As we venture carefully into 2021, we’re hoping to turn the corner and have a smoother, safer and more satisfying year. So far, we haven’t exactly made that turn, but things are looking up. When so much around us is uncertain, we look for a constant — something on which we can depend. One thing that hasn’t changed — even if our office lobbies are closed and we’re operating a little differently — is our commitment to you and your community.

I’m borrowing the following words from my late friend Justin LeBerge, who worked for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and left us far too early. He makes the point far better than I:

Concern for community is one of the seven core principles that guide our actions all year long.

The most powerful way electric co-ops show concern for community is through the essential services they deliver every day. The employees and leaders of your co-op have a vested interest in doing what’s best for the community because they are members of the same community.

In addition to their day-to-day efforts to keep the lights on, electric co-ops support the community through routine actions like promoting energy efficiency, helping members understand their energy use and educating the public about electrical safety.

The not-for-profit business model also helps co-ops show concern for community by keeping more money in the local economy. Rather than being returned to Wall Street investors, any profit the co-op makes is reinvested in the cooperative, used to pay down debts, saved for emergencies or returned to members over time.

These basic differences in the cooperative way of doing business are important, but they’re just the beginning of the story. Here are a few of the many ways electric co-ops show concern for community and set themselves apart from ordinary utilities:

Operation Round Up

Through Operation Round Up, members at participating co-ops can elect to have their monthly bills rounded up to the next whole dollar amount. Those extra pennies are pooled and used to support community organizations in areas served by the co-op.

Electric Cooperative Youth Tour

To prosper and sustain themselves, strong communities need strong citizens. Nowhere is this truer than in tight-knit rural communities. As community-based organizations, electric co-ops do their part to groom our next generation of leaders through the Youth Tour program. Each year, outstanding high school students represent electric co-ops from across the country and converge on Washington, D.C., for a weeklong program that teaches the values of citizenship, democracy, leadership and cooperation. (We look forward to again sending students to Washington when the pandemic is over. — David)

Energy research

Caring for the community means doing our best to be good stewards of our environment and natural resources while ensuring energy remains reliable and affordable. Through its membership in the National Rural Electric Cooperative Ass­ociation, your local electric co-op is actively involved in the development of new energy technologies and monitoring the advances of other researchers.

It might surprise you to know that America’s electric cooperatives are often leaders in the implementation of new energy technologies. For example, some of the top solar utilities in the United States are electric co-ops. The low-density rural areas served by co-ops often stand to gain the most from advances in technology and efficiency.

Tennessee’s electric co-ops work very hard to keep your lights on and minimize interruptions. However, despite our best efforts, weather, car accidents and animals can sometimes create power outages.

Many times, these are brief interruptions that are restored quickly. Other times, widespread damage may make power restoration take much longer. During these times, a backup generator can be a handy tool to have around.

Backup generators come in many sizes — from permanently installed whole-home units to smaller, portable units that can run a few lights. This equipment can provide your family with comfort and convenience during a prolonged power outage. However, if used incorrectly, they can also create a dangerous situation for yourself and others.

Perhaps most importantly, never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet. This practice puts utility workers, your neighbors and your household at risk of electrocution. If you are interested in powering your whole home, contact a licensed electrician to ensure that proper safety equipment is installed to allow this to be done safely. Some co-ops ask homeowners to contact the co-op to inspect this sort of installation.

Here are a few more tips from the American Red Cross to ensure your backup generator is used safely.

  • Plug appliances directly into the generator, or use a heavy duty, outdoor-rated extension cord that is rated (in watts or amps) at least equal to the sum of the connected appliance loads.
  • To avoid electrocution, keep the generator dry and do not use in rain or wet conditions. Operate it on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure such as under a tarp held up on poles. Do not touch the generator with wet hands.
  • Be sure to turn the generator off and let it cool down before refueling. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.
  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning device inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Keep these devices outdoors and away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.

The energy experts at your local electric co-op will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Space heating and cooling account for a large portion of the average home’s energy use. In fact, the heating and cooling of your home could be responsible for more than half of your monthly electric bill.

Making small adjustments to your home’s temperature can have a significant impact on your monthly electric bill, and it all begins at your thermostat.

Set your thermostat to 68 degrees in the winter while you are home and awake, and set it even lower while you are sleeping or away. Lowering your thermostat 10-15 degrees for eight hours can reduce your heating bill by 10 percent or more.

You may have heard that lowering your thermostat while you are away will make it work harder once you return, and that is a reasonable argument. However, studies have found that you will use less energy by turning your system down when you are away and returning it to the original temperature when home versus leaving it at the original temperature the entire time. Don’t waste energy heating your furniture.

If all of these changes sound stressful, consider investing in a programmable or smart thermostat. Such a device can be programmed to run specific schedules or adjust the temperature when it senses you are away from home.

The location of your thermostat can also impact its performance and your energy bill. Be sure your thermostat is away from air vents, doors and windows, and it is best for it not to be located in kitchens, hallways or in direct sunlight. All of these factors can trick the thermostat into thinking your home is hotter or colder than it actually is.

Most of us spend very little time thinking about our thermostats, but they can have a significant impact on your comfort and your energy bill. We’re always available to help you make smarter energy choices. Contact your local co-op to learn more.

Every year, workers along the sides of roads are injured or killed when a car crashes into the crew’s site, even though it’s marked with bright cones and warning signs.

There’s an easy way to reduce those incidents that harm police officers and other first responders, road construction workers and utility crews. There’s a slogan to help remind drivers. There’s even a law.

The slogan is “slow down or move over.” It’s good advice and a decent thing to do to keep people safe. It’s also a requirement in all 50 states.

Legislatures first started passing Move Over laws about 25 years ago to reduce the year-after-year statistics of harm to roadside emergency workers. In the past five years, many states, including Tennessee, have started to specifically add electric and other utility projects to their Move Over or Slow Down laws.

It’s an addition that’s welcomed by Tennessee’s electric cooperatives, because we were part of the effort to expand the law to help protect our line crews.

“Protecting line crews is a top priority for Tennessee’s co-ops, and it’s a safety measure everyone can help with,” says Trent Scott, spokesperson for the state’s electric cooperatives.

“Move Over is not only a good law, it’s also the courteous thing to do,” says Scott. “Our crews already perform dangerous work to keep the lights on every day. They deserve a work environment that’s as safe as possible.”

There are slight differences in each state’s Move Over laws, but not so much that you can’t figure out the right thing to do, even if you’re traveling from state to state. Here are the basic requirements:

  • Within 200 feet before and after a work zone, which will be marked with bright signs and marker cones, and often flashing lights, change lanes if there’s more than one lane on your side of road so that there is an empty lane between your vehicle and the roadside crew.
  • If it’s not possible or safe to change lanes, slow down. Many states specify slowing down to 20 mph below the posted speed limit if it’s 25 mph or more. Yes, that means if the posted speed limit is 25 mph, slow down to 5 mph.
  • Drivers must obey all traffic directions posted as part of the worksite.
  • Keep control of your car—yes, that’s a requirement in many Move Over laws. And yes, it is more of a general guidance than a rule for a specific speed. It means you need to pay attention and respond to weather conditions—heavy rain or a slick road might mean you’re required to slow down even more than 20 mph. And no texting, fiddling with the radio or other distractions.
  • Penalties for violating those requirements range from $100 to $2,000, or loss of your driver’s license.

A list summarizing each state’s law can be found on the AAA web site.

Electric utility crews are special cases to watch out for. A study of utility worksite accidents found that the relatively temporary nature of power line repairs could surprise motorists. A roadside construction operation might close a lane for days or weeks, giving time for people familiar with the area to anticipate the changed traffic pattern. Utility work, however, can start and finish in a few hours, possibly raising risks with drivers who might think they know the road ahead.

Another risk to watch for is when worksites are being put up or taken down. Roadside accidents can happen as crews are setting up signs and traffic cones.

My father-in-law used to tell his daughter every time they parted, “Drive all the time.” What he meant was that she should pay attention, and it’s good advice for all of us.

Don’t drive distracted. Drive according to the conditions of the road. Be courteous to roadside work crews. Watch the signs and obey them. And certainly, follow laws like Move Over or Slow Down. It’s good advice that could save a life.

Learn more at

The Arbor Day Foundation has named Middle Tennessee Electric a 2021 Tree Line USA®utility to honor its commitment to proper tree pruning, planting and care in the utility’s service area. This marks the third consecutive year MTE has earned this recognition.

“I am proud Team MTE has once again received this honor,” said MTE President and CEO Chris Jones. “I would like to congratulate the hard work and dedication of our Vegetation Management Team. The job they do greatly enhances the reliability of our system.”

Tree Line USA is a national program recognizing public and private utilities for practices that protect and enhance America’s urban forests. A collaboration of the Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters, Tree Line USA promotes the dual goals of delivering safe and reliable electricity while maintaining healthy community trees.

“Trees are a critical part of urban landscapes all across the United States,” said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. “They provide important benefits to residents, including clean air, clean water and a tolerable climate. Service providers like Middle Tennessee Electric demonstrate it’s possible for trees and utilities to co-exist for the benefit of communities and citizens.”

MTE achieved Tree Line USA by meeting these five program standards:

  • Utilities must follow industry standards for quality tree care
  • Provide annual worker training in best tree care practices
  • Sponsor a tree planting and public education program
  • Maintain a tree-based energy conservation program
  • Participate in an Arbor Day celebration.

For more information on MTE’s Vegetation Management Program, please visit

If you’d like to know more information about Tree Line USA, please visit

About Middle Tennessee Electric (MTE)
Founded in 1936, MTE is the largest electric cooperative in the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) region and the second largest in the United States, serving more than 600,000 Tennesseans via 310,000+ accounts covering nearly 2,200 square miles in 11 Middle Tennessee counties, primarily Rutherford, Cannon, Williamson and Wilson. Municipalities served include Murfreesboro, Franklin, Brentwood, Smyrna, Lavergne, Lebanon and Mt. Juliet. MTE employs 510 people in 7 local offices and its Murfreesboro corporate headquarters.

For more information, please visit


For more information, please contact:
Amy Byers at 615-494-0407 or [email protected]

NASHVILLE – The 112th Tennessee General Assembly app gives Tennesseans interested in government and politics a powerful tool for connecting with lawmakers.

Tennessee legislators will return to Nashville on Jan. 12 for the first session of the 112th Tennessee General Assembly. During this year’s session lawmakers will consider legislation that can have an impact on Tennessee families and businesses. That makes it important to stay informed and, at times, reach out to your elected officials.

The Tennessee General Assembly app features a continually updated, searchable database of contact, staff and committee information as well as district maps, photos, leadership roles and social media profiles for members of the Tennessee House and Senate. It also contains information on the governor and his cabinet and the Tennessee congressional delegation.

The app was developed through a partnership between the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and Bass, Berry & Sims PLC. TECA has published an annual directory of the General Assembly for more than 50 years. “Each year, we collect and maintain information on legislators, and we believe that all Tennesseans should have easy access to this information for their lawmakers,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “The app makes it easier than ever to connect with your elected representatives.”

The free app is available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices and can be found by searching for “Tennessee General Assembly” in the Apple App Store or Google PLAY Marketplace.

PVEC’s Coppock

New Tazewell, TENN. – Powell Valley Electric Cooperative Board of Directors has named Brad Coppock, senior engineer, as the cooperative’s next general manager effective March 1, 2021.

Current general manager and CEO Randell W. Meyers recently announced his upcoming retirement effective February 28, 2021.  Meyers has served the cooperative since 1964. He was named general manager in 1992 and later general manager and CEO.

Mr. Coppock is a graduate of Horace Maynard High School in Union County, Tennessee and a 2001 graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a degree in computer engineering. He has held a Professional Engineer license since 2013. Mr. Coppock has been employed with the cooperative for 19 years, serving as engineer until 2013 when he was promoted to senior engineer. While in college he was a co-op student with the cooperative for two summers.

Mr. Coppock is a resident of New Tazewell, Tennessee, where he resides with his wife and three children.

“We appreciate Randell’s 57 years of dedicated service to the co-op, with the last 28 doing an outstanding job as our general manager,” said Board President Roger Ball on behalf of the PVEC Board. “We look forward to working with Brad. He is well qualified for the position and we know he will do a great job.”

“We congratulate Mr. Meyers on his retirement,” said David Callis, executive vice president and general manager for TECA. “Thousands of businesses and families in the Powell Valley region depend on the critical services that the co-op provides, and we look forward to working with Brad and the team at PVEC.”


Tradition and pride create effective outage restoration teams

By Paul Wesslund

When a big storm knocks out power for you and your neighbors, there’s a good chance help is already on the way from electric cooperatives near and far.

That lightning-fast response comes from a combination of a centuries-old co-op tradition, the latest in weather-forecasting technology, an ingenious contract between electric cooperatives and municipal utilities, and lineworkers’ spirit of dedication, pride and adventure.

When a power outage is caused by an especially severe natural disaster, the devastation can be more than your local electric co-op can quickly repair on its own. That’s when other co-ops swoop in, from next door and sometimes, from other states.

Perhaps you’ve seen them. They arrive in caravans of utility vehicles with military-like precision as part of a plan called a “Mutual Aid Agreement.”

The origins of the Mutual Aid Agreement can be traced back to 1844, even before there were electric utilities, when the first formally organized cooperative created a set of operating principles that included “Cooperation Among Cooperatives.”

When electric co-ops were formed in the 1930s, they used that handshake-style working arrangement to help each other with repairs after severe storm damage. But in the early 1990s, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requested a more legalistic accounting for the aid it provided electric cooperatives after natural disasters.

So electric co-ops, represented by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), got together with FEMA and the organization for city-owned utilities, the American Public Power Association, and produced a stunningly short contract—it’s exactly one page long. The contract says when one co-op goes to help another, it will charge reasonable rates for the crews and equipment.

The simplicity of that arrangement fits the tradition of co-ops cooperating with each other, says Martha Duggan, senior director for regulatory affairs with NRECA.

“It is a natural extension of who we are,” she says. “Helping each other is something we do naturally as part of our co-op family and our culture.”

A contract is one thing, but success means carrying it out effectively. To that end, Duggan says electric co-ops rely on their decades of experience. They share that experience with each other, and they meet regularly to keep procedures updated.

The response to your power outage can start days before it even happens, with co-ops tracking weather patterns that could knock down poles. They organize themselves under their own state associations, planning for how many line crews might be needed and where they will come from, and even making hotel reservations to house crews.

One recent, crucial update of the mutual aid procedure was in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Duggan explains that keeping lineworkers safe from the virus can mean more time and more expense. She asks co-op members for extra patience as social distancing requirements mean changes––for example, only one lineworker per truck rather than two, and no more bunking multiple lineworkers in a hotel room.

In addition to the careful planning and procedures, there’s another secret ingredient to why co-ops come together in a crisis so effectively—the lineworkers. When they head out to a storm-ravaged area, it’s with a serious kind of excitement as they get ready to use their skills for a cause they passionately believe in—restoring electricity.

“It is a pride of workmanship,” says Duggan. “There is this sense of adventure to it, but there is also the sense of responsibility that this is what we do. We get the lights back on.”

Paul Wesslund 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.

Baby, it’s cold outside! When you’re feeling chilly at home, there are several budget-friendly ways you can keep comfortable without turning up the thermostat.

Here are five easy ways to stay cozy this winter.

  1. Whether you’re experiencing extremely cold winter temps or you simply “run cold,” an electric blanket can deliver quick warmth like a regular throw or blanket cannot. Electric blankets can include a variety of features, like timers and dual temperature settings (if your cuddle buddy prefers less heat). This winter, consider an electric blanket instead of turning up the heat, and your energy bill will thank you.
  2. One of the easiest ways to stay cozy at home is to keep your feet warm. Our feet play a critical role in regulating body temperature, so when your feet are warm, your body automatically feels warmer. Try a pair of comfortable wool socks or house slippers to stay toasty.
  3. On winter days when the sun is shining, take advantage and harness natural warmth from sunlight. Open all curtains, drapes and blinds in your home to let the sunshine in––you’ll be able to feel the difference.
  4. Another way to make your home cozier is to use a humidifier. Cold air doesn’t hold water vapor like warm air, so by adding humidity inside your home, you can feel a little warmer. A favorable level of humidity inside your home can also help clear sinuses, soften skin and improve sleep.
  5. Beyond adding visual appeal to your home, area rugs can also provide extra insulation and a warm surface for your feet on cold winter days. Use large area rugs in rooms where you spend the most time. You’ll enjoy the new colors and textures of the rug, and the additional warmth will help keep your home comfortable.

These are just a few ways you can stay cozy this winter without turning up the thermostat. Don’t forget the hot chocolate!

Abby Berry writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives.