NASHVILLE – Today Governor Bill Haslam announced the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act, a part of the NextTennessee legislative agenda. The plan outlines efforts to expand broadband access in Tennessee, including lifting restrictions that currently prevent electric co-ops from providing retail broadband service.

“The Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act acknowledges the unique role electric co-ops can play in expanding access to broadband,” said David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “We are honored that the governor recognizes the deep roots co-ops have in rural and suburban Tennessee, and we look forward to working with the members of the 110th General Assembly to expand connectivity and opportunity.”

Electric cooperatives are consumer-owned, not-for-profit energy companies. There are 23 electric co-ops in Tennessee that provide energy to 2.5 million Tennesseans across 71 percent of that state’s landmass. Co-ops serve areas with the greatest need for expanded broadband access, but legal restrictions currently prevent co-ops from providing retail broadband service.

Co-op members are encouraged to visit takeactionTN.com to sign up for updates about broadband expansion in Tennessee.

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association provides legislative and communication support for Tennessee’s 23 electric cooperatives and publishes The Tennessee Magazine, the state’s most widely circulated periodical. Visit tnelectric.org or tnmagazine.org to learn more.

 

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Contact:
Trent Scott | Vice President of Corporate Strategy | tscott@tnelectric.org | 731.608.1519

Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association celebrates 75th anniversary at annual meeting in Nashville

NASHVILLE – “Unified” was the theme of the 75th annual meeting of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, held Sunday, Nov. 20, through Tuesday, Nov. 22, in Nashville. More than 350 electric cooperative leaders from across the state attended the event, and were reminded that they best serve consumer-owners when co-ops work together for a common purpose.

“Anniversaries present the unique opportunity to examine our past,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “The leaders who formed our co-ops and this association were visionaries, and their accomplishments merit our gratitude and celebration. TECA is using this occasion as an opportunity to refine our focus and prepare the association to meet the challenges of the next 75 years through the leadership, advocacy and support we provide.”

The first Dr. K. T. Hutchinson award was presented to Sen. Ken Yager in honor of his courageous support of electric cooperatives and rural Tennessee. Dr. Hutchinson was instrumental in the formation of electric co-ops in Tennessee in the 1940s and served as the first president of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association.

“Tennessee’s electric cooperatives have no better friend than Sen. Yager,” says Mike Knotts, vice president of government affairs for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “He is an enthusiastic supporter of rural Tennessee.”

During the meeting, elections were held for positions on the association’s board of trustees. Michael Watson, general manager of Duck River Electric Membership Corporation in Shelbyville; Larry Storie, a director for Volunteer Energy Cooperative in Decatur; and Steve Sanders, a director for Gibson Electric Membership Corporation in Trenton, were elected to four-year terms.

“Congratulations to those honored with leadership positions,” says Callis. “Their talents and ideas will be valuable as we continue our mission to serve Tennessee’s electric cooperatives and their members.”

The second annual TECA Top Tenn Communications Awards were presented during the event. Duck River Electric Membership Corporation received an award for Best External Newsletter or Magazine Section; Appalachian Electric Cooperative, Best Internal Newsletter; Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, Best Website; and Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative, Best Use of Social Media. Gibson Electric Membership Corporation and Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation each received Awards of Excellence in the Wild Card category, with Duck River Electric Membership Corporation, Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative and Appalachian Electric Cooperative earning Wild Card Awards of Merit.

“It is important for electric cooperative consumer-owners to be educated and informed,” says Robin Conover, TECA’s vice president of communications and editor of The Tennessee Magazine. “We honor these winners for telling the electric cooperative story in a professional way across multiple platforms.”

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association provides legislative and communication support for Tennessee’s 23 electric cooperatives and publishes The Tennessee Magazine, the state’s most widely circulated periodical. Visit tnelectric.org or tnmagazine.org to learn more.

Volunteer lineworkers from eight electric cooperatives to participate in restoration effort following massive hurricane

NASHVILLE – More than 80 electric cooperative lineworkers from Tennessee are heading to South Carolina and Florida to restore power to those affected by Hurricane Matthew.

“Eight electric cooperatives in Tennessee are sending personnel and equipment to Florida and South Carolina to assist electric cooperatives impacted by this massive storm,” said David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “We are proud of these volunteers who are leaving their families to help others in need. This will be hard, dangerous work in difficult conditions.”

Electric cooperative organizations across the Southeast began developing response plans earlier this week, and details have been adjusted as the exact path of the storm and the extent of the damage became more certain. This cooperation is enabled through mutual-aid agreements among electric cooperatives.

Crews will be assisting Berkley Electric Cooperative near Charleston, South Carolina, and Clay Electric Cooperative in Keystone Heights, Florida.

“One day, we will need help,” says Callis, “and when that tornado or ice storm arrives, we know that this assistance will be repaid. Cooperation is one of the founding principles of electric cooperatives. It is what makes us different from other utilities.”

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association provides legislative and communication support for Tennessee’s 23 electric cooperatives and publishes The Tennessee Magazine, the state’s most widely circulated periodical. Visit tnelectric.org or tnmagazine.org to learn more.

 

Assisting Clay Electric Cooperative in Keystone Heights, Florida:

  • 11 lineworkers from Appalachian Electric Cooperative, New Market
  • 12 lineworkers from Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, Clarksville
  • eight lineworkers from Duck River Electric Membership Corporation, Shelbyville
  • eight lineworkers from Fayetteville Public Utilities, Fayetteville
  • 12 lineworkers from Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation, Murfreesboro
  • 15 lineworkers from Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, Carthage

 

Assisting Berkley Electric Cooperative near Charleston, South Carolina:

  • 10 lineworkers from Plateau Electric Cooperative, Onieda
  • 11 lineworkers from Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative, South Pittsburg

 

Being part of a cooperative means being part of something special. Tennessee’s electric cooperatives are celebrating National Cooperative Month in October, along with 40,000 other cooperative businesses serving more than 120 million people nationwide.

“Cooperatives Build” is the theme of this year’s National Cooperative Month. “There are so many ways that cooperatives help to build a stronger rural America,” says Trent Scott, vice president of corporate strategy for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Tennessee’s electric co-ops have a significant impact on the communities we serve in ways that go far beyond the delivery of energy.”

Consider these ways that co-ops build:

Cooperatives Build Trust

Most co-ops strive to adhere to seven key cooperative principles, which combine to help build trust between the co-op, its members and the community. For example, the first principle is Voluntary and Open Membership, which means that we are a voluntary organization open to all people to use our services and willing to accept the responsibility of membership. The second principle, Democratic Member Control, gives members a voice in the cooperative’s policies and decisions. Through the fifth principle, Education, Training and Information, co-ops enable members to contribute to the development of our cooperative.

Cooperatives Build Community

The seventh cooperative principle is Concern for Community. Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through employee involvement in local organizations, through charitable contributions to community efforts and through support for schools.

Cooperatives Build Jobs

Cooperatives generate jobs in their communities, keep profits local and pay local taxes to help support community services. Cooperatives often take part in community improvement programs, ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to benefit from the cooperative experience. Tennessee co-ops employee more than 2,600 employees across the state, creating many technical and professional career opportunities otherwise unavailable in rural communities.

For more information, visit www.coopmonth.coop.

More than 40 electric co-op employees in Louisiana have lost their homes following devastating floods. Today, Tennessee’s electric cooperatives made a $10,000 donation to a fund established by the Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives to assist co-op employees.

“On multiple occasions, Louisiana co-ops have enthusiastically answered our call for help following storms and other events, and our thoughts and prayers are with them this week,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “We encourage co-ops across the nation to join us in supporting Louisiana co-ops. Co-op Nation is strongest when we support one another.”

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association provides legislative and communications support for Tennessee’s 23 electric cooperatives and publishes The Tennessee Magazine, the state’s most widely circulated periodical. Visit tnelectric.org or tnmagazine.org to learn more.

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Members from Tennessee’s electric cooperatives visited with Tennessee’s Congressional delegation on Thursday, June 23, in Washington, D.C. They joined more than 40 co-op leaders from across the state in the nation’s capital to discuss issues important to 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.

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association is a trade group representing the interests of Tennessee’s 23 electric distribution cooperatives and the 1.1 million consumers they serve. The association publishes The Tennessee Magazine and provides legislative and support services to Tennessee’s electric cooperatives.

 

Tennessee’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives will be sponsoring the Chapel Hill Lion’s Club Super Pull of the South on Friday and Saturday, July 22 and 23.

“We are excited about the platform that this event provides us to tell the story of Tennessee’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives,” says Trent Scott, vice president of corporate strategy for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “The partnerships between Touchstone Energy, participating co-ops and TECA allow us to have a presence and reach our members in ways that no single co-op can.” All 10 Touchstone Energy cooperatives in Tennessee are participating in this year’s event.

The Touchstone Energy hot air balloon team will be giving tethered rides and lifting the American flag over the stands each night during the opening ceremony. Co-op members visiting the Touchstone Energy booth will learn about electric safety and quick and effective ways to save energy. “We are pleased to have TVA joining us this year,” says Scott. “We will be telling members about the eScore program and handing out caulk, LED light bulbs and receptacle gaskets.” Members will also have the opportunity to win a riding lawn mower and other prizes.

Co-op members attending the event are encouraged to visit the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives of Tennessee booth just outside the entrance to the stands.

 

Touchstone Energy On Tour visited the event in 2015, and the footage they filmed became a part of their latest national advertising campaign.

One of the most attractive features of cooperatives is that we answer the popular question, “What’s in it for me?” with “What’s in it for we!” Cooperatives are formed when the market fails to offer a good or service, with decent quality, at an affordable price. Electric cooperatives in Tennessee were formed in the 1930s because, when investor-owned utilities realized there was not enough profit to be made in our community, they refused to offer electricity.

The founding members of these co-ops went door to door to collect $5 in order to raise a portion of the original investment the co-op needed. Those “go-getters” realized the only way to get electricity for me was to get it for we, the whole community.

Cooperative ownership is in the hands of the people who use the co-op’s goods and the services (not investors), so not only do co-ops start out answering the question of “What’s in it for we?” – they continue to answer that question for as long as they exist.

These days, we often hear about companies that abandon their local communities and move overseas in search of cheaper labor. This negatively impacts the community through job loss, decline in housing values and school closures. Because local residents own a majority of cooperatives, they are less likely to leave their community. In fact, it would be impossible for Tennessee’s electric cooperatives to operate elsewhere. The co-op is a critical part of what makes the community a community.

The way co-ops continue to answer the question, “What’s in it for we?” is critical to their survival. It is imperative that we keep you – our members – as the primary focus. Keeping rates as low as possible is one major part of that focus, but ensuring that we provide real value as your trusted energy advisor is also extremely important.

By maintaining that focus with your help and support, we will continue to be able to serve the “me” and the “we” in our community long into the future.

DCDL Media of Waverly is getting a little help from their friends at Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative in the form of a zero-interest loan to grow their services for Humphreys County. The loan is made possible by MLEC’s Revolving Loan Fund (RLF).

Owned by Connie and Dean Duke, DCDL Media has been serving the area for several years. MLEC loan funds will be used to complete a project several years in the making to help insure quality emergency broadcasting for the citizens of Humphreys County using WQMV AM1060. With MLEC’s help, DCDL will purchase the FM license and equipment needed to communicate important news and safety information to area residents during emergency situations.

As the loan is paid back over ten years, MLEC can loan it out again for other economic and community development projects. The RLF was established in 1996 with co-op funds and a grant from Rural Utilities Service. Since its inception, the RLF has awarded almost $846,000 in the MLEC service area and is in support of the cooperative’s goal to help local communities grow.

Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative, your trusted source for safe, low-cost, reliable electricity, is non-profit and member owned, serving over 33,500 meters in Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Lewis and Perry counties. Visit www.mlec.com to learn more.

Former NRECA President James O. Baker Dead at 77

By Derrill Holly, ECT.coop

James O. Baker, a former NRECA president and longtime Tennessee co-op executive who helped shape the nation’s rural electric cooperative program for more than a generation, died April 11. He was 77.

Baker began his career at Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Cooperative in 1960 as a newly minted electrical engineer, fresh from Vanderbilt University. Over the years, he was an active and visionary champion of co-op issues in Tennessee and at the national level through NRECA.

“Co-op leaders often say that we are ‘standing on the shoulders of giants.’ Mr. Baker was truly one of those giants,” said David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “He was a servant and a leader who had great passion for the people of rural Tennessee.”

James O. Baker, NRECA President (left) and Martin Lowery, NRECA staff greet members during NRECA’s 1997 annual meeting. (Photo By: NRECA)

James O. Baker, NRECA President (left) and Martin Lowery, NRECA staff greet members during NRECA’s 1997 annual meeting. (Photo By: NRECA)

The Donelson, Tenn., native spent much of his life in Murfreesboro, where he worked 19 years in Middle Tennessee EMC’s engineering department before becoming assistant general manager in 1979. He assumed the co-op’s presidency the following year and held that post until his retirement in 2003.

“Mr. Baker’s leadership helped build one of the nation’s strongest electric systems to serve the members of Middle Tennessee Electric, and our cooperative continues to benefit as a result,” said Chris Jones, the current president and CEO of the Murfreesboro-based co-op. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Baker’s daughter, Connie; his son, Mark; and all of the family.”

Baker became Tennessee’s representative on the NRECA board in 1985, and was elected to numerous leadership posts in the 1990s, serving as president for two years beginning in 1997.

“Jim was a strong advocate of strategic planning and served as the chair of the NRECA board strategic planning committee prior to being elected to the officer ranks of NRECA,” said Martin Lowery, NRECA executive vice president, member and association relations. “I remember very clearly his perspective on planning in his often-used phrase, ‘What gets focused on gets done.’ ”

According to NRECA officials, Baker’s influence in strengthening the association’s resolutions process to provide guidance for member co-ops on critical policy issues was among his major achievements.

He was also the driving force behind the creation of NRECA’s transmission and distribution engineering committee in 1991, which continues to keep co-ops current with changing technology and helps the Rural Utilities Service maintain its support for engineering standards.

“Throughout his tenure on the NRECA board, Jim was always looked up to by his fellow board members as a soft-spoken leader and voice of unity,” Lowery said.