windows, unsealed holes created by electrical and plumbing penetrations and improperly installed and inadequate insulation. Furthermore, winter usually doles out a larger temperature difference between the indoor thermostat setting and the outdoor temperature. The greater the temperature difference, the more energy is required to maintain the desired temperature inside your home.

To be clear, not all homes are energy inefficient. So how does one know whether or not his/her manufactured or standard built home is energy efficient? Here is a simple way to do it, based on your average monthly utility usage. Simply multiply the square footage of your home by 10 cents. For instance, a 1,500-square-foot home multiplied by 10 cents (.10) equals $150.00. A 2,000-square-foot home multiplied by 10 (.10) cents equals $200. And so on.

Next, calculate your total electric bills for a one-year period. If you heat with natural gas or propane, be sure to add those bills into the total. Next, divide the total by 12 months to establish the monthly average. If your monthly average exceeds the square-footage multiplied by 10 cents (.10) calculation, you most likely have an opportunity to make some energy efficiency improvements.

Tennessee’s electric cooperatives can help identify and offer solutions for high bills and comfort issues. Contact your local cooperative or visit our efficiency archives for many energy savings ideas and solutions.

In the meantime, stay warm and start working on your energy efficiency resolution!

Bret Curry is the residential energy manager for Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation.

The power of policy impacts our members

It seems you can’t turn on a TV, listen to the radio or pick up a newspaper without hearing about ineffectiveness in government. It often seems that no matter what we do or who we vote for, we don’t feel truly represented in either our state or national governments.

Tennessee’s electric cooperatives understand how that feels, and we have been there ourselves. That feeling, along with a strong desire to take action, is the reason why we have dedicated staff that works to ensure our members’ interests are represented, and heard, by elected officials.

Members of our government relations and policy teams work tirelessly to tackle complicated regulatory and policy issues. They apply these issues to the ever-changing energy market and then evaluate how those issues impact our communities. They have a deep understanding of the needs of the communities we serve, and they use that knowledge to ensure that your needs are represented in major legislative decision-making.

The ability to impact change is a huge part of being a member of an electric co-op. We don’t lobby elected officials on behalf of investors with the aim to increase profit margins. We work with elected officials to make sure that your interests are being considered to ensure that you will always be provided with safe, reliable and affordable electric service. That is the cooperative difference.

But it isn’t just our government relations team that helps us affect policy and legislative change. Your voice makes a huge difference in how quickly and effectively we can drive change. Through our grassroots advocacy programs we encourage you to bring your ideas to the table and to make your voice heard. This is how we show state and national officials that we are acting in your best interest. Your collective voice shows that we represent communities and families, not corporate interests.

The next time you are feeling frustrated, the next time you want to be heard or the next time you want to make a change in your community, call your local power company. Find out what we are doing to represent your interests, and find out how you can help affect change in our communities.

Meghaan Evans 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.

Energy efficiency and the tiny house movement

A “tiny house movement” has gained attention nationally as a reaction to the increased construction of larger homes. Popularized by the documentary “Tiny,” a television show, and other media coverage, these homes typically measure less than 1,000 square feet – a far cry from the typical American home. In 1973, the average U.S. home measured 1,660 square feet. Since then, U.S. homes have grown by over 60 percent to reach an average size of 2,598 square feet in 2013 – despite a slight dip in 2008 through 2010. But do smaller homes actually use less energy? What are the factors that determine how much energy a house consumes?

As the size of homes increases, so do the energy demands on it. There’s additional space to be heated or cooled, more lighting is required, and it’s likely that the number of appliances will increase as well. Examining only a home’s size will show a strong positive correlation between the square footage of a home and its energy consumption. To look at an extreme case, homes that measure over 6,400 square feet (the top 1 percent of homes) use two and a half times as much electricity as home sized at 1,600 square feet; but this isn’t the whole story. Other factors such as the age of the home, climate, income and behavior influence energy consumption as well. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data shows that homes built after the year 2000 use only 2 percent more energy than homes built before 2000 even though the newer homes are on average 30 percent larger and contain more electronic appliances.

There are several reasons for this equilibrium in energy use despite the greater building size. First, homes are becoming more energy efficient. They are lit with CFLs and LEDs instead of incandescents and use more efficient appliances. For example, an older refrigerator can use about twice as much energy as a newer model of similar capacity. Second, homes are being built with more energy-efficient features. This includes better building shells, modern windows and more insulation. Larger homes in particular are more likely to include these types of energy-saving features. These changes are due not just to technological advances but policy changes that tightened building codes and raised the minimum energy efficiency standards for appliances. Programs such as EnergyStar have helped to educate consumers about the efficiency and cost-savings of their products. Lastly, more Americans are moving south to more moderate climates. This means that less energy is used on space heating, and although the southern migration has resulted in a 56 percent increase in energy used for air conditioning, it’s not enough to offset the space heating reduction.

What this ultimately means is that the amount of energy a home uses is not pre-determined by its size. While moving into a tiny home may not be practical or possible — they are often not allowed under current zoning regulations and only make up around 1 percent of homes – realize both large homes and small homes have the potential to be efficient or inefficient. Rather than moving into a tiny home to save energy, consider looking into energy-efficient retrofits – contact your local electric co-op for ways to save.

Thomas Kirk is a technical research analyst specializing in energy efficiency and renewable energy for the Cooperative Research Network (CRN), a service of the Arlington, Va.-based National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

TVA Update Wardlaw

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NRECA Update Nolan

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NRECA Update Elkins

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Federated update

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Leadership

Leaders come from all walks of life. Some are thrust into leadership roles because of their family lineage — which sometimes doesn’t bode well for themselves or their followers. Some assume the role because of their skill or expertise, which hopefully provides a platform for developing into a leader. Some become leaders because they’ve been elected. Others are selected because they show some sparks of talent or commitment that convey their ability to lead.

One of the speakers at the TECA Annual Meeting was Sen. Bob Corker. The senator offered his assessment of the current Congress and the challenges facing our nation and state. Corker, whose prior service was as the mayor of Chattanooga, remarked that he believes there is “no greater service than someone serving their community on the local level.”

Some leaders fall in the category of “Subject Matter Experts”, such as NRECA’s John Novak and TVA’s John Myers. Their combined expertise covered numerous topics, from the legality of the Clean Power Plan to EPA allowing Watts Bar Unit 2 to count toward achieving Tennessee’s carbon reduction targets.

But you don’t have to have grey hair to be a leader or even be old enough to vote.

This year’s Youth Leadership Council winner was Denisha Patrick. Denisha is from Chickasaw Electric Cooperative in Somerville, who received the honor by being selected by her peers. If you heard her speak, you saw the leadership qualities she possessed.

All of these leaders have one thing in common: a desire to make life better in their local community. It’s a matter of commitment, ability, and desire. That’s what makes for a good leader and it’s what we have to exhibit every day as we lead Tennessee’s cooperatives.

FPU receives TVA’s Top Performer award

Fayetteville Public Utilities (FPU) received an award for being a Top Performer in Green Power Providers as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s EnergyRight Solutions for the Home program in 2013.

“The TVA Green Power Providers program has received much support from our customers and their investors who believe in providing clean, renewable energy resources for the Tennessee Valley,” says FPU’s CEO and General Manager Britt Dye. “Solar power installations in Lincoln County continue to produce renewable energy that is distributed as part of TVA’s power mix through our local power grid from which FPU customers benefit today.”

FPU’s first Green Power Providers solar system was installed in October 2010. In 2011, FPU experienced strong and steady growth in the program, adding 15 more solar projects to its distribution system for a total of 3.3 megawatts. Four of these systems were 750 kilowatts each.

The Green Power Providers program continued to grow as FPU customers installed another 13 systems at 1.8 megawatts added to the grid. Eight of these systems produce 200 kilowatts each.

In 2013, FPU added nine systems for a total of 368 kilowatts generated with a majority of these systems around 50 kilowatts each.

Today, FPU has 39 Green Power Providers solar projects operating in the service area for a total of 5.6 megawatts.

In the TVA region, FPU, with its customer participation, is the second largest producer per customer of solar energy.

Across the TVA region, the EnergyRight Solutions for the Home saw almost $60 million in homeowner investments for energy efficiency measures and generated enough in energy savings to power over 5,300 homes. EnergyRight Solutions for Business and Industry saw 3,960 projects completed by business and industrial customers accounting for over $109 million invested in energy efficiency measures.

“Fayetteville Public Utilities was a powerful partner in helping achieve these accomplishments,” says Cynthia Herron, director of TVA’s EnergyRight Solutions program. “Our partnership with FPU enabled us to exceed our load management target goals for the sixth year in a row.”

The award was presented to FPU at the October Board of Directors meeting by TVA’s Middle Tennessee Customer Service Manager Megan Keen.

TVA green power award 2

TVA green power award 2From left are FPU board members Linda Schoenrock, William Hurd, Micky Lawson, Mayor John Ed Underwood, FPU’s Key Accounts Representative Pat Haynes, Megan Keen (TVA), FPU’s CEO and General Manager Britt Dye, and FPU Board of Directors Chairman Janine Wilson, and FPU board members Michael Whisenant and Glenn Oldham. Not pictured is Paul Richardson, FPU board member.

 

14,000 comments sent to the EPA

NASHVILLE, Dec. 1, 2014 – Electric consumers from across Tennessee submitted more than 14,000 comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in opposition to the agency’s proposals to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The final EPA comment period closed Monday, Dec. 1.

“Tennessee’s electric cooperatives believe that low rates and reliable power must be a part of our clean energy future,” said David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Unfortunately, the EPA didn’t consider the real-world impact this latest proposal will have on the cost and reliability of energy for families and businesses. That’s why thousands of Tennesseans told the EPA they couldn’t afford another all-pain-for-no-gain government regulation. It’s possible to balance affordability and environmental stewardship, but not under these latest rules.”

Comments were collected online at takeactionTN.com and from cards distributed by local electric cooperatives. These comments are also being submitted to the Tennessee Valley Authority as a part of TVA’s Integrated Resource Planning process that determines how the agency will generate energy in the future.

These 14,000 comments were part of a nation-wide effort by electric cooperatives that collectively submitted more than 1.1 million comments to the EPA opposing new regulations for new and existing power plants.

You can learn more about the impact of these regulations and get involved at tnelectric.org/takeaction.

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 2 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