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.”


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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.

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.”

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

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.”

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.

Purchasing a newly constructed home is an exciting process and a major milestone. Whether you are building a custom home or buying a spec home, you will be making dozens of important decisions before moving in––from purchasing the perfect kitchen countertops to selecting a home financing package.

The decisions you make about the energy efficiency of your new home will have lasting consequences. These energy-related decisions, such as how you heat, cool, light and insulate your home, are often overlooked.

The first step to maximizing energy efficiency is to select a properly sized home that meets your family’s needs. America is known for its sizeable homes, but after hitting a peak of 2,268 square feet in 2006, the median size of new single-family homes started to trend down.

According to a recent report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “as square footage increases, the burden on heating and cooling equipment rises, lighting requirements increase and the likelihood that the household uses more than one refrigerator increases. Square footage typically stays fixed over the life of a home, and it is a characteristic that is expensive, even impractical to alter to reduce energy consumption.”

According to the Department of Energy, appliances account for about 13 percent of the average household’s energy use. Clothes dryers, refrigerators/freezers, computers, microwaves, dishwashers and washing machines tend to use the most energy in a typical American home. Every appliance you purchase has an operating cost (i.e., the cost of the energy needed to power that appliance). To facilitate more informed shopping, the federal government requires many appliances to include an EnergyGuide label stating the approximate energy consumption and operating cost of the appliance. Appliances with an ENERGY STAR label use 10 to 50 percent less energy than standard appliances.

Many owners of new homes are interested in solar energy. If you are considering solar, make sure your home is as energy efficient as possible. This will enable a smaller, less expensive solar system to provide a substantial portion of your energy needs. Prices for solar panels have dropped considerably over the last decade, and there are many financing models and incentives available to residential customers.

Another efficient option is a residential geothermal system. While they do not generate electricity, geothermal systems save energy by using heat from the earth to replace conventional heating and cooling systems. Throughout the year, the earth remains a constant, moderate temperature (i.e., 50 degrees Fahrenheit) just below the ground. Geothermal heating and cooling systems, also known as ground source systems, make use of this constant underground temperature by circulating water in a loop to exchange heat between your home, the ground source heat pump and the earth––providing highly efficient heating, cooling and hot water.

Installing an easy-to-use programmable thermostat is also a great way to efficiently operate your home. ENERGY STAR estimates a typical household can annually save $180 by properly using a programmable thermostat.

Regardless of the number of energy efficiency features in your home, occupant behavior is still a major factor in how much energy your household consumes. From unplugging appliances you rarely use, like a mostly empty second refrigerator, to making sure you run full loads in the washing machine, dryer and dishwasher, to turning out the lights––it all adds up in energy savings.

One thing all Washington Youth Tour winners have in common when they return home is sore feet! During their week-long trip to D.C. this year, students took more than 123,000 steps — walking a whopping 61 miles! So when asked to come up with a group community service project, it was no surprise the 2015 delegates decided to host a shoe drive.

The students engaged their communities, family and friends in their efforts and jointly collected more than 100 pairs of new, youth-sized athletic shoes. This was no ordinary shoe drive, though, as the students chose to donate the shoes to Ashland City Elementary, a local school in rural Cheatham County. Principal Chip Roney was overwhelmed by the generosity and excited about being able to distribute the shoes during the school’s upcoming open house event.

That same excitement was shared by the students who gathered the shoes. “The amount of shoes we were able to collect will bring smiles to the faces of many children who otherwise might not get a new pair of school shoes this year,” says Eli Creasy, a 2015 WYT alumnus.

Youth Tour participants often return to their hometowns as stronger leaders with confidence they can make a difference. The 2015 WYT delegates exemplified this through their dedication to this community service project.