Co-ops light state fair midway

Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation lineman James Crowder flipped a ceremonial switch to light the midway at the 2016 Tennessee State Fair on Friday, Sept. 9.

CEMC lineman Jame Crowder lights the midway during the opening ceremony of the 2016 Tennessee State Fair.

CEMC lineman Jame Crowder lights the midway during the opening ceremony of the 2016 Tennessee State Fair.

Attendees of the opening ceremony heard from legislators and elected officials, including Nashville Mayor Megan Berry and Robin Conover, editor of The Tennessee Magazine.

“Like the fair, electric cooperatives have a tradition service and innovation,” said Conover. “Our local cooperatives are leaders in their communities and are constantly working to find new and creative ways to better serve their members. Tennessee’s electric co-ops make a significant impact on the state’s rural counties and small towns. We serve more than 2.5 million Tennesseans, and our service areas cover 71 percent of the state. We provide jobs for 2,600 employees and pay more than $63 million in taxes. We also keep the lights on 99.96 percent of the time and invest about $10 million each month in infrastructure. Clearly, we believe each small town and community plays its own vital role in the fabric of Tennessee.”

Co-op linemen from across the state presented “Everyday Safe” demonstrations during the fair, educating students, farmers, first responders and others on the importance of electric safety.

“For more than 150 years, the fair has been a celebration of rural Tennessee life,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “It is where World War I hero Sgt. Alvin York showed his prize Hereford and generations have marked the beginning of autumn. It is an honor for Tennessee’s electric co-ops to be a part of this great event.”

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Farm safety tips

Fall can be a busy time on the farm, but it only takes a few seconds to be sure everyone stays safe. Follow these tips to protect lives and equipment:

  • Keep equipment at least 10 feet from lines – at all times, in all directions.
  • Inspect the height of the farm equipment to determine clearance.
  • Always use a spotter when operating large machinery near lines.
  • Use care when raising augers or the beds of grain trucks around power lines.
  • Always remember to lower extensions to the lowest setting when moving loads.
  • Never attempt to move a power line out of the way or raise it for clearance.
  • If a power line is sagging or low, call the local utility immediately.
  • If your equipment does hit a power line, stay in the cab. Call 911, warn others to stay away and wait for the utility crew to cut the power.  If a fire or other situation makes it necessary to leave, jump clear and move away.

When in doubt, contact your local electric co-op for help. Find more electric safety tips at everydaysafe.org.

Energy-saving technologies

What does the home of the future look like to you? Perhaps the home of George and Jane Jetson comes to mind, where dinner and laundry are taken care of with the mere press of a button.

Today, the average home may not quite be “Jetsons-esque,” but household appliances are becoming smarter and more energy efficient than ever before. A growing number of appliances now connect to the internet and offer new capabilities. In many cases, purchasing a new television, refrigerator or other large appliance will result in lower energy use, assuming you properly dispose of the old appliance. Many of these smart appliances offer features aimed at comfort, convenience and sometimes, energy savings.

Manufacturers are adding communication modules inside many appliances, which often use Wi-Fi to communicate simple messages to a home’s wireless network. The messages vary from device to device, but typically include energy usage information, power control and thermostat settings. Efficiency-savvy consumers can potentially save energy and money using one of these systems.

The bulk of the savings will come from the ability to remotely control your air conditioning system’s thermostat. Studies have shown that consumers generally do not program their programmable thermostat, but smart phone apps associated with internet-enabled thermostats are often easier to use. These thermostats can also learn your daily routine by sensing when you are away from home and adjusting your thermostat to save energy and money.

There are many devices you can install in your home’s electric panel that can educate you on the energy consumption of various appliances. These in-home monitoring devices provide more information to consumers about their household energy costs and have been shown to help people reduce their energy consumption. One study of 36 energy feedback programs concluded that when presented with information on energy consumption, consumers reduce their home energy use by an average of 4 to 12 percent. Consumers should note that in-home monitoring devices should be installed by a licensed and qualified electrician.

Technology by itself will not save a significant amount of energy, but other activities, such as weather sealing and turning off lights when not in use, will save significant amounts of energy and money. Technology has an important role to play, but the key will be finding the right mix of technologies that fit your lifestyle and budget.

Brian Sloboda is a program manger specializing in energy efficiency for the Business Technology Strategies (BTS), a service of the Arlington, Va.-based National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Callis addresses TVA board, discusses energy efficiency

During the regular TVA board of directors meeting on Thursday, August 25, David Callis, executive vice president and general manager for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, expressed appreciation to the TVA board for viewing energy efficiency as a generated resource. Callis also thanked TVA staff for their support of an energy efficiency program being developed by Tennessee’s electric cooperatives that will help low-income homeowners make needed improvements to their homes.

“Most businesses don’t want you to use less of what they are selling,” said Callis. “But that is what we have been trying to do – you at TVA and us as local power companies – and that is where energy efficiency comes into play.”

“Over the past year and a half, Tennessee’s electric cooperatives have been working closely with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation on a program that has the potential to improve the energy efficiency of hundreds, even thousands, of homes across the valley,” said Callis. “The best part of this program is that it targets families that don’t have the financial resources to make those improvements on their own and are unlikely to qualify for (other) loans.”

“TVA staff has been fantastic,” Callis concluded. “It has been a collaborative process from the beginning.”