Tennessee co-ops make contribution to Louisiana co-op employee fund

More than 40 electric co-op employees in Louisiana have lost their homes following devastating floods. Today, Tennessee’s electric cooperatives made a $10,000 donation to a fund established by the Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives to assist co-op employees.

“On multiple occasions, Louisiana co-ops have enthusiastically answered our call for help following storms and other events, and our thoughts and prayers are with them this week,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “We encourage co-ops across the nation to join us in supporting Louisiana co-ops. Co-op Nation is strongest when we support one another.”

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association provides legislative and communications support for Tennessee’s 23 electric cooperatives and publishes The Tennessee Magazine, the state’s most widely circulated periodical. Visit tnelectric.org or tnmagazine.org to learn more.

Co-ops pull together at Super Pull

Tens of thousands of people attended the 2016 Lions’ Club Super Pull of the South in Chapel Hill on Friday and Saturday, July 22 and 23. The event was sponsored by the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives of Tennessee and TECA.

More than 70 volunteers from Tennessee’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives volunteered to make the event a success. At the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives of Tennessee booth, members registered to win a riding lawn more and learned about electric safety and efficiency. Visitors could win tubes of caulk, LED lightbulbs or receptacle gaskets while learning about energy efficiency and TVA’s eScore program. The Touchstone Energy hot air balloon team flew over the stands with the American flag during the opening ceremony and gave tethered rides each evening.

“I was very impressed by the spirit of cooperation and community commitment demonstrated by our volunteers. The support was tremendous,” says Steve Oden, director of member services for Duck River EMC. “We thank everyone who spent two hot days under the Tennessee Touchstone Energy Electric Cooperatives tent or helping with the hot air balloon.”

“It was encouraging to see our co-ops work together on this event,” says Trent Scott, vice president of corporate strategy for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “The partnership between Touchstone Energy, co-ops and TECA allowed us to have a presence and reach our members in ways that no single co-op could have done. We are exploring additional opportunities for us to work together to tell the story of Tennessee co-ops.”

The Windshield or the Rear View Mirror?

When you’re driving down the road, do you spend more time looking out your windshield or your rear view mirror? Well, if you’re doing it right –the windshield receives far more attention than the mirror. It’s good to glance at where you’ve been, but far more important to see what lies ahead.

It’s important for any company to plan for the future, but it is extremely important for a utility that provides an essential service for a community. The decisions you make have lasting impact to the communities we serve. If we spend too much time resting on the laurels of past victories, we fail too see the needs of the future.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson reminded us of this responsibility on July 14, 1965:

“America and Americans, if they are going to continue to provide the leadership for the free world, must constantly look to the future.

So in our society today we serve no really useful purpose by keeping alive differences and divisions of yesteryear. We don’t need to cling to the issues of the past. We do need to take hold of the issues of the future.

Now what does this mean to the rural electrification program, of which you are a part and which has filled a very vital role in the strengthening of this Nation and in the development of this Nation?

Well, you just cannot rest on the past. You must not just content yourselves with remembering old battles, or castigating old enemies, or parroting old slogans. None of us can do that and survive, whether we are business people, or laborers, or farmers, or politicians–but, least of all, men and women who are part of something that is as dynamic as the rural electric cooperatives.”

“So what do you need to do? You need to look far into the future–beyond 1965 or 1966 or 1970. And you really can’t look far into the future, and you really cannot provide the leadership that you ought to provide, and you really cannot be a doer if you just ask yourself constantly, “What will I get out of this?” and “How does it serve me?” You have got to be selfless.

You have got to have a desire and an ambition to help people who can’t help themselves if you are to provide the leadership that we need in the 20th century. You need to look to the America of 1980, and what it is going to be like, not just let it slip up on us–and 1990. You must look to the year 2000, when the clock turns and a new century begins. You must take the lead, therefore, in planning today for what is going to happen 35 years from now. You must take the lead in planning for a fuller utilization of rural America–providing the power and the services to meet your share of the future’s demands.”

Those words are as true today as they were in 1965. Electrifying a nation is an impressive accomplishment. No one recognized that, or was more involved with it, than President Johnson. Yet he saw the need for turning the focus to the future. Challenges remain for our rural communities and we have to be the leaders that meet those challenges.

Flickr image Rearview Sunrise by BrianKhoury

Tennessee Magazine gets the Willies

The Tennessee Magazine staff took home awards of merit for best photo and best editorial at the Willie Award Ceremony held Monday evening, Aug. 11, at the The National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The National Rural Electric Statewide Editors Association Willie Awards is a peer-reviewed program that recognizes excellence in electric cooperative statewide consumer publications.

TECA Executive Vice President and General Manager David Callis received an award of merit for best editorial for Resiliency (Oct. 2015), and Robin Conover, vice president of communications and editor of The Tennessee Magazine, received best photo for this image from The Lions Roar (July 2015).

“Our staff works very hard to create quality content for the readers of The Tennessee Magazine,” says Conover. “Keeping readers engaged with interesting features, editorials and photography is our goal each month. It’s exciting to be recognized by our peers.”

Electric co-ops help offer a place and a prize for research on greenhouse gases

What if carbon dioxide from burning coal at power plants could be contained and turned into something useful?

A group of electric co-ops and other partners who want to investigate that issue recently broke ground on a research facility at the Dry Fork Station, a power plant in northeast Wyoming owned by Basin Electric Power Cooperative.

More than a dozen sites around the globe now study “carbon capture” as one possible solution to climate change, but they generally don’t offer the real-world conditions the Integrated Test Center partners say their site will offer when it’s finished next summer.

The facility will allow researchers to place equipment that can test ways to grab carbon dioxide from a working power plant and use it in ways the world might find valuable.

In addition to Basin Electric’s involvement, financial support comes from Denver-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. The state of Wyoming has been the main funder and organizer of the test center, and another key partner is the XPRIZE Foundation.

XPRIZE Foundation is an organization that seeks “radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity.”

In the past, it has offered cash prizes for space travel and health innovations. More recently it announced two $10 million prizes for “transformational approaches to converting (carbon dioxide) emissions into valuable products.”

The carbon XPRIZE will be awarded in 2020, but this past spring’s preliminary deadline has already produced several applicants, says Dr. Paul Bunje, principal scientist and senior director of energy and environment at XPRIZE. He says those entries have come from “big corporations, garage tinkerers, universities and small and medium-sized businesses.”

The variety of planned research includes using carbon dioxide to make fuels, ingredients in chemical processes, or thin, extremely strong “supermaterials” of the future.

XPRIZE contestants will begin moving equipment to the test center in the summer of 2018, says Dr. Marcius Extavour, XPRIZE director of technical operations. And what will that look like?

“Some of the equipment will be tall and skinny, some of it low and wide,” says Extavour. “Some of it might be in a smooth steel case, others will be exposed pipes, others will be, who knows what?”

To read more about the carbon XPRIZE, visit www.carbon.xprize.org.

Paul Wesslund writes on cooperative 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.