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

Bundle up for winter storms

By Abby Berry

Are you ready for winter’s cold grasp? Snow and ice are inevitable when dealing with winter storms, but being prepared can make a world of difference. Tennessee’s electric cooperatives recommend the following tips to help you prepare for wintery blasts.

 

Winterize your home

Winter storms wreak havoc on your home. By winterizing your living space, you’ll be prepared for extreme cold and hazardous conditions.

  • Remember to maintain and inspect heating equipment and chimneys every year to ensure they’re working safely and properly.
  • Caulk and weather strip doors and windows to make the most of your heating system.
  • Freezing temperatures often cause water pipes to burst. Remember to insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic. Allow faucets to drip during extreme cold to avoid frozen pipes.
  • Consider installing storm windows for better insulation. You can also cover windows with plastic (from the inside) to keep the cold out.
  • Make sure everyone in your family knows where the home’s fire extinguisher is located and how to use it properly. House fires occur more frequently during winter months, as people tend to use alternative heating methods that may not be safe.

Prepare a winter survival kit

Severe winter storms often bring heavy accumulation of ice and snow, which can lead to downed power lines and extended outages. Electric co-op crews will work hard to restore power, but having a winter survival kit on hand is a smart idea.

  • Food: Store food that does not require cooking, such as canned goods, crackers, dehydrated meats and dried fruit. Keep a large supply of water on hand. Ready.gov recommends five gallons per person.
  • Medication: Be sure to refill all prescriptions in the event of a major power outage.
  • Identification: Keep all forms of identification handy, such as driver’s licenses, photo IDs and social security cards. Bank account information and insurance policies are also good to have on hand.
  • Other items: First Aid Kit, blankets, flashlight, battery-powered radio and extra batteries.

Stay warm and safe

If an outage occurs, you should plan for an alternate heating source. A fireplace, propane space heater or wood-burning stove would be sufficient. Fuel and wood-burning heating sources should always be vented, and make sure carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are working properly. Always practice extreme caution when using alternate heating sources.

If you decide to use a portable generator during an outage, make sure it is placed outside the home for proper ventilation. Be careful not to overload the generator. Use appropriate extension cords that can handle the electric load.

Follow these tips, and your family will stay warm in the event of a power outage. For more information on preparing for winter storms, visit your local co-op website or www.ready.gov.

Abby Berry writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service organization for the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.

Powering everyday life

By David Callis, executive vice president and general manager, Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association

Several things about the holiday season bring out the best in all of us. This time of year, we enjoy the familiar sound of the Salvation Army’s bell-ringers. Food banks and homeless shelters see a rush of volunteers, and clothing donations hit a high point during Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.

It occurs almost without prompting. There is just something about a “season of giving” that brings it out of us. Giving of yourself — your time, money or other resources — is commonplace during this time.

What if that feeling lasted all year long? It’s great that we do it in December. But what if we did it year-round?

There is a group of people in your community that does just that throughout the year. What they do is not tied to a season. It’s written into their DNA.

Electric cooperatives are different. That’s not a slogan; it’s a fact. Nonprofit. Owned and managed by the owners. More than that, we operate our co-ops by a set of sacred principles. Cooperative Principle No. 7 reads, “While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members.”

Principles don’t mean much unless they’re put into action. Cooperatives across the nation and in our own state do that every day.

A great example of showing concern for your community is Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative. In 2007, the Florida co-op took over the economically depressed area of Lacoochee. Some parts of the rural community even lacked indoor plumbing. The investor-owned electric system was decrepit. Today, new Habitat for Humanity homes are rising, dirt roads are paved, the electric grid is dependable and a 16,000-square-foot community center houses a gym, health clinic and computer center.

It took a mix of private and public funding and a host of volunteers, but Lacoochee’s turnaround didn’t happen until the employees and member-owners of Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative put their principles to work in improving the lives of the people in the community.

Perhaps not as dramatically, but this happens every day throughout Tennessee. Electric cooperatives take action in their communities by sponsoring Relay for Life teams, building Habitat for Humanity homes and providing volunteers and funds for social-service organizations. It’s not profit-driven — it’s just what we do. Powering our communities means so much more than keeping the lights on.

It’s not limited to what your cooperative does for you. Each of us can donate our time and talents to help others in our community. Many of you already participate through “round-up” programs at your cooperatives. These foundations have provided millions of dollars to those in need across our service areas. It’s not difficult to take the next step.

Here’s a challenge for you: Don’t volunteer for the food bank only in December. Do it in the spring or summer, too. Don’t just drop off clothing for a year-end tax break. Do it in the fall when needy children go back to school.

Concern for community: Make it an everyday thing.

How renters can fight the winter chill

By Abby Berry

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 33 percent of Americans lease their homes. Unfortunately, many lease agreements forbid major alterations to rental properties. But don’t worry, renters! Consider using these low-cost, energy-efficient tips from Tennessee’s electric cooperatives to improve the efficiency of your home this winter.

Hot savings

Heating the home typically makes up about 48 percent of your utility bill. Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter – Energy.gov recommends 68 degrees Fahrenheit to boost energy efficiency.

During the winter months, take advantage of heat from sunlight. Open draperies and shades during the day to allow natural light to heat your home. Remember to close them in the evenings as the temperature drops and windowpanes become chilly.

Does your home have window air conditioning units? This winter, remember to insulate the units from the outside with a tight-fitting cover, available at your local home improvement center or hardware store. This keeps heated air from escaping outside. If desired, you can remove the window unit during winter months to prevent energy loss.

Another way to save on heating is to make sure your water heater is set at the lowest comfortable setting. Have you experienced scalding hot water when taking a shower? If so, it’s likely that your water heater is set too high – which is a waste of energy. Older models of water tanks are often not insulated, which can be easily remedied by covering them with an insulating jacket.

Bright ideas

Lighting is one of the easiest places to start saving energy, and savings are not strictly limited to winter months. Try replacing a few of your most frequently used light bulbs with ENERGY STAR-qualified lights, and save more than $65 a year in energy costs. ENERGY STAR-qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) use 75 percent less energy and last several times longer than incandescent light bulbs, saving money on energy bills and replacement costs. Practicing energy-efficient habits is another great way to reduce energy use. Always turn off your lights when leaving a room.

Other ways to save

Leasing an older home or apartment? Odds are you have single-pane windows and old or missing caulk. Don’t let the winter chill seep indoors! Apply caulk around window frames, sashes and door panels to combat air leaks. Also, be mindful when using electronics at home. Unplug devices when not in use, and use smart power strips to save on energy use. To learn more ways to be energy efficient around the home, visit togetherwesave.com.

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

‘Tis the season

‘Tis the season for family, fellowship and lots of cooking.

By Katie Kothman-Haby, CCC

No matter what or how you celebrate, energy use tends to increase over the holiday season. With more guests in your home and activities taking place, your electric meter spins a little faster than usual, costing you more money. Start the New Year off right. Celebrate the holidays efficiently so you don’t have to worry about a high electric bill.

Decorating

  • If you choose to decorate with strings of lights, consider LED (light emitting diode) options. They use over 80 percent less energy than traditional strings of lights and have a longer life. Make sure to purchase high quality strings from reputable sources. Safety and the lifetime can be compromised in less expensive LED strands.
  • Solar powered lighting options are also worth considering for decorations. Instead of having a plug handy, make sure you have a proper location for the solar panel that powers them.
  • Place strands of electric lights on timers so they automatically turn on in the evening after the sun sets, and turn them off around bed time. You won’t have to spend time thinking about plugging and unplugging them, and you won’t have to spend money powering them when unnecessary.
  • Decorate with less lighting. Consider a natural, vintage feel for your decorations. Use items like pinecones, greenery, candy canes, popcorn strings and gingerbread. The whole family can get involved with decorating the home with these safe and festive items.

2014_12_SW_Holiday-efficiency-tip-with-logoCooking

  • Cook with your microwave, toaster oven or slow cooker whenever possible. Small appliances cook quickly and more efficiently than your oven.
  • When you do use the oven, cook more than one item at a time. Have a ham, sweet potato casserole and rolls that all need to cook in the oven? Make some adjustments to cooking temperatures and times, and put all your dishes in at once to take full advantage of the heat that’s being produced.
  • Don’t peek! It’s tempting to open the oven door to check on holiday treats. Use the oven light instead, and keep the door closed. This will keep the heat where it belongs – inside the oven.
  • Glass and ceramic dishes allow you to cook food at a lower temperature than metal baking dishes. If the recipe calls for a metal baking pan and you substitute glass or ceramic cookware, reduce the temperature by about 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Have food defrosted before you cook. Simply planning ahead can cut cooking times and energy use in half. Place any frozen dishes in the refrigerator the night before so they are ready to go in the oven the next morning.

Around the house

  • Turn down your thermostat a few degrees. Extra people bustling around the home and the oven warming food will heat up your home a few extra degrees. Take advantage and adjust your thermostat accordingly. You will save some money on your bill, and your guests will still be comfortable.

Katie Kothmann Haby 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.

Local before local was cool

Autonomy & Independence: One of the Seven Cooperative Principles that give all co-ops guidance

Whether you travel across the country or prefer to stay close to your hometown, one thing you may be noticing is the emphasis on “Buy Local” campaigns. This is based on one simple fact: It’s important to support businesses that support our community.

The Small Business Administration and the research firm Civic Economics estimate that dollars spent at a locally owned business stay in the community more than three times longer than money spent at “Big Box” stores, headquartered far away from your hometown. This means your community wealth is more likely to grow by shopping locally.

Consumer cooperatives, like Tennessee’s electric cooperatives, have known this forever. We were formed in the 1930s by people across the state to serve the people that work, worship and live in this community.

A common expression among cooperators is, “If you’ve seen one co-op, you’ve seen one co-op.”  While there are many similarities between co-ops, the fact that we are controlled locally, allowing us to serve your needs, is a critically important principle.

The fourth of our Seven Cooperative Principles is: Autonomy and Independence. And that is defined as follows: Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If the co-op enters into agreements with other organizations or raises capital from external sources, it is done so based on terms that ensure democratic control by the members and maintain the cooperative’s autonomy.

This will allow us to continue to be the self-help organization envisioned by the founders of the modern cooperative movement.

In other words, for the co-op to stay a co-op it is vitally important we stay close to you, our members, to ensure we are continuing to respond to your needs. This could be through increasing energy-efficiency programs, offering renewable sources of energy and continuing our efforts to support other local businesses, schools and civic organizations.

You can be sure that electric cooperatives will not be moving operations to Mexico or China, as so many other corporations do. We began right here in Tennessee, and we plan on being here for a very long time. You can take that to the bank, or better yet, the credit union – as all credit unions are financial cooperatives. As always, we welcome your participation and suggestions about how we can improve our locally owned and controlled services.

Adam Schwartz is the founder of The Cooperative Way a consulting firm that helps co-ops succeed.  He is an author, speaker and a member-owner of the CDS Consulting Co-op.  You can follow him on Twitter @adamcooperative or email him at aschwartz@thecooperativeway.coop

Green gift-giving guide

Wondering what to buy for the person who has everything? How about a gift for an environment-friendly family member or friend? This holiday season, Tennessee’s electric cooperatives urge you to consider giving the gift of energy efficiency.

This doesn’t mean that you have to go out and replace your aunt’s refrigerator or your grandma’s washer and dryer – though you may be their favorite if you do. Giving the gift of energy efficiency can be as simple as filling their stockings, or creating a gift basket, with some of these helpful products.

LED light bulbs are the easiest way to increase efficiency in your home. From indoor bulbs for your lamps, recessed lighting and hanging fixtures to outdoor lighting, such as flood lamps and even decorative lighting strands – there’s an LED bulb for everyone.

LED lighting used to be deemed as prohibitively expensive, but prices have gone down significantly in recent years. Here are some top-rated options for energy-efficient lighting that makes everything bright!

  • GE Reveal 60 Watt Equivalent Bulb – This will run you around $18
  • Cree TW Series 60 Watt Equivalent Bulb – This will run you between $9 and $16
  • Sylvania’s Ultra HD floodlight-style bulb – This will run you between $22 and $35

Water-saving showerheads are also a great gift option. On average, Americans consume over 3 billion gallons of water daily. Switching to a water-saving showerhead could save a family of three up to $631 per year in costs and could reduce water consumption by over 2,600 gallons per year. Lack of water pressure can be a concern when giving this gift, so here are a few examples of showerheads that save water, but not at the expense of water pressure.

  • Glacier Bay 1-Spray Hand Shower – This will run you around $13
  • The Delta 1-Spray Water-Saving Showerhead – This will run you around $16
  • The Delta Arias 5-Spray Showerhead – This will run you around $37

Providing your family and friends with energy-efficiency tips along with a gift is also a great option. For example, did you know that one of the best ways to save energy in your home is to turn off all of your electronic devices? Try a TrickleStar Motion Sensor Power Strip, which costs around $30.

Supplement your gift with caulking supplies or weather strips, and before you know it, you will have the perfect energy-saving gift! All of these products are available online and at Big Box hardware stores, so get to shopping. From everyone at Tennessee’s electric cooperatives, have a happy, energy-efficient holiday!            

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.

Manufactured savings

How to boost efficiency of mobile homes

By Thomas Kirk

Manufactured homes, sometimes dubbed mobile homes, often log disproportionately higher energy bills than traditional wood-frame or modular homes.  But there are steps you can take to help manage energy costs and increase comfort.

The ways manufactured homes are designed, built, installed and operated help to explain why their levels of energy performance can be much lower than those seen in site-built homes. During construction, lower quality, less efficient materials may be used, or design specifications may not be met. Transporting a unit to a site and movement can disrupt the integrity of the original construction. Also, homes that sit on jack stands or blocks allow air to flow underneath, which compromises the structure.

Manufactured homes come in several configurations: singlewide, doublewide and triplewide. Doublewides and triplewides require a crossover duct to provide air flow between the sections—a major culprit in air leaks that contribute significantly to wasted energy.

There isn’t a magic bullet to lower the energy consumption of a manufactured home. It takes time and hard work to troubleshoot all of the possible causes of energy loss. The most common culprits and ways to remedy them are:

  • Belly board problems—In most manufactured homes, the belly board holds the insulation in place under the floor and serves as a vapor barrier.  Plumbing that runs under the floor is on the warm side of the insulation to keep it from freezing in winter. However, the belly board can be damaged by animals, deteriorate over time, or become torn, allowing the floor insulation to become moisture laden or to simply fall out, exposing ductwork and dramatically increasing energy losses. Often there is also long-term water damage from leaky pipes, toilets and showers that has compromised floor, insulation and belly board integrity. These problems must be addressed prior to basic weatherization. Replacing the belly board and repairing leaky plumbing should be the first things on your to do list.
  • Air leakage/infiltration—Infiltration of excessive outside air can be a major problem. Specific problems include deteriorated weather stripping; gaps in the “marriage wall” that joins multiple units making up the home; holes in the ends of ducts; gaps around wall registers and behind washers and dryers; and unsealed backing to the electrical panel. This is a dirty job and will require you to crawl under the home and into the attic looking for gaps. Gaps can be filled with weather stripping and insulation. You should consult your local hardware store for the exact type of insulation needed for the specific area of the home.
  • Crossover ducts—Sealing the ducts than run under the sections making up your mobile home will result in tremendous energy savings and increased comfort. Crossover ducts are often made of flexible tubing and are therefore prone to collapse and are easy for animals to chew or claw into. Crossover ducts made of thin sheet metal can leak heated or cooled air to the great outdoors, which is what happens when ductwork connections are made with duct tape. Repairs are generally easy, using either special duct sealant or metal tape that can be found at most home improvement stores. If you can afford the upgrade, consider replacing a flexible crossover duct with metal ductwork.
  • Lack of insulation—Insulation levels and associated R-values in walls, floors and ceilings in manufactured homes can be woefully inadequate. If it is easily accessible, adding additional insulation to ceiling and floors will help. However, adding insulation to walls will be a problem without major renovations that are often not cost justified.
  • Uninsulated ductwork—Ductwork itself may not be wrapped with insulation, allowing heating and cooling losses. Wrapping ductwork will lead to energy savings. You should be able to find insulation specifically made for ductwork at your local hardware store.
  • Single-glazed windows and uninsulated doors—Most manufactured homes come with single-glazed windows and uninsulated doors, which have a low R-value. That means the rate of heat transfer between finished interior spaces and the outdoors is higher than what’s ideal. Replacing the windows with double- or triple-glazed windows or adding storm windows will help make the home more comfortable. An insulated door will also help. However, these solutions can be very expensive. At a minimum, you should add weather stripping to doors and windows. Also, a window film kit is a cheap and easy-to-install upgrade that will help to keep winter winds out of the home.
  • Heat absorbing roof—In areas where you need to frequently run the AC unit, you can save by installing a white roof or cool roof coating.  These roofs reflect more sunlight to keep manufactured homes cooler.  Many cool roof coatings can be brushed or rolled on like paint and are easy to apply on metal roofs.  The cost of roof coatings varies depending on how reflective they are, and how long they will last- choose a coating that is appropriate for your climate.

It may take a couple of weekends and a few hundred dollars, but basic repairs can yield significant savings. Savings of up to 50 percent have been reported in manufactured homes that have been properly sealed and had old electric furnaces replaced with new electric heat pumps. The key is to get out there and start hunting for the savings lurking under, over and inside your manufactured home.

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