Bright Ideas, Big Impacts


Throughout November and December, Union Power Cooperative awarded close to $22,000 to 19 lucky educators in our service territory. These grants will impact 6,700 students over the next year.

On Tuesday, November 28, the Union Power prize patrol, assisted by Carolina Panthers player, Tyler Larsen, Kaelin Clay and mascot Sir Purr, presented a combined $374 to two teachers at Wingate Elementary during a surprise assembly. Teacher Teresa Higgins won a Bright Ideas grant for her “Light Up the Mind’s Eye!” project. The “Light Up the Mind’s Eye” project will impact the entire school teaching students to rely on their brains to create a better understanding of the world around them. Teacher Joya Wortham won her Bright Ideas grant, “My Sister’s Keeper”. This award will impact 3rd through 5th grade girls with mentoring services designed to teach them to reach for their dreams.

After the checks were presented to the Teachers, Carolina Panthers players spoke to students about working hard in school and answered questions from the students. The surprise event was part of a two-month long celebration of surprising teachers with awards to celebrate their innovation and creativity in the classroom.

The Co-op has funded more than $361,000 Bright Ideas grants since the program began in 1994. More than $10.9 million has been awarded by North Carolina’s 26 electric cooperatives to Tar Heel teachers statewide. The Bright Ideas program has reached well over 2.1 million students from across the state and has sponsored more than 10,400 projects in all subjects.

Bright Ideas grant applications can be submitted each year, and winning proposals are selected by a panel of judges through a competitive evaluation process. For more information about the Bright Ideas grant program, visit

We survey our membership: We want to provide exceptional member experiences

Because Union Power Cooperative is a not-for profit utility, we focus on service rather than profit. Although we serve a membership of more than 75,000, you are not just a number to us. Your satisfaction matters. We’re listening to what you’re saying as we strive to provide you with an exceptional member experience.


With the rise in the use of portable electronics, we now have more ways to connect with our members than ever before. TSE Services, a cooperative-owned market and research organization founded by North Carolina’s electric cooperatives, collects and provides market research data to electric cooperatives with a special focus on member satisfaction, engagement and strategic market planning. The result of these surveys allow us to target areas of improvement allowing us to provide our members with a level of service that’s second to none.

With the incidents of fraud and spam-mail on the rise, we have found survey participation has declined, especially for those members using cell phones as their primary method of communication. To combat the impact of spam-filtering apps, TSE Services has partnered with Union Power Cooperative to put additional safeguards in place. As a result of these efforts, members can expect:

  • All legitimate phone calls will be made from a 919 area code
  • All legitimate survey calls will be displayed on the member’s caller ID as being from Data Decisions Group

Beginning in early 2018, we will begin incorporating on-line surveys as an option for our members. Whether through a phone survey or online, we ask that you please take a few minutes to participate in the survey. At Union Power Cooperative, we strive to be recognized as your trusted energy partner as well as provide you with safe, reliable power and energy services with exceptional value. 

Energy Corner with Jake

Picture of Jake ThomasHi. I’m Jake Thomas, manager of marketing and energy services for Union Power Cooperative. You might have seen me out in the community or in your home showing you ways to save money on your energy costs. For the next three months, I’ll be visiting your home through our monthly cooperative newsletter or right here on our website to show you ways you can conduct a simple “do-it-yourself” audit to spot problems in your own home.     

While a professional home energy audit is the best way to determine where your home is losing energy and where you can save,  a “do-it-yourself” home energy audit can help you pinpoint some of the easier areas to address. When walking through your home, keep a checklist of areas you have inspected and problems you found. This list will help you prioritize your energy efficiency upgrades. Do not assume that just because your home is recently constructed–or even new–that there are no opportunities to save energy. Energy-saving technology has evolved rapidly over the past few years, outpacing training commonly available to many builders, including some of the most reputable.

Identify Air Leaks

A home’s biggest air leaks are usually located in big areas, such as the attic. But small leaks also add up. To find air leaks, look for daylight around window frames and doors. If you see light, there is a leak. Check for gaps along baseboards, edges of flooring and junctures of walls and ceilings. While plumbing fixtures, switches and electrical outlets account for smaller leaks, they can add up. Also check for leaks outside your home, especially in areas where two different building materials meet.

Repair Air Leaks

There are many things you can do yourself, without having to call an expert in. Plugging and caulking holes or penetrations in faucets, pipes and electric outlets will result in an immediate improvement. If you find cracks and holes in mortar, foundation or siding, seal them with the appropriate material.

The potential energy savings from finding and repairing these drafts in a home may range from 10% to 20% per year, and the home is generally much more comfortable afterward.

Consider Ventilation

When sealing any home, you must always be aware of the danger of indoor air pollution and combustion appliance “backdrafts.” Backdrafting occurs when the various combustion appliances and exhaust fans in the home compete for air. An exhaust fan may pull the combustion gases back into the living space. This can obviously create a very dangerous and unhealthy situation in the home.

In homes where a fuel is burned (i.e., natural gas, fuel oil, propane, or wood) for heating, be certain the appliance has an adequate air supply. Generally, one square inch of vent opening is required for each 1,000 Btu of appliance input heat. Burn marks or soot around the appliance burner or at the vent collar, or visible smoke anywhere in the utility room while the appliance is operating, indicate poor draft. When in doubt, contact one of our Energy Specialists to assist. For additional information on home energy audits, visit our Audit My Home page in the Energy Center on our website.