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Upper Cumberland Electric Corporation News

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.

Fastpasscropped

  • 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!

 Cellphonelady

 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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Food Storage During Outages

Open Fridge

           According to the USDA:

  • A fully-stocked freezer will stay cold for two days.
  • A half-full freezer will keep items frozen one day.
  • An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold four hours after power is lost.
  • Be sure to check the temperature inside your fridge once electricity is restored to determine if the food is safe to eat.
  • The refrigerator should be at or below 40 degrees with the freezer at or below zero degrees.
  • If a prolonged outage is expected, place items that can be frozen in the freezer.
  • Food such as milk, cheese, and eggs can be packed with ice in a closed cooler. 
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UCEMC: Keeping Us Connected

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A Washington Youth Tour Favorite Shares Resources

T Rex At The Smithsonian T Rex At The Smithsonian

The Washington Youth Tour is an annual event sponsored by the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and the state's 23 electric co-ops. It provides these young leaders with an opportunity to explore the nation's capital, learn about government and cooperatives, and develop their leadership skills. Students are selected for the trip by writing short stories titled "Electric Cooperatives - Connecting Communities" that explain how co-ops provide communities with much more than electric power. One of the favorite stops for the teens on tour is The Smithsonian and its 19 museums. While The Smithsonian is closed during the COVID-19 crisis, it is offering UCEMC members and students at home, free access to the virtual tours and educational links below. Enjoy!  

Dear Friends of the Smithsonian, 

We sincerely hope you, your families and loved ones are keeping safe and healthy during these extraordinary times.  By now, you may be aware that the Smithsonian made the difficult decision to close our museums to the public on March 14 due to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic in our nation and world.  The health and safety of Smithsonian visitors, staff, and volunteers is our top priority, as is the health and safety of all Americans.

We invite you to explore the Smithsonian's online resources by visiting SI.edu and all our museum websites for more information on virtual exhibitions, online collections, and educational resources.  Further, nearly 2.8 million of the Smithsonian's collection items are now available for public use through Smithsonian's Open Access.

Open Access makes more of the Smithsonian's collections available for use by the public. Free Access items include text, images, recordings, research data, 3D models, collections data, and more. Open Access makes the Smithsonian's resources available to anyone, anywhere.  Open Access items are in the public domain and free of copyright restrictions. You can use Open Access items for any purpose, free of charge.  All of the Smithsonian's 19 museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives, and the National Zoo contributed images or data to Open Access. It includes content across the arts, culture, sciences, history, technology, and design - from portraits of historic Americans to 3D scans of dinosaur skeletons.

The Smithsonian remains committed to supporting lifelong learners of all ages in these unprecedented times. Digital educational resources from Smithsonian museums, research centers, libraries, and archives are at everyone's fingertips, including content explicitly geared toward students and teachers.

For those of you caring for school-age children during this challenging time, we wanted to share with you a list of free online educational resources created by the Smithsonian Institution's museums and education centers.

  • The Smithsonian Learning Lab includes pre-packaged collections containing lessons, activities, and recommended resources made by Smithsonian museum educators and thousands of classroom teachers across the country. Visit the Smithsonian Learning Lab's Distance Learning hub, which is being updated regularly with the latest information and resources.

Although how we learn and explore the world together has drastically changed, our hearts and minds continue to be full of boundless curiosity.  We, at Smithsonian, believe it is more important now than ever before to stay connected and begin utilizing new, exciting ways of sharing knowledge.

We hope that these tools will help to inspire and guide your learning during this time, and, as always, we appreciate your continued support of the Smithsonian.
 


Kind regards,
The Smithsonian Media team

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Precautions for COVID-19: Lobbies to Close 3/23/2020

PeopleMasks

UCEMC will continue to provide excellent and reliable electric service, but we are now taking extra safety precautions for members and our employees. Due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) threat to the health and safety of our members, UCEMC lobbies will now CLOSE on Monday, March 23, until further notice. We appreciate your understanding and patience during these challenging times.  

Bill payment and other Cooperative business may be conducted safely and securely by utilizing other UCEMC options:

  • Online at ucemc.com – Click on PAY MY BILL to get to the Customer Service Portal. Enter your account number that's on the bill and your password. New to online bill pay? Click on NEW USER to set up your online bill payment option.
  • UCEMC Mobile App and Mobile Web App – Look for our name in the App Store or the Android Market. If you can't find our App in the Android Market, that likely means your phone is not supported. Our Mobile Apps are secure and no personal information stores on your mobile device. 

Pay by Mail: Send your check or money order to UCEMC, P.O. Box 159, Carthage, TN. 37030. 

Pay by Phone: You may pay by phone during regular business hours, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. by calling your local district UCEMC office:

PaySite Kiosks – Two kiosks allow you to pay your UCEMC bill any time, 24/7 with cash, check, or credit card.

  • Carthage: 907 Main Street
  • Cookeville: 1794 West Broad Street.

Drive-Thru Window - You may continue to pay your bill from the comfort of your vehicle at UCEMC district office locations during regular business hours.

New Service - Applications and instructions for applying for new service are available at the Drive-Thru Window until further notice.

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UCEMC Payment Options for Your Safety and Convenience

Masked Woman

The news and information we hear about the coronavirus changes by the hour and can be unsettling. Here at Upper Cumberland Electric, we're concerned about the health and safety of our members and will strive hourly to stay in step with national guidelines and regulations.

 During these stressful times, we understand that the elderly and those who are considered "high-risk" may prefer to stay at home and social distance themselves from a crowd. UCEMC has several convenient electric bill payment options to offer you some peace of mind.

Online at ucemc.com – Click on PAY MY BILL to get to the Customer Service Portal. Enter your account number that's on the bill and your password. New to online bill pay? Click on NEW USER to set up your online bill payment option.

UCEMC Mobile App and Mobile Web App – Look for our name in the App Store or the Android Market. If you can't find our App in the Android Market, that likely means your phone is not supported. Our Mobile Apps are secure and no personal information stores on your mobile device. 

Mobile Apps are supported on the following platforms:

  • iOS 7.0 and above (iPhone, iPod Touch, and/or iPad)
  • Android 2.3x and Android 4.x.x

Our Mobile Web App version supports the following browser:

  • Google Chrome on Android OS 2.3 and 4.x.x
  • Safari on iOS 7.0 and above
  • Internet Explorer on Windows Phone 7
  • BlackBerry browser on BlackBerry OS 6 and above

Our Mobile Apps are native Apps that can be downloaded and installed on your compatible mobile device. The Mobile Web App is a web portal that runs directly in the mobile browser on your smartphone or other mobile devices. Both will give you secure access to account information and will allow you to make payments on one or more accounts directly from your mobile device. The native Apps also allow you to register your accounts to receive push notifications for account milestones, such as approaching or a missed due date. Push notifications are not available through the Mobile Web App.

Pay by Phone: Members may pay by phone during regular business hours, 8:00 a.m – 4:30 p.m. by calling their local district UCEMC office:

PaySite Kiosks – Two kiosks allow you to pay your UCEMC bill any time, 24/7 with cash, check, or credit card.

  • Carthage: 907 Main Street
  • Cookeville: 1794 West Broad Street.

Drive-Thru - You may continue to pay your bill from the comfort of your vehicle at UCEMC district office locations during regular business hours.

Co-ops are owned by the members we serve. This fact impacts everything we do here at Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation. People always come before margins, and our employees are serious about the responsibility we have to provide power and support to our communities during these trying times.

      

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UCEMC Cookeville Offices Open for Business

CeilingCookeville

The Cookeville District office of Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation has reopened after sustaining significant damage from the tornado that ripped through Putnam County on March 3. 

While all business has resumed at the Cookeville office, two banks will continue to take UCEMC electric bill payments temporarily as a convenience to anyone displaced by the storm.  Putnam County members may pay their bill with a check or money order at the First Freedom Bank, 376 West Jackson Street in Cookeville, or at the bank’s Algood location, 614 West Main Street, across from Walmart and Potters. Immediate payments on Pre-Pay accounts must be made at the Cookeville office to prevent service interruption.

The Bank of Putnam County will temporarily accept UCEMC bill payments at three locations in Cookeville: 140 S. Jefferson, 237 S. Willow Avenue, and 1108 East 10th Street, and in Baxter at 404 Main Street. The Bank of Putnam County will accept cash, check, or money orders.

As of Saturday, March 7, power was restored to all UCEMC members whose homes were not too damaged to safely receive electricity.

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Outage Update:

Power Outage Photo

OUTAGE UPDATE 3/4/2020: UCEMC crews have restored power to more than 1800 homes in the Carthage area. However, 150-200 outages in Carthage remain due to 16 broken poles. In Cookeville, lines to 2000 homes along Highway 70, West Locust Grove Rd., and Bloomington Rd. are out of service and are being worked on at this time. The UCEMC Cookeville District office sustained significant harm, and communications systems are down. We are re-routing outage calls to other district offices to serve you. Thank you for your patience as we all work together in this recovery and repair effort across the UCEMC service area.

UCEMC offers these tips to help you stay safe:

  • Be wary about being out on the roads until the "all clear" by officials.
  • Don't go into standing water; there may be a downed power line that you can't see nearby.
  • Stay far away from all UCEMC equipment, downed poles, and power lines.
  • Please allow our crews to do our jobs to get your power restored. 
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Three Rainy-Day DIY Projects to Tackle Before the Dog Days of Summer

DoggieDryerMake the most of your clothes dryer by ensuring an appropriate vent hose length. A shorter, unobstructed vent hose increases the efficiency of your dryer, dries clothing faster, and reduces lint buildup, which can create potential fire hazards.

     These last weeks of a rainy winter might be delaying your outdoor plans but look around the house. There you'll find at least three hidden opportunities to save energy––and money, especially if you enjoy do-it-yourself projects that don't require a loan or a professionally-stocked toolbox.

If your goal is making your home more efficient, but you don't want to break the bank, there are several DIY projects you can tackle now to increase energy savings. Here are three inexpensive efficiency upgrades that can help you save energy throughout the year. 

Trim Dryer Vent

Level of difficulty: easy. Supplies needed: tin snips, gloves, measuring tape, and masking tape. Estimated cost: about $25 depending on the supplies you already have.

If your dryer vent hose is too long, your dryer is working harder than it has to, using more energy than necessary. The vent hose should be long enough for you to pull the dryer out a couple of feet from the wall, but the shape of the tube should form a line––it should not have a lot of slack, with twists and curves. A shorter, unobstructed vent hose increases the efficiency of your dryer, dries clothing faster, and reduces lint buildup, which can create potential fire hazards. 

Measure, mark, and trim the hose to the desired length, then reattach the hose to your dryer and exterior vent. If you're unsure about the hose length, check out YouTube.com for a quick video tutorial.

Seal Air Leaks

Level of difficulty: moderate. Supplies needed: caulk and caulk gun, weather stripping, gloves, putty knife, paper towels. Estimated cost: $25 to $50 depending on the materials you purchase.

Sealing air leaks in your home can help you save 10% to 20% on heating and cooling bills. Apply caulk around windows, doors, electrical wiring, and plumbing to seal in conditioned air. It would help if you also weather-stripped exterior doors, which can keep out drafts and help you control energy costs. Types of caulking and weather-stripping materials vary but ask your hardware or home store for assistance if you're unsure about the supplies you need. For more information, the Department of Energy provides step-by-step instructions for caulking and weather stripping: https://bit.ly/2Kesu6W

Insulate Attic Stairs Opening

Level of difficulty: moderate. Supplies needed: rigid foam board, faced blanket insulation, tape for foam board, measuring tape, utility knife, caulk and caulk gun, plywood. Estimated cost: $50 to $100.

A properly insulated attic is one of the best ways to optimize energy savings and comfort in your home. Still, many homeowners don't consider protecting the attic stairs, or the opening to your attic space. Even a well-insulated attic can leak air through the stair opening, but luckily, there's an easy fix.

An insulated cover box can seal and insulate the attic stairs opening. You can build your insulated cover box or purchase a pre-built box or kit from a local home improvement store like Home Depot or Lowe's for about $60. If you decide to build your own, check out these step-by-step instructions from the Department of Energy: https://bit.ly/36YNCYQ. If your attic opening is in a garage that you do not heat and cool, this upgrade will not be as effective.

Saving energy doesn't have to be hard. With a little time and effort on these rainy days, you can maximize energy savings and increase the comfort of your home just in time for the dog days of summer.

Based on an article by Abby Berry, who writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. 

 

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Electrify Your Lawn Care This Spring

Man with Leaf Blower

                                                                                   Photo by Lisa Fotios

Spring is just around the corner, and you can practically smell the freshly-cut grass. If you're in the market to upgrade your lawn care equipment, you may want to consider electric (or battery-powered) options.

Gas-powered lawn mowers and trimmers may be your go-to, but times they are a-changing'. Electric lawn care equipment offers consumers faster charging times, longer battery life, and quieter, greener products compared to their gas-powered counterparts. Here are three ways you can electrify your lawn care this spring.

Electric Lawn Mowers

Electric lawnmowers have come a long way over the last few years. Early models required corded connections, which were tricky to manage––but we're ready to cut the cord. Newer cordless electric mowers are certainly more expensive than gas-powered mowers. Still, much of that upfront cost is recoverable. Electricity is a less expensive fuel than gas, and electric engines generally require less maintenance than gas engines. Cordless electric mowers typically range from $200 to $500.

Electric mowers are suitable for most lawn care needs. The batteries typically require about one to two hours to fully charge, and most batteries can run for a full hour. That said, if you have a large yard (half an acre or larger), a gas-powered option may be best to suit your needs.

Electric Trimmers

Cordless electric string trimmers are an excellent option for most lawns. Traditionally, like lawnmowers, string trimmers have typically been powered by gas. But new versions of electric trimmers are improving and are now considered worthy competitors of gas-powered models.

Cordless electric trimmers are much quieter and simple to start, but most batteries last only about 30 to 45 minutes. So, if you have a lot of space to trim, you may want to consider a back-up battery or plan to work in short bursts. If you're interested in purchasing an electric trimmer, the main factors to consider are the battery's life, charge time, and power. Costs can vary depending on your needs, but you can find a quality version for about $100.

Electric Leaf Blowers

After cutting and trimming your lawn, you'll need to clear off those walkways and patios for the finishing touch. If you don't want to deal with the maintenance of a gas-powered blower or the restraints of a corded blower, a cordless electric version is a great option.

Cordless electric leaf blowers are lightweight and easy to maneuver. They don't offer quite as much power as gas-powered and corded blowers, but if your leaf-blowing and clearing needs are minimal, a cordless electric leaf blower can get the job done. Costs for a cordless electric blower vary depending on power and battery quality. Expect to pay about $150 and up for a dependable model.

If you're looking to electrify your lawn care equipment, be sure to do your homework. Search online for the latest reviews, and check trusted websites like ConsumerReports.org. With a little research, you'll be well on your way to Lawn of the Month – with less maintenance, hassle, and noise (and your neighbors will thank you!).

 

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. 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.

 

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