The most wonderful time of the year can also be the most stressful—particularly when it comes to keeping your kids safe through parties, presents, travel, and meals. Follow these tips from the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) to protect your little ones this holiday season. For more information, visit



Electronic gifts

About 70 percent of child-related electrical accidents occur at home when adult supervision is present, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. So make sure those new toys don’t pose a danger.

  • Electric-powered toys and other devices can be extremely hazardous if improperly used or used without proper supervision.
  • An adult should supervise the use of any electrical product.  Consider both the maturity of the child and the nature of the toy when deciding how much supervision is required.
  • Do not buy an electrical toy, or any toy, for a child too young to use it safely. Always check the age recommendation on the package, and remember that this is a minimum age recommendation. You should still take into account your child’s capabilities.
  • Never give any child under 10 years old a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, choose toys that are battery-operated.
  • Make sure all electrical toys bear a fire safety label from an independent testing laboratory, such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.).
  • Inspect all electrical toys periodically.  Repair, replace, or discard deteriorating toys.
  • Ban play with electrical toys near water, and make sure they understand that water and electricity don’t mix.
  • All electrical toys should be put away immediately after use in a dry storage area out of the reach of younger children.

Decorating safely

Christmas, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Day lead the year for candle fires, according to ESFI. Mind your festive decorations for safety hazards:

  • Read manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels for any decoration that will be used around young children, like electronic trains or animatronic dolls.
  • Keep candles, matches, and lighters out of reach, and never leave children unsupervised when candles are lit.
  • Instead of traditional candles, try using battery-operated candles.
  • Cover any unused outlets on extension cords with plastic caps or electrical tape to prevent children from coming in contact with a live circuit.
  • Place electrical cords out of the reach of small children.
  • Never allow children to play with lights, electrical decorations, or cords.


In 2009, ranges and ovens were involved in an estimated 17,300 thermal burn injuries seen in U.S. hospital emergency rooms. Of these, 36 percent of the victims were younger than 5. Keep little kitchen helpers in check:

  • Never leave the kitchen when something’s cooking—a fire or accident can happen in an instant.
  • Keep children at least three feet away from all cooking appliances.
  • Never hold a child while cooking or when removing hot food from the microwave, oven, or stove.
  • Turn pot handles in, away from reaching hands.
  • Use the back burners on the cooktop whenever possible.
  • Hot tap water scalds can be prevented by lowering the setting on water heater thermostats to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or below and by installing anti-scald devices in water faucets.
  • Once your holiday meal is ready, check that the stove and oven are turned off and that other kitchen appliances are unplugged and out of reach.

NASHVILLE – Tennessee’s electric cooperatives are warning residents to be on the alert for a telephone scam targeting utility consumers.

Scam artists call a home or business posing as a co-op or utility employee and threaten to shut off service unless the consumer provides immediate payment.

“The calls sound official,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “They claim to be with the local electric cooperative, and many times the caller ID even displays the name of the utility.”

Co-op officials say that the scam is easy to recognize. Callis says electric co-ops will not call members and threaten immediate disconnection. Typically, multiple written notices are sent to delinquent accounts prior to disconnection.

Co-op leaders stress that members who receive any call regarding immediate payment of a bill should contact their local co-op directly.

“We are asking co-op members to be wary of any phone calls,” says Callis. “If in doubt, hang up and look up your electric cooperative’s phone number. Call them directly to be certain you are dealing with an official representative of the cooperative.”

Law enforcement officials are looking into reported fraud cases, but consumers are encouraged to protect themselves by shredding or destroying old utility statements, verifying the ID of any callers and reporting suspicious calls to law enforcement. “No one can protect you from being victimized better than you,” Callis says.

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. The association publishes The Tennessee Magazine and provides legislative and support services to Tennessee’s electric cooperatives. Learn more at


#   #   #



Trent Scott | [email protected] | 731.608.1519

NASHVILLE – The 72nd annual meeting of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association was held Sunday – Tuesday, Nov. 24 – 26, at the Nashville Airport Marriott. The theme of the meeting was “Power of Potential,” and Bill Rogers, Caney Fork Electric Cooperative general manager 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. Rogers 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.

Dan Rodamaker, president and CEO of Gibson Electric Membership Corporation, was elected president of the board of trustees. Rody Blevins, president and CEO of Volunteer Energy Cooperative, was elected vice president and Robert Drinnen, board member at Appalachian Electric Cooperative, was elected secretary treasurer.

“The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association informs and protects co-op members,” says Rodamaker, a longtime member of the association’s board of trustees. “It is an honor to be a part of an organization that has such an important mission.”

“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 Michael Hicks, Appalachian EC; Michael Bouldin, Caney Fork EC; Ralhp Hall, Ft. Loudoun EC; Dave Cross, Plateau EC; Steve Lambert, Plateau EC; and Kevin Robertson, Tennessee Valley EC. Board members receiving the more involved Board Leadership certification were Dale Fain, Appalachian EC; Dale Harris, Appalachian EC; Stephen Douglas, Cumberland EMC, Britt Dye, Fayetteville PU; Paul Richardson, Fayetteville PU; Glenn Honeycutt, Upper Cumberland EMC; and Alan Pippin, Upper Cumberland EMC. James Martin, Pickwick EC, received the Credentialed Cooperative Director status and Board Leadership certificate this year.

The Tennessee Magazine reception, featuring products made or produced in Tennessee, was held on Sunday evening, Nov. 24. Attendees to this year’s meeting also heard from Jeanne Robertson, humorist and motivational speaker; Dr. Marci Rossell, economist and former CNBC contributor; and Diane Black, Tennessee’s 8th district congressman.

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=”″]View annual meeting photos →[/button]

Tennessee’s electric cooperatives are closely monitoring a significant winter storm that will likely create power outages across West and Middle Tennessee this weekend.

Ice can create widespread damage to trees and power lines. Ice can increase the weight of branches by 30 times, and 1/2″ accumulation on power lines can add 500 pounds of extra weight. When ice is combined with high winds, as predicted for the next few days, the weight of ice and falling trees can damage poles and power lines.

Tennessee’s electric cooperatives have been busy this past week preparing for the upcoming ice storm. Preparations have included positioning personnel and equipment, checking supplies and reviewing emergency work plans. TECA staff has been in regular contact with the National Weather Service and emergency management personnel. Arrangements are also in place to bring in additional crews, if needed, from electric cooperatives in neighboring states.

New Sperry-Piltz Ice Accumulation Index predicts utility damage

Screen Shot 2013-12-06 at 8.55.30 AM

Developed by Sid Sperry with the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives and Steve Piltz with the National Weather Service, the SPIA Index can predict the projected footprint, total ice accumulation, and resulting potential damage from approaching ice storms. It is a tool to be used for risk management and/or winter weather preparedness.

You can learn more about the SPIA in this Weather Channel video.

View the latest SPIA index for the Memphis and Nashville regions.

How should your family prepare?

Remember the following tips to stay safe and warm should you find yourself in the dark as a result of this severe winter event:

  • Never touch a fallen power line, and assume all wires on the ground are electrically charged. Call your local electric co-op  to report it immediately. Avoid contact with overhead lines during cleanup and other activities.
  • In the event of an outage, an alternate heating source—such as a fireplace, propane space heater, or wood stove—may be used. Extreme caution should be taken.
  • Plan to stay in an area of the home where the alternate heat source is located.
  • Fuel- and wood-buring heating sources should be vented. Be sure to follow  manufacturer’s directions.
  • Make sure carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors are working properly.
  • Do not use a gas-powered oven for heating. A gas oven may go out or burn inefficiently, leading to carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Do not use a gas or charcoal grill inside the home. Do not use charcoal briquettes in the fireplace.
  • If you use a portable generator to power a heating source, be sure the generator is located outside your house for proper ventilation. Do not use a generator in an attached garage. Follow manufacturer’s directions for operating the generator.
  • Take special care not to overload a generator. Use appropriately sized extension cords to carry the electric load. Make sure the cords have a grounded, three-pronged plug and are in good condition.
  • Never run cords under rugs or carpets.
  • Never connect generators to power lines. The reverse flow of electricity can electrocute an unsuspecting utility worker.

Ideally, your family will stay warm until the power comes back on. But keep an eye on family members for signs of hypothermia, which include shivering, drowsiness, and mental and physical slowness. The elderly and young children are particularly vulnerable to hypothermia. Call 911 immediately if you notice these symptoms. At least one telephone in the house that does not depend on electricity should be available in the case of a power outage.


Video courtesy of our friends at PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.

Energy efficient shopping, baking, and decorating holiday tips

Hosting a “green” holiday takes a little planning and effort, but the payoff can help your budget stay out of the red. So go ahead and deck the halls with energy savings by following these tips for energy-efficient shopping, baking, and decorating.

Green Shopping

Investing in a big gift? ENERGY STAR TVs and appliances save a bundle on power use. They feature a lower standby-mode consumption than an average device and generally use less energy in all functions.

Include a smart power strip as part of your gift. Most electronic devices consume energy, even when turned off.  In fact, such standby power consumption ranges from 5 percent to 10 percent of a household’s total energy consumption.

Smart power strips save energy by shutting off power to plugged-in gadgets when they go into standby mode. Many smart power strips also have one or two unmonitored, always-on outlets. Use these outlets to plug in devices that always need power, like a cordless phone base or alarm system.

Deck the House in Savings

Know a neighbor who gives the fictional Griswold family from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” a run for their money? Give them strings of light-emitting diodes (LEDs). A high-quality LED has a life expectancy of 50,000 hours or more. Consider recycling the retired strands at and get a 25 percent off coupon toward the purchase of LED holiday lights.

More isn’t always best. A small, thoughtful display stirs warm holiday feelings and you’ll be grateful when your January power bill doesn’t put a dent in your budget. Consider using timers for holiday lights, too. Set lights to turn on when it gets dark and off once viewers are snug in their beds.  Four to six hours should be plenty of time. And don’t forget using ribbons, wreaths, and garland—energy-free decorating traditions still deliver holiday cheer!

Green-Baked Goodies

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates cooking accounts for 4 percent of a home’s total energy use. Add energy costs for refrigeration, hot water heating, and dishwashing and you’ve got a hefty kitchen price tag. As holiday parties and potlucks gear up, keep efficient cooking tips in mind.

Cut baking temperatures by 25 degrees with a ceramic or glass pan. These pans retain heat better than metal. Use the oven wisely by cooking in large batches, and fit pans into all available oven space. Keep the door closed. Each time you peek into the oven you let out hot air, causing the oven to work overtime to bring the temperature back up.

Get to know how long it takes to preheat your oven and make sure you’re ready to start cooking right away. Insert a stainless steel skewer through meat or baked potatoes to speed the cooking process, or cut food into smaller pieces to shorten cooking time.

Have a convection option on your stove? It helps reduce cooking time and temperature. Turn your electric oven off ten minutes before the end of the cooking time; it maintains the temperature that long. And last but not least, if you’re planning some kitchen time, lower your thermostat. The heat generated in your kitchen can help heat the entire house, especially if you leave the oven door open after you are done.

The holidays are a joyful time, and there’s little that feels as good as giving someone you love the perfect gift. Make that gift a positive one and keep the holidays green for both you and your loved ones.

Sources: U.S. Department of Energy

Christina Sawyer writes on safety and 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.

Before your family puts up a tree or hangs the stockings this holiday season, start a new tradition. Put safety at the top of your list. Too often the twinkling lights people see are on top of a fire truck or ambulance—the result of holiday accidents that could have been prevented.

Trees and lights are danger-prone holiday decorations. According to the United States Fire Administration, Christmas trees start an average of 260 house fires each season, resulting in more than $16 million in property damage. Another 150 house fires are sparked by holiday lights and decorative lighting, costing $8.9 million in damage. Typically, all of these fires are more severe and damaging, resulting in twice the injuries and five times the fatalities per blaze compared to average winter home fires.

Unsafe practices while putting up decorations are to blame for even more injuries. Nearly 6,000 individuals visit emergency rooms each year for falls that occur. Four thousand more are treated for injuries associated with extension cords.

But safety steps don’t end with bright decorations. Gifts trigger injuries, too. Toys that are not used as intended or used without proper supervision lead to avoidable accidents. Electrical shocks, burns, or injuries from sharp, pointed, or moving parts are to blame for many of these injuries according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

When it is time to deck your halls, take these precautions to ensure the safety of you, your family, and holiday guests:


Real or artificial, short or tall, Christmas trees are often the culprit for danger. Incorporate these safety guidelines in your decorating routine:

  • Make sure an artificial tree is labeled “fire resistant.” Be aware that “fire resistant” does not mean “fire proof.” Exercise caution when it comes to your tree.
  • Make sure a live tree is fresh and green. Dry, brittle limbs and shedding needles are a breeding ground for sparks. Water a live tree regularly to prevent it from drying out.
  • Place any type of tree away from heat sources such as fireplaces, vents, and radiators.


Festive lights give homes a magical glow both inside and out. When decorating this season, a few simple safety tips can keep your spirits bright.

  • Do not overload electrical outlets. Most lights are designed to connect no more than three strands. Inspect the wires periodically to make sure they are intact and not warm to the touch.
  • Never leave lights on overnight or when no one is home.
  • Only use lights that have been approved by an independent testing laboratory.
  • Replace any strands that show signs of damage, such as bare or frayed wires, broken bulbs, or loose connections. Faulty lights can send an electrical charge through a tree and electrocute anyone who comes in contact with a branch.


The thrill of holiday presents is quickly forgotten when a gift leads to injury. Here are a few suggestions to keep children safe:

  • Select gifts that are age appropriate for the recipient. Toys recommended for older children pose too many risks for younger children to use safely.
  • Educate children on electrical safety when using any new toy or product that requires an electrical connection.
  • Review all instructions and safety guidelines included with new products before you allow the child to use it. This ensures the safety of the child and protects the integrity of the product.

Make sure safety ranks at the top of your “to do” list this holiday season. Like the old Christmas song says, there is no place like home for the holidays—especially when your family is safe and your home is filled with good cheer.

Sources: United States Fire Administration, Consumer Product Safety Commission

Sara Peterson writes on safety and 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.

By Mike Knotts, Director of Government Affairs

My first car was a 1965 Ford Mustang. My parents bought it for me, even though they were actually buying the same car for a second time. It had been purchased for my older sister, then eventually found itself parked in her driveway and needing work. We agreed to undertake a restoration, Mom and Dad signed what must have been a very bittersweet check, and I began pouring what little money I had into updates and upgrades for every part of the car.

I had the keys to a classic machine and was anxious to make the car shine. And every now and then, maybe just make that big block engine roar. And roar it did. Unlike most of today’s cars, the engine underneath my Mustang’s hood was pretty simple to understand. There was plenty of room to work, and replacing the original carburetor with a new and more efficient model was a simple task. While the car may have been 30 years old, it continued to serve its purpose well, and sensible improvements actually made it better than new. I wish I still had it.

Much like an engine powers the drivetrain of a car, electric power plants provide the horsepower that drives today’s complex and real-time American economy. I don’t believe it is hyperbole to suggest that the massive increase in life expectancy and quality of life across the planet over the past 100 years is directly related to the expansion and use of central-station electric service. The benefits to society provided by power plants are unquestionable, if most certainly under-appreciated.

When power plants are built, they are designed to operate for 50 years or more and cost huge sums of money to construct. The biggest decision is what fuel will power the plant. It’s a huge decision with lots of ramifications. It is not taken lightly by anyone involved.

That decision affects you directly. Approximately 80 cents of every dollar you pay to your cooperative flows directly to the Tennessee Valley Authority, which owns and operates a fleet of power plants. Much like a good stock portfolio, TVA’s plants use a diversified mix of fuels — hydro, nuclear, coal, natural gas, wind, solar and even landfill gas are converted into the electricity you use every minute of every day. This “all-of-the-above” fuel strategy has served us well. Tennesseans enjoy relatively low rates, 99.999 percent reliability and some of the most beautiful landscapes God has blessed us with here on earth.

President Obama has stated that he agrees with this type of strategy. He said as much in a speech on March 15, 2012, in Maryland where he outlined his priorities on energy policy. “We need an energy strategy for the future,” said the president, “an all-of-the-above strategy for the 21st century that develops every source of American-made energy.” We agreed with him then, and this statement appears on the website of the White House to this day.

That is why Tennessee’s electric cooperatives are so disappointed that the president’s administration has abandoned this strategy and replaced it with an “all-but-one” approach that effectively removes coal from the nation’s fuel mix. This is being done by creating standards for carbon dioxide emissions from power plants that are impossible to meet with current technology.

This is not the first time that Washington has sought to pick winners and losers. In 1978, Congress passed a law outlawing the use of natural gas for power generation. The result was that utilities across the country had little choice but to build more coal-fired generation, as they were being encouraged to do by President Carter. Many of these plants are being upgraded and working hard to serve their purpose. Like a restored classic car, the engines are performing well, and many are better than new. Now, these same plants are at risk of being closed by the new regulations even though they may only be halfway through their useful lives.

Join with us and encourage Washington to stick to an “all-of the above” energy policy. Please go to today take two minutes to share a message with the Environmental Protection Agency. America’s energy infrastructure is just too important and much too expensive to allow history to repeat itself.

By David Callis, Executive Vice President and General Manager

When you ask boxing historians to rank the hardest punchers of all time, Rocky Marciano is usually near the top. One reason: the power in his right hand. A contemporary said getting hit by Marciano was like being hit by a truck.

In his 1952 title fight with Jersey Joe Walcott, Marciano was knocked down in the first round and was behind in the scoring after several rounds. Yet in the 13th round, he knocked out the titleholder with “a right cross that traveled only 6 inches.”

Until the 13th round, Marciano had yet to take full advantage of the power from that right hand. The unleashed power was there, yet it was just potentially dangerous.

We all know a person (or two) whom we describe as “having a lot of potential.” It’s not a comment you want to hear about yourself, especially from a teacher or supervisor. It’s a backhanded way of letting you know that you are wasting the potential you possess.

Tennessee’s electric cooperatives possess a lot of power. We use that power in a variety of arenas: economically, politically, charitably and, of course, the electricity that powers our communities. We could just string up the wires and provide power, but we would be wasting a tremendous potential to do better things.

Your expectations of us —and our expectations of ourselves — go far beyond. Turning the lights on was one accomplishment. Yet today, businesses depend on that power to be on all the time — blinks and momentary outages mean costly shutdowns to many.

The nation’s economy has yet to gain a sure footing. We are more fortunate than many states, but the impact of a slow economy and high unemployment hits rural areas hard. Our cooperatives work closely with the Tennessee Valley Authority and state and federal governments to invest in rural economic development. By providing manpower and resources, we’re able to recruit new industry into our communities and help maintain and grow existing businesses.

New environmental regulations could dramatically increase the cost of electricity. It’s important to us all; higher costs impact the struggling economy and your day-to-day lifestyle. We try to ensure that environmental goals don’t sacrifice affordability for the sake of politics. We can do both, keeping rates reasonable and achieving cleaner standards. We use our political power not to gain an unfair advantage but to ensure that rural areas aren’t shuffled to the end of the line as energy policy is developed.

As you travel about during the holidays, you’re likely to see a lot of lights strung around town squares. It’s just as likely that a co-op truck and lineman put them there. From lighting baseball fields to changing street lights to being part of the local Rotary, our co-ops are good corporate citizens, giving generously to charitable organizations in their communities. Outside of corporate giving, cooperative employees donate their personal time and money to the community.

It’s important to note this spirit of cooperation really begins with you. The co-op starts with the membership. Our concern for community is nothing more than an extension of the members’ concern for one another that started this whole operation. It’s grown from one light to cover a nation.
That’s a lot of potential.

Rocky Marciano not only had tremendous power in his punch, he had an endurance that kept him in the ring, punishing his opponents. His tenacity propelled him to achieve an unparalleled 43 knockouts during his 49-0 career.

We’d like to think that we have that same staying power. With your help — your cooperation — we can harness that power to continue meeting the needs of our communities.

Let’s not waste the power of that potential.