Haslam signs broadband bill during ceremony in Brownsville

Gov. Bill Haslam on Tuesday, May 16, participated in a ceremonial signing of the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act, legislation that will expand broadband access in rural Tennessee by allowing electric cooperatives to provide retail service to co-op members.

“Electric co-ops are the natural partners to do this because of their nature,” said Haslam. “They are non-profit, they are already out serving many of these communities, and I think the people in our state trust the electric co-ops to provide that role. We are proud to have the electric co-ops to be our partners in this effort.”

 

Electric safety tips

May is National Electric Safety Month, and Tennessee’s electric cooperatives are using the opportunity to remind everyone to be safe around electricity.

“Electricity provides the benefits and conveniences that make modern life possible,” says Trent Scott, vice president of corporate strategy for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “What you don’t know or choose to ignore about electrical safety could seriously injure or kill you or someone you love.”

Tennessee’s co-ops offer these tips to keep you and your family safe this summer:

  • Keep people and pets away from damaged power lines and other electrical equipment. Don’t touch anything in contact with downed lines such as a car, tree, fence or clothesline.
  • Don’t climb trees, fly kites, remote-control airplanes or drones; or release balloons near power lines. If you get something stuck on a power line, call your local co-op or 911 and stay away!
  • Keep a safe distance from overhead power lines when working with ladders or installing objects such as antennas or gutters on your home.
  • If a power line falls on your car, stay inside the vehicle. Call or ask someone to call 911, then your local co-op. If you must exit the car, open the door and jump free of the car so that your body clears the vehicle before touching the ground. Once you clear the car, shuffle away using small steps, keeping both feet on the ground, until you are at least 50 feet away.
  • All electrical work should be performed by a licensed electrician.
  • Use GFCI-protected outlets in kitchens and bathrooms. Water and electricity do not mix.
  • Routinely check cords, outlets, switches and appliances for signs of damage. Immediately stop using damaged electrical devices and have them replaced or repaired.
  • Do not overload outlets with too many devices or appliances.
  • Never run extension cords under rugs or carpets.
  • When replacing bulbs, always follow recommended wattage guidelines.
  • Test smoke alarms once a month, and replace batteries once a year.
  • Don’t throw water on an electrical fire. Use an approved fire extinguisher.

You can find additional safety tips and information at everydaysafe.org.

Taking co-op message to D.C. lawmakers

Sixty-five Tennesseans joined 2,100 co-op leaders from across the country in Washington, D.C. for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Legislative Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 25 and 26. Co-op directors, managers and senior staff visited with Tennessee’s congressional delegation to discuss energy supply, rural infrastructure, broadband, tax policy and other issues important to co-ops.

During an address at the conference, Energy Secretary Rick Perry hailed electric cooperatives for delivering affordable, reliable electricity to rural America and encouraged them to advocate on their challenges, especially grid security. “We have the greatest electric grid in the world,” Perry said, “and we need to keep it that way.”

“From energy and economic development to broadband and rural commerce, co-ops have a significant impact on Tennessee’s rural communities,” says David Callis, executive vice president of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “The decisions made in D.C. matter, and it is important for co-ops to be engaged. I appreciate the co-op leaders from across the state who joined us on Capitol Hill to tell the co-op story.”

Co-op leaders met with U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker as well as Reps. Black, Blackburn, Duncan, Desjarlais, Fleischmann, Kustoff and Roe.

Gov. Haslam signs broadband bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today signed the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act, creating grant funding and removing legal restrictions to allow the state’s private, member-owned electric cooperatives to provide high-speed internet service to co-op members. David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, made the following statement.

“Access to high-speed internet is critical to Tennessee’s rural communities, and we appreciate the faith that Gov. Haslam and the General Assembly have placed in the electric co-ops. Gov. Haslam’s signature today means that our work is just beginning. Tennessee’s electric co-ops have been asked to bring broadband to rural Tennessee. This is a massive task, but co-ops have a legacy of improving everyday life in our communities. We are excited about the opportunities created by the Broadband Accessibility Act.”

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association provides leadership, advocacy and 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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FOR MORE INFORMATION
Trent Scott | Vice President of Corporate Strategy | 615.515.5534 | tscott@tnelectric.org

Broadband Accessibility Act Passes General Assembly

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee House of Representatives tonight passed the Broadband Accessibility Act on a 93 to 4 vote. The legislation now moves to Gov. Bill Haslam for his signature.

“Access to high-speed internet has the potential to shape the future of rural Tennessee,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Gov. Haslam, Sen. Mark Norris and Rep. David Hawk have been tireless advocates for this legislation. We appreciate them and everyone who showed their support for the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act and the people of rural Tennessee.”

The Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act removes restrictions that currently prevent electric cooperatives from providing retail internet access. More than 800,000 Tennesseans, many of whom live in areas served by electric co-ops, do not have access to high-speed internet.

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association provides leadership, advocacy and 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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FOR MORE INFORMATION
Trent Scott | Vice President of Strategy | 615.515.5534 | tscott@tnelectric.org

Broadband Accessibility Act passes Senate

NASHVILLE – Today the Tennessee Senate passed the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act by a vote of 31-0.

There was no significant debate, however there were a number of clarifying questions that were asked by Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris, D-Memphis. In answering those questions, Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville once again presented an excellent defense of the legislation, eloquently discussing the cooperative business model and the advantages it brings to Tennessee’s rural communities.

“Their DNA, their birth, was to serve the rural areas of the state,” said Sen. Bell. “Taking that same model and applying it to broadband… is going to end the broadband problem we have in rural areas of the state.”

The companion legislation continues to move through the House. The House Finance Committee will hear the bill Tues., April 4 at 1:30 p.m., and assuming passage, the legislation will be sent to the House Calendar and Rules Committee later in the week. TECA expects the full House to hear the bill as early as next week.

You can view the discussion and vote in the Tennessee Senate below.

Thunderstorm safety tips from the American Red Cross

When thunderstorms are rolling your way, stay safe with these helpful tips from the American Red Cross:

  • Listen to local news or NOAA Weather Radio for emergency updates. Watch for signs of a storm, like darkening skies, lightning flashes or increasing wind.
  • Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are likely to occur. Many people struck by lightning are not in the area where rain is occurring.
  • If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, take shelter in a substantial building or in a vehicle with the windows closed. Get out of mobile homes that can blow over in high winds.
  • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning. If thunder roars, go indoors! The National Weather Service recommends staying inside for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder clap.
  • Avoid electrical equipment and telephones. Use battery-powered TVs and radios instead.
  • Shutter windows and close outside doors securely. Keep away from windows.
  • Do not take a bath, shower or use plumbing.
  • If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.
  • If you are outside and cannot reach a safe building, avoid high ground; water; tall, isolated trees; and metal objects such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are NOT safe.

Source: American Red Cross

Tennessee Co-ops Support Reversal of Clean Power Plan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NASHVILLE – Today the Trump administration issued an executive order instructing the Environmental Protection Agency to begin dismantling the Clean Power Plan. David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association issued this statement:

“Lifting the regulatory mandates required by the Clean Power Plan allows electric cooperatives to invest in projects that make sense for their members. Cooperatives believe that low rates and reliable power must be part of America’s clean energy future.”

“Innovation, not government regulation, provides the most direct path to reduced carbon emissions, and Tennessee’s electric cooperatives are proud of the accomplishments that have been made in our state.”

“Tennessee co-ops are leading the way in developing carbon-free energy. In recent years, co-ops have built more than 2.5 megawatts of solar generation. These community solar projects allow co-op members to purchase or subscribe to renewable generation without the significant capital investment required for rooftop installations.”

“We also applaud the Tennessee Valley Authority for their investments in clean generation. TVA is forecast to reduce its system carbon dioxide rate by 60 percent by 2020. The primary impacts of the Clean Power Plan would have been minimal for Tennessee, thanks in large part to TVA’s diverse power generation mix.”

In October of 2015, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and 39 generation and transmission cooperatives petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals to review and reject the Clean Power Plan. That effort laid the groundwork for a stay by the U.S. Supreme Court, giving the current administration time to review the rule and issue today’s executive order.

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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FOR MORE INFORMATION

Trent Scott | Vice President of Corporate Strategy | 615.515.5534 | tscott@tnelectric.org

Broadband Accessibility Act moves through General Assembly

The Legislature continues its work for this year’s session, and is beginning to make some headway in considering the thousands of pieces of Legislation that have been filed. Some committees are beginning the process of ending their work for the year, which typically signals the beginning of the end for the General Assembly. Over the next week or two, the number of bills will shrink considerably and the work required to develop a budget for the State will take priority. Adjournment for the year is expected at the end of April.

This year, TECA is working to influence over 60 different pieces of legislation. First among our priorities is Governor Haslam’s bill to address the lack of high-speed internet access, the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act. This legislation is the culmination of two years worth of study and consideration by the Governor, his staff, and multiple state agencies. Following the conclusions of these studies, Governor Haslam and his administration developed a piece of legislation that would do three things: allow electric cooperative to become retail providers of broadband services, provide financial incentives (through grants and tax credits) for providers to extend service into unserved areas, and improve adoption of broadband service through educational efforts. The original version of the legislation was changed slightly, through an amendment, prepared by the Governor and his staff. This amendment broadened cooperative authorization to included television and video services, and restricted the provision of co-op internet and TV to the co-op’s service territory.

Both the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Business and Utilities Committee have heard the legislation, and have both voted unanimously to pass it. In general, these are the most difficult hurdles for any piece of legislation to overcome.  In the coming weeks, the bill will be considered by both the House and Senate Finance Committees before they could be heard by the full House and Senate. It is TECA’s expectation that the bill will ultimately pass, and will become law upon the Governor’s signature. If you have not had the opportunity to communicate with your own lawmaker, please visit takeactiontn.com and send a message to let your lawmaker know your feelings.

To follow TECA’s legislative work more closely, make sure that you’ve signed up for our weekly update on politics and government – View from the Hill. To add your name to the subscription list, click here.

Co-ops bring young leaders to Nashville

More than 45 high school juniors from across the state attended the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association’s annual Youth Leadership Summit March 13–15 in Nashville.

Sen. Jim Tracy on Tuesday, March 14, greeted delegates attending the three-day leadership and government workshop. Tracy welcomed the young leaders to the Senate Chamber of the Tennessee State Capitol where Alan Whittington, assistant chief clerk of the Senate, explained the process required to pass legislation. Students had the opportunity to debate and vote on a mock bill.

Reps. Mike Bell and John Ray Clemmons joined Sen. Tracy for a town hall meeting with attendees. The three discussed the legislative process and answered questions posed by summit attendees. Delegates then had the opportunity to listen in on debate in House and Senate committee meetings in Legislative Plaza.

In addition to a hands-on look at state government, delegates to the event learned team-building and problem-solving skills and developed a better understanding of their local electric cooperatives.

“I have learned a lot about the Senate and House of Representatives and how laws are passed,” says  Sarah Shoate, a junior from Adamsville High School attending the Youth Leadership Summit. “I’m really grateful for the opportunity to come here and improve my leadership skills. I’m grateful for Pickwick Electric Cooperative. My co-op really does a lot to make sure leaders of tomorrow get the opportunities they deserve.”

Delegates to the Youth Leadership Summit are encouraged to be leaders and use their talents to improve rural Tennessee. “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,” says Todd Blocker, vice president of member relations for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and director of the Youth Leadership Summit. “They will be the next generation of leaders in rural Tennessee, and we want to prepare them for the challenges and opportunities they will face.”

“We want these students to share our passion for rural Tennessee and help them appreciate the things that make our rural communities special,” says David Callis, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Each year we are encouraged by the caliber of young people who call rural Tennessee ‘home.’”