MITCHELL, SD (January 11, 2022) – TECA associate member Vantage Point Solutions is pleased to announce the addition of in-house Environmental and Cultural Resource services, further streamlining construction project management in the face of increasing permitting requirements.

“Construction projects across the country are facing increased environmental and cultural resource requirements,” says Chad Glanzer, President of Vantage Point Solutions. “The ability to provide these services in-house streamlines how our clients meet those requirements.”

The in-house team will help clients fulfill requirements of the National Environmental Protection Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, and the Clean Water Act, as well as state and tribal historic preservation offices, the Army Corps of Engineers, and FCC Form 620/621.

Environmental services include floodplain mapping, wetland delineation, biological and environmental studies, and agency coordination. Cultural resource services include literature reviews, reconnaissance surveys, site evaluation, mitigation plans, excavation and recovery projects, artifact curation, construction monitoring, and determination of effect.

Jana Morehouse

The new department is led by Jana Morehouse, a Registered Professional Archeologist and Department of the Interior-qualified Principal Investigator with over 15 years of experience in the industry. In this new role, Morehouse oversees a team of archeologists and environmental scientists whose experience spans the country in areas ranging from coastal monitoring to historical architecture. “We study the past to help others in the future,” Morehouse says. “As part of the Vantage Point team, we are leveraging that experience to improve and streamline client projects.”

Being part of a larger spectrum of services has additional benefits for clients, according to Morehouse: “Being fully integrated means we understand the entire project and can see problems before they become a problem. We can proactively fix things before they cause delays.”

Since it’s founding in 2002, Vantage Point has offered multiple integrated services under the same roof. In recent years that has included a focus on clearing hurdles to construction: The Right-of-Way and permitting team has been expanded significantly, and an Aerial Make Ready department was added in 2017.

The new Environmental department – which includes both environmental and historical preservation staff – is an extension of that focus, says Glanzer: “It’s easier for clients. Every project encounters an issue at some point, and being all on the same team means there’s less runaround to get to a solution. Experts are already engaged.”

The Environmental department will work alongside the existing Right-of-Way team, providing comprehensive permitting expertise directly integrated with OSP project managers.

Vanderbilt University, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Nashville Electric Service (NES), Duck River Electric Membership Corporation (DREMC), and Silicon Ranch Corporation broke ground today on a new solar farm that is now under construction in Bedford County, Tennessee. The 35-megawatt (MWAC) Vanderbilt I Solar Farm is expected to begin producing power before the end of 2022, bringing new renewable generation to the Tennessee Valley.

Originally announced in January 2020, the partnership was the first of its kind under TVA’s nationally-recognized Green Invest Program, which matches demand for green power from diverse business, industrial and organizational customers with new utility-scale solar projects located within the Valley. The award-winning renewable energy program offers customers an effective, timely, and cost-competitive solution to meet their sustainability goals in a way that benefits the broader community.

“Today marks a milestone for the Tennessee Valley as we break ground on the first project ever developed under TVA’s Green Invest program, and we are thrilled to be doing so with Vanderbilt University, our long-term partners NES and DREMC, and our local renewable energy partner Silicon Ranch,” said Jeannette Mills, TVA Executive Vice President and Chief External Relations Officer. “Together with 153 local power company partners, TVA is building the energy system of the future.  Green Invest has positioned us to bring together customers and renewable energy partners who are all investing in our communities.”

In 2019, Vanderbilt announced its goal to power the campus entirely through renewable energy and become carbon neutral by 2050. The renewable generation from the Vanderbilt I will offset approximately 70% of Vanderbilt University’s annual Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions, or the equivalent of enough power to help serve more than 6,000 homes for one year.

“We are excited to partner with TVA, NES, and Silicon Ranch on this landmark solar project, which we hope will provide a model of collaborative, forward-thinking solutions that can be adopted by other organizations in our region and across the country,” said Daniel Diermeier, Chancellor of Vanderbilt University. “The Vanderbilt I Solar Farm will generate new jobs and tax revenues for the local community and also yield new educational and research opportunities for our faculty and our students—setting a bold precedent for how we can continue to work together on behalf of our shared future.”

Nashville-based Silicon Ranch is funding the project and plans to hire more than 250 craft workers, the majority of whom will be recruited from the Bedford County area and the military veteran community, to install the facility. Silicon Ranch will also own, operate, and maintain the Vanderbilt I Solar Farm, a disciplined approach the company takes with every project it develops.

“Several of our colleagues and I are proud Vanderbilt alumni, and all of us at Silicon Ranch applaud this world-class institution for its bold and thoughtful leadership,” said Matt Kisber, Co-Founder and Chairman of Silicon Ranch. “Thanks to Vanderbilt’s commitment and the vision of our friends at TVA, NES, and DREMC, Silicon Ranch is on pace to invest well over $1 billion in renewable energy projects across the Tennessee Valley, and we are proud to expand this legacy to Bedford County.”

To facilitate the Vanderbilt I Solar Farm, Vanderbilt entered into an agreement with TVA and NES, the university’s local power company. The solar project will interconnect to the electric grid through the distribution system of another local power company, DREMC.

“NES is proud to partner with TVA, Vanderbilt, DREMC and Silicon Ranch to reduce carbon emissions in our region,” said Decosta Jenkins, President and CEO of NES. “We are committed to providing safe, reliable, and affordable power while continuing to listen to our customers’ needs.”

“Duck River Electric is thrilled to support this project and our friends at Vanderbilt, NES, TVA, and Silicon Ranch on this journey,” said Scott Spence, President and CEO of DREMC. “It is a privilege to be part of helping Vanderbilt achieve their sustainability goals, while ensuring the members of Duck River Electric do not incur any of the expense.”

The Vanderbilt I Solar Farm will utilize Silicon Ranch’s transformative Regenerative Energy® land management model, a holistic approach to design, construction, and operations that co-locates renewable energy production with regenerative agriculture practices. The innovative platform delivers valuable environmental, social, and economic outcomes above and beyond the significant positive impacts a solar facility alone can generate, creating additional value for the surrounding communities and project stakeholders. Once the project is operational, Silicon Ranch will restore the land to a functioning grassland ecosystem while keeping the project in agricultural production through managed sheep grazing using regenerative land management practices.

Murfreesboro, Tenn. – Middle Tennessee Electric (MTE) President and CEO Chris Jones has received the 2022 J.C. Brown CEO Communication Leadership Award. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) presented Jones the award at the organization’s CEO Close-Up Conference Jan. 10 in Phoenix. 

According to NRECA, the J.C. Brown Award “recognizes an electric cooperative or public power district CEO/general manager who is committed to advancing communication at the cooperative and in the electric cooperative industry.”  

Jones has an extensive background in the communications field, graduating from the University of Tennessee with a degree in communications and starting his career as a journalist and editor. He went to work at MTE in 1999, serving as communications coordinator and the VP of communications and member services before being named CEO in 2013. 

“We should understand, yet not be intimidated by, the reality that communication is work that is never finished and demands intentionality and continuous improvement,” Jones said. “I have been studying communication since college and attempting to execute it throughout my professional career, and I know I still have much to learn and improve upon. However, I am humbled by and appreciative of this recognition from NRECA.” 

Jones emphasizes the importance of clear, simple and repeated communication across multiple channels to all of MTE’s audiences, always striving to meet the goal of making the lives of MTE members better. In recent years, his leadership and robust communication efforts have navigated the organization through a major tornado in its service area, several severe weather events, the acquisition of United Communications, the merger with the Murfreesboro Electric Department, the continued impacts of COVID-19 and a complete brand refresh. 

His nomination was given a perfect score by one of the three judges who helped select this year’s winner and another mentioned his “notable” use of a strategic plan to communicate the organization’s mission and goals with both employees and members. 

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. 11 for the second 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.

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: https://kyelectric.coop/2021/12/15/kentucky-rural-electric-disaster-fund/

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: https://mywatermark.benevity.org/community/fundraiser/5759

Additional Community and Faith-based Funds

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

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

Lake Road Relief Fund
Simmons Bank
simmonsbank.com

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee
Middle Tennessee Emergency Response Fund
cfmt.org/tornado2021 • 888-540-5200

American Red Cross
redcross.org • 1-800-RED CROSS

Southern Baptist Churches Disaster Relief
tnbaptist.org • 615-373-2255

United Methodist Committee on Relief
umcmission.org • 800-862-4246

Churches of Christ Disaster Relief
churchesofchristdrt.org • 937-308-7593

Samaritan’s Purse
samaritanspurse.org • 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 https://united.net.

Additional information on the partnership can be found at www.United.net/DREMC or learn more about Project UNITE at www.United.net/project-unite.

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.

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 wgu.edu/power 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 wgu.edu/power.

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.