Dave Cross, CEO Plateau Electric Cooperative and Board President, TECA

President Ronald Regan famously used the phrase, “Trust, but verify,” on various occasions during nuclear disarmament discussions with the Soviet Union. Oddly enough, the origins of this phrase can be traced back to a rhyming Russian proverb — “Doveryay, no proveryay,” which basically means to use caution until something is proven true.

The energy industry is undergoing rapid changes. While these changes have created more options for consumers, they have also resulted in more utility scams and misleading information surrounding solar installations in particular.

Tennessee’s consumer-owned electric cooperatives are glad to help their members navigate these changes and verify information related to energy or their accounts.

Watch for phone scams

A common phone scam typically begins with a call from a number that appears to belong to someone at our co-op. The scammer will claim you have a past-due account and threaten to disconnect service or take legal action. The scammer will typically demand that you use a prepaid debit card, money order or other abnormal payment method — often within a very short, urgent time frame — to pay the “past-due” amount.

You can combat this scam by being aware of the status of your account. Never give your banking or personal information over the phone to someone you did not call. If you have a question or concern about your energy bill, directly call your electric cooperative. Do not use the phone number given by the caller.

Avoid solar scams

If you’re considering solar for your home, make sure you are working with a reputable company. This is still an emerging industry with evolving technology, and there has been a proliferation of pop-up solar installation companies. While there are reputable solar contractors in the marketplace, other companies have only limited experience and present questionable sales claims.

Your electric cooperative can offer a candid assessment to determine whether rooftop solar is right for you. After all, our cooperatives have a different “bottom line” that is not directly tied to the sale of a product or service. We take a more holistic, objective view of how to achieve energy and cost savings for our consumer-owners, and that may or may not include rooftop solar.

In this fast-changing environment, it’s important to remember that you have a trusted energy adviser — the team at your local electric cooperative. We are community-focused organizations that work to efficiently deliver affordable, reliable and safe energy to our members.

Remember: We’re just one call or click away, so please reach out with any questions about your electric service or bills — we’re here to help.

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