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Let's Beat the Heat Together

Peak Heat Thermostat

The forecast for this week is calling for some of the hottest temperatures yet across the entire region. TVA has requested that local power companies curtail energy usage at their facilities today (Tuesday) through Friday daily. Due to the peak power demands, voluntary energy use curtailments are requested, and here’s how you can help.

As a member of Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, you know how to make smart energy choices that help you save money. But did you know that when you use electricity can be just as important as how much you use?

Throughout the day, energy use fluctuates based on consumer demand. Typically, most households use larger amounts of electricity in the morning when most people are getting ready for their day. In the evenings, people return from work, cook dinner, wash clothes, and watch television.

When people in our community are using more electricity at the same time is called “peak” hours. The cost for UCEMC to provide power is higher during these times because of the additional electricity demand.

By shifting some of your energy use to hours when demand is lower, also known as off-peak hours, you can save money on your energy bills and help keep rates lower for our community.

Here are a few easy ways you can shift energy use to off-peak hours:

  • Adjust your thermostat. During the summer months, raise the thermostat a few degrees during peak hours.
  • Wash full loads of clothes in cold water during off-peak hours.
  • Run the dishwasher right before you go to bed, or air-dry dishes by opening the dishwasher instead of using the heated dry cycle.
  • Turn off lights and electronics when not in use. (Try to make this a daily habit, whether during peak or off-peak hours.)

There are just a few examples of ways to save energy and money by making a few minor adjustments to your daily routine.

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Racing Solar Cars: Fun and Fundamentals on the Last Day of School

Solar Model Car Box 2

Smith County Middle School recently received a $5,000 STEM grant from The Tennessee Valley Authority and Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation.

The school used that money to purchase model solar cars to teach the kids about science, technology, engineering, and math.

As SCMS Principal Kelly Bell explains, children can learn some of life’s most important lessons while playing, and that was the idea when the kids raced their solar cars on the last day of school:

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Celebrating Our Right of Way Professionals

ROWProfessionalsWeek

Tree trimming improves service for all.

One of the things we love best about the Upper Cumberland is the natural beauty that surrounds us. We are fortunate to have so many trees that offer beauty, shade, and a habitat for all sorts of birds and other wildlife. We know that you appreciate our community for many of the same reasons.

At Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, we strive to balance maintaining beautiful surroundings and ensuring a reliable power supply by keeping power lines clear in rights of way (ROW). UCEMC has recently approved the largest ROW budget in the co-op's history. 

While we recognize and appreciate the beauty of trees, there are three main benefits to tree trimming in ROW areas. However, before touching on the main reasons, here's what a “right of way” is and how it may impact you. A right of way is the land we use to construct, maintain, replace or repair underground and overhead power lines. Rights of way enable the co-op to provide clearance from trees and other obstructions that could hinder the power line installation, maintenance, or operation. ROW areas are typically on public lands or located near a business or home. Regardless, UCEMC must be able to maintain the power lines above and below the ROW. The overall goal of our vegetation management program is to provide reliable power to our members while maintaining the beauty of our community. Proactive vegetation management benefits co-op members in three tangible ways.

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A New Chapter Begins

Congrats Scholarship

  Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation is happy to announce the scholarship winners of the 2021 UCEMC Washington Youth Tour Essay Contest. Katie Ash of Smith County High School, and Katie Grandstaff of Gordonsville High, will be receiving a scholarship upon high school graduation next year. Ms. Ash, who plans on a medical career after college, and Ms. Grandstaff, who is currently taking dual-enrollment classes, will not be going to Washington D.C. on the annual Washington Youth Tour. The tour was canceled due to pandemic concerns. In lieu of that trip, The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association awarded $1,000 toward the UCEMC Scholarship, for a total of $2,000 for each student. 

   Graduating students who won the essay contest in 2020 received their $2,000 scholarships recently. Faith Pawloski of Jackson County High School, Sydney Griffin of Gordonsville High, Kobe Kitchen of Smith County High, and Kaylee Laycock of Livingston Academy, are all looking forward to a relaxing summer before hitting the books in college this fall. Congratulations to our 2020 and 2021 Scholarship winners!  

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Essays from UCEMC's 2021 Scholarship Winners

Katie Grandstaff  Electric Cooperatives – Building a Brighter Tennessee

  By Katie Grandstaff - 2021 UCEMC Scholarship Winner

     BOOM! CRACK! SWOOSH! BAM! These were the sounds I heard as a fierce storm rolled through, and all of a sudden, I sat in darkness! The storm had passed, but the wind had done a number on the telephone poles and the electrical lines. As I sat in the quiet darkness without air conditioning and no TV, I began to think, “What can I do without electricity?” I was so bored! It was only eight o’clock, so it was much too early to go to bed. So, I finally just sat down in the recliner and felt sorry for myself. The rain had started again, and the next thing I knew, I had drifted off to sleep and began dreaming about how it must have been before electricity. I found myself in the 1920s visiting with a rural family who lived before electrical cooperatives were formed to provide electricity to rural areas.

     During my dream, I met a teenager named William. I had so many questions to ask him. My first question was, “How do you survive without electricity?” He began to explain, “We try to get everything done during daylight hours. During the nighttime hours, if the light is needed, we have to use oil lamps.” William then told me about his cousin, James, who livers in town. The town has electricity supplied by a privately-owned utility company, and a municipal utility company supplies another nearby town’s electricity. William said, “My cousin, James, is always talking about how amazing it is to be able to pull a string and turn on lights. I dream of the day that I can magically pull a string and brighten the room.”

     I continued to ask him another question, “Why do you not have electricity out here in the4 country?” William explained to me, “No suppliers are willing to provide electricity to rural areas because it is not profitable.” His eyes lit up when he explained that he had heard about the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Rural Electric Administration. He excitedly said, “REA and TVA might bring electricity to the rural areas because the REA’s purpose was to loan money to rural areas to form non-profit cooperatives which would be owned by the people in the community it is supplying.” William wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but he was hopeful.

    As we sat there and talked about life without electricity, his older sister, Helen, came into the room. She began to explain what she knew about the non-profit cooperatives. She began to explain what she had read in the newspaper about how the Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation would be formed. She said, “UCEMC would be based on seven principles. It would have a voluntary and open membership to everyone who needed it, and every member would be a part-owner with voting privileges.” William did not seem very interested in how the cooperative was going to start. He just wanted electricity in his house. Helen told us how it would not only provide electricity but support communities as well.  William was beginning to run out of patience and said, “Enough already! I want to know when our house can be lit up at night like my cousin’s house in town.” Helen then described how UCEMC would train and educate members while working with other cooperatives to better serve their communities in many different ways. Helen said, “I want you to know the principles on which UCEMC would be built. Yes, UCEMC will provide you with electricity just like your cousin in the city, but it will do so much more to support and provide for the community.” At that point, William said, “Wait, Helen, wait, as usual, you are talking too much. All I really need is to be able to pull a string to brighten a room when it gets dark.” Then, he apologized to me for his sister talking too much. He laughed and said, “She has been reading too many science fiction books. She even believes that people would have a box in their homes one day to sit in front of and watch moving pictures. How crazy is that?!” I knew he was talking about television, but I also knew he could not believe something like that could exist, so I didn’t try to explain to him what it was.

    Suddenly, I woke up because the electricity had popped back on and the room was so bright. How wonderful it was to hear the air conditioner running and the television coming alive. That evening made me realize how important electricity was in my life. I began to wonder what William would have thought about all of these advances due to electricity. My life brightened up just because the linemen at UCEMC repaired the lines, as I am sure William’s life would have been brighter to have been able to pull that string. William knew electricity could brighten up a room, but what he did not realize, it gives us a better, brighter life. UCEMC has and will continue “Building a Brighter Tennessee” throughout the years to come. Shine on UCEMC!    

 

Katie Ash 2

Building a Brighter Tennessee

                           By Katie Ash - 2021 UCEMC Scholarship Winner

   A crisis was going on all over Tennessee. Many of its communities were losing their light due to some electricity-stealing villain. The communities needed someone's help before all the light went out. The people put all their hope into a band of superheroes that have helped the world many times before.

  Down at the superhero's warehouse, they were getting word of this villain. They started making a plan to help the people of Tennessee before it was too late. All they needed was each other and teamwork to save the community. With all their qualities together, they could do it. Now, they just had to round up the troops. 

  Our first hero is Actively. He carries out the decision-making for the team. With his help, we will be able to save the citizens of Tennessee with his brilliant decisions and tactics. Actively will make a plan to defeat the villain. Next is Voluntary; he always wants to help whenever there is a crisis, and he will not back down from a challenge. Voluntary is always there when you need a helping hand and will offer everything he can to help with the problem. 

  Now, we have Equality. He keeps all of us working together and for a certain cause to save Tennessee from complete darkness. He will help us have this whole crisis under control fairly and impartially so everyone can be happy and be with light. 

  Here, we have Educationally. He will educate the public on how we will do our job to save the community. He will keep everyone calm and let them know what is going on, so there is no panic.

  Lastly, we have Cooperatively. He is in charge of using the resources and tools we have available to save the day. He is very skilled in working with the people and the team to get what needs to be done. 

  We call our team of heroes the Electric Cooperatives. With all their hard work and skills put together, they could do anything. Now, they set out to face this villain. They keep getting alerts that he was moving fast, and the people of Tennessee started losing hope. Then, here comes our heroes to save the day.

   Actively decided we would start returning and fixing the lines in places that were down, then they would stop him in his tracks. Voluntary was the first to jump in and get the lines fixed. While Equitably and Cooperatively worked to get the tools and everything needed to take this on. Educationally worked on how they were going to fix these lines and get Tennessee shining bright again.

  They all worked together to fix all the lines and catch up to the electric-stealing villain. The heroes went through ten different communities before catching up with him. They saw him trying to tear another line down, but before he could, they stopped him. They asked him why he was doing all this and making the world dark. He replied, "Because in my community we had a terrible storm and all of our lines were knocked down," he continued, "No one helped us to put them back up o we've been without light and electricity for weeks now." The team told him they would help fix all their lines, and they would have everything back in no time, but he couldn't keep tearing other communities' lines down. He agreed, and the team got to work. All of Tennessee's communities were soon up and running with electricity, and everyone was relieved. Tennessee was saved thanks to the Electric Cooperatives team.

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Livin' On Lake Time

    Sunset Dock Overhead Sunset Marina and Resort has become a summer destination for locals who are rediscovering Tennessee beauty.

        Tom Allen’s teenage summers were spent pumping gas at a marina. That’s when he learned about a concept that has him in awe to this day. Lake Time. People who live on Lake Time can eat when they’re hungry, catch a nap when they’re tired, and swim in the moonlight if they’re feelin’ froggy. They have no place to be at any particular time. Unless, of course, it’s sunset. That’s when they don’t want to miss the view at the aptly named Sunset Marina and Resort on Dale Hollow Lake near Byrdstown.

     The owners of this little Pickett County slice of heaven cater to those who live on Lake Time because they understand. “Lake Time means there is no set lunchtime, dinnertime, whatever they want to do at the moment is what they do,” Tom explained as we sat on the deck of a pontoon. "They're a very laid-back group of people. They want to be on the water so they can let their hair down, relax, and not be stressed." Tom knows what his customers need. He and his business partner invested in this former fishing camp back in 1993, and they haven't looked back.  Even during the height of the pandemic when other business owners were walloped.

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Kathy Reece celebrates 20 years of service

Kathy Reece Service AwardL-R: Director of Administrative Services Kathy Reece receives her 20-year Service Award from UCEMC General Manager Jennifer Brogdon.

Kathy began her career at UCEMC as a Customer Services Representative in 2001, became an accountant in 2005, and was appointed Director of Administrative Services in January 2021. Congratulations, Kathy!

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Carthage District Office Remodeling Begins, Still Open for Business

 Posed GroundbreakingL-R: Dave Allmon, Engineer; Tommy Pitman, Carthage District Manager; Digger Poindexter, UCEMC Board; Moose Tyree, UCEMC Board President;  Jennifer Brogdon, UCEMC General Manager;  Back Row L-R: Michael Petty, Mid-State Construction; John Potts, Gordonsville Mayor; Jeff Mason, Smith County Mayor; Anthony Apple, Smith County Chamber of Commerce.

  A groundbreaking ceremony last week at Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation kicked off the complete refurbishing of the 42-year-old South Carthage District office building.. With the size of equipment evolving and technology changing rapidly, the outdated facility no longer meets the needs of a modern UCEMC. The office will still be open for members to conduct UCEMC business throughout the remodeling process.  

Total project costs are estimated at around $9.3 million. Construction and remodeling will not result in rate increases to members.

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Garry Loftis Celebrates 30 Years at UCEMC

Garry Loftis

L-R: Director of Operations Joe Skelton presents Garry Loftis with his 30-year Certificate of Service Award.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to UCEMC, Garry!

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Gainesboro Student is Award-Winning Videographer

Gainesboro Student is Award-Winning VideographerZachary Pennington, the award-winning videographer and Jackson County High School Senior, demonstrates his drone camera.

If you were to ask Jackson County High School student Zachary Pennington about his award-winning video, he would have to ask you, "Which one?"

The JCHS senior has been producing videos since he was 13, starting with a historical documentary of Gainesboro, which amassed more than 15,000 views. Two years later, a mini-documentary about the “Abandonment of Gainesboro” garnered the “Best Film on a Budget” award at the Johns Hopkins University Film Festival.

His video for the JCHS Drama Club won a $10,000 prize for the school through the NBC Rise Grant program.

Zachary produced a video in the eighth grade that caught the eye of JCHS Basketball Coach Jim Brown, who kick-started the teenager's interest in closed-circuit television.

“I found him his first week of high school and asked him to help with JCTV,” says Coach Brown. "I learned that he was not just talented. He was also dependable, trustworthy, and extremely well-mannered. He's been the backbone of JCTV, and we're blessed to have him at our school."

On February 7, in a virtual ceremony, Governor Lee honored Zachary with the Governor’s Volunteer Star Award for a video he produced for the Chamber of Commerce.

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Faye's Moveable Feast in Livingston

RhondaFlemingandFaye

Consumer Services Supervisor Rhonda Kennedy helps Faye Shelton spread
out a sumptuous feast for crews in the Livingston District office last week.

It's a safe bet to say that no lineman in Livingston will climb a pole during a major outage with an empty stomach as long as Faye Shelton is around. Mrs. Shelton and her husband couldn't stop thinking of crews working around the clock during the recent winter crisis, so they decided to do something to warm tummies and hearts during the storm. The couple braved the cold to bring Country Ham, sausage, and biscuits for the early crews - sandwiches, chips, and snacks for the late crews.  They didn't stop there.

Once the outage was behind us and every light was on, the Sheltons took up a collection at Sunday School to buy the ingredients for a home-cooked meal for the Livingston District last week. They felt that after all that stress of grabbing food to run out the door, that the guys and gals needed to sit down, relax and enjoy a real lunch complete with laughter and fellowship. There was some talk of the storm, but mostly the conversation centered around the delicious specialties that Mrs. Shelton cooked up with love - and from scratch - in her kitchen. Mr. and Mrs. Shelton, your thoughtfulness has made all the difference. Thank you for your kindness!

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Power Your Way After the Storm

 
Cellphonelady
 
Q: Why is my Pre-Pay (Power Your Way) alert showing usage during a period when the power was out?
 
A: First of all, you will never have to pay for the power that you don't use, but some members report that Power Your Way (Pre-pay) accounts were continuing to estimate and post readings even though their power was out during the storm.
 
Rest assured, the correct readings and kilowatt-hour CHARGES WILL BE ADJUSTED now that the power is restored.
 
Members may access their Power Your Way (Pre-pay accounts) through the UCEMC portal to view and validate their daily actual usage. If you were without power during the storm, your readings will show zero kWh usage for that period even though the metering system continues to estimate the readings. Once your power is restored, UCEMC reconciles any estimated kWh usage charged to your account.
 
If you need ADDITIONAL TIME TO PAY your electric bill due to the extreme weather event, please contact Michele Nixon, Manager of Credit & Collections, at the Corporate office at 1-800-261-2940 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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The Ice Had It

Transformer on ground

     On Sunday evening, every electric distribution company’s (and every line worker’s) worst nightmare began to unfold before our eyes, with significant ice accumulation building on UCEMC’s nearly 5,000 miles of line and other equipment.  Ice is far more dreaded than snow because of its weight. Ice doesn’t “shed” itself off our equipment like snow does until it eventually thaws. This unusual ice storm had a disastrous effect on our system because the ice accumulations we received exceeded our design standard set by the Rural Utilities Services and the National Electrical Safety Code. 

      The ice indeed had its way when it came to our equipment. Poles, wires, and cross arms standards are designed to withstand medium load ratings for up to ¼ inch of ice.  The extreme weather event that moved into our area on Monday layered on 1 ½ to 2 inches of freezing rain, ice, and snow, late Wednesday and Thursday resulting in more ice and another 4-6 inches of snow with five straight days of freezing temperatures. Cross arms, poles, and lines had far more stress on them than they were designed to withhold, causing them to weaken or break. As if that’s not enough trouble, trees and limbs began to fall on already weakened lines and lay them to the ground causing electrical faults. Even on well-maintained ROW, trees outside the 40-foot Right-of-Way clearance area uprooted and collapsed our infrastructure. 

     But, now, we are experiencing a thaw across the region that offers some relief. Repairs made now are more sustainable because a load of ice and snow on them is gone or lessening. Unfortunately, we can probably expect a few more days of tree limbs breaking and falling. The thaw will also produce wet soil, further weakening some tree's roots, causing them to fall. But now, the news we’ve all been waiting for:  more often than not, repairs made to the main lines will stick, and we will be able to restore other members served by feeder lines from there. If you are still experiencing an outage and you can see that all of your neighbors are on, please go to the REPORT OUTAGE tab, click on your district office, fill out the brief form, and send it in. It's important that we know about every outage and what the problems might be at your home.

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Why isn't MY Power On?

PoweringUp NRECA

Here is an additional explanation of how the process works from Upper Cumberland Business Journal and our colleague Carl Haney of Cookeville Electric.

Electric power comes in from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) on large high-voltage (161Kv) transmission lines. For perspective, one Kv is 1,000 volts, so 161 KV is 161,000 volts of power. The power goes to one of six substations where transformers break down the power from 161 Kv to 13 Kv. This can be done with one transformer, but each substation has two transformers to provide redundancy if one is damaged or becomes inoperable.

Imagine a substation is like your house. Power comes into the substation and is broken up to serve smaller areas, and each has a breaker, just like your house and its breaker box. Typically, there are six breakers in each substation, serving 500-2,000 customers each, and designed to protect the overall system when something happens to one part of it. If a tree falls on one distribution line, the breaker for that section will flip, and the other town sections will not be affected.

Power leaves the substations on 3-Phase distribution lines. In Cookeville, these are primary lines that serve those 500-2,000 customers across small portions of the city.  The lines each carry 13 Kv of power. 

A transformer at each residence reduced the power from 13,000 volts down to 240 volts (two 120-volt lines) that feed the service on your house, providing its power.  

Why does it take so much longer to repair a 3-Phase line than a line to your house?

If a tree falls on one of the 3-Phase lines, it is typically a larger pole and creates greater damage.

If a tree falls on a line to your house, it’s typically going to break that line to the pole, or it’s going to rip the service off the house so that it can cause damage to your house. We can go out when you get your service up and just put that one line up. When the 3-Phase lines fall, they can break poles; they can tear up transformers and break cross arms. There’s just more equipment there for the potential for them to break when they do get torn down, and there’s a large number of customers that it affects.

Why was this storm so much worse?

The extreme cold and the ice made this the perfect storm.

Ice to us in the electric industry is a lot worse than snow. It stays on the trees. It stays on the lines – obviously, the ice does. It’s a lot heavier than snow. A quarter-inch of ice can cause damage. A quarter-inch of snow, and we don’t even know it’s there. On top of that, you started adding freezing rain that keeps accumulating on those lines.  Cookeville was right on the edge of a line during the storm. The southeast side was more rain, and the northwest side of that line was freezing rain. 

The majority of our damage was to the north and west of the city shared Haney. First, we had rain, and it began freezing. The rain and freezing rain continued to fall. So, when they would get one section clear and power restored, they would move to another section. 

Almost immediately, ice would begin to accumulate on the just restored section, and it would go back out. There were sections of the city that had to get repaired multiple times throughout the storm.

The multiple waves of this storm have made the biggest impact in damage. The continual fall of freezing rain, and even the regular rain that fell Wednesday night, froze upon hitting the ice that was already hanging on power lines and tree limbs, stressing them to the point of breaking.

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Seeing Is Believing Last Week's Storm Damage

Snapped Street Light - 2021 Ice Snow Storm Snapped Street Light - 2021 Ice & Snow Storm

One description is that it looked like a war zone in some Upper Cumberland areas last week. Once the snow and ice melted, those of us who aren't lineworkers ventured out of our homes and looked around. If you live in town, you might not have seen that much damage from the storm at first glance. But other areas told a different story. Bowing street lights, hundreds of limbs littering the ground like matchsticks, some of them blocking utility access roads. Snapped power poles were abundant in some places.

Equipment on ground 2021 Ice Snow Storm UCEMCEquipment on the ground in the 2021 Ice & Snow Storm

 

Bartlett Pear Down in 2021 Ice Snow Storm UCEMCBartlett Pear Down in 2021 Ice Snow Storm UCEMC

This is what UCEMC lineworkers faced as they continued to restore power to the remaining members who were without power last week.  Right of Way crews stayed far ahead of lineworkers to clear the path of hundreds of trees that snapped in the cold. Poles with transformers and lines still attached fell, street lights laid on the ground. This winter weather system packed all the punch of a hurricane without the water. Heavy ice and snow left behind damage similar to a tornado, except that damage was more widespread.  

Tree snapped like twig 2021 Ice Snow Storm UCEMCThis pole snapped like a twig in the 2021 Ice & Snow Storm.

UCEMC Crew in Dodsons Branch 2021 Ice Snow Storm UCEMCUCEMC Crew in Dodsons Branch in the 2021 Ice & Snow Storm

Crews from Tri-County Electric Membership Corporation, Ft. Loudoun Electric Cooperative, Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Corporation, and Appalachian Electric Cooperative assisted the UCEMC crews restoration effort, which narrowed down to the scattered, more isolated areas later in the week. In the Livingston District, power restoration was hampered by the sheer number of fallen trees over power lines in more rural areas., blocking access roads, impeding pole installation, and line replacement. Diggers, bucket trucks, and crews faced more rugged terrain and extensive damage as restoration work reached into the scattered outages along hills and remote, unpaved roads. 

REPORT OUTAGES on the home page by clicking on the District Office tab and details about your district. 

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Weathering This Winter Storm Safely

Icebush

Weathering This Winter Storm Safely

Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation takes pride in providing reliable power to all homes and businesses within our service area. Still, during this historic winter storm with predicted ice accumulation of three-quarters inch, widespread outages can occur that provide restoration challenges for our crews. The heavy ice and snow have caused trees and limbs to fall on lines, knocking energized lines to the ground. Bulldozers, diggers, saws, and bucket trucks must navigate through dozens of these large downed trees to get to damaged electrical equipment.

Should trees and limbs fall near your home, UCEMC reminds you to stay clear of downed power lines or equipment and never assume they are safe to approach. Call us to report.  You should only call 911 if you have a life-threatening emergency.

Preparing for an outage:

  • Develop an emergency plan and share it with your family. Be sure everyone knows what to expect and what to do. Have a plan in case power is out for a more extended period.
  • Make a list of local emergency contact numbers (fire, police, ambulance, etc.). Include UCEMC’s number – 1-800-261-2940.
  • Prepare an emergency kit and store it in an easy-to-find location. Check it regularly to make sure it is well stocked and that all equipment is in good working order.
  • Include a battery-operated flashlight in your emergency kit to avoid using candles, as they can be fire hazards.

Your Emergency Kit:

Prepare for the first 72 hours. Stock your emergency kit with these essentials:

  • Flashlights and batteries
  • Battery operated radio and clock.
  • Cell phone and external power bank
  • Candles and waterproof matches or a lighter
  • Blankets, coats, hats, and gloves
  • Plastic garbage bags
  • First aid kit
  • Non-perishable food such as canned and dried goods
  • Bottled water
  • Manual can opener
  • Prescription drugs, contact lens solution.
  • Extra cash
  • Spare car keys
  • Sleeping bags
  • Toilet paper, other personal toiletries
  • A loud whistle in case you need to attract attention

What should I know about portable and standby generators?

We are all very dependent on electricity. In some circumstances, it makes sense to consider a portable or standby generator. Before buying a generator, it's important to do some homework to do it right and stay safe.

  • Standby generators are not intended to meet all of the electrical needs of a home or business. Do not connect them directly into your home wiring system without taking safety precautions.
  • Proper installation and regular inspection are necessary to ensure the generator is safe for you and our linemen, who might need to work on your lines during an outage.
  • Do your homework before you buy one. It's important to understand your electricity needs to accept the right-sized unit with the right voltage.
  • Make sure that you buy all that you need, including an approved transfer device or switch.
  • Hire a licensed electrical contractor to install the unit. Be sure a certified inspector inspects the installation.

What do I do if the power goes out?

First, make sure that your whole house is out of power. You may have a blown a fuse or a tripped circuit breaker. Be sure to check your service panel. Check to see if nearby streetlights our neighbors are out of power. If your power is out, call UCEMC at 1-800-261-2940 to report the outage immediately. 
During a widespread outage, lines will be busy. Please be patient.

 

How quickly do UCEMC crews respond?

Every outage is treated as an emergency. No matter the extent of the damage, our crews start working right away to get power back on.

 What can I do during a power outage?

 First, find out if the outage is just in your home or in the entire neighborhood.

If it's just your home:

  • Turn off or disconnect all major appliances.
  • Check the circuit breakers or fuse box.
  • If the breakers have tripped off or fuses have blown, you may have overloaded the circuit. Reset the breaker or replace the fuse.
  • If it trips off again, you will need to find the problem. If you are not sure what to do, call a qualified electrician for help.

If the power is out in the neighborhood:

  • Switch off and unplug larger appliances. This could prevent injury, fire, or damage should a sudden power surge happen when the power comes back on.
  • Leave one light switch on so you know when the power is restored.
  • Keep a battery-powered radio handy to get updates on what is happening.
  • Keep your fridge and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Most food will keep from 24 to 48 hours.
  • Never touch downed wires or low hanging wires. Telephone or cable television wires that touch a power line can be deadly. Stay at least 10 meters away from downed power lines, and in an emergency, call 911.
  • Never try to make your own electrical repairs to Upper Cumberland EMC’s equipment. Let our dedicated and highly trained crews do the work.
  • Never pull tree limbs off power lines.
  • Never walk into areas where crews are at work. If you are driving near work crews, obey road signs and proceed cautiously.
  • Never use water on electrical equipment or wires in your home. Use a dry chemical fire extinguisher. NEVER attempt to put out a power line fire should a line fall near your home. Call UCEMC immediately and stay far away from the area.
  • Never use a portable generator indoors, including inside a garage or other enclosed or partially closed area, as it could cause Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning.

 

 

 

Can I use my barbeque or camping equipment inside during an outage?

Never use barbeques, propane, or kerosene heaters indoors. They are for outdoor use only. Portable stoves, lamps, and other camping equipment can be useful during an outage. However, to avoid any risk of fire or to your health, make sure fuels and equipment are stored in a garage or shed separate from your home.

What should I do if I encounter a downed power line?

Ice storms, high winds, or tree limbs can bring down power lines. Never assume that a wire is dead. Please call us at 1-800-261-2940 to tell us about the wires or report them to the police as soon as possible. If a power line falls on your car while you are in the car, stay inside until an emergency crew removes the line. If you have to get out, jump clear without touching the car and the ground at the same time. After jumping, keep your feet together and shuffle away until you are at least 10m away from the wire. Check out the video on our safety page at ucemc.com.

Why should I stay away from downed power lines?

You must never touch or go near a fallen wire, even if it is on the ground. Fallen wires may still be energized and could cause serious injury or even death. If you see a fallen line, stay far away and secure the area. Please notify us by calling 1-800-261-2940 or report downed wires to the police as soon as possible.

What should I do after a power outage?

Carefully check the food in your refrigerator and freezer. If the outage was for a longer time (24 - 48 hours), don't take any chances with spoiled food. Here is a helpful hint for when you plan to be away from home for few days. Place a bag of ice cubes in your freezer before you go out. If the ice cubes have melted and refrozen, the same thing has happened to your food. The freezer contents will be spoiled. Also, remember to reset your clocks, timers, and alarms.

How Do I make repairs to my home's electrical equipment?

If there is damage to your home's electrical system, UCEMC may not be able to reconnect your power until you make repairs. You may have to call a Licensed Electrical Contractor first.

UCEMC appreciates your patience during this winter storm that is wreaking havoc in our area. Please check ucemc.com and the official UCEMC Facebook page for updates as they are available to us from our crews out in the field. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Please keep our crews in your thoughts and prayers as they work in these dangerous conditions.

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Getting Your Power Back

PoweringUp_NRECA_new
This winter storm system is unlike anything we've seen in a generation. We are battling Mother Nature to restore your power. We understand the frustration that comes along with extended periods of no electricity. Our friends and family rely on us to restore power, and we take pride in delivering the best service. But, winter storms can be unrelenting and continually “undo” repairs until the weather breaks. That doesn’t stop us from making repairs in the harsh conditions until they stick. We appreciate the kindness members have shown our UCEMC employees, expressing appreciation and bringing food and coffee. At UCEMC, we feel that "knowledge is power." As we work to get the electricity flowing to your home, we want to empower you with updates, news, and information during this crisis. Many of you have questions about how we restore power. Here are some that we see the most:

 Your Frequently Asked Questions:

 Q:   I don't see a UCEMC truck in my area. Are they working on getting the lights on in my neighborhood?

   Even though you can't see a utility truck working nearby, rest assured that UCEMC crews are working on getting your lights back on. In the graphic above, you can see that we begin closest to the main lines near the substations and work our way out until we find the problem. Sometimes you can’t see the problem area that is causing your outage. It may be a significant distance away on a main line and need to be fixed before we can restore your power.

Q: My neighbor across the street has power, but I don't. What's going on?

    You may notice that someone nearby has power back on before you do, such as one side of the street versus the other side. That's probably because different power lines serve the two areas. It could also be a component on your house or meter pole is damaged. If you know that power is restored to your area and you see no damage to the service connection at your home, but you're still in the dark, call 1-800-261-2940 or visit the UCEMC website to report your outage. If you see damage to your service connection, such as your meter being torn off the house by a limb, you’ll need to get a licensed electrician out to fix your equipment before your power can be restored.

 Q:  I’ve reported my outage at least three times. How do I know that I’m being heard?

     We thank you for reporting your outage by calling 1-800-261-2940 or visiting ucemc.com. Once you've done that, your outage is reported. Call centers are not staffed to take 10,000 plus calls, so that you may experience a delay. We appreciate your patience. We need to know about every outage.

 Q: I see in your updates that power in many homes is on, but still, mine has been out for more than 24 hours. Why can't you tell me when my power will be restored?

     With an ongoing winter storm and widespread outages, time estimations for repair are impossible. Until the weather clears, new issues continue to develop across the system, despite UCEMC’s best efforts. In worst-case winter storms like we are experiencing now, sometimes the same repairs have to be made over and over until the weather clears. 

 Q: How do you decide what to work on first?

   In restoration, crews are dispatched first to deal with public safety threats, such as wires down that block roads or streets, traffic lights, etc. They also have to conduct damage assessments to assess where and what supplies are needed to make repairs. Our Right of Way (tree crews) must often be called in to clear fallen trees and limbs from roads before fixing the problem. We start repairs with the main lines, feeding from our power delivery points (or substations). Sometimes those repairs are extensive, and with ongoing winter storms, sometimes repairs have to be made repeatedly until the weather clears. Then, it takes additional time to repair neighborhood and individual lines once the main lines are repaired.

Q: My power was on yesterday for a few hours and then went off again. Sometimes, my lights are blinking off and on. Why is this happening?

     Unfortunately, until the weather forecast changes in our favor with warmer temperatures, this may continue to happen during this winter weather crisis.  Our crews are making great strides, getting large numbers of members back online each day. More trees are breaking during the freezing nights, and limbs are snapping and falling on the lines. Sometimes the limbs make the lights blink, while heavier limbs and trees take out the wires - and your power.

Q: Why does my UCEMC Prepay meter show usage even though my power is out?

   Years ago, we had “meter readers” who traveled to each home in the district and take readings. Today, we have MDM. It’s a system UCEMC uses to access the meter readings daily and accurately update current readings on active accounts.  If MDM cannot retrieve a daily reading as is the case with this extreme weather event, then it looks for a previous average reading as a basis to estimate the current usage.  The account is flagged as being estimated and will not disconnect since the reading may be over or under the actual usage.

   Once power is restored and MDM is able to retrieve an actual reading, the system updates the member’s account balance either by crediting any kilowatt-hours and charges deducted from your prepay account or by adding any additional kWh and charges to the account balance if the prepay account was underestimated.

    Prepay accounts that are set up to receive daily alerts will continue to receive those alerts even if the usage was estimated.  Once the accounts receive an actual reading, the alert will advise of the corrected usage and balance. You will not pay for the power you did not use.

We’re here to answer your many questions and help in any way we can. Please continue to visit ucemc.com and our Facebook page for information as this winter weather crisis continues.

   

     

 

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To Ease Your Mind

Winter weather, hazardous road conditions, and power outages may create difficulty paying your electric bill by the due date.

We understand and want to help.

ANY LATE FEES will be WAIVED for any accounts due February 13 through February 19. 
All DISCONNECTS for non-payment have been POSTPONED this week.
This includes members in our Prepay program, "Power Your Way."
Rest assured, the correct readings and kWh CHARGES WILL BE ADJUSTED once the power is restored.
 
UCEMC plans to resume standard procedures beginning Monday, February 22, 2021, unless widespread weather-related issues continue.
If you need ADDITIONAL TIME TO PAY your electric bill due to the extreme weather event,
please contact Michele Nixon, Manager of Credit & Collections at the Corporate office at
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Managing the Electric Bill. Your way.

Woman paybill

The Power Your Way pre-payment program from Upper Cumberland Electric is an option if you're looking for an alternative to the traditional way you manage your electric service. The program allows participants to avoid a deposit and monthly bills, customize their payment schedule, purchase energy when convenient, and monitor their own consumption.  Power Your Way changes everything you know about how you use electricity by providing real options for your unique situation, allowing you to pay for energy on your schedule, and giving you the information to control your energy costs like never before. It’s Power. YOUR way. There are no due dates, no monthly bills, no deposit necessary. Pay for your electricity according to your usage, your budget. It's like putting gas in your car.  Check out how it works in the video below. If you think Power Your Way will work for you, call us. 1-800-261-2940.

To learn more about our Power Your Way pre-payment program, click here... 

 

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Snow and Ice Cause Area Outages

Lineman in Snow 3

     Not all of the great linemen were warming up on the field in Tampa for the Super Bowl on Sunday. Wet snow fell in the Upper Cumberland overnight Saturday, causing tree limbs to break and power lines to fall under the weight. UCEMC members in Buck Mountain, Silver Point, Rocky Point, Hawkins Crawford, and Shipley School Road were among the areas experiencing outages of 4 hours or more. UCEMC linemen worked in the snow, ice, and fog to replace the lines and restore power to members in plenty of time to warm up their homes and enjoy Sunday activities. UCEMC reminds members that after a storm, stay far away from downed power lines and call us immediately to report the location of your outage. UCEMC would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we continue to provide you with safe, reliable, power even in a storm like this. 

Local People. Local Power.

 

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