Electric cooperatives are ready to work with elected officials

By Jim Coode, General Manager

As the nation prepares to welcome a new Congress and presidential administration, America’s electric cooperatives are ready to welcome back old friends and introduce ourselves to newcomers. The co-ops’ message to elected officials — old and new, Republican and Democrat — will be the same: We all need to work together to protect consumer access to safe, reliable and affordable electric service.

We have reason to believe this message will be well-received. After all, co-ops speak for more than 42 million electric consumers nationwide, a sizeable constituency by any measure.

Moreover, whatever you thought of the 2016 campaign, one message came through loud and clear: Many, many people don’t believe their concerns are being heard. For member-owned cooperatives, listening to people is at the heart of our business model. And we carry our members’ concerns to public officials every day.

As co-ops reach out to engage with elected officials, we will build on the strength of Co-ops Vote, the grassroots initiative to reverse declining voter turnout in rural areas.

Co-ops Vote did more than register voters. It sent a strong message to the country’s elected officials that rural electric consumers matter.
And co-ops will be reinforcing this message with a request that policymakers keep the needs of consumers front and center — needs such as funding for infrastructure, especially transmission lines and access to natural gas, increasing the efficiency of the electric system and determining the future of hydropower and nuclear energy.

Elected officials will be making decisions affecting every aspect of the electric system. Advocating for these issues is nothing new. In fact, we’ve been doing it for years. And we’re ready to continue the fight on your behalf. Now is the time to reach out to all elected officials, new and returning.

Here at Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, we will be reaching out to local, state and federal officials. In initial conversations, we will be explaining the unique member-owned, not-for-profit co-op business model. And we will be reminding longtime politicians of our co-op’s commitment to its members.

In Washington, D.C., our national trade association, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, will be conducting similar introductions, speaking with key agencies and departments within the new administration. It is likely that many of these new policymakers will know little or nothing of the co-op model.

Forging an energy future that serves rural consumers and protecting access to safe, reliable and affordable electric power will be a bipartisan effort. Electric co-ops are optimistic. As we work with our elected leaders, we hope to renew a spirit of cooperation in the nation’s capital and in statehouses across the country.

After all, cooperation is what co-ops do best!


Giving back is the co-op way

As some of you might know, cooperatives across the globe adhere to the same Seven Cooperative Principles that guide all our decisions — from how we run the co-op to how we engage with our local communities. Concern for Community is the seventh principle, and it is one that all CEMC employees value year-round. But during the holiday season, concern for community seems especially important.

Electric cooperatives have a proud history of giving back. Each fall, CEMC holds a community food drive to assist needy families in our area. Coordinated through local elementary schools, the food drive brings in thousands of nonperishable food items for distribution through local community-assistance agencies. CEMC employees also hold an in-house food drive in conjunction with the community food drive each year.

Our winter clothing drive is another way CEMC lends a helping hand to those in need in our community. If you visit our offices during the holidays, you will see “Trees of Giving” that serve as collection points for coats, hats, gloves and other cold-weather clothing items. These donations, too, are distributed by local assistance agencies that know where the greatest needs are.

CEMC members help us give back, too. Through the Project Help program, members can choose to pay an additional $1 or more on their electric bills each month to help pay the utility bills of the elderly, disabled and/or those who are not economically self-sufficient right here in our community. Last year, CEMC members contributed more than $45,000 to the Project Help fund.
So many families go without on a daily basis and struggle to make ends meet. This struggle can be especially hard during the holiday season.

There are many ways you can give back to the community that go beyond dollar donations. Take some time to go through your closets and find clothes that no longer fit or have lost their use. Bag those items up and take them to your local Salvation Army, Goodwill or church clothing drive. Volunteer for a local food or toy drive, deliver meals to the sick and the elderly or simply make a meal for a neighbor in need.

No matter how great or small the act, every time we give back, we strengthen our community. So take the time to give back this holiday season. You’ll be glad you did.

CEMC joins efforts to restore power in Hurricane Matthew aftermath

From left, Clint Marshall, Dover serviceman; Stephen Fitzhugh, Dover lineman; John Quick, construction crew lineman; Dean Bertram, construction crew lineman; Brandon Hix, construction crew working foreman; Bryan Barrow, construction crew general foreman; Justin Frazier, construction crew lineman; Gordon White, construction crew lineman; Trey Hoover, construction crew working foreman; Henry Odom, Ashland City lineman; and John Wilson, Ashland City lineman, gather at the Construction Office in Coopertown before departing for Keystone Heights in Northern Florida to assist Clay Electric Cooperative on Oct. 7. They joined more than 80 volunteers from

Tennessee co-ops to restore power to those affected by Hurricane Matthew in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. CEMC lineworkers worked in Keystone Heights until Oct. 10. They were then routed to Four County Electric Membership Corporation in Elizabethtown, North Carolina, where they spent an additional three days working to restore power.


Pole-testing conducted in CEMC service area

Osmose Utilities Service Inc., a contractor working for Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, will be working to inspect, test and treat wood utility poles within the cooperative’s service area. Workers are expected to be present for the next several months. The purpose of the program is to inspect and treat the poles on a cyclical basis. CEMC hopes to prolong the life of existing poles by applying decay-preventing treatments and replacing those that are no longer safe enough to leave in its plant.

Osmose workers can be identified by the hard hats and brightly colored safety vests they wear. They will also carry laminated ID badges, and their vehicles will be marked with magnetic signs. Members who have concerns about the legitimacy of workers on their property are encouraged to contact CEMC at 800-987-2362 for more information.

Incumbents retain seats on CEMC board

Three seats on Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation’s board of directors were filled by incumbents during the cooperative’s annual meeting Sept. 17 at White House Heritage High School. Each director ran unopposed and was re-elected by voice acclamation during the business session of the meeting.

Wesley H. Aymett of Ashland City will serve his fifth term as director for Cheatham County, Dr. K. Jean Beauchamp of Coopertown will serve her second term as director for South Robertson County and C. David Morgan of Cunningham will serve his fifth term as director for South Montgomery County. Aymett currently serves as vice president of the board, and Beauchamp is assistant secretary-treasurer.

Young members fuel community food drive

Throughout the month of October, Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation joined forces with local elementary schools to host its annual community food drive. Because of the efforts of the students, parents, teachers and communities involved, CEMC was able to donate thousands of nonperishable food items to help put food on the tables of those less fortunate this holiday season. All items collected were donated to local food banks for distribution.

“We are so grateful for the support we received during our food drive this year,” says CEMC Community Relations Coordinator Stephanie Lobdell. “Your generous donations will be a blessing to those who receive them.”

Participating elementary schools were East Robertson, West Cheatham, Clyde Riggs, Watt Hardison, Cumberland Heights, Sango and North Stewart.

Project Help: neighbors helping neighbors

Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, in cooperation with local energy assistance agencies, offers a program in which members who choose to participate can donate $1 or more each month to help provide some relief to individuals who are struggling to pay their utility bills.

The program, Project Help, allows members to pay an additional $1 on their electric bills each month to help pay the utility bills of the elderly, disabled and/or those who are not economically self-sufficient. Project Help is a voluntary program. All money collected from Project Help goes to energy assistance agencies in our communities, which determine how these special funds are distributed. Here’s how the Project Help Program works:

Who is eligible to receive Project Help funds? To qualify, Project Help recipients must contact their local energy assistance agencies. They will be required to provide proof that they are unable to bear the cost of heating their homes and that they do not exceed the annual income limit established for the assistance program.

How are the funds administered? When CEMC receives your Project Help donation, 100 percent of the money goes directly to the assistance agency that administers the program in your county. The agency distributes the assistance based on qualifying needs.

Who contributes to Project Help? Everyone can contribute to CEMC’s Project Help program. The minimum donation is $1 per month.

How long do I donate to Project Help? You are billed each month on your CEMC statement for the amount you wish to donate. You will continue to be billed each month until you notify CEMC that you would like to discontinue your donations.

How will I know I am donating each month? You will see a separate line on your CEMC statement to show your Project Help donation.

How do I sign up? If you would like to donate $1 or more each month to Project Help, you can do so by marking the box on your bill stub and completing the Project Help section on the back of your bill. Or contact CEMC’s Customer Service Department either by phone at 800-987-2362 or live chat on our website,

By donating to Project Help, you can make a difference for someone in need this winter. Please consider joining us in warming the homes of our neighbors by contributing to Project Help. A dollar a month can truly make a difference.

Senior Scholarship Program

Twelve graduating high school seniors (from CEMC five county service area) will be awarded $1000 academic scholarships. Each scholarship is to be used toward tuition, text books, and/or required class materials after the winner has enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited Tennessee college, university, or trade school of his/her choice. Scholarship awards are payable directly to the institution upon proof of enrollment. Application

Caring about youth is the cooperative way

Jim Coode, General Manager

In June, Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation sent 12 high school juniors to Washington, D.C., for the 52nd Annual Electric Cooperative Youth Tour. Students who experience Youth Tour have the opportunity to explore our nation’s capital, make lasting friendships, compete for college scholarships, learn a bit about how our government operates and see the impact electric cooperatives have on the legislative process.

Youth Tour is one of the programs for which electric cooperatives across the country are best known. (Read more about Youth Tour on pages 22-24.) But electric cooperatives go far beyond Youth Tour when it comes to making a difference in our young members’ lives.
At CEMC, we are invested in youth education and engagement programs throughout our local community. Each year, CEMC awards 12 college scholarships to well-deserving graduating seniors across our service area. Every summer, we send sixth- and seventh-grade students to 4-H Electric Camp to learn electric safety as well as the science of electricity in general. Throughout the school year, CEMC provides electric safety demonstrations to students of all ages, participates in career days and sponsors spelling bees, math competitions and more.

And we’re not the only ones getting involved. We are happy to be a part of the broader co-op community, which strives to provide young Americans with safety and educational programs during the summer and throughout the year. Here’s how some of them are getting young people involved:

Electric co-ops in several states, including Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas and Utah, run summer camps that teach kids about the cooperative business model. In fact, the kids get to create and run a co-op for the summer! They pay their dues (50 cents) to become a part of the co-op and proceed to handle co-op business — from voting on board members and choosing a general manager to setting prices and determining inventory for their chosen business.
Here in Tennessee, our co-ops are taking students to their state capital so they can see their state government at work. Students participating in the Youth Leadership Summit visit Nashville and meet their state legislators. They leave the program having learned about more than just their hometown cooperatives and Tennessee state government; they leave with practical experience, leadership skills and a desire to work hard for their future.

There are many great co-op programs out there that focus on youth education and engagement. But what all of these programs have in common, no matter how big or small, is the fact that electric cooperatives come together for a common cause to not only teach our youth about the cooperative difference but to give them opportunities to see and reach their potential.

Join fellow co-op members at the 2016 annual meeting

Along with the directors, management and employees of Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, I would like to extend an invitation to each of our members to attend our cooperative’s 78th annual membership meeting. This year’s meeting will be Saturday, Sept. 17, at White House Heritage High School in Robertson County.

Doors will open at 8 a.m. for registration and breakfast, followed by the business session, which begins at 10 a.m. Between times, we invite you to browse through the selection of door prizes to be given away, pick up your annual meeting gift (one per registered member, while supplies last), visit informational booths, enjoy musical entertainment provided by the Backlot Pickers and bring the kids to play in the Youth Corner.

Three directors are seeking re-election this year, and you can learn more about each of the candidates on the following page. Because each director is running unopposed this year, voting will take place by voice acclamation during the business session. CEMC’s financial report and a summary of the cooperative’s activities will also be given during the business session.
Members who are unable to attend the meeting will still have an opportunity to win a $100 bill credit by attending early registration at one of CEMC’s business offices on Friday, Sept. 16, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

CEMC employees work hard to host this event each year. We encourage you to take this opportunity to attend and learn more about your cooperative, enjoy breakfast with friends and maybe even win a prize!

From all of your friends at CEMC, we hope to see you Sept. 17 at the annual meeting.

Director candidates must meet July 19 deadline

Please note this has already occurred. It is still displayed for informational purposes.

Members of Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation who are interested in serving on the board of directors can obtain a petition from the general manager’s office. Each petition must be signed by at least 15 members.

The petition must be completed and turned in by the deadline of Tuesday, July 19, which is 60 days prior to the 2016 annual meeting. This year’s meeting will be held Saturday, Sept. 17, at White House Heritage High School in Robertson County.

An election will be held for the following director positions: Cheatham, South Robertson and South Montgomery.

Anyone with a valid membership in good standing as of July 19 can vote in director elections. Those applying for membership after July 19 will not be eligible to vote in this year’s election but are welcome to attend the meeting and register for prizes.

(CEMC Bylaws Article 3 — Section 3.05)

Cook wins Power Distributors scholarship

Marklee Cook of Clarksville has been awarded a $4,000 scholarship from the Tennessee Valley Authority and Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation through the TVA Power Distributors Scholarship Program.

Marklee, the daughter of CEMC Engineering Division Manager Mark T. Cook and his wife, Stephani, is among 35 recipients of this year’s Power Play Scholarships provided by the Power Play Scholarship Association to recognize outstanding academic performance and a commitment to community service among high school seniors whose parents are employed by local power companies.
A graduate of Clarksville High School, Marklee will attend the University of Tennessee at Knoxville this fall.

Scholarship recipients, chosen by an eight-member selection team of educators from colleges and universities in the seven states of the Tennessee Valley, are selected based on academic achievement, standardized test scores, leadership qualities, letters of recommendation and written essays.

Since they were established in 1995, 517 Power Play Scholarships have been awarded through contributions and fund-raising efforts by the Power Play Scholarship Association and its members.

The benefits of choosing an electric water heater

As expected, people take for granted that water heaters make it possible to have hot showers, clean dinner dishes and load upon load of freshly laundered linens. The lonely water heater, tucked away in the basement or a utility closet, is out of sight and out of mind.
There are times, however, when your attention turns to replacing that most essential of appliances. A homeowner will make a decision that has consequences that persist for a decade or two, maybe longer. Your water-heating choice will have implications for energy efficiency, cost of use, the environment, safety and reliability. As a trusted energy adviser, Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation can help you make the right decision.

As a member of the cooperative, you might already know about many of the advantages and benefits of electric water heaters. First, electric water heaters are safe. There is no threat of carbon monoxide poisoning, combustion or explosion.
Electric water heaters are also easy to install, requiring no expensive gas lines, exhaust flues or on-site fuel tanks. Compared to other fuels, the cost of electricity is stable.

In addition, electric water heaters are emerging as a building block of the future electric grid. These formerly mundane units are evolving into smart appliances and energy storage units that are helping the grid become more stable and more efficient. By heating water when demand for electricity is low and storing the thermal energy for later use, electric water heaters can save you money.

Not everyone acknowledges the superiority of electric water heaters. In the coming months, you might see television commercials or other advertisements that will try to sell you on the merits of propane water heaters. A propane marketing group is behind the campaign, and there’s no telling what kind of claims they’ll make. The fact is that propane is a fossil fuel, and prices tend to fluctuate wildly. If you install a propane heater today, you’ll live with the consequences and risks for years to come. That’s the inconvenient truth.

If you have questions about water heater options or other energy efficiency needs, give us a call at 800-987-2362. At CEMC, we’re here to be your trusted energy source.

Move Over and Save a Life

In 2011, following efforts by Tennessee’s electric cooperatives and municipal utilities, the state’s Move Over law was revised to not only include police, firefighters and other first responders, but utility workers as well. Unfortunately, motorists do not always heed the law.

 “Lineworkers have to concentrate on the dangers on the pole and on the ground. We have had cars come through way too fast, hitting the cones we have set up and clipping the outriggers that we have down to support the trucks,” says Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation Safety Coordinator Chip Miller. “We see lots of people looking at their phones and not paying attention like they should.”

The requirements of the law are simple. On a four lane road, if safety and traffic conditions allow, a driver approaching a utility vehicle with flashing lights should move into the far lane. On a two lane road or when changing lanes is not possible, a driver should reduce their speed.
Electric co-op vehicles aren’t the only utility vehicles covered; service vehicles used by municipal electric systems, telephone companies and utility districts are also protected by the law.

“July marks the 5th anniversary of the expansion of the law, but most motorists are still not aware of it,” says CEMC General Manager Jim Coode. “Our linemen perform an important job for our community. Changing lanes or slowing down to give them a little space is a simple courtesy that could save a life.”

More information about the law is available at


Use caution near co-op equipment

As you find yourself spending more time outdoors this summer, Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation reminds you to exercise caution near electrical equipment maintained by the co-op.Substations and power lines carry extremely high voltages, and if contact is accidentally made, the results can be dangerous — or even deadly.

Never climb trees near power lines. If you make contact with a tree that is touching a power line, your body could become the path of electricity from the line to the ground. If you encounter an animal trapped in a tree near power lines or inside a substation, do not attempt to remove it — no matter how furry and cute! Call CEMC or 911 for assistance.

These days, we are seeing more remote-controlled toys like drones and airplanes, which can be a great way to have fun outdoors. But these gadgets also bring new safety concerns. Never fly remote-controlled toys near power lines, substations or other electrical equipment. 

Remember these safety tips when flying a remote-controlled toy:
• Keep a safe distance from electrical equipment when you fly. If contact is accidentally made with a power line or a transformer inside a substation, many members of your community could be left without electricity.
• Keep the remote-controlled toy in sight at all times.
• Avoid flying if weather conditions are unfavorable. High winds could cause you to lose control of the remote-controlled toy.
Here at CEMC, your safety is important to us. We hope you will share the message of electrical safety so that you and others can enjoy plenty of summer days filled with fun! Visit for more electrical safety tips.

Abby Berry writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Virginia-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.


Stay safe during and after storms

No one knows electrical safety better than the experts who practice it every single day. Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation encourages you to practice safety with these reminders for during and after a summer storm:

Avoid wires and water — When lightning strikes a home during a storm, the electrical charge can surge through pipes and utility wires. That means you can get zapped if you’re touching water or any device that’s plugged in, whether it’s a landline phone or toaster.

Skip the makeshift shelter
— During a storm, it's tempting to take cover under a picnic gazebo or golf cart, but in open-sided structures with no conductors to channel strikes, a bolt's path of least resistance to the ground could be you. On top of that, these structures raise your risk of a lightning strike because of their height. Keep moving toward suitable shelter.

 Take special care with portable generators
— Though these generators provide a good source of power, if improperly installed or operated they can become deadly.
Do not connect generators directly to household wiring. Power from generators can back-feed along power lines and electrocute anyone coming in contact with them, including co-op line workers making repairs. It’s best to hire a qualified, licensed electrician to install your generator and ensure that it meets local electrical codes.

Beware of flooded areas — Stay away from downed power lines and avoid walking through flooded areas. Power lines could be submerged and still live with electricity. Report any downed lines you see to CEMC by calling 800-987-2362 immediately.

Never use electrical equipment that is wet
— This holds especially true for outdoor electrical equipment, which could be a potential danger after a summer storm. Water can damage electrical equipment and parts, posing a shock or fire hazard.

We are prepared for summer storms

Summer is here, school is out and families are gearing up for a few months of fun and relaxation. While summer brings much fun in the sun, it can also bring the occasional severe storm. In the event of a power outage, you can trust that Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation is ready to respond. The major cause of most power outages comes from damage to power lines due to falling trees and branches. We work year round – through right-of-way clearing – to ensure power lines in our service territory stand little risk of being damaged by trees, branches or other types of vegetation.

Despite our best efforts, during major storms, damage can occur to transmission stations, substations and power lines. When this happens, our first priority is to safely restore power to as many members as possible in the shortest amount of time. We start by mobilizing our line crews and other critical staff. Every phone line available is utilized to take your outage report calls. The big problems are handled first – like damage to transmission lines, which serve tens of thousands of people. These problems must be corrected before we can focus on other areas where more localized damage may have occurred.

CEMC’s line crews inspect substations to determine if the problem starts there, or if there could be an issue down the line. If the root of the problem is at the substation, power can be restored to thousands of members. Next, crews check the service lines that deliver power into neighborhoods and communities. Crews repair the damaged lines, restoring power to hundreds of people. If you continue to experience an outage, there may be damage to a tap line outside of your home or business. Make sure you notify CEMC so crews can inspect these lines.

We will do our best to avoid power outages, but sometimes Mother Nature has other plans. Be sure to check our website, on your smartphone for the latest updates during a power outage.

CEMC mourns former board member Cook

Gene E. Cook, former member of the Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation board of directors, passed away April 11 at the age of 87. Mr. Cook represented South Robertson County on CEMC’s board from 1998 until 2012. Mr. Cook, son of the late James E. and Mary Corinne Bracy Cook, was born Aug. 21, 1928, in Robertson County.

He was a master electrician and worked for Hollingsworth Oil Company for 24 years. Mr. Cook served as a Robertson County Commissioner from 1990 until 2010. A member of Crossroads Baptist Church, he had a great love for gospel music, and sang with several quartets throughout his life. Mr. Cook was a loving husband, father, stepfather, grandfather and great-grandfather.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his first wife, June C. Cook; son, James Andrew Cook; brother, Loy O. Cook; and sister, Dot Cook Grubbs. Survivors include his wife, Louise Williams Cook; daughters, Angela Reynolds and her husband, Kenneth; and Liz Amick and her husband, Kevin; step-daughters, Hope Williams Rhoades and her husband, Chris; Sandra Williams Colvin and her husband, Steve; and Andrea Williams Machen and her husband, Shawn; and seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Robertson County welcomes Taste of Country

Robertson County’s Taste of Country USA is coming to Courthouse Square in Springfield Saturday, June 11, bringing your chance to experience real country food, live music and much more. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

There will be activities for everyone in the family, including an amazing Taste cooking competition, a fantastic Wet N’ Wild Kids Country (wear your water shoes and bathing suits), live talent competition and more.

Plus, if you like gospel, contemporary Christian or folk art music, this is the place to see our amazing local talent for free. There will be exciting live entertainment throughout the day on our Main Street stage as well.

Of course, what would a Taste of Country USA be without lots of good, old-fashioned, country cooking? Organizers are pulling out the stops to showcase Robertson County’s top chefs at the Taste of Robertson County. They will be serving up their mouth- watering specialties and tasty treats with plenty of small-town Southern charm. Be sure to purchase your taste tickets before the event starts; a limited number will be sold.

Kids Country is the place to be for Wet N’ Wild fun.Enjoy water slides, water inflatables, wading pools, slip-and- slides, water guns and balloons and kid-sized tasty treats!

Amazing local artisans and craftspeople will be showcasing their wares, and displays of our unique local agricultural heritage will round out the day.

Don’t miss our Spirits of the South: Harvest Time. We will honor our heritage this year by recognizing our farmers. Table sponsorships will be sold, and tickets will be given to the farmers who have worked hard to create the foundation for Robertson County. Spirits of the South is an exclusive wine, bourbon and beer-tasting event on June 4. Selections from wineries, distilleries and breweries will be available for your delight.

The Southern cuisine will be amazing and the atmosphere unforgettable. For tickets to this event or more information, call the Robertson County Chamber of Commerce at 615-384-3800.


Annual meeting notice

Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation is gearing up for the 2016 annual meeting, which will be held Saturday, Sept. 17, at White House Heritage High School in Robertson County. Doors will open at 8 a.m. for registration, breakfast and voting in director elections, and the business session will begin at 10 a.m. Watch for additional details on our website and future issues of The Tennessee Magazine

We appreciate our members!

Throughout the month of April, Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation welcomed members to enjoy lunch with the co-op at its annual Member Appreciation Day events. These free springtime events have become favorites for the members who join us each year and for the employees who have the privilege of serving them.

Each of CEMC’s business offices hosted a picnic lunch of hot dogs, chips, cookies and drinks to serve as a small token of appreciation for our members. Attendees also received free CEMC window thermometers, and one lucky member at each office won an electric grill!
We’re already looking forward to next year’s Member Appreciation Days. Be sure to keep an eye out for the 2017 schedule in an upcoming issue of The Tennessee Magazine. We hope to see you there!

Life without electric co-ops

By Jim Coode, General Manager

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if community leaders had not founded Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation 77 years ago?

Living in the U.S. in 2016, it is nearly impossible to imagine life without electricity. So many of our modern conveniences that improve the quality of our lives are dependent on make them work: from the alarm clock that wakes us up to the refrigerator that keeps our morning milk cold and fresh, from the HVAC unit that keeps us cool in the summer and warm in the winter to the vacuum that lets us clean more efficiently and all those kitchen appliances that save us time and physical energy. Of course, so much of our entertainment, whether it comes from the TV, radio or computer, depends on the kilowatt- hours your electric co-op provides. Just think: If there were no electricity, there would be no smartphones or cell phones.

Businesses of all kinds rely on electricity to produce and sell the products we need. So, it is no wonder that many electric co-ops feel that, while our primary product is electricity, we are really in the quality-of-life business. Because we are your local, member-owned cooperative, because our board and employees are your friends and neighbors, we are personally connected to our communities. We work closely with our local chambers of commerce, industrial development boards and elected officials to recruit and retain jobs in our communities. We prepare young leaders through the Washington Youth Tour program, Youth Leadership Summit, 4-H Electric Camp and Young Leaders Conference. We empower our members to control energy costs through efficiency programs and resources. Your co-op does all this and more to help make Middle Tennessee a great place to live and work.

While we are thankful for the conveniences electricity provides, it is also important to remember the 1.3 billion people in the world who still live without reliable electric service. That is equal to about four times the U.S. population! Many of the things we take for granted living in the U.S. are much harder and more time-consuming for people in developing countries around the world. We are proud members of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) that is working through its affiliate, NRECA International, and the NRECA International Foundation to help bring power to people in developing countries like Haiti and Liberia.

We are thankful that our community ancestors right here had the vision and foresight to do for ourselves what needed to be done, gathering our friends and neighbors to form our electric co-op. As the electric business of the 21st century continues to evolve, you can count on CEMC to meet all your electric energy needs. More importantly, we are here to help improve your quality of life.

Barrel Festival commemorates cooperage history

The town of Coopertown will host its Fourth Annual Barrel Festival Saturday, June 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Old Coopertown Road in Robertson County. Kentucky based Speyside Cooperage Master Cooper John Beatson will headline this year’s outdoor activities, providing live demonstrations and discussions on the art of barrel-making throughout the day.

Hundreds of merchants will line Old Coopertown Road with barn wood crafts, exhibits for local causes and next-door-neighbor creations. Icons like the Greenbrier Distillery and Wild Bill’s Old Fashioned Cream Soda will join the array of food and refreshment vendors. Springfield Guitar and The Main Stage will host a variety of live music on two different stages, featuring acts such as the Ridgetop Ramblers. LifeHouse Fellowship will present the Kids Zone with inflatables,face-painting, woodworking, wooden barrel games and other activities from Lowe’s and Honeysuckle Hill.

In addition to the Barrel Fest 5-Miler, competitions will also be held for the “Best in Show” tractor and Cooper (Woodworking) Contest.
There will be shade and seating, free shuttles and free parking at this rain-or- shine event. Thanks to many community partners, the Barrel Festival continues to grow to benefit the community within Coopertown, educating and uniting residents and celebrating the town’s rich heritage in cooperage.

For more information on the Speyside Cooperage, the history of coopering, or a look at tools of the trade, visit Event information for vendors and attendees can be found at, or or by calling 615-382-4470.


Scams targeting CEMC members

CEMC would like to remind its members to be alert for scams that continue to target utility consumers. Scam artists, often posing as CEMC employees, are using various methods to approach individuals and businesses to demand payment on supposed past-due accounts.

Please note that CEMC neither contacts members demanding payment over the phone or in person nor sends emails asking for credit card information. Members who have doubts about the legitimacy of a phone call or email should always contact CEMC directly at 1-800-987-2362, even if it appears the call or email is coming from CEMC.


Linemen recognized as community helpers

Have you ever seen a guy climbing an electric pole or working on electric lines from a bucket truck? That guy is a Lineman. Linemen work very hard to keep our power on.” That is an excerpt from “Lineman — The Unsung Hero.” This book, by Michelle Larson, was read to the kindergarteners at Greenbrier Elementary School in Robertson County and Cumberland Heights Elementary in Montgomery County who were learning about community helpers.

Students also had the opportunity to speak with linemen from Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation and watch a short demonstration on the importance of the lineworkers’ job within the community. “They discussed the significance of their equipment and gear and demonstrated the skills of their profession with our students,” said Ms. Lisa Fraizer, kindergarten teacher at Greenbrier Elementary School. “It was a unique opportunity to watch as one of the linemen climbed the pole, and some of the students even got to try on a pair of gloves that the linemen wear for a safety!”

Electric linemen have a very demanding job — one that requires them to work in extreme temperatures and hazardous conditions. When asked by one of the students, “Do you have to work outside when it’s really cold?” CEMC Lineman Timmy Jernigan responded, “It’s you we do it for. We all have families, too — kids at home, wives — and we feel the same about you as we do about them. That keeps us truckin’ when it gets cold.”

It is electric linemen who work diligently following accidents and storms to put things together again. Instances such as those refresh our memories of how much we depend on electricity and the service these guys provide to keep the lights on. The book closes with this statement: “The next time you turn on a light, think of a lineman and all of his might. And when you see him hanging proudly from his hooks or strapped into a bucket up in the sky, don’t hesitate to shout ‘Thanks!’ and wave hi!”

What a privilege it was to share with these young members how the linemen of CEMC truly are community helpers.

If you would like to see CEMC provide educational opportunities for your school, please contact Community Relations Coordinator Stephanie Lobdell at 800-987-2362, ext. 1143.


Why electric co-ops replace utility poles

You probably don’t pay much attention to the utility poles found throughout Cumberland Electric Membership Cor- poration’s service territory, but did you know these tall structures are the backbone of our distribution network? Strong, sturdy utility poles ensure a reliable electric system, which is why we routinely inspect the thousands of poles found on our lines. Throughout the year, our crews check poles for decay caused by exposure to the elements. They know which poles are oldest and conduct inspections through a rotational process.

Typically, a standard wooden distribution pole is expected to last more than 50 years.Occasionally, poles need to be replaced for other reasons besides decay and old age. Weather disasters, power line relocation and car crashes are potential causes for immediate replacement. When possible, CEMC communicates when and where pole replacements will take place so that you stay informed of where crews will be working.

Here is a quick breakdown of how crews replace a utility pole: Crews will start the process by digging a hole, typically next to the pole being replaced. The depth of the hole must be 15 percent of the new pole’s height. Next, the new pole must be fitted with bolts, cross arms, insulators, ground wires and arm braces — all of the necessary parts for delivering safe and reliable electricity. Then, crews safely detach the power lines from the old pole. The new pole is then raised and guided carefully into position, and the lines are attached, leaving the new pole to do its job.

So, the next time you come across a CEMC crew replacing a pole, use caution and know that this process ensures a more reliable electric system for you, our members.


Using energy-efficient window treatments

These days, every penny counts, which is why Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation always recommends finding ways to be energy- efficient around the house. “Windows account for 25 percent to 40 percent of annual heating and cooling costs, especially in older homes,” says Chad Corlew, CEMC energy consultant. “Blinds, shades, films and drapes are all good options to consider if old or inefficient windows can’t be replaced.”

“Windows account for 25 percent to 40 percent of annual heating and cooling costs, especially in older homes,” says Chad Corlew, CEMC energy consultant. “Blinds, shades, films and drapes are all good options to consider if old or inefficient windows can’t be replaced.” “It’s important to remember that location, placement and materials are key,” says Corlew. “Windows facing west let in the hottest light and need the most coverage, while windows facing south are the most important natural light source and only need light coverage.”

Drapery. During the winter months and in cold climates, draperies work best. Their ability to reduce heat loss depends on fabric type (closed or open weave), color, the season and other factors. Keeping drapes drawn during the winter, especially at night, could save up to 10 percent of heat loss from a warm room. When hanging draperies, make sure they are placed as close to windows as possible to reduce heat exchange and that they are long enough to fall onto a windowsill or floor.

Shades. Pleated or cellular, quilted roller and dual, shades are one of the simplest product choices for insulating rooms. But depending on the material, some are more energy-efficient than others. Cellular or pleated shades are one example of an energy-efficient choice. They can help keep air from either entering or escaping your home. Dual shades — highly reflective (white) on one side and heat- absorbing (dark) on the other — are also energy-efficient and can be reversed with the seasons. In the summer, lower shades on sunlit windows. In the winter, raise shades on the south side of a house during the day and then lower them at night.

Interior blinds. Because of their spacing and openings, blinds tend to be more effective at reducing summer heat gain than winter heat loss. But the level of cooling and heating can also be influenced by the position of the slats. When completely closed and lowered at a sun-filled window, for example, heat gain can be reduced by around 45 percent, according to industry estimates. Slats can also be adjusted to block and reflect sunlight onto a light- colored ceiling.

Window film. Residential window films can be high- end and permanent or inexpensive and temporary solutions to improve the energy- efficiency of windows. Clear solar-control window films can block up to 84 percent of the solar energy that would normally enter through windows, according to the International Window Film Association, a nonprofit organization of window film dealers, distributors and manufacturers. When installed well, you may not even know some types of film have been applied to your interior windows, manufacturers say, but they’re working year-round to block ultraviolet light in summer and retain warmth in the winter.

With these and other carefully selected window treatments, you can reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer — keeping your house comfortable and your energy bills lower.

Heat Pumps 101

Think of the name “heat pump.” It likely conjures all sorts of images to mind, none of which reflect the fact that these systems operate using the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Yes, I hear the groans, but stick with me. It isn’t going to be that bad, and you may learn something new!

There are two basic types of heat pump technology: air-source and ground-source. In an air-source heat pump, the equipment uses the outside air to provide the means for heating and cooling your home. A ground source heat pump uses good old Mother Earth’s dirt.

Since ground-source heat pump operation is a little easier to describe, I will start there. Once you get a short distance below the surface, a depth of around 4 feet, the temperature of the ground stays a reasonably constant 50-55 degrees year-round. Have you ever gone into a cave or toured a cavern? In the summer, it is nice and cool. In the winter, it seems cozy and warm. What you sense is the difference between the outside temperature and that of the cavern below ground.

Ground-source heat pumps use this temperature difference to heat and cool. These systems need some sort of heat exchanger installed underground, either vertically or horizontally, and filled with a fluid. The equipment at the house itself resembles a typical HVAC system. It uses pumps and compressors to move the fluid through pipes inside the house and in the ground where it picks up or gives off heat, depending on the need. The process is rather simple, using a fluid to move (or pump) heat from one place to another.

Air-source heat pumps may seem harder to grasp. How can such a system cool my home when the outside air is so hot? Or, heat it when it is so cold? Again, the mechanics of the system take advantage of very small differences in temperature using the proper compressor and refrigerant mix. Just like its ground-source cousin, the air-source heat pump moves heat from one spot to another. The difference is that the medium to exchange heat is the outside air, rather than the ground. Air-source and ground-source heat pumps alike use refrigerant to capture heat and carry it to where it is exchanged — either in the ground or using the outside air.

Heat pumps are very efficient, much more so than traditional heating and cooling systems. Let’s use a heat pump with a COP (coefficient of performance) of 3.0 as an example: For every unit of energy used, the system produces three units of heating /cooling. It’s not a bunch of hocus pocus — just that law of thermodynamics. Efficient as they may be, it should be noted that heat pumps can have drawbacks. In extremely cold climates, air-source models lose their ability to heat effectively at around 17 degrees.

Below that temperature, they have to use resistance electric heat to keep up and can quickly become expensive to operate. In temperate climates, they are likely your best choice for heating and cooling, especially for forced-air applications. While some companies have worked to build cold-climate models, it is still a work in progress.

Ground-source systems can operate in nearly any climate and work well with baseboard hot-water and forced-air systems. However, they can be expensive to install because of their need for a ground loop of some sort. Recently, a number of companies have introduced heat pump water heaters in response to Environmental Protection Agency rulings to bring this efficient technology to domestic water-heating. While the jury is still out, many of the same air-source benefits and drawbacks apply, including a steep price tag at present.

Heat pumps, properly applied, can make a world of difference to your monthly bill as well as to your comfort. Talk to the energy experts at Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, and find out if a heat pump is the ticket for your heating and cooling needs.

Tom Tate writes on cooperative issues for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.- based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.


Project Help donations help neighbors in need

Cumberland Electric Membership Corpora- tion, in cooperation with local energy assis- tance agencies, offers a program in which members who choose to participate can do nate $1 or more each month to help provide some re- lief to individuals who are struggling to pay their utility bills. The program, Project Help, offers assistance with the utility bills of the elderly, disabled and/or those who are not economically self-sufficient. Project Help is a voluntary program. All money collected from Project Help goes to energy assistance agencies in our communities, which determine how these special funds are distributed. Here’s how the Project Help Program works:
Who is eligible to receive Project Help funds?

To qualify, Project Help recipients must contact their local energy assistance agencies. They will be required to provide proof that they are unable to bear the cost of heating their homes and that they do not exceed the annual income limit established for the assistance program. How are the funds administered?

When CEMC receives your Project Help donation, 100 percent of the money goes directly to the assistance agency that administers the program in your county. The agency distributes the assistance based on qualifying needs. Who contributes to Project Help? Everyone can contribute to CEMC’s Project Help program. The minimum donation is $1 per month. How long do I donate to Project Help? You are billed each month on your CEMC statement for the amount you wish to donate. You will continue to be billed each month until you notify CEMC that you would like to discontinue your donation. How will I know I am donating each month? You will see a separate line on your CEMC statement to show your Project Help donation.

How do I sign up? If you would like to donate $1 or more each month to Project Help, you can do so by marking the box on your bill stub and completing the Project Help section on the back of your bill or by contacting CEMC customer service either by phone at 800-987-2362 or live chat on our website, By donating to Project Help, you can make a difference for someone in need this winter. Please consider joining us in warming the homes of our neighbors. A dollar a month can truly make a difference.

Annual food drive shows concern for community

Concern for Community- it’s one of the guiding principles by which Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation operates. What better way to demonstrate this in action than by help- ing provide food for those less fortunate in our communities?

During the month of October, CEMC employees will join forces with local elementary school students to collect nonperishable food items by hosting a community food drive. All items collected will be distributed to those in need through local food banks — Urban Ministries (Clarksville), The Bethesda Center (Ashland City), Good Samaritans (Dover), Hendersonville Samaritan Association, Portland Cares, White House Hope Center, Robertson County Food Bank and United Ministries (Springfield). Involving students in the food drive has proven to be effective in not only collecting large amounts of food for those in need but also in teaching students the importance of lending a helping hand.

“Thank you for helping us learn about helping others,” says Anne Dorris, kindergarten teacher at Coopertown Elementary. “Our class had fun collecting food for last year’s food drive!” “Thousands of items were collected during last year’s food drive, and we are confident this year will be no exception,” says CEMC Community Relations Coordinator
Stephanie Lobdell.

Individual schools will coordinate the details for their respective food drives. Check with your child’s local elementary school for specific collection dates and additional information. Be sure to check out the January 2016 issue of The Tennessee Magazine for photos of our students showing off all the items they collect!

CEMC recognized for performance of
EnergyRight Solutions Program

Tennessee electric cooperatives visit D.C. lawmakers

Representatives from Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation visited with Members of Congress on Thursday, April 30, in Washington, D.C. They joined more than 40 co-op leaders from across the state meeting with Tennessee’s Congressional delegation. Attending from CEMC were Shela Williams, board secretary-treasurer; Joe Whitaker, board member; Tommy Whittaker, board president; and Mark Cook, Engineering Division manager. 

“An important part of our mission to provide affordable and reliable energy is educating our elected officials about co-ops,” Whittaker. “These visits help them better understand the issues that concern co-ops and co-op members.”“Elected representatives make decisions and pass laws that have serious consequences for Tennessee’s electric cooperatives and their members,” says David Callis, executive vice president of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “It is important that we tell the electric cooperative story and inform Members of Congress of the impact of proposed legislation.”

Co-op members discussed environmental and power supply issues with Members of Congress during their visits. “It is important that we communicate with how legislation affects rates and reliability for everyday Tennesseans,” says Callis.

Paperless Billing Promotion Winner

Congratulations to Jamie L. Graves of Springfield who was the winner of a $100 electric bill credit for participating in paperless billing.

2015 CEMC Senior Scholarship recipients

Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation is pleased to assist in making the dream of obtaining a college degree a reality for 12 local high school seniors. Each of the students pictured above has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship to help with costs associated with continuing his or her formal education beyond high school.

To qualify for the award, each student was required to complete an application that included two letters of recommendation as well as a 300-word essay describing what he or she looks forward to most about attending college and how a scholarship, in terms of financial assistance, will aid in completing that education. The papers were judged by a panel of retired teachers who chose the top 12 applicants among many entries.

Jacob Bumpus
of Ashland City. Jacob is a graduate of Cheatham County Central High School and will attend The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Helen Cannon of Ashland City. Helen is a graduate of Goodpasture Christian School and will attend Bryan College.
Katelyn Clark of Indian Mound. Katelyn is a graduate of Stewart County High School and will attend Tennessee Technological University.
Holland Cutrell of Pleasant View. Holland is a graduate of Pleasant View Christian and will attend Lipscomb University.
Chelby Faircloth of Springfield. Chelby is a graduate of Springfield High School and will attend Tennessee Technological University.
Natalie Gregg of Hendersonville. Natalie is a graduate of Beech High School and will attend The University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
Jade Liwag of Hendersonville. Jade is a graduate of Merrol Hyde Magnet School and will attend Lipscomb University.
Aaliyah Neblett of Cedar Hill. Aaliyah is a graduate of Jo Byrns High School and will attend Western Kentucky University.
Vivian O’Brien of Clarksville. Vivian is a graduate of Montgomery Central High School and will attend Austin Peay State University.
Joel Polarek of Dover. Joel is a graduate of Stewart County High School and will attend Murray State University.
 Mac Stewart of Portland. Mac is a graduate of Portland High School and will attend Belmont University.
Candice Swaffer of Clarksville. Candice is a graduate of Clarksville Academy and will attend The University of Tennessee at Martin.

CEMC names 2015 Washington Youth Tour winners

Twelve deserving high school students are prepared to embark on what others before them have referred to as “the trip of a lifetime” – a weeklong, expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation is sponsoring these remarkable students to attend the 2015 Washington Youth Tour as a reward forwriting winning short stories titled “Electric Cooperatives: Powering Potential.” They will join hundreds of other students from across the country on what has become a tradition for co-op students since the late 1950s.

In addition to earning a spot on this educational trip, students will also be competing for $6,000 in college scholarships. The trip begins Friday, June 12, as multiple buses cross the state en route to an overnight stop in Staunton, Va. The days that follow will include visits to the numerous tourist destinations of D.C., including monuments, memorials and museums as well as a private tour of the U.S. Capitol and the opportunity to meet with elected officials. Representing CEMC on this year’s Youth Tour are:

Morgan Baggett of Adams. Morgan attends Jo Byrns High School.
Jackson Becker of Clarksville. Jackson attends Clarksville High School.
Leslie Bradley of Clarksville. Leslie attends Montgomery Central High School.
Eli Creasy of Cottontown. Eli attends White House High School.
Elease Holmes of Westmoreland. Elease attends Portland High School.
Hollie Kepley of Portland. Hollie attends Portland High School.
Emily Masencup of Greenbrier. Emily attends Greenbrier High School.
Fenyx Ramos-Pacanza of Portland. Fenyx attends Portland High School.
Rachel Payne of Cedar Hill. Rachel attends Jo Byrns High School.
Miranda Sommers of Big Rock. Miranda attends Stewart County High School.
Emily Swift of Dover. Emily attends Stewart County High School.
Brenna Van Liere of White House. Brenna attends White House High School.

Jillian Gentry, Jo Byrns High School teacher, will also attend as CEMC’s faculty representative, and CEMC employees Stephanie Lobdell, community relations coordinator, and Julie Wallace, communications coordinator, will serve as chaperones.

Co-op hosts Member Appreciation Days

Members of Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation enjoyed hot dogs, chips, cookies and soft drinks during the cooperative’s annual Member Appreciation Days held at district offices in April and May. These free springtime events have become favorites for the hundreds of members who join us each year. All attendees were welcomed by CEMC employees, and members received free compact fluorescent lightbulbs as a reminder to make wise energy choices. And one lucky member at each office won his or her very own electric grill!

If you missed out this year, don’t worry. We’ll be doing this again next spring. Keep an eye out for the 2016 Member Appreciation Days schedule in an upcoming issue of The Tennessee Magazine. CEMC thanks you for your business!

They’ll be grilling! Congratulations to each of the following members who won an electric grill during CEMC’s 2015 Member Appreciation Days: 

Dover — Joyce Hawxhurst
Springfield — Jamie Dean
Portland — Stevie Forbis
Gallatin — Joe Traughber
White House — Linda Fox
Ashland City — Keith Kirk
Clarksville — James Richardson

Saving time, saving energy

At Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, we understand that you, our members, have a lot on your plates. You’re working, going to school, and raising a family. By the time homework is done, dinner is served and the dishes are cleared, it’s almost time for bed — making it difficult to even think about paying bills and taking care of household tasks. That’s why we’re making it easier than ever to manage your electric account by offering some great options to help save you time and energy — two things we can all use a little more of.

CEMC offers a levelized billing program that helps make electric bills more predictable each month and allows members to budget more carefully. Bills are calculated by finding the average of the current month and previous 11 and multiplying by the current residential rate — so payments will vary slightly from month to month.
Prepaid billing is another great option for members on a budget. With prepay, members can avoid large deposits and manage their accounts in a way that suits their individual needs. Prepaying members can view their electric use as it occurs daily, rather than seeing and paying bills all at once at the end of the month. Prepaying members are often more aware of their use and find ways to stretch their energy dollars.

CEMC also has a bank draft option — monthly payments are drafted straight from members’ checking accounts so their bills are never late and they don’t have to fuss with mailing checks. One-time electronic payments can also be made on our website,, or by phone, with no service fee.

Paperless billing is available for members who would like to cut down on the amount of paper cluttering their desks and countertops. Members enrolled in paperless billing receive an email each month when their bill is ready, and it’s conveniently filed online, instead of the overflowing file cabinet!And those are just the billing options. When you call CEMC, it’s easy to reach a live person who’s ready to help. Prefer to chat with a customer service representative online? We’ve got that too. Chat is available during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. And don’t forget about CEMC’s SmartHub app, which allows members to view and pay electric bills, monitor use, report outages and more — all while on the go.

Our members matter at CEMC. We are committed to providing safe, affordable and reliable electricity, and we strive to offer programs to make life easier for our members.


Whites attend Young Leaders Conference

Derrick and Jana White of Cedar Hill were sponsored by Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation to participate in the 2015 Young Leaders Conference Friday and Saturday, Feb. 27 and 28, at the Drury Plaza Hotel in Franklin. The Whites joined more than 300 others from across the state for the annual weekend of motivational, recreational and educational segments.

The Young Leaders Conference brings couples and individuals together from rural communities to learn about cooperatives, share their views about agriculture and discuss current issues facing rural Americans. This year’s event, themed “Cooperatively Building a Better Tennessee,” covered a variety of subjects aimed at educating leaders about cooperatives and agricultural issues.

The Tennessee Council of Cooperatives (TCC) co-sponsors the annual conference with Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers and Ranchers organization. CEMC is a member of TCC, an organization composed of a variety of cooperatives across the state, including electric, dairy, farm supply, telephone and tobacco co-ops as well as farm credit banks and the Farm Bureau.

The 2015 conference offered a wide range of sessions, from leadership skills to issues facing rural Tennessee to an overview of Farm Bureau’s Ag-in-the-Classroom program. Middle Tennessee State University’s Dr. Alanna Vaught led a breakout on “Preparing the Next Generation,” and University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture’s Lisa Stearns discussed “Raising the Profile of Tennessee Agriculture.” Bill Johnson, chief executive officer of Farm Credit Mid-America, addressed the group in a general session, and Cowboy Dan and his band entertained attendees.

Conference participants also toured Second Harvest Food Bank in Nashville, where they donated 211 pounds of food and volunteered to pack boxes for families struggling with hunger. Dan Wheeler, former Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture, was presented an annual award given by TCC to an individual who has shown dedication to the cooperative cause in Tennessee. TCC made a $100 contribution in Wheeler’s honor to the John Willis Memorial Scholarship fund, which provides financial aid to deserving college agriculture students in the state. TCC President Keith Harrison, Tennessee Farmers Cooperative marketing manager, said delegates to the Young Leaders Conference are the future leaders of cooperatives across the state.

“It’s humbling and inspiring to see a new group of young leaders every year at this conference,” said Harrison. “Our future is in the hands of these incredibly bright young people who want to make their mark in improving our state’s rural economy.”

Hanner, Gregory visit Nashville for Youth Leadership Summit

Sarah Hanner of Jo Byrns High School and Will Gregory of East Robertson High School were sponsored by Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation to attend the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association’s 2015 Youth Leadership Summit March 16-18 in downtown Nashville. Hanner, daughter of Jason and Julie Newberry of Cedar Hill, and Gregory, son of Mark and Polly Gregory of Cross Plains, were among 46 high school juniors representing the state’s 23 electric cooperatives who attended the annual event.

“The Youth Leadership Summit recognizes the best and brightest from our electric co-op service areas and teaches these young ambassadors about their hometown cooperatives and Tennessee state government,” said Todd Blocker, TECA director of member relations. “Local electric co-ops, school officials and guidance counselors chose these deserving students to attend the summit based on their interests in government and strong leadership abilities.”
“Sarah and Will are fine examples of the future leaders we’re raising in our local communities,” said Stephanie Lobdell, CEMC community relations coordinator. “CEMC is pleased to provide motivated students with this opportunity to join their peers from across Tennessee to learn about rural electric co-ops and experience the legislative process in the State Capitol.”

The summit began Monday evening, March 16, the group’s hotel, the Millennium Maxwell House with get-acquainted activities and an introduction to cooperatives led by electric co-op leaders and a leadership development presentation by Amy Gallimore of TRI Leadership Resources LLC.
Tuesday morning’s breakfast included presentations led by TECA Executive Vice President David Callis and Director of Government Affairs Mike Knotts in advance of the group’s visit to Legislative Plaza. Senator Ken Yager of Kingston and Rep. John Forgety of Athens welcomed the students to Nashville and answered their questions about legislative issues. The 11th-graders then toured the Capitol and saw state government in action at Senate and House committee meetings before posing for photos in front of the historic building.

Following the visit to Capitol Hill, the group enjoyed lunch and leadership activities at a Nashville-area YMCA camp, where the students were also treated to a hot-line trailer demonstration by Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative and Sunbelt Rentals. SVEC employees showed that electric power does a tremendous amount of work for us, but because it is such a powerful force, we must be careful around it and always exercise safety around power lines. The fun continued with a tour of Bridgestone Arena and a Nashville Predators hockey game, and the busy day was capped off by special guest speakers Miss Tennessee Hayley Lewis and Sgt. Mike Morgan of the Tennessee executive protection detail.

Wednesday morning, the students learned more about electric cooperatives and their daily operations through interactive games. Then they got an overview of the history of electric cooperatives and answered trivia questions about electric co-ops and the state in the “Energy Battle” competition.

“These students will soon be our community leaders — and electric cooperative member-owners,” said Jim Coode, general manager of CEMC. “We want them to see what makes their electric cooperative special, appreciate all their co-op provides for their communities and understand why it was so important to form electric co-ops in the first place.”


Co-op members deliver powerful message to legislators

More than 250 members and employees from Tennessee’s electric cooperatives were in Nashville on Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 9 and 10, for the 2015 Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association Legislative Conference. Attendees met with their state legislators on Capitol Hill to help them better understand electric cooperatives and the issues that impact rural and suburban Tennessee.

Jim Coode, Chris Davis, Seth Roberts, Tommy Whittaker, Wesley Aymett, Shela Williams, Jeannie Beauchamp, Stephen Douglass, Charles Hancock, Andy Mason, David Morgan, Edward Oliver and Joe Whitaker represented Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation at this year’s Legislative Conference.

“Tennessee’s electric cooperatives maintain a visible presence in Nashville and Washington, D.C., to be certain that the interests of co-op members are protected. “We are here to represent rural Tennesseans,” says David Callis, general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Our legislators make decisions and pass laws that can have serious consequences for Tennessee’s electric cooperatives and the members who rely on them. It is important that we tell the electric cooperative story and inform and educate legislators on the impacts of proposed legislation.”

Attendees reminded legislators that co-ops are not-for-profit, member-owned and -regulated private businesses that impact their communities in many ways.
The primary goal during visits with their elected representatives was to share an opinion by Tennessee’s attorney general stating that the Tennessee Valley Authority’s regulatory authority extends to pole attachment rates, effectively ending years of debate at the Capitol on a contentious issue. Legislators were asked to support legislation that will limit co-op liability in cases of inverse condemnation. Co-op members also encouraged the elected officials to back a resolution supporting TVA’s license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for Watts Bar Unit 2.

More than 100 visits were made with members of the House and Senate during the conference. “We discussed important topics that will impact every members’ wallet,” says Mike Knotts, TECA director of government affairs. “Educated and informed legislators are key to our goal of providing low-cost, reliable power, and our members make a powerful impression when they come to Nashville.” 

“The decisions made in Nashville affect our co-op and our co-op members,” said Jim Coode, CEMC general manager. “We have an obligation to our members to see that their voice is heard.”

Clarksville readies for music and more at Rivers and
Spires Festival

Country duo Love and Theft, one of the genre’s hottest young acts, will headline the 2015 Rivers and Spires Festival in downtown Clarksville Thursday, April 16, through Saturday, April 18. Love and Theft will take the Public Square stage Friday at 9 p.m. The concert is free and open to the public.

Three-time Country Music Association Vocal Duo of the Year-nominated Love and Theft is made up of longtime friends Stephen Barker-Liles and Eric Gunderson. The duo, already known for their number one smash hit “Angel Eyes” and Top 10 hit “Runaway” has just released their third album, “Whiskey On My Breath.”
“We are very excited to have Love and Theft on stage at the 2015 Rivers & Spires Festival,” said Jessica Goldberg, Festival Director. “The Festival this year, by far, will have the most diverse entertainment line-up and we can’t wait to release more names as the weeks go by.”

Contemporary Christian band Sanctus Real will also make a stop at the festival in Clarksville. On the heels of the release of their newest single, “Lay It Down,” the band will hit the Family Fun Stage at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, bringing a night of music and ministry with fan favorites and songs from their newest album “Dream.” Sanctus Real is presented by First Baptist Church of Clarksville.

In addition to the headline performers, the three-day festival will include a host of other musicians and entertainment, including local artists and talent competitions such as Aspire to Stardom, an award-winning youth talent show featuring everything from singers and dancers to magicians and comedians; Last Band Standing, featuring local rock bands competing in a battle of the bands; and the Step Team Competition, which showcases the creativity, showmanship and skills of step teams throughout the region. The festival will also include arts and crafts, Quilts of the Cumberland, car shows, the Festival of Nations, the River Queen Pageant and the Marketplace of vendors selling everything from sunglasses to antiques, great food and much more.

There will be plenty of activities for the kids, too! Don’t miss the Family Fun Zone, an area filled with over 60 free events for kids of all ages to enjoy; Sports Zone; children’s parade; and Gig City Gaming, which promises a game and console for gamers of all ages. Be on the lookout for Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation’s Louie the Lightning Bug in the Family Fun Zone.

Admission is free and all events are open to the public. For a complete listing of festival events and activities, visit

Portland to celebrate 74th Annual Strawberry Festival May 1-9

The Portland Chamber of Commerce invites you to join the community Friday, May 1, through Saturday, May 9, to celebrate the history of the strawberry — the fruit that made Portland famous – at the 2015 Middle Tennessee Strawberry Festival. Planners have organized a fun-filled week of activities and entertainment the entire family can enjoy.

This year’s event, themed “May the Berries Be With You,” will feature “Star Wars” characters from the 501st Legion Mid-South Garrison serving as grand marshals of the parade. “Star Wars” fans will have an opportunity to attend a dinner and photo session (tickets are required for this event) with characters from the 501st Legion on May 8 and can also visit with the characters on May 9, the main festival day.

Be sure to review the following lineup of events and make plans to join the fun!  For additional information about the 74th Annual Middle Tennessee Strawberry Festival, visit or call the Portland Chamber of Commerce at 615-325-9032. And don’t forget to pick up some of Portland’s famous strawberries at the festival!

May 1 & 2: Strawberry Pageant
May 5-9: Come enjoy the carnival fun all week long at Richland Park
May 5: 8 a.m. Golf Scramble at the Kenny Perry Country Creek Golf Course in Franklin, Ky.
May 5: 6 p.m. Game Show Night at J.W. Wiseman Elementary School. Admission is $5.
May 6: Strawberry Story Hour from 3:30-4:30 p.m. at the Portland Public Library.
May 7: Music on Main Street
May 8: “Star Wars” Character Dinner. Admission is $20, please call 615-325-9032 for tickets.
May 9: The main festival day:

• Rotary Club Pancake Breakfast
• Strawberry Stride 5K and Fun Run
• Game stage featuring strawberry eating contests
• Kid Town USA features inflatables, climbing walls and more. Kids can jump and play all day for $5.
• Visit more than 100 vendor booths
• Strawberry Festival parade begins at 4 p.m.
• Strawberry Jam featuring live entertainment
• Visit Strawberry Lane to purchase strawberries, festival T shirts and meet “Star Wars” characters.

CEMC donates electric car to Stem Academy

Clarksville-Montgomery County School System’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Academy at Kenwood High School recently received an electric vehicle donated by Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation. The go-cart will serve as an excellent learning tool for students, allowing them to gain hands-on experience building and understanding electronic and mechanical principles. Once the machine is built, students will have an opportunity to ride in it and eventually even compete against other schools.

STEM teachers at Kenwood are very excited about the hand-on learning experience this machine offers. “I love that the kids can do something with their hands as opposed to reading from a book or a Power Point presentation,” says science teacher Megan Pitts. “When it’s tangible, it becomes real to them and they will actually learn something.” 

“The kids are having fun, and they don’t even realize they’re learning,” says math teacher Warren Everett.
“We believe in education,” says CEMC Community Relations Coordinator Stephanie Lobdell. “CEMC is proud to be a part of this hands-on learning experience.”

CEMC pays $3.9 million in property taxes

For the year 2014, Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation paid a total of $3.9 million in ad valorem, or property, taxes to local governments. This was a total increase of 6.06 percent over the cooperative’s tax bill for 2013. The payments represent taxes on CEMC’s investment in power lines, buildings, substations and other items necessary to distribute electricity to the co-op’s membership.

Within the CEMC service areas, all but four communities received more taxes from the co-op than the previous year.

Local governments use these tax dollars for a variety of purposes, including education, road improvements and public safety, all of which strengthen and improve the areas where we live. 

Member Appreciation Days

Join us at your local CEMC office for free hot dogs, chips, cookies, soft drinks AND a chance to win an electric grill. Lunch will be served from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at each location.

Wednesday, April 8 — Dover
Friday, April 10 — Springfield
Tuesday, April 14 — Portland
Wednesday, April 15 — Gallatin and White House
Thursday, April 30 — Ashland City
Friday, May 1 — Clarksville

New energy-efficiency program

Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation and the Tennessee Valley Authority are offering homeowners a new program to make it easier than ever to become more energy-efficient. This program, called eScore, provides members with a clear path to make their home a 10 — the highest energy-efficiency designation.
Participation in eScore gives members access to rebates on qualified energy upgrades for their homes — saving them money and increasing their homes’ comfort while allowing them to work toward scores of 10 at their own pace. Best of all, members can utilize the eScore program as many times as needed to achieve their home’s best possible energy performance.

Here’s how it works:
Step 1 -  Participants can register online at  to get started.
Step 2 - The participant contacts a Quality Contractor Network (QCN) member to complete desired upgrades. A list of QCN members is available on CEMC’s website,, and eScore’s website, A QCN contractor can discuss options, rebates and program details with the participant.
Step 3 - A first-time eScore participant receives a FREE eScore evaluation of the home AND a quality- assurance inspection of the work performed by the QCN contractor. A TVA-certified energy advisor will visit and evaluate the home to provide an eScore and a customized list of upgrades and rebates available. An eScore evaluation includes a detailed eScore report, that contains:

• An eScore card, which ranks the home from 1 to 10 — 10 being the best.
•A customized list of recommended energy-efficiency upgrades that can be made over time helping the home achieve a 10.
•Photos of the elavuated areas.
•A list of rebates for all qualified energy-efficiency upgrades.
Participants who wish to have an eScore evaluation performed on their home before any work is done may do so for a nonrefundable fee of $75. These evaluations can also be requested by registering online as outlined in Step 1. A representative from CEMC will contact the participant to schedule the evaluation.

Financing is available for eligible recommended improvements, subject to credit approval.Learn more and register at


CEMC Member Falls Victim to Scam

CEMC has been made aware that there is a phone scam in our service area, whereby a request is made for immediate payment by credit card in order to avoid being disconnected. 

CEMC does not call members demanding payment over the phone. Members who have doubts about the legitimacy of a call should contact CEMC directly at 1-800-987-2362, even if the number displayed on their phone is CEMC’s phone number.

Introducing Outage Alert!


That vibration or ring tone from your mobile phone could be a text message from CEMC indicating that your power is out and crews are on the way!

Unfortunately power outages are a part of life and occur for various reasons such as weather conditions, vehicle accidents, downed tree limbs and more. While CEMC makes every effort to restore your power safely and efficiently we also want to keep our members informed during outages. Get notified by CEMC when the power is out at your home by signing up for Outage Alert!

After you signup for Outage Alert you will receive a text message to your mobile phone when an outage is predicted in your area either by our Outage Management System, by another customer in your area, or by you.There are no charges for this service, although messaging and data rates apply based on your mobile carrier plan.

Sign Up / More Information

Promoting electric safety

CEMC employees consider electric safety a top priority year around as they perform the many different job tasks required for our business. When visiting schools, community clubs, fire halls, highway safety group, etc., our goal is communicating electric safety and to stress how important it is to CEMCs employees that everyone understands thoroughly how dangerous electricity is.

If you are interested in an electric safety presentation and would like to schedule one, contact CEMC at 800-987- 2362 extension 1143.