INFOGRAPHIC: Power sources

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

 

 

 

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Co-ops light our lives — and the midway

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

The Tennessee State Fair is a celebration of rural life. Last month, Tennessee’s electric cooperatives had the opportunity to help flip the switch and “light the midway” during the fair’s opening ceremony. It was only fitting that rural electric cooperatives were on hand to turn on the lights.

It was a perfect representation of what more than 2,600 electric co-op employees do each day across the state. The power they provide does more than chase away darkness — it powers the technology and innovation that connect us, it creates opportunity for jobs and commerce and it ensures the safety, comfort and convenience we often take for granted.

“Princess” Zoe Redington and Gibson EMC lineman John Spence flip the switch to light the midway at the 2014 Tennessee State Fair. Looking on are, from left, Zoe’s mom, Heather Redington, Beth Torres with Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee and David Callis with the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association.

“Princess” Zoe Redington and Gibson EMC lineman John Spence flip the switch to light the midway at the 2014 Tennessee State Fair. Looking on are, from left, Zoe’s mom, Heather Redington, Beth Torres with Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee and David Callis with the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association.

A lot goes on behind the scenes to get power to your home. There are people like John Spence, the Gibson EMC lineman who helped turn on the switch at the state fair. There are engineers, member service representatives, foresters and communicators who work together to make a very complex job look easy.

Success for them means the lights come on when you flip the switch and your bill is affordable when it arrives in your mailbox. It’s challenging work, but we know that low-cost, reliable electricity is critical for our rural and suburban communities.

You can learn more about our continuing efforts to keep power affordable and reliable on page 6.

During the fair’s opening ceremony, we had a chance to meet wish ambassador Zoe Redington, a young lady struggling with a serious medical condition. Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee granted her wish to go to Disneyland earlier this year. Zoe embodied the princesses she met at Disneyland by wearing her tiara and sharing her wish experience. I encourage you to learn more about Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee’s work at middletennessee.wish.org.

The rural roots we celebrated at the Tennessee State Fair are a part of our DNA as electric cooperatives. In the 1930s, when no one else would do it, farmers and rural residents built the grids that electrified the countryside, building the cooperative model that still powers much of Tennessee.

That self-sufficient character of rural residents is something you can’t really explain; you have to experience it.

EPA grants comment extension

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

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

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

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

Celebration of Rural Life

by David Callis, executive vice president and general manager

The Tennessee State Fair is a celebration of rural life. Recently we had the opportunity to help flip the switch and “light the midway” during the fair’s opening ceremony. It was only fitting that rural electric cooperatives were on hand to turn on the lights.

It was a perfect representation of what more than 2,600 electric co-op employees do each day across the state. The power we provide does more than chase away darkness – it powers the technology and innovation that connects us, it creates opportunity for jobs and commerce, and it ensures the safety, comfort and convenience that we often take for granted.

A lot goes on behind the scenes to get power to your home. There are people like John Spence, the Gibson EMC lineman who helped turn on the switch. There are engineers, member service representatives, foresters and communicators who work together to make a very complex job look easy.

Success means that the lights come on when our members flip the switch and their bill is affordable when it arrives in the mailbox.

Too often, our continued success is jeopardized by politicians and bureaucrats in Nashville or Washington. That is why our Take Action campaign is so important. If you have not already, please visit takeactionTN.com and submit your comments to the EPA on the Rule 111(D).

During the opening ceremony, we had a chance to meet Zoe, a young lady struggling with a serious medical condition. Her wish of being a princess came true as she proudly wore her tiara on stage with us. Her moment was made possible by the incredible efforts of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I encourage you to learn more about their work at middletennessee.wish.org.

The rural roots we celebrated at the state fair are a part of our DNA as electric cooperatives. The self-sufficient character of rural residents is something you can’t really explain; you have to experience it.

Co-ops light midway at state fair

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Download a high-resolution photo here.

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

Energy efficiency workshop

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

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

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

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

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

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

About TECA

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

 

Download high-resolution photo here.

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

 

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

Are you grounded? GFCI outlets can help!

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

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

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

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

Sources: Electrical Safety Foundation International, Consumer Product Safety Commission

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

Saving energy on entertainment

Many homes boast TVs and sound systems that can rival any football stadium and many movie theaters. People can save hundreds of dollars a year by watching movies at home rather than going to the local theater. Luckily, there are simple steps to saving even more money if you manage the power consumption of your home entertainment system.

Many of the devices in your home entertainment system and your computer system use energy when they are turned off. This is commonly called parasitic load or vampire load. According to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the average home loses 8 percent of its monthly energy consumption to these energy vampires.

Your devices use power when turned off because the electronics inside the devices are still working. What these devices are doing and the amount of energy used when turned off varies. It could be that they are remembering the last channel that you viewed, remembering the language you speak or trying to turn on faster. Devices such as TVs and DVD players will often have power settings in the setup menu. Try to find that menu and adjust the settings to save more power. Generally this will cause the device to take a few more seconds to start. Many manufacturers have power settings turned off by default.

Microwave ovens and alarm clocks, which use relatively small amounts of standby power, are acceptable to leave plugged in. A digital video recorder (DVR) uses a fairly significant amount of power when turned off, but if you record programs frequently, you will want to leave it plugged in too.

You don’t have to worry about unplugging items with mechanical on/off switches, such as lamps, hair dryers or small kitchen appliances like toasters or mixers―they don’t draw any power when turned off.

How do you slay other energy vampires? Try plugging household electronics like personal computers, monitors, printers, speakers, stereos, DVD and video game players and cell phone chargers into power strips. Not only do power strips protect sensitive electronic components from power surges, but you can quickly turn off several items at once.

Of course, using a power strip is a manual process and is an all-or-nothing option. A variation on the power strip is the “smart strip.” Smart power strips allow you to plug devices into a specially marked section of the power strip so they will still have power when turned off. Other devices that can be turned off safely are plugged into the rest of the strip. This allows you to turn off parts of a home entertainment system, such as the stereo, DVD player or home theater audio system without losing the ability to record programs to a DVR or having to reprogram the television every time you want to watch a show.

Of course, there’s always a catch. Some devices use standby power to make life more convenient. If you unplug your television or cable/satellite receiver box, what happens? When plugged back in, the TV or box usually will have to run its initial setup program. Depending on the particular device, it could take up to 20 minutes for channels to be recognized or for the user to reset preferences, which isn’t something most people are willing to do every day. For these devices, look for the Energy Star label. If your cable or satellite box doesn’t have it, call your provider and request a new one. Make sure they give it to you for free. TV providers want to keep your business, and they most likely will not let you change providers over something simple, such as a new cable or satellite box.

Entertaining doesn’t have to drain your budget. The money saved by eliminating the energy vampires in your home may be enough to go out and see a movie. But it may still be not enough to afford that extra-large popcorn!

Brian Sloboda is a program manger specializing in energy efficiency for the Cooperative Research Network, a service of the Arlington, Va.-based National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

The Cooperative Research Network monitors, evaluates, and applies technologies that help electric cooperatives control costs, increase productivity, and enhance service to their consumers.

Using energy efficient window treatments

Part science, part style

A recent study by two federal agencies used rigorous science and analysis to dissect window-covering choices—how you use them, where you install them and whether they really save energy. These days, every penny counts, which is why Tennessee’s electric cooperatives always recommend finding ways to be energy efficient around the house.

“Windows account for 25 to 40 percent of annual heating and cooling costs, especially in older homes,” says Trent Scott, director of corporate strategy for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Blinds, shades, films and drapes are all good options to consider if old or inefficient windows can’t be replaced.”

According to a joint government and industry research effort (including the U.S. Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Window Covering Manufacturers Association), window coverings—blinds, shades, curtains and awnings—could save significant amounts of energy at a relatively low cost to the consumer. Researchers next want to quantify how much energy consumer households could save based on the dominant types of window coverings used, in which climate zones people live and how U.S. households currently operate their window treatments. In the meantime, you may want to give your window treatments a second look when it comes to cooling, heating and comfort in your home.

“It’s important to remember that location, placement and materials are key,” said Scott. “Windows facing west let in the hottest light and need the most coverage, while windows facing south are the most important natural light source and only need light coverage.”

Drapery.  During the winter months and in cold climates, draperies work best. Their ability to reduce heat loss depends on fabric type (closed or open weave), color, the season and other factors. Keeping drapes drawn during the winter, especially at night, could save up to 10 percent of heat loss from a warm room. When hanging draperies, make sure they are placed as close to windows as possible to reduce heat exchange and that they are long enough to fall onto a windowsill or floor.

Shades. Shades—pleated or cellular, quilted roller and dual—are one of the simplest product choices for insulating rooms. But depending on the material, some are more energy efficient than others. Cellular or pleated shades are one example of an energy efficient choice. They can help keep air from either entering or escaping your home. Dual shades—highly reflective (white) on one side and heat absorbing (dark) on the other side—are also energy efficient and can be reversed with the seasons. In the summer, lower shades on sunlit windows. Shades on the south side of a house should be raised in the winter during the day, then lowered at night.

Interior blinds. Because of their spacing and openings, blinds tend to be more effective at reducing summer heat gain than winter heat loss. But the level of cooling and heating can also be influenced by the position of the slats. When completely closed and lowered at a sun-filled window, for example, heat gain can be reduced by around 45 percent, according to industry estimates. Slats can also be adjusted to block and reflect sunlight onto a light-colored ceiling.

Window film. Residential window films can be high-end and permanent or inexpensive and temporary solutions to improve the energy efficiency of windows. Clear solar-control window films can block up to 84 percent of the solar energy that would normally enter through windows, according to the International Window Film Association, a nonprofit organization of window film dealers, distributors and manufacturers. When installed well, you may not even know some types of film have been applied to your interior windows, manufacturers say, but they’re working year-round to block ultraviolet light in summer and retain warmth in the winter.

With these and other carefully selected window treatments, you can reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer – keeping your house comfortable and your energy bills lower. To find out more ways to save, contact your local electric cooperative.

Sources: U.S. Department of Energy, Energy.gov, and “Residential Windows and Window Coverings: A Detailed View” September 2013 Report (http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2013/11/f5/residential_windows_coverings.pdf)

B. Denise Hawkins 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.

Early Decisions

Mike Knotts, director of government affairs

For the past 20 years, Tennesseans have become much more accustomed to early voting. It’s become an accepted part of the election process in our state. No longer a novelty, early voting requires much less explanation and helps voters avoid the long lines often encountered on Election Day. Because more than half of all ballots cast in our elections occur during the early-voting period, candidates have changed how they conduct their campaigns.

Early voting often allows the results of the election to be accurately predicted at the exact moment the polls close rather than waiting a few hours for each county commission to actually count all the votes cast.

Oddly, in the current political climate across Tennessee, we are starting to receive these results of elections months, not hours, ahead of time. How could that be? As we learned in our high school civics classes, for all offices that are elected in partisan elections, there must first be a primary election to determine the candidates that will represent the Republican and Democrat parties. Typically, these elections are held in August. Then a general election is held in November to determine the person who will ultimately hold the office.

More and more, it seems that many elected offices are essentially being decided in the primary election. There are many reasons for this: Demographic changes, population shifts and decennial redistricting are among them. But what is frequently occurring is that while more than one candidate may run in a primary election, there will be no representative of the other political party to run in the general election. If there is an opposing candidate in the general election, there are now many districts that vote so overwhelmingly for one political party that the general election is simply a formality.

mapSo, we are learning who will represent us earlier and earlier than ever. It is certainly noteworthy that the decision about who will represent your interests in the U.S. Congress and in the Tennessee Legislature are often happening in the August rather than the November election. If you don’t vote in the primary election, you may not be participating in the selection of your elected representative. The map below shows a county-by-county breakdown of the percentage of registered voters who participated in the August 2014 primary election in Tennessee. Across Tennessee, only 903,000 of the nearly 4 million registered voters voted in the U.S. Senate primary. Take a look at your county and see how many of your neighbors actually voted. Did you?

From the perspective of your electric cooperative, the map does provide some good news. The darker colors represent higher levels of turnout, and the lighter colors represent a lower percentage of voters actually casting their ballots. On the whole, this map shows higher turnout in rural counties and lower turnout in the large cities and metropolitan areas.

That is encouraging, given that population growth in the larger cities has been outpacing growth in Tennessee’s rural communities. As this trend in population change continues and subsequent redistricting occurs, the collective political strength of rural Tennessee could be diminished. The only way to combat this trend is for more rural citizens to actually exercise their rights and vote. I hope you will continue to do so.