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Upper Cumberland Electric Corporation News

The Power of Resilience: Cookeville District Office Reopens

If 2020 was the year of change, we hope that 2021 will be known as the year of resilience.

The very definition of resilience is “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.”  Few could argue that the journey through 2020 has been challenging, and we've had to be tough to get through it.

The last twelve months brought a heaping helping of trials to the Upper Cumberland – challenges that other parts of the nation didn’t have in addition to the battle against Covid-19.

 Cookeville Office Damage from Tornado in March 2020The E-F3 tornado collapsed the UCEMC Cookeville District office's ceilings in the early morning hours of March 3, 2020.On March 3, 2020, deadly E-F3 tornadoes devastated our area, leaving thousands without homes, without power, and most tragically, leaving us mourning the loss of many of our friends and neighbors. One of our own at UCEMC was among those seriously injured when her home was destroyed.

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Livingston Christmas Memories

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Christmas Past: It was a holiday to remember when light snow fell on Livingston Square on December 20, 1966.

 

Livingston2020

Christmas Present: This photo was taken 54 years later - December 20, 2020, from the same vantage point. The LED streetlights are new, the buildings remodeled, but the charm remains.

Photos by Carl Ledbetter.

 

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UCEMC Cookeville Moves Into Renovated Office

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    The UCEMC Cookeville District office damaged by the March tornado has been renovated, and we look forward to seeing you there soon! However, for the health and safety of our associates and members during the pandemic, UCEMC will assist members only from the drive-thru window during regular business hours until further notice. All UCEMC business may be conducted with our service representatives at the window. Thank you for your patience and understanding during these difficult times.

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Giving Back is a Year-Round Effort

Over the years, you’ve probably heard or read about Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation’s concern for our community. This is one of the core principles that sets cooperatives apart from other types of utilities and businesses. We’ve always taken this mission and responsibility to heart. It’s who we are as a co-op.

In these past few months, like so many of you, we’ve risen to meet new challenges and strengthen our community's safety net, particularly for those who are most vulnerable. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve made numerous adjustments to programs and operations to maintain business continuity while staying focused on the bigger mission of helping our consumer-members during this turbulent time.

Now, with the holidays fast approaching, these recent events have made us pause and think about the role we play in our community. While our purpose is to provide safe and reliable energy to you, the members we serve, we have a greater mission––to be a catalyst for good.

You’re probably aware of our UCEMC Cares program, where we take donations from generous members like you who have “rounded up” the amount due on their electric bill to help children get the food they need, therapeutic programs, summer camp, and athletic safety equipment for their youth teams that they could not otherwise afford. Or, perhaps you’ve heard about our Youth Tour program, where we take our community’s brightest young people to Washington, D.C. for a week-long immersion to experience democracy in action.  

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Jennifer Brogdon to Replace Retiring UCEMC General Manager/CEO

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2021 will usher in a new era for The Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation. Jennifer Brogdon is the new CEO and General Manager, effective January 4, 2021. Jennifer will be taking over for Jimmy Gregory, who has been serving as GM since 2009 and is retiring in January 2021.

"Jennifer brings more than 28 years of experience in the electric utility industry", said Board President Morris “Moose” Tyree. "Her technical background plus her extensive leadership experience positions her well to lead us into the future.”

Before joining UCEMC, Jennifer held leadership roles at Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in marketing, innovation, and regulatory areas. Recently, she served as TVA’s director of regulatory assurance, providing regulatory oversight of 153 local power companies that distribute TVA power. She has strong partnerships with municipal and cooperative power companies and statewide associations. TVA is the operator of the nation's most extensive public power system and power supplier to a population of approximately 10 million people.

"UCEMC makes a real difference in the quality of life for the Upper Cumberland region," Jennifer said. "I look forward to working with leadership and staff to provide our members with the best service possible."

The new co-op leader is a Knoxville native but has strong local ties. She graduated from Tennessee Technological University (TTU) with a B.S. in Civil Engineering. She also completed a leadership program at Vanderbilt University. Jennifer's two young adult children, Adam (B.S. Business 2019) and Gracie (a junior) are also TTU Golden Eagles.

Ken Holmes's executive search team facilitated the UCEMC Board's search for the new CEO.

Jennifer will be relocating to Carthage from her current home in Chattanooga and plans to take an active, visible role in the community.

Welcome to UCEMC, Jennifer!

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Love at First Sight: New UCEMC Members Star in Tourism Commercials

 Rich and LindaFavoriteRich and Linda Roherty pose for the cameras at the Overlook near Carthage. The Brush Creek newcomers are pitching for The Upper Cumberland Tourism Association.

     He rides a Harley Street glide. She rides a Harley Softail Deluxe. Together, Rich and Linda Roherty have the best, safely-distanced seats for leaf-peeking as they cruise the Upper Cumberland on their bikes each weekend. It’s a favorite past time they could comfortably enjoy for only a few months in the brutal winds of their native Chicago. Their travels brought them to Tennessee on vacation in 2018, and just as it was when they met at Northwestern 31 years ago, it was love at first sight. They sold their home, packed their belongings, and headed south.

     Hearing them talk about why they relocated to Brush Creek is what tourism commercials are made of. "We talked about good places to retire, central location, weather, activity, and lower taxes, and we decided on Tennessee,” says Linda. “We wanted a healthy location and beautiful scenery. The ridge tops sold me in Brush Creek. The beauty of the area is amazing!” Southern hospitality and an easygoing lifestyle sold Rich on the permanent move. “The surprise was the charm of the people,” he explains. When strangers start talking to you from the Chicago area, you get a little cautious, however here in Tennessee, friendliness is commonplace, and we love it.”

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Considering Solar Panels?

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If you're like several homeowners in the Upper Cumberland, you've been contacted by suppliers selling solar panels and other renewable energy products.  These contractors are becoming more assertive in our area, calling upon Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation members and offering solar installation opportunities while promising significant savings on their energy bill.

This is the part where we remind you of that old, but still relevant adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

Call Before You Install

UCEMC urges all members to listen closely to these renewable energy sales pitches. Before committing to any contract, please call UCEMC to confirm the rules and guidelines that all solar projects must follow. The equipment must be evaluated and approved for interconnection to the UCEMC system before it is connected. We need to ensure that the solar equipment does not cause significant safety, power quality, or reliability issues to UCEMC's distribution system.

We can help.

The Federal Trade Commission warns the abuse by some rooftop solar companies is real, and you're urged to take every precaution to protect yourself and your money.

The TVA Energy Right program can assist members in identifying a quality network of trained and experienced solar professionals near you. Check out TVA’s Tips for choosing a qualified installer.

We want to help you understand the benefits of renewable energy and we want you to be informed about UCEMC's interconnect policies and procedures. Please contact UCEMC for more information if you are weighing renewable energy options for your home. 1-800-261-2940.

Local People. Local Power.

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Scam Alert for UCEMC Members!

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We told you about this in October, but it seems scammers are at it again. Some UCEMC members from the Carthage area report receiving a call that, in several cases, shows up on Caller ID as a local call.  Scammers are known to "hijack" the telephone numbers of local residents to make these calls.  A recording informs members that they are to experience a power outage in the next 30 minutes if they don't pay their electric bill immediately over the phone. This is a scam! UCEMC will never call you asking for financial information.

Please inform us if these scammers contact you. 1-800-261-2940

 

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Power On: October is National Co-op Month

     Lineman On Pole 2

     As an electric cooperative, our top priority is always to provide reliable, affordable energy to you, the consumer-members we serve. Because we are a co-op, our mission is to enrich the lives of our members and serve the long-term interests of our area –– and this mission has never been more critical than in recent months. One of the seven principles that guide all co-ops is "concern for the community." To us, this principle is the essential DNA of Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, and it sets us apart from other electric utilities.

     October is National Co-op Month, and electric cooperatives across the country highlight the many ways we "Power On." Keeping this theme in mind, we recognize the essential role we play in serving a particular community like ours.

     Who would have fathomed in March that the COVID-19 virus would test our community and our nation? The changing circumstances due to the pandemic have created both challenges and opportunities. Over the past several months, our challenge is to operate differently, and UCEMC has stepped up to help our members and strengthen the safety net for our more vulnerable neighbors.

     As an essential service, and to ensure the reliability of your power supply, we modified our operations to safeguard business continuity. Our line crews and other employees began working on staggered schedules to maintain separation. Some staff worked remotely. In the office, we limited and modified meetings and gatherings to allow for safe distancing. We also adjusted our walk-in office availability and in-person service calls to ensure the health and safety of our employees and our valued members. Also, we held a safer annual "drive-in" meeting this year to keep members informed according to cooperative bylaws. For the health and safety of everyone, we think these measures were the prudent course of action for the times.

     For our members impacted by COVID-19 who needed help with their electric bills, we waived late fees and worked with those hardest hit to make special payment arrangements. And while we certainly missed visiting with you in person, we found new ways to stay connected. We tell you about all of these efforts not to boast about UCEMC, but to explain how much we care about this community––because we live here too. We've seen other local businesses rising to meet similar challenges during this time because that's what communities do. While the difficulties caused by COVID-19 are daunting, we're heartened to see how everyone is pulling together.

     In 1938, Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation was built by the community to serve the community, and that's what we'll continue to do – Power On.

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UCEMC Members to Receive Relief Credit Thru 2021

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The COVID-19 Pandemic impact on the Upper Cumberland is unprecedented, creating economic uncertainty for members struggling to pay their electric bills.

To help communities and businesses recover in our area, UCEMC will pass along to members a credit the co-op is receiving on its Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) wholesale power bill. The TVA Board approved the credit as part of a unique $200 million Pandemic Relief Credit plan. The UCEMC retail member bill credit of approximately 1.6% applies to all standard service rate classes and becomes effective October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021.

UCEMC General Manager Jimmy Gregory calls the Pandemic Relief Credit a positive move toward investing in the community. “We buy our power for Upper Cumberland from TVA,” Gregory explains. “With the Pandemic Relief Credit plan, UCEMC will receive a wholesale power credit on our standard service base rate. In turn, this wholesale price reduction gives us the flexibility to pass those savings along to our members during this difficult time.”

In TVA's recently reported third-quarter results, power sales were 5% lower than last year due to milder weather and the Pandemic's impacts. Operating revenues, fuel costs, and operating and maintenance expenses were all lower. The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States providing electricity for local power distributors and serving nearly 10 million people in seven southeastern states. TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity.

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UCEMC Crews to Restore Power in Hurricane-Ravaged Areas

Sally crew1Nine UCEMC linemen from the Livingston and Carthage Districts headed South early Friday to restore power in the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Shores area.

L-R front row: Doug Regan (Liv); Brandon Rigsby (Car); Corey Gregory (Car); Tim Reid (Liv); Devan Copeland (Liv); Jonathan Washer (Car); T.J. Hillabrand (Liv);

L-R top: Spencer Anderson (Car); Adam Jolley (Car).

Crew Rushes to Assist in Hurricane Aftermath

Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation is sending two crews of lineworkers and equipment to assist Baldwin Electric Membership Corporation with recovery efforts near Gulf Shores, Alabama. Hurricane Sally slammed the Gulf Coast with winds and heavy rain, leaving more than a half-million residents without power.

“We’re proud of our linemen for volunteering to assist the Baldwin EMC crews,” says UCEMC General Manager Jimmy Gregory. “They will be working long days in difficult conditions, but they quickly responded to the call for help. We ask that the public keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers while they are away.”

Crews from UCEMC’s Livingston and Carthage District offices loaded equipment and headed out early Friday morning.  It is unclear how long they will be in Alabama. These nine linemen from UCEMC are joining other co-op lineworkers from across Tennessee who will be assisting with hurricane recovery efforts. The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association in Nashville coordinates requests for mutual aid and makes travel and lodging arrangements for crews who respond. “It is an honor to work alongside so many brave and selfless individuals who leave behind family and the comforts of home to serve strangers in need,” says David Callis, executive vice president, and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Godspeed, gentlemen, and thank you for the important work you do.”

UCEMC is a member-owned cooperative that provides safe, reliable, and affordable power to more than 50,000 homes and businesses in the Upper Cumberland.

 
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TVA October Power Outage Planned

.Power Outage Photo

  The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) plans an overnight power outage for approximately 3,856 Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation members served from the Gordonsville Substation. The interruption of power will begin at 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 3, 2020, for up to six (6) hours into Sunday morning, October 4. 

    Members who reside in the following areas will be affected:

  • Ivy Agee Estates,
  • Hogan Road,
  • Rodgers Group,
  • Hickman,
  • Sykes,
  • Brush Creek,
  • Gordonsville,
  • New Middleton Hwy,
  • New Middleton,
  • Brush Creek,
  • Grant Rd,
  • Grant Hwy,
  • Alexandria Hwy,
  • Main Street Gordonsville,
  • Stonewall,
  • Lancaster Hwy,
  • Edgar Evans State Park,
  • Club Springs,
  • Carthage Junction,
  • Temperance Hall,
  • Dale Ridge,
  • Cove Hollow Boat Dock.

    The overnight power interruption is needed by TVA to do necessary repairs on equipment. UCEMC will take advantage of the outage to do maintenance on its system as well, according to UCEMC General Manager Jimmy Gregory. “We regret any inconvenience the planned outage may cause,” Gregory said. “This maintenance must be performed to maintain reliability on our system.”

    The planned outage will be postponed if inclement weather, which includes lightning, is in the area or is expected in the area at the scheduled time of the power interruption.

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82nd Annual Meeting A Drive-In Event for 2020

Drive-In-event-Large UCEMC Drive-in Event

     Here in the Upper Cumberland, the second Saturday in September is something extraordinary for UCEMC members who never fail to attend the annual meeting. We see friends and neighbors we sometimes haven't seen since last year. We cheer when we win a door prize, and we look forward to tasting the crispy, delicious fish in the afternoon buffet. We come early to hear about what's new at our electric co-op. We stay until the afternoon for the fellowship and the fun.

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EV Charging Stations Installed in Livingston and Carthage

Chargepoint_Station EV Charging Station

There are several roadblocks to more rural people buying electric vehicles. The first is the high cost of owning an EV with an expensive battery with a limited lifespan and range. Longer battery life is what many consumers are demanding before they "go electric" with their vehicles. Then, there's the biggie: how do you charge the battery out here in the country? Many rural areas offer no public charging stations, and what do you do if the EV runs out of "juice," and you're headed to the Smokies? There's a term for the concern that your EV battery will run out before reaching your destination – range anxiety.

LivingstonEVchargerOverseeing the installation of the Electric Vehicle Charging Station in Livingston recently are L-R: Shannon Cantrell, Overton County Chamber of Commerce Director; Michael Hayes, Parks and Rec. Director; UCEMC General Manager Jimmy Gregory; UCEMC District Manager Ben Winningham; and Livingston City Mayor Curtis Hayes. The charger is located in the parking lot of Livingston Central Park. 

Tennessee Tech University received a grant to look into range anxiety and all the factors that might be preventing those of us in rural areas from buying an electric vehicle. The study, funded by the Department of Energy, evaluates the use of electric cars serving what they term as "a rural and largely economically distressed area."

This project places EV charging stations in several counties and UCEMC members are already benefitting from two chargers in service.  UCEMC and Seven States Power Corporation recently set up a charging station in Smith County at the Carthage Sav-Way and on September 11, a charger was installed in Overton County in Livingston Central Park.  

"EV drivers in rural areas need to feel confident that they can find these chargers when they're away from home and won't be stranded with a dead battery on a country road," says UCEMC General Manager Jimmy Gregory. "EVs have long been a popular urban vehicle, but that's changing quickly, and we need to be ready."  

Brad Rains, of Seven States Power Corporation, expects EV drivers to embrace the Chargepoint charging station's convenience. "Most EV drivers will charge the battery overnight at home," says Rains. "This station is used for getting a little bit of power over a shorter period. Every hour you charge at the Chargepoint, you'll add 25 to 30 miles of range to your car. It's like topping off your tank."

EV owners download the Chargepoint app and set up an account with their credit card on a mobile phone or computer. They scan the app at the station, and once the car is plugged into the machine, the cost is one dollar per hour. While the vehicle is charging, area merchants hope Carthage EV drivers will do their grocery shopping or grab a meal at nearby restaurants.

The Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency is a research partner with TTU in the project and very soon, are planning to operate a full-electric shuttle bus as part of this study.

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Step Into the Ease of 1-800-261-2940

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A convenient, streamlined experience awaits you today when you call to report an outage, manage your account, or pay your bill.

The new Interactive Voice Response system (IVR) allows you to walk through an updated, straightforward process. Let's take the first steps to create your profile and make future calls to 1-800-261-2940 more efficient:

Step 1 – Make sure your phone number ties to your UCEMC account. The IVR identifies you by the phone number entered on your billing record with UCEMC. If your number isn't on your account, or if you call from an unrecognized number, you will need to enter your account or phone number on your first call. You may add or update the phone number on your account by choosing: manage account > get account information. Once here, you can choose:

  • Amount Due
  • Account Balance
  • Due Date
  • Update Phone Number

Once your number is in the system, your account is instantly recognized by the IVR. You may report outages or manage your account with ease.

Step 2 – Create a credit card profile on the ucemc.com website or Smart app. You may list more than one credit card in your profile. Be sure to save this card information for use next time you call.  Once you have set up your card profile, the IVR will confirm the last four digits of the card on file. If you don't have a card profile set up in advance, you must enter and confirm card type, expiration date, CVC code, and billing zip code each time you pay. 

Now, one call to 1-800-261-2940 is all you need to simplify the management of your UCEMC account. 

Local People. Local Power.

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TVA Offers Incentives for Virus-Killing UV Technology

COVID_Schoolbus Virus Killing UV lights in HVAC

Tennessee Valley Authority is offering incentives to schools and businesses that install virus-killing UV lights in HVAC systems. TVA says UV-C is a short wavelength ultraviolet light used around the world to disinfect the air in hospitals and laboratories.

Germicidal lights, called Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) can be installed into the ductwork of many existing commercial HVAC systems. THE UVGI systems help kill airborne pathogens as air flows through a ducted HVAC system.

Customers can receive a $30 per ton incentive from TVA toward the adoption of approved UV technologies that directly combat coronavirus.

Pre-approval is required for the UVGI incentive offering, so that the program, impacted customer, and Preferred Partner Network contractor can be aligned. For more information, contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Now, paying UCEMC bills with FastPass is as easy as 1-2-3.

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  • Visit the kiosk at the UCEMC District offices in Cookeville or Carthage: Select “One-Time Payment” and have your UCEMC account number handy.
  • Sign Up: Once you complete your payment, select “YES” to sign up for FastPass. Paying your bill is about to become quicker and easier!
  • PIN Set Up: Set up a 4-digit PIN when prompted. The kiosk will print a barcode you can keep to scan next time, or you can use your phone number and PIN. You may now choose how to get your receipt, by print, text, or email.

Next time you use the kiosk, select “FastPass,” scan your barcode and enter your PIN. We’ll store your account number, and you can choose to receive future receipts by text, email, or printout. Your MyPaySite account links to the phone number entered the first time you use the kiosk.

FastPass is an optional service provided by Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation to make the kiosk payment process more convenient. Questions about your FastPass payment? Call FastPass tech support at 877-876-7076.

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It's here: One Call Does It All!

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 Now, this is the only number you’ll need to report an outage or take care of UCEMC business around the clock, seven days a week:

1-800-261-2940.

UCEMC has implemented a new user-friendly Interactive Voice Response System (IVR) that conveniently allows us to look up account information based on your phone number.

From there, you can report outages, pay your bill with a credit card, manage your UCEMC account and, during regular business hours, speak with our district customer service representatives in Carthage, Cookeville, Gainesboro or Livingston. It’s quick, it’s easy, and you can call us from anywhere. It’s toll-free.

     “All of our former contact numbers became obsolete as of August 1,” UCEMC General Manager Jimmy Gregory explains. 1-800-261-2940 is now the only number you’ll need to report an outage, review your account, pay your electric bill, or speak to service representatives during the regular business hours in any of our districts. We’re confident that this change will simplify the process of account management for our members.”

Keeping this number handy will help you manage your Upper Cumberland Electric Membership account when it works for your schedule; when you’re traveling or when you can’t find the time to go online.

One call does it all at Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation. 

Local People. Local Power.

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UCEMC Lobbies Now Open

  LobbyBooth

Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation quickly responded to COVID-19 concerns by closing all district office lobbies for the safety of members and employees. As the community now begins recovery, UCEMC will resume standard business practices while keeping the physical and economic well-being of our members at the forefront.

Monday, June 8, 2020 - District office lobbies in Carthage, Livingston, and Gainesboro reopened. The Cookeville district office, damaged by the March tornado, will continue to offer service at the drive-thru until further notice. All offices will practice social-distance guidelines.

 Call Us. We can help!

UCEMC recognizes the significant economic fallout from the pandemic. During the crisis, service disconnections due to non-payment of bills were temporarily suspended, just one of the many steps taken to reduce stress on families and businesses in an uncertain time. The COVID-19 pandemic was unprecedented, causing record unemployment and financial challenges. However, these accounts will need to be made whole soon. UCEMC will immediately begin working with members who have missed payments or have a past due balance due to economic hardship.

Monday, June 15, 2020 – UCEMC will resume disconnections for accounts with a past due balance unless payment arrangements are made in advance with UCEMC.

Payment solutions UCEMC can explore with members may include setting up a Pre-pay account, or arranging payments over six months, depending on the amount in arrears. UCEMC members unable to pay their electric bills are urged to contact UCEMC as soon as possible to discuss making a payment or setting up a payment plan.

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UCEMC Notice of Directors To Be Elected

Boardroom

Per Article IV, Section 4.05 of the bylaws of the Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, notice is given of three impending vacancies on the Cooperative’s Board of Directors due to expiring terms of three incumbent directors.

  • One directorate term will expire in District One, and one director will be elected or re-elected from District One, which consists of the areas served by UCEMC in DeKalb, Macon, Smith, and Wilson counties.
  • One directorate term will expire in District Two, and one director will be elected or re-elected from District Two, which consists of the areas served by UCEMC in Putnam and White counties.
  • One directorate term will expire in District Four, and one director will be elected or re-elected from District Four, which consists of the areas served by UCEMC in Jackson County. Deadline for a petition to become a candidate on June 14, 2020. 

Any member meeting the qualifications for a director as specified in Article IV, Section 4.02, of the Cooperative’s bylaws may petition to become a candidate for election to the Board of Directors.          

Any candidate for director must file a qualifying petition with the Secretary of the Cooperative, Alan Pippin, or with the Cooperative’s General Manager, Jimmy Gregory, on or before June 14, 2020.

Qualifying petition forms and copies of the Cooperative’s bylaws and the Board’s policy governing Directorate Election activities are available by request at any cooperative office:

All petition packages will be issued from UCEMC’s Corporate Office, 907 Main Street North, Carthage, TN 37030.

A Credentials Committee, appointed, meeting, and acting per Article IV, Section 4.07 of the Cooperative’s bylaws, will determine the eligibility of each petitioner to become a qualified candidate.

If required to comply with Article IV, Section 4.11 of the Cooperative’s bylaws, a District Directorate Election will be held on August 29, 2020, between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. in the Cooperative’s office in each directorate district.

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