2014 Annual Meeting

NASHVILLE – The 73rd annual meeting of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association was held Sunday – Tuesday, Nov. 23 – 25, at the Nashville Airport Marriott. The theme of the meeting was “Powering Everyday Life,” and Dan Rodamaker, president and CEO of Gibson Electric Membership Corporation and president of the TECA board of trustees, called the meeting to order.

Representatives from 23 member systems and one associate member were present for the business meeting. Rodamaker and TECA General Manager David Callis, the resolutions committee, TECA staff and representatives from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative presented reports and updates.

Elections were held for four-year positions on the TECA board of trustees. John Collins, general manager of Chickasaw Electric Cooperative, was elected from Region I. Joe Mullins, Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation board member, was elected from Region II. Joe Atwood, Mountain Electric Cooperative board member, was elected from Region III.

Jim Code, general manager of Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, Johnnie Ruth Elrod, director at Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative and Randell Myers, CEO and general manager of Powell Valley Electric Cooperative, were elected to the TECA board of trustees.

“Congratulations to those who have been chosen for leadership roles,” said Callis. “We appreciate their service and are confident they will provide sound direction and represent Tennessee’s electric cooperatives with honor.”

Throughout the year, TECA presents training and education programs for cooperative directors. Recognized at this year’s annual meeting, board members receiving Credentialed Cooperative Director status were Lee Armstrong, Plateau EC; Brian Boyatt, Plateau EC; Ronnie Fisher, Forked Deer EC; Bobby Gravitt, Sequachee Valley EC; Joseph Miller, Tri-County EMC; Edward Oliver, Cumberland EMC; Tom Perkey, Middle Tennessee EMC; Andrew Porch, Meriwether Lewis EC; Angela Talent, Fort Loudoun EC; and Gerald Taylor, Tennessee Valley EC. Board members receiving the more involved Board Leadership certification were J. Steve Roller, Caney Fork EC; Michael Mason, Cumberland EMC; Joe Tucker, Duck River EMC; Janine Wilson, Fayetteville PU; James R. Pugh, Fort Loudoun EC; Keith Carnahan, Meriwether Lewis EC; Zach Hutchins, Meriwether Lewis EC; Brian Boyatt, Plateau EC; Dave Cross, Plateau EC; Walter Barnes, Sequachee Valley EC; Paul Jaggers, Tennessee Valley EC; Kevin Staggs, Tennessee Valley EC; Wilbur Storey, Tennessee Valley EC; Joseph Miller, Tri-County EC; and James West, Upper Cumberland EMC.

The Tennessee Magazine reception, featuring products made or produced in Tennessee, was held on Sunday evening, Nov. 23. Attendees to this year’s meeting also heard from Jack McCall, humorist and motivational speaker; Mark Aesch, business leader and writer; and Sen. Bob Corker.

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.

[button link=”http://teca.smugmug.com/TECA-Annual-Meeting/TECA-Annual-Meeting-2014/”]View photos from the meeting →[/button]

Tamper Resistant Receptacles

What are Tamper Resistant Receptacles (TRRs)?

They may look like standard outlets, but tamper resistant receptacles, or TRRs, are different. Their most distinguishable feature – a built-in shutter system that prevents foreign objects from being inserted – sets them apart. Only a plug that applies simultaneous, equal pressure to both slots will disengage the cover plates, allowing access to the contact points.  Without this synchronized pressure, the cover plates remain closed.

While a child’s curiosity knows no boundaries, it can sometimes put them in peril, especially when electricity is involved.  Located in practically every room of the house, electrical outlets and receptacles are fixtures, but they also represent potential hazards for children.

In recent years, more homes have been equipping their electrical outlets with TRRs, but in many public facilities, like hospital pediatric wards, these safeguards have been required for more than 20 years. Their efficiency also prompted the National Electrical Code to make TRRs standard in all new home construction. Existing homes can be easily retrofitted with TRRs using the same installation guidelines that apply to standard receptacles. TRRs should only be installed by a licensed electrician and should carry a label from a nationally recognized, independent testing lab such as UL, ETL, or CSA.

TRRs by the Numbers

  • Each year 2,400 children suffer severe shock and burns resulting from inserting objects into the slots of electrical receptacles. That’s nearly seven children a day.
  • It is estimated that 6-12 child fatalities result from children tampering electrical receptacles.
  • Installing a TRR in a newly constructed home is only about 50₵ more than a traditional receptacle.
  • Existing homes can be retrofitted with TRRs for as little as $2.00 per outlet.

For more information on TRRS, visit www.esfi.org.

Unwrap winter energy savings

by Amber Bentley

The holidays are upon us! It’s that special time of year when we spend a great deal of time with friends and family, either in the kitchen or out and about shopping for the perfect gift. As you find yourself wrapped up in the holiday excitement, Tennessee’s electric cooperatives remind you of a few ways to be energy efficient during this busy time of year.

Cooking efficiently

  • Be kind to your oven. Every time you open the oven door to check on that dish, the temperature inside is reduced by as much as 25 degrees. This forces the oven to use more energy in order to get back to the proper cooking temperature. Try keeping the door closed as much as possible. Also, remember to take advantage of residual heat for the last five to 10 minutes of baking time – this is another way to save energy use. If you’re using a ceramic or glass dish, you can typically set your oven 25 degrees lower than stated, since these items hold more heat than metal pans.
  • Give your burners some relief. The metal reflectors under your stovetop burners should always be clean. If not, this will prevent your stove from working as effectively as it should.
  • Utilize small appliances. During the holidays, the main appliances used are the oven and stovetop. Try using your slow cooker, microwave, toaster oven or warming plate more often. This will result in substantial energy savings.

Home efficiency

  • Take advantage of heat from the sun. Open your curtains during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill from cold windows.
  • Find and seal all air leaks. Check areas near pipes, gaps around chimneys, cracks near doors and windows and any unfinished places.
  • Maintain your heating system. Schedule services for your heating system before it gets too cold to find out what maintenance you may need to keep your system operating efficiently.
  • Eliminate “vampire energy” waste. When you are not using an appliance or an electronic, unplug it to save energy. Power strips are definitely a good investment for your home.

Efficient shopping

  • Purchase LED holiday lights. A string of traditional lights uses 36 watts of power and a string of LED lights only uses 5 watts. They can even last up to 10 times longer!
  • Ask for Energy Star-rated TVs and appliances. This will save you a lot of power use because the standby-mode is lower and the device will use less energy overall.
  • Combine errands to reduce the number of small trips. To-do lists seem to pile up around this time of the year. Believe it or not, several short trips in the winter can use twice as much fuel as one longer trip covering the same distance as all of the shorter ones.

Being energy efficient is usually not top priority when celebrating the holidays, and most of us don’t realize the lack of efficiency until the next bill comes in. Prevent your post-holiday shock this year by thinking creatively and remembering all of these tips!

Amber Bentley writes on energy efficiency issues 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.

Holiday cooking safety tips

The kitchen is the heart of the home. Sadly, it’s also where two out of every five home fires start. Many home fires occur during what’s supposed to be the happiest time of the year – the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas and Christmas Eve hold a tradition of cooking, and safety should always be considered in the kitchen. As we embark on the holiday season, Tennessee’s Electric Cooperatives and the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) urge you to use these simple safety tips to identify and correct potential kitchen hazards:

  • Never leave cooking equipment unattended, and always remember to turn off burners if you have to leave the room.
  • Supervise the little ones closely in the kitchen. Make sure children stay at least three feet away from all cooking appliances.
  • Prevent potential fires by making sure your stovetop and oven are clean and free of grease, dust and spilled food.
  • Remember to clean the exhaust hood and duct over your stove on a regular basis.
  • Keep the cooking area around the stove and oven clear of combustibles, such as towels, napkins and potholders.
  • Always wear short or close-fitting sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can catch fire.
  • To protect from spills and burns, use the back burners and turn the pot handles in, away from reaching hands.
  • Locate all appliances away from the sink.
  • Plug countertop appliances into ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)-protected outlets.
  • Keep appliance cords away from hot surfaces like the range or toaster.
  • Unplug the toaster and other countertop appliances when not in use.
  • Be sure to turn off all appliances when cooking is completed.

For more important safety tips to keep you and your family safe this holiday season and throughout the year, visit www.esfi.org.

The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is a 501(c) (3) organization dedicated exclusively to promoting electrical safety in the home, school, and workplace. ESFI proudly engages in public education campaigns throughout the year to prevent electrical fires, injuries and fatalities.

 

safetytips

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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We want you to know

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of scams targeting our consumers’ pocketbooks. In one, a caller posing as a co-op employee threatens to shut off service unless the member provides immediate payment using a reloadable debit card, prepaid gift card or online payment service like PayPal. That’s not the way that we operate. Education and communication help reduce the number of victims, but some of our members still fall prey.

There are other schemes that fall into a category somewhere between outright scam and shady marketing. Many are legitimate products that truly help manage and lower energy usages; such as programmable thermostats, energy efficient appliances, timers, etc.

Unfortunately, many are not. When the first pitch is “What The Electric Companies Don’t Want You To Know“, there is a good chance that the product is questionable. The implication is that we are out to steal our members’ money.

Fact: We want our members to have lower electric bills. It’s just sometimes difficult to convince them of that fact.

As member-owned, non-profit cooperatives, we operate on margins that don’t include paying dividends to investors. We don’t have to generate record profits to increase our stock price. Every dollar taken in is used in running the system or re-invested back into the distribution system.

We encourage our members to use less electricity. What other business has that type of business plan?

When energy saving devices can cut electric bills – we want everyone to know about them. Electric cooperatives frequently gave away compact fluorescent or LED lights; we provide free advice on energy efficiency; we promote geothermal heating and cooling systems that can dramatically reduce your electricity consumption. We do everythiing we can to help our members use less electricity.

And despite what our members have been told, electric cooperatives and TVA encourage the use of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. We need coal, but that’s not all we’re about.

The bottom line is that we are concerned about our members’ bottom line. Our primary concern has always been keeping the lights on. That concern isn’t limited to keeping the power flowing, it also means keeping energy affordable.

So, the next time you see the phrase, “what your utility doesn’t want you to know,” tell your members to put their hand on your pocketbook. As we’re doing that, let’s make an extra effort to educate them on the measures that they can take to lower their bill – that’s something that we do want them to know.

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.

Draft dodgers: Weather stripping your home

By Amber Bentley

There is no doubt about it; the cold weather is on its way. Not only is it important to make sure that your heating unit is working properly, but you should check your home to make sure that none of that heat is escaping.

When the weather turns colder, drafts around windows and doors are constantly letting in cool air. Most people will immediately want to raise their thermostat even higher; however, that will cause you to use more energy when you don’t necessarily need to. The best solution is to weather strip your home. This is typically an easy fix that will eliminate energy waste and help you save on your monthly electric bill.

Sometimes drafts are obvious, and other times the openings are much smaller. Here are two quick ways to find out if heat is escaping from your home. For doors, look for daylight between the door and its frame, if you see even a hint of light in between the two, you need to weather strip that area. For windows, place a piece of paper between the sash and the seal then close it. If you can remove the piece of paper from the window without ripping it, you need to weather strip that area as well.

The great thing about all of this is that weather stripping is easy! There is an assortment of materials available to you (like rubber, foam, metal, etc.) and they are all inexpensive. Once you have purchased what you need, keep the following in mind before you begin weather stripping: be sure the surface is dry and clean, measure the area more than once for best accuracy, and apply so that strips compress both sides of the window or door.

To weather strip windows:

  • Place the stripping between the frame and the sash.
  • Be sure that it compresses the window when shut.
  • Check to make sure that the stripping does not interfere with the moving of the window.

To weather strip doors:

  • Choose the proper sweeps and thresholds for your door.
  • Weather-strip the entire door jamb.
  • Make sure the stripping meets tightly at both corners.
  • Use a thickness that allows for a tight press between the door and the ground, but one that does not make the door difficult to shut.

Roughly half of the energy that your home uses comes from heating and cooling. So the next time you feel an uncomfortable draft in your home, do not immediately crank up the heat. Check to find out where the draft is coming from and properly weather strip the area. This will ultimately save you more energy and more money in the end.

Weather_stripping_Info_graphic

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.

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.