Sure, your cat or dog was born with a thick, furry coat to help it stay warm all winter, but if you’re cold, your pet probably is, too. A few easy habits will make your precious pet more comfortable—and safe—during the coldest days, indoors and out.

For starters, keep your house comfortably humidified. Your heating system can dry out indoor air, so consider placing a portable humidifier in the rooms where your pet spends the most time. And whenever you bring your dog back inside after a walk, dry it off, from head to toes—and in between the toes.

Keep Fido inside your comfortably heated home as much as possible during the winter and don’t let Fluffy out at all.

Cats love to cozy up to an operating space heater, but the appliance can burn their skin. They also can knock it over, and if it doesn’t shut itself off and you’re in another room, this could create a fire hazard.

If you use space heaters, consider investing in one with panels and vents that are too small for them to poke their paws through. Look for a model with mesh or a grill on front so pet hair can’t get into the heater and damage the device or start a fire.

Ceramic models stay cool to the touch; those are safest for pets, according to MetLife, which sells pet insurance.

Avoid leaving a pet in a room with a space heater unless you’re there, too. Even the best built-in safety features are no substitute for human supervision.

Every year around New Year’s Day, you carefully zip your artificial Christmas tree into a waterproof bag. You lovingly place your precious ornaments into padded boxes. You neatly fold your leftover wrapping paper and stack it in a plastic box so it will come out fresh and ready next December.

But are you piling tangles of electric light strands into a box that’s a little bit too small? And how about the extension cords that let you plug your tree into an outlet that was way too far away for a regular cord to reach.

It’s a good bet that those extension cords are still plugged in.

Once this holiday season is over, take as much care with electrical cords as you do with the family heirlooms that help make your holidays special. Here are five ways to keep your light strands in good shape and prevent them from becoming next winter’s fire hazard.

  1. As you take down each strand of lights, inspect it for broken or burned-out bulbs. Replace the bulbs and discard any strands with frayed or damaged cords.
  2. Stick a label onto each strand of lights to remind you where you hung it. A year is a long time to remember those details.
  3. Pack up all extension cords along with the decorations. Extension cords are designed for temporary use and are not safe to use constantly.
  4. Invest in a storage wheel designed for string lights and a bag sized for the reels. That will keep the cords from tangling and the bulbs from breaking. Or you could wrap the strands around sturdy squares of cardboard instead of purchasing a reel.
  5. Remove batteries from decorations before you put them away. You use the decorations only for about one month every year, and the batteries won’t last until next December, even if they’re dormant. Plus, batteries can corrode, leaking potassium carbonate all over your packed-up electric toys and decorations.

January and February typically are the coldest months of the year. That doesn’t mean you have to be cold for two months, especially inside your own home.

Dressing in layers, wearing socks with your slippers and staying active are no-cost, no-tech ways to stay cozy indoors even when all you can see for miles is snow and ice. Other tips for staying warm are:

  • Block drafts. If your windows are old or made from a single pane of glass, it’s time to upgrade. Energy-efficient glass—and windows with double panes—will go a long way toward keeping cold air from blowing into your house. They also could reduce the amount of money you spend on winter energy bills.
  • Seal leaks. Also great draft-blockers, weather stripping and caulk can plug holes around windows and doors, and wherever the inside of an outdoor wall is penetrated by a cable or phone line.
  • Make the bed. An electric blanket—one with an automatic shut-off and the seal of approval from a safety organization like UL—can keep you cozy at bedtime even when you turn the whole-house thermostat down to save energy overnight.
  • Make 2022 the year you finally switch to a programmable thermostat that will turn the heat up when the home is occupied and everyone is awake, and down at bedtime and when the family leaves for the day. (Note: If you have a heat pump, purchase a programmable thermostat with adaptive recovery technology to slowly warm the house and avoid the more costly auxiliary heat.)

Weather impacts us all. And this past December was no exception, bringing severe weather to our region. The losses were devastating. My heart goes out to everyone who was affected by the storms. I truly hope that things are on the mend and life is improving. While we all do our best to be aware of severe weather and keep our families safe by hunkering down in an interior closet or a concrete bunker as tornadoes pass, protecting the electric grid is another story entirely.

Storms can severely impact businesses and different industries in a variety of ways. For example, several years ago, I participated in an educational conference that was primarily attended by people involved in agriculture. At that time, there was a large storm system packing hurricane-force winds moving into the Southeast. I was concerned about the effects it would have on the electric grid. The other attendees were concerned about their crops and livestock. All of us were concerned — but for very different reasons. That was an eye-opener for me.

While weather impacts us all, for those of us in the electric utility industry, what happens to our systems affects everyone. In our industry, we keep a close eye on the weather, depending on the National Weather Service, local and national meteorologists, private weather and climate experts, and our own in-house specialists. In early December, we knew the potential for damaging storms existed at least two days before the storms hit on the 10th and 11th.

But no matter what precautions we take to limit loss of life, we can’t do anything about the infrastructure that keeps our homes comfortable and the economy moving.

The December storm was one of the most devastating to hit our region in more than a decade. Not only were many lives lost and homes and businesses destroyed, but the infrastructure that provides power to all of us was also severely damaged.

Your cooperative depends on wholesale delivery of power by the Tennessee Valley Authority, which generates the power and then uses its transmission system to deliver electricity to your local utility.

The destruction to TVA’s transmission system was the worst since 2011; the storm damaged 97 TVA power structures (towers and poles), and 29 transmission line sections were downed. Some towers were destroyed. The result was that even if local utility lines were intact, there was no power to the substation to be able to serve those people.

Compounding this disaster was a lack of materials available to effect repairs. Transformers, which are required to bring the electricity safely into your home at voltages you can use, have been in short supply for months. In recent years, multiple storms have affected numerous utilities, resulting in limited inventories. Manufacturers and suppliers have yet to meet increased demand after being sidelined during the pandemic.

Like always, we pulled together. TVA, Tennessee’s electric co-ops, municipal power providers and contractors restored power as quickly as possible to the communities impacted. Even in the face of tragedy, it was encouraging to see how many rushed to provide assistance when neighbors needed help.

We’ve done this before, and we’ll do it again. We can’t prevent disasters; we can only plan on how we respond. Hopefully, it will a long time before we have to do it again — at least on this scale.

Please click here to learn how you can help recovery efforts.

On the evening on Friday, Dec. 10, a series of violent tornadoes ripped through Tennessee and Kentucky. Hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed, and 77 lost their lives.

In the wake of the storm, many are looking for opportunities to assist.

Danny Jowers, emergency management
director for Obion County stands in front of a mountain of donated items in the Samburg, Tenn., resource center.

“The outpouring has been phenomenal,” said Danny Jowers, emergency management director for Obion County as he worked in the Samburg resource center that was established in the days following the storm. “We have plenty of supplies, but if someone wants to make a monetary donation, find a way to do that. People are going to need funds to get their lives back – for housing, for rent or other things they’ll need.”

Several organizations are working in or collecting funds for the affected areas. Some are focused exclusively on co-op employees, while others are providing support for entire communities.

Below is a list of some ways to help victims of the tornadoes.

Kentucky Rural Electric Disaster Fund

Kentucky Electric Cooperatives has organized a fund to assist members of the co-op family who face challenges after disasters and for the aid of communities served by co-ops. Contribute online:

Sensus/Xylem Matching Fund

Sensus, an associate member of TECA, has partnered with Americares to collect funds for those impacted. Sensus/Xylem will match funds up to $25,000 for any donations provided. These funds will go directly into affected areas to assist with real-time needs. Contribute online:

Additional Community and Faith-based Funds

Obion County Tornado Relief Fund
Security Bank and Trust Company • 731-642-6644

Samburg Relief Fund
Security Bank and Trust Company • 731-642-6644

Lake Road Relief Fund
Simmons Bank

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee
Middle Tennessee Emergency Response Fund • 888-540-5200

American Red Cross • 1-800-RED CROSS

Southern Baptist Churches Disaster Relief • 615-373-2255

United Methodist Committee on Relief • 800-862-4246

Churches of Christ Disaster Relief • 937-308-7593

Samaritan’s Purse • 828-262-1980


If you are aware of other groups or funds who are supporting the recovery effort, please contact Trent Scott.

“It hit home,” said Jason Mills, line foreman for Gibson Electric Membership Corporation’s Tiptonville office, of the tornado that damaged parts of Lake and Obion counties on Friday, Dec. 10. “The loss of life hurts – that makes this one a little different.”

Crews today were focusing their efforts on Samburg and the Reelfoot Lake – areas that were directly hit by Friday evening’s storms. The level of devastation is sobering, even for lineworkers accustomed to storm damage.

Crews from Gibson Electric Membership Corporation have been working 16 hours days since the event to restore power. They have been assisted by crews from Chickasaw Electric Cooperative, Forked Deer Electric Cooperative, Pickwick Electric Cooperative and Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation, along with several contract crews from Service Electric.

Co-op leaders are pleased with the progress that has been made. By Tuesday afternoon, power had been restored to all but 750 consumers.

To Gibson members still without power, Mills reminds them to be patient. “Hang in there,” he said. “We’re working tirelessly to get this done. As soon as we are physically able to get the power back on, we will.”

“What can I say about Gibson Electric? They’re the best in the country I think,” said Danny Jowers, director of emergency management for Obion County. “It’s been phenomenal. There are lots of crews here helping. That’s what co-ops do. If you go help others, and when its time, they come here and help you.”


Crews from Tennessee’s electric co-ops worked through the weekend after a line of severe storms, some producing long-track tornadoes, moved through Tennessee Friday evening and Saturday morning. Initially more than 20,000 co-op consumers were affected by outages, but crews have reduced than number down to fewer than 4,000.

Gibson Electric Membership Corporation, which provides power to particularly hard hit areas of northwest Tennessee and southwest Kentucky, continues to restore power to those impacted. They are being assisted by crews from neighboring co-ops including Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation, Pickwick Electric Cooperative, Forked Deer Electric Cooperative and Chickasaw Electric Cooperative; neighboring municipal systems including Jackson Energy Authority and Milan Department of Public Utilities; and several contract crews from Service Electric.

“The tornadoes left broken poles on every road they crossed from the Mississippi River to the eastern boundary of our service area,” said Barry Smith, Vice President of Engineering and Operations for Gibson Electric Membership Corporation. “The damage amounts to hundreds of broken poles.”

“Even with all of Gibson EMC’s lineworkers and lineworkers from neighboring utilities, repairing the monumental damage is a painfully slow process,” said Dan Rodamaker, President and CEO of Gibson Electric Membership Corporation and Gibson Connect, the co-op’s broadband subsidiary. “We know how very difficult a lengthy outage is for our members and we are pushing hard to restore electric and internet service as quickly as we safely can.”

Restoration to all homes able to receive power may take several more days.

“The images coming out of northwest Tennessee and southwest Kentucky are truly remarkable,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Tennessee’s electric co-ops, municipal power providers and contractors are working together to restore power as quickly as possible to those communities. Even in the face of tragedy, it is encouraging to see how many rush to provide assistance when neighbors need help.”

Columbia, Tenn. – Duck River Electric Membership Corporation (DREMC), an electric provider serving 2,500 square miles of middle Tennessee, and United Communications, Middle Tennessee’s leading provider of fiber and fixed wireless internet services, announced today that they are collaborating to expand broadband access to underserved areas across Middle Tennessee.

Industry data indicates that while average household demand for internet data has grown over 38 times in the past decade, approximately 18% of Tennesseans live in unserved areas for broadband internet. The lack of broadband infrastructure in rural areas has resulted in a digital divide, subjecting those without high-speed internet to a significant disadvantage in career development, telemedicine, and social engagement opportunities.

DREMC reinforces its commitment to the members they serve by advancing high-speed internet connectivity. Through the development of a robust fiber backbone that enhances service dependability, DREMC is not only delivering safe and reliable electricity at the lowest possible cost but also supporting United in building a reliable fiber and fixed wireless network in the region.

United is a subsidiary of Middle Tennessee Electric (MTE), and that partnership supports the effort to deliver high-speed internet to underserved areas in Middle Tennessee, the mission of United’s Project UNITE initiative. By collaborating to bridge the digital divide, United, MTE, and now DREMC can expedite the delivery of high-speed internet to areas of need. Specific to DREMC, the relationship solidifies expansion for broadband, especially for many communities that lack adequate internet access.

Project UNITE was initiated by United to focus on rural communities to connect unserved homes and businesses, partner with local stakeholders, companies, and governments seeking grant support, and deliver industry-leading customer experience.

The announcement was made by Scott Spence, President and CEO of DREMC, and William Bradford, President and CEO of United Communications, in conjunction with Chris Jones, President, and CEO of MTE, at the DREMC Office in Columbia, TN, on December 10, 2021.

“DREMC is proud to be part of the solution to the internet needs of members in underserved areas. The first step in this journey began in 2018 with the initial work needed to develop a 386-mile fiber backbone that allows DREMC to better serve members and provide important infrastructure for established internet providers to utilize,” said Spence. “Today, we are excited to partner with United Communications to further leverage what DREMC has built for the benefit of the members we serve. This is a key step in being part of the solution to deliver reliable, competitively priced internet with a focus on customer care.”

The effort to build out the southern Tennessee network is greatly enhanced by DREMC’s foresight and proactivity in establishing a fiber ring throughout their service area that is expected to be complete in mid-2022. United’s expertise in fiber and fixed wireless, combined with DREMC’s assets and permits, provides an effective and efficient way to enter the next phase of delivering broadband and a world-class smart grid.

“United is a local company that serves our customers with the same focus and care that Duck River Electric delivers to their members,” said Bradford. “This relationship creates a powerful bond between two companies that can benefit from each other’s resources and expedite the pathway to internet access, speed, and reliability that everyone deserves. For example, in partnership with MTE, we have been able to build and offer connectivity to over 12,000 unserved locations,” added Bradford. “We understand the special relationship cooperatives have with their members and believe we can apply the knowledge and experience we gained with MTE’s success and leverage that for the benefit of DREMC members.”

“A fundamental cooperative principle is cooperatives supporting cooperatives.” Added MTE President and CEO Chris Jones. “I’m so pleased to see MTE’s broadband company, United Communications, in a position to support our sister cooperative in expanding important service to DREMC members.”

As more planning develops, DREMC members will be able to check if their address is serviceable by United and register their interest by visiting

Additional information on the partnership can be found at or learn more about Project UNITE at

Stop shivering indoors just because it’s cold outside. You don’t have to crank up the heat to stay warm on winter’s frostiest days.

First, bundle up. Dressing in layers is a great way to keep yourself comfortable without extra heat. Here are 10 more ways to make your home and yourself more comfortable during winter without increasing your energy use:

  1. Identify places in your walls where heated air can escape your home and cold air can get in. Look around windows and doors. Find penetrations on the indoor side of exterior walls where cables, cords and wires come into the house. Search for cracks around baseboards. Check the hatch that leads to the attic. Then caulk liberally.
  2. Invest in a smart thermostat that allows you to program it to lower the heat when you go to bed, raise it just before everyone wakes up, turn itself down again when the family leaves for the day, and warm up the house before you return at dinnertime. You could save 10% or more on your heating bill.
  3. Maintain your heating system. Hire a tech to inspect yours for inefficiencies or hidden problems. Clean or replace your furnace filters regularly.
  4. Scatter area rugs in rooms without carpets. They can prevent heat from escaping through the floor. They also feel warmer to walk on.
  5. Open the drapes on sunny days to let natural daylight and the sun’s warmth into your rooms. Close them when the sun sets and it gets cooler outdoors.

The “best toys” lists for the 2021 holiday season include a few items that teach about electricity or use it to operate. Here are some child-tested favorites:

National Geographic kits. The Potato Battery Kit teaches kids about electricity as they build a potato clock with a voltmeter. The Coin Powered Flashlight is an experiment that shows children how to make a battery with coins. They can watch the electric circuit in action when they turn on the flashlight. Astounding Science Experiments teaches little ones about electric engineering. The series includes several other science kits.

Kidzone Electric Vehicle Bumper Car. This motorized ride-on is like a mini-bumper car that kids can drive around while colliding into everything that gets in their way.

Razor Miniature Dirt Rocket. This scaled-down, electric-powered dirt bike is recommended for children ages 7 and older. For outdoor, off-road adventures, the bike features rear-wheel drive for weight and balance control, which helps with safety and stability.

Little Tikes My Real Jam Electric Guitar Music Toy. A realistically designed electric guitar, case and strap lets your little one pretend to be a rock star. It includes four “superstar play modes” that play music while your child pretends to strum.

Electronic Ride-On Excavator. A little “driver” can move the excavator with his or her legs and slide the levers to operate the motorized digger. The toy has sound effects to mimic a construction rig and includes a 6-volt rechargeable battery and charger.

’Tis the season to unpack the extension cords and plug way too many devices into them.

Here are 10 tips from the Electrical Safety Foundation for using extension cords properly:

  1. Never plug an extension cord into another extension cord. They’re not designed for that kind of electrical load.
  2. Choose an extension cord designed for outdoor use if you plan to use it outside.
  3. Inspect your cords for damage, like cracks and loose wires. If they’re not in good shape, replace them.
  4. Avoid hiding an extension cord under a rug. The cord could overheat and catch the rug on fire.
  5. Buy cords only if they are approved by UL or another independent testing laboratory.
  6. Keep cords away from water and snow.
  7. Instead of nailing or stapling the cords when you use them to power strands of holiday lights on your gutters or walls, use plastic hangers that won’t puncture the cords.
  8. Don’t cut the third prong off of a three-prong plug to force it into a two-prong outlet. Instead, buy an adapter.
  9. Put your extension cords away with your holiday decorations. They are designed for temporary, not permanent use.
  10. Avoid overloading a multiple-slot extension cord with too many devices. That cord has to plug into an outlet that can overheat if you overload it.

Even with a house full of company and decorations lighting up the season, you might be able to save energy when compared to Christmases past.

Here are five small changes you can make to keep your energy use under control during the December holidays:

  1. Switch to LED lights for the tree and the outside of the house. Even if your old fluorescent lights are still in pretty good shape, it might be worth it to replace them with strands of LED lights that use less energy, emit less heat and will last for years longer.
  2. Put your outdoor lights on timers. There’s no need to keep the lights on all night. Program timers to turn the lights on once the sun goes down and to turn them off at bedtime.
  3. Don’t just turn the holiday lights off; unplug them. When electric devices are plugged into the wall, they still consume small amounts of electricity, even when you turn them off. Consider investing in power strips and plug several strands into each one. That way, you don’t have to unplug so many devices—you just have to unplug the power strips.
  4. Mix non-electric decorations with those you have to plug in. Hang wreaths and garland. Display battery-operated candles in your windows. If you don’t have to plug it in, it won’t use any energy.
  5. Put your crockpot and microwave to work. Your oven will be full for days as Christmas approaches. Consider slow-cooking some of your meals in a crockpot or speed-cooking side dishes in the microwave. Both use less energy than your regular oven.

State’s electric cooperatives gather in Nashville for annual event

NASHVILLE – “Building a Brighter Tennessee” was the theme of the 80th annual meeting of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, held Sunday, Nov. 21, through Tuesday, Nov. 23, in Nashville. More than 350 electric cooperative leaders from across the state attended the event where they explored the impact electric co-ops can have on the future of the people and places they serve.

Gov. Bill Lee also addressed the attendees in a pre-recorded message. “I want to thank you for the important role you play in providing safe, reliable and affordable energy to millions of people in rural Tennessee,” said Gov. Lee. “We appreciate your partnership as we strive to ensure that every Tennessean across the state has access to broadband. Your efforts build on Tennessee’s strong economic development, bringing new jobs and investments and opportunity to our state. I commend you for your work to build a brighter Tennessee.”

“The future is built on the actions of today, and there are few groups investing more in Tennessee’s rural and suburban communities than electric co-ops,” said David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “From energy to education to economic development, I truly believe that the future looks bright for Tennessee’s electric co-ops and the communities they serve.”

Elections were held for three positions on the association’s board of trustees. Dan Rodamaker, president and CEO of Gibson Electric Membership Corporation in Trenton; Russ Dixon, director on the board for Fayetteville Public Utilities; and Juduth Robertson, director on the board for Powell Valley Electric Cooperative in New Tazewell, were elected to four-year terms.

Dave Cross, CEO of Plateau Electric Cooperative in Onieda, was appointed president of the TECA board of trustees. Keith Carnahan, president and CEO of Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative in Centerville, was named vice president, and Albert “Buddy” Dicus, director on the board of Caney Fork Electric Cooperative in McMinnville, will continue to serve as board secretary.

“Congratulations to those honored with leadership positions,” says Callis. “Their talents and ideas will be valuable as we continue our mission to serve Tennessee’s electric cooperatives and their members.”

The annual TECA Top Tenn Communications Awards were also presented during the event. Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative received awards for Best External Newsletter or Magazine Section and Best Internal Newsletter. Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative was presented awards for Best Website and Best Use of Social Media. Middle Tennessee Electric was awarded Best Video, and Fayetteville Public Utilities received Best Photo. Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative and Middle Tennessee Electric each received two awards in the Wild Card category.

“Keeping co-op members informed is an important part of our work to build a brighter future for our communities,” says Robin Conover, TECA’s vice president of communications and editor of The Tennessee Magazine. “We congratulate these winners for telling the electric cooperative story in a consistent and professional way.”

Video of this year’s general sessions is available on the TECA website.

The sun has an incredible amount of energy — more than we could ever fully harness. Fortunately, there’s an array of solar-powered gadgets and devices available to help you take advantage of this free source of energy. These technologies are a great way to power everyday things for free by simply using energy from the sun!

When you want to bring your music outdoors, solar-powered Bluetooth speakers are the perfect solution. Many Bluetooth speakers can be recharged with a USB port and electrical outlet, but solar-powered speakers are easily recharged by sunlight. As long as the sun is shining, the speaker will never run out of power. Most solar-powered speakers include a backup battery that allows the speaker to run long after the sun goes down. When shopping for a solar-powered speaker, be sure the speaker can handle the outdoor conditions. For example, if you’re planning to bring the speaker to the beach, make sure it’s water-resistant.

For an easy, low-maintenance approach to light up your lawn and walkways, solar pathway lighting (and other solar décor) is a great addition. Outdoor solar lights come in a variety of styles and can be used to decorate your outdoor space in different ways. They can be used as an alternative to traditional lights and offer several benefits. Once installed, solar lights run on their own and work relatively maintenance-free. Solar lights are powered by batteries that can run all night if the panels receive enough sunlight during the day. Solar lights are wireless, so there’s no need to search for an electrical outlet. You can purchase solar lights for about $5 to $20 depending on the size and design.

If you’re looking to engage your children, there are several DIY kits available for kids to learn more about solar energy. These kits typically include a small solar panel, connecting wires and the end-use device, which varies depending on the kit. From powering a small fan to lighting a lightbulb, these interactive kits provide an educational opportunity for kids to learn more about solar.

As an alternative to a charcoal or gas-powered grill, the solar-powered grill is another great way to cook meals outdoors. One of the most popular solar-powered grills is by GoSun and uses a solar vacuum tube to absorb light while also providing insulation. Using solar heat, the parabolic reflectors focus sunlight onto the vacuum tube. The tube can then convert about 80 percent of the solar energy into heat. There are plenty of occasions for using a solar-powered grill such as traveling, camping or even during a power outage. The internal temperature can typically reach up to 550 degrees while the insulation makes it cool to the touch on the outside — an important safety feature. Prices for solar-powered grills range from $150 to $300, making them comparable to gas-powered grills.

A gadget to help you keep track of time is the solar-powered watch. A small solar cell underneath the dial converts the solar energy into electrical energy, with excess energy stored into the rechargeable battery. As long as the watch receives a moderate amount of sunlight, the battery doesn’t need to be replaced for up to 10 years, which is much more convenient than replacing the battery roughly every year for conventional watches. Solar-powered watches can cost anywhere from $50 to $1,000 depending on their design.

The sun provides an endless amount of energy, and these gadgets are a great way to power everyday devices. As more solar-powered technologies are developed, you may find yourself considering a solar-powered gadget for your next purchase.

Maria Kanevsky writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 percent of the nation’s landscape.

Our use of electricity soars on Thanksgiving Day as we draft our oven, stove, refrigerator and even our heating system into overdrive as we spend extra time cooking and invite family into our homes.

Don’t spoil the holiday fun worrying about energy costs. Instead, make an effort to conserve energy even as you overuse your appliances, lights and heat. Here are some tips:

  • If your dining room has an older chandelier that doesn’t use CFLs, dim the brightness by at least 10 percent. If it doesn’t have a dimmer switch, install one.
  • Cook as many dishes at the same time as possible. Put two or three dishes in the oven together if their recipes call for the same temperature. That way, you can turn the oven off sooner.
  • Lower your home’s thermostat before you put the turkey in the oven. The heat that the oven and stovetop will emit — along with the heat that having extra people in the house creates — will keep your home warm enough without cranking up the thermostat, even if it’s cold outside.
  • Cook what you can in the microwave or slow cooker. They use less energy than the oven.
  • Use the dishwasher instead of cleaning the dinner dishes by hand. Dishwashers use less energy and water than washing by hand.

They’re right around the corner! Along with all the fun and family time that the holidays bring, come situations where electrical safety can be a concern.

To make sure you enjoy an injury-free Thanksgiving and Christmas, Tennessee’s electric co-ops offer these safety reminders for the upcoming season.

A lot of people begin putting up holiday lights right after Thanksgiving — or even before! Be sure to inspect your indoor and outdoor light strands for broken sockets, frayed wires and loose connections. If it’s time to replace your old lights with new ones, look for ones that have been approved by nationally recognized testing labs — and only buy from reputable retailers. If your philosophy is ‘the more lights, the better,’ avoid overloading outlets. And make sure you use the right kind of light strand for the right application. Lights rated for indoor use only feature a green holographic mark on the tag next to the plug, while a red mark indicates the lights are safe for both indoor and outdoor use. Outdoor lights should be plugged into ground fault circuit interrupter outlets. Use only heavy-duty extension cords outside, making note of the wattage rating of the cord as well as the power requirements of the lighted decorations you’re planning to plug into it. If you need a ladder to hang your lights, use one that is made of a nonconductive material like wood or fiberglass — just to be on the safe side. And always unplug that amazing light display before you leave home or go to bed.

Because this is the time of year when portable electric space heaters are often being turned on for the first time since last winter, co-ops urge members to use them wisely. Always plug space heaters into a wall outlet — not a power strip. Make sure space heaters are placed on the floor at least three feet away from flammable objects. If you’re in the market for a new heater, look for UL-approved units that offer built-in shutoffs that automatically cut the power if they are tipped over or become too hot. And last but not least, never leave a space heater running in a room unattended. That way, if anything should go wrong, you can take action quickly.

Finally, it makes sense to be extra-aware of kitchen safety this time of year. With family coming to celebrate around the holiday table, your kitchen appliances are likely to be getting a workout. Always have someone on duty when cooking is underway; accidents can happen when stove burners or the oven is left unattended. Keep pot holders, dish towels and other flammable items away from heat sources. It should go without saying, but for those folks who opt for a deep-fried Thanksgiving turkey, never use an outdoor frying setup indoors — no matter how cold it is outside!


Nonprofit, fully online university will provide $50,000 in scholarships through its “Power Your Future” initiative for new students who are electric cooperative members 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Oct. 28, 2021) – In an effort to empower residents in rural areas of Tennessee to go back to school and further their education, WGU Tennessee, an affiliate of Western Governors University, has announced it has partnered with Tennessee’s electric cooperatives to provide $50,000 in scholarships to residents who are served by an electric cooperative and are interested in pursuing a degree from the online, nonprofit university. The “Power Your Future” scholarship is open to new students in rural areas of Tennessee who are consumers of, or live in a household served by, one of the 23 rural electric co-ops that power rural Tennessee.

Learn more about the Power Your Future scholarship

“Electric co-ops and WGU share a mutual goal of supporting and investing in the future of rural communities,” said David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “This partnership with WGU will provide new opportunities for the 2.5 million Tennesseans served by electric co-ops in Tennessee to pursue a degree in higher education without the barrier of cost. We are excited to be on the front lines of building a brighter Tennessee.”

WGU is a leader in providing fully online, affordable, competency-based education to working adults who are interested in furthering their skillset but need the flexibility of online education to fit their busy lives. Through the “Power Your Future” scholarships, WGU aims to empower students in rural Tennessee who are committed to going back to school to complete their undergraduate or graduate degrees. Each scholarship is valued at up to $3,000 and will be applied at a rate of $750 per six-month term.

To be eligible, scholarship applicants must be officially admitted to WGU and enrolled in one of the university’s more than 60 accredited bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in business, information technology, K–12 teacher education, and health professions, including nursing. Students must also complete the scholarship application at and be interviewed by a WGU scholarship counselor. Recipients will be selected based on academic records, financial need, readiness for online study, and current competency, among other considerations.

“We are delighted to partner with Tennessee’s electric cooperatives in this important venture, making education more accessible and affordable for working adults across Tennessee,” said Kim Estep, chancellor of WGU Tennessee and vice president, Southeast Region of WGU. “Together we seek to provide a streamlined approach and expand access to higher education, particularly for rural residents served by electric cooperatives who do not have easy access to high-quality higher education in their communities.”

Over 4,000 Tennesseans are currently enrolled at WGU Tennessee, which has conferred more than 7,000 degrees in the state.

For more information about WGU or the Power Your Future scholarship, visit

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and SP-Teri officials announced today that the company will relocate its headquarters and manufacturing operations from Nashville to McEwen, creating 35 new jobs.

“We appreciate SP-Teri’s continued commitment to Tennessee,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “This expansion of 35 new jobs and relocation to Humphreys County will positively impact this community that continues to recover and rebuild from the flood in August.”

SP-Teri chose to relocate following the 2020 Nashville tornado when its facility was destroyed. Through this new expansion and relocation, SP-Teri will invest $435,000 in its new McEwen operations, located at 55 High Street West.

“TVA and Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative congratulate SP-Teri on its decision to expand operations in Humphreys County,” said John Bradley, TVA senior vice president of Economic Development. “It’s always an exciting day when we can celebrate a company’s commitment to continued growth in the Valley. We are proud to partner with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and the Humphreys County Economic Development Council to support companies, like SP-Teri, to create job opportunities and investment in the region and celebrate this announcement together.”

For over 50 years, SP-Teri has created high quality boots for elite figure skaters. After being shut down for almost a year, this expansion will allow SP-Teri to not only restart its operations, but expand its product offerings to make roller plates and trucks as well as inline skates.

In the last five years, TNECD has supported more than 200 economic development projects in Northern Middle Tennessee resulting in nearly 50,000 job commitments and roughly $8.4 billion in capital investment.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and Lodge Manufacturing Company officials today announced the company will invest $56 million to expand its South Pittsburg facility, where it has operated for 125 years.

“For 125 years, Lodge has called South Pittsburg home and relied on skilled Tennesseans to make products that last for generations,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “I’m proud that this respected brand continues to thrive in our state, and we thank the company for its additional investment in Southeast Tennessee.”

In order to meet increased demand, Lodge will expand and reconfigure its existing facility and add additional manufacturing equipment to enhance production capabilities. Lodge will create 239 new jobs as a result of the expansion.

“TVA and Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative congratulate Lodge Manufacturing on its decision to expand operations in Marion County,” said John Bradley, TVA senior vice president of Economic Development. “It’s always an exciting day when we can celebrate one of our region’s most long-standing companies and its continued commitment to growth in the Valley. We are proud to partner with Marion County Government, City of South Pittsburg Government, and Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development to help support companies, like Lodge Manufacturing’s business success.”

Founded in 1896, Lodge is a fifth-generation, family-owned company that manufactures the largest selection of American made cast iron cookware. Lodge operates two foundries in South Pittsburg, the second of which opened in 2017 and increased the company’s manufacturing capacity by 75%.

Lodge offers a variety of products ranging from its signature seasoned cast iron to enameled cast iron and carbon steel cookware. Customers can also shop a wide range of items specifically made for grilling or baking.

For more information about Lodge Manufacturing Company, visit To view open positions, visit

Nashville, TENN. – Nearly 300 electric co-op employees participated in the fifth annual Tennessee Electric Cooperative Day of Service on Thursday, Oct. 21. Twenty individual service projects were completed across the state with 292 employees from 10 electric co-ops volunteering more than 700 hours in service to their local communities. This year’s projects included painting and repairing playground equipment, cleaning a small business damaged in the Waverly flood and coordinating food, clothing, classroom supply and toy drives.

“Our commitment to the people and places we serve runs deep,” says Trent Scott, TECA’s vice president of corporate strategy and organizer of the event. “Our employees are raising families in these communities, and they want to give back. The Day of Service is an opportunity for our employees to complete projects that have a real impact.”

Sponsors for the 2021 Day of Service were Bass, Berry and Sims, Calix, Silicon Ranch, Tennessee811 and The Tennessee Magazine.

In the five-year history of the Day of Service event, 1,900 employees have volunteered more than 4,900 hours to complete 116 individual projects in co-op communities across the state.

Co-ops participating in the 2021 Day of Service and the projects they completed were:

  • Caney Fork Electric Cooperative – Coordinated Christmas toy drive for area children
  • Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation – Painted playground equipment for local schools
  • Fayetteville Public Utilities – delivered gift bags to residents in local assisted living and nursing facilities
  • Gibson Electric Membership Corporation – Provided classroom supplies for 11 teachers and 96 students
  • Pickwick Electric Cooperative – Assisted the Jesus Cares Thrift Store and packed and delivered care packages to nursing home residents
  • Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association – Helped clean a small business impacted by the Waverly, Tenn., flood
  • Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative – Donated meals to local healthcare workers and raised money for a veterans group
  • Volunteer Energy Cooperative – donated food to food banks and a back pack program

In the photo: Caney Fork Electric Cooperative employees collect toys to ensure that area children have a special holiday.