Electric co-ops sponsor delegates to TCC Young Leaders Conference

More than 300 young people from across the state gathered at the 2017 Young Leaders Conference held Feb. 24 and 25 at the Drury Plaza Hotel in Franklin. The annual conference brings couples and individuals together from rural communities to learn about cooperatives, share their views about agriculture and discuss current issues facing rural Americans. The agenda is targeted to rural Tennesseans 50 years old or younger.

The Tennessee Council of Cooperatives (TCC) co-sponsors the annual conference with Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers and Ranchers organization.

Electric cooperatives from across the state sponsor delegates to attend the event. “It is important to tell the co-op story,” says Todd Blocker, vice president of member relations and president of the Tennessee Council of Cooperatives for 2017. “This generation of young people are already leaders in their communities. The information and experiences they gain at the Young Leaders Conference can make them powerful co-op advocates.”

This year’s event began with a guided tour of the State Capitol. Breakout sessions covered a variety of subjects aimed at educating leaders about cooperatives and agricultural issues and strengthening their leadership skills. During “Getting Started” by Peyton Fair with Farm Credit Mid-America, attendees learned how to better analyze their farm finances. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Corinne Gould led a session on “Speaking Up,” and Alice Rhea of Farmers Services discussed “Keeping it Real.” House Speaker Beth Harwell gave the keynote address, and humorist and motivational speaker Lisa Smartt provided entertainment.

Blocker named President of Tennessee Council of Cooperatives

Todd Blocker, vice president of member relations

The Tennessee Council of Cooperatives, a non-profit organization established to promote the cooperative way of business across the state, recently named Todd Blocker, TECA vice president of member services, as president for 2017.

The TCC functions as the state’s flagship organization for coordinating, promoting, educating and extending cooperative development in Tennessee. TCC often serves as a clearing house for the open exchange of information and experiences among cooperative businesses; as a sounding board for new ideas; and as a forum for discovery, discussion, and dissemination.

“Whether it be farming, communications or energy, co-ops have unique opportunities to serve the people of Tennessee,” says Blocker. “The Tennessee Council of Cooperatives tells the story of Tennessee’s co-ops, and it is an honor to be a part of an organization that has such an important mission.”

“We congratulate Todd on his appointment,” said David Callis, TECA executive vice president and general manager. “I appreciate Todd’s passion for co-ops and am confident he will provide the TCC with sound direction and represent Tennessee’s electric cooperatives with honor.”

Blocker was appointed at the TCC’s Young Leaders Conference held on Feb. 24-25 in Nashville.

Co-op Statement on election of Howorth as TVA Chair

[NASHVILLE] –The Tennessee Valley Authority announced today that Richard Howorth was named chair-elect of the board of directors. Howorth will follow Lynn Evans as chair when her board term expires in May.

“Richard Howorth has a great deal of experience at both TVA and at the distribution level,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “TVA and distribution utilities are complex businesses, and we believe that experience is critical. We are confident that Mr. Howorth’s small-town background will help TVA serve co-ops in an effective way. We congratulate him on his election.”

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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TVA directors Lynn Evans, center, and Richard Howorth, right, address co-op leaders during the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association’s annual meeting in Nashville on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016.

 

Trent Scott | Vice President of Corporate Strategy
Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association
tscott@tnelectric.org | 731.608.1519

Co-ops support Governor’s Broadband Accessibility Act

[NASHVILLE] – Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association CEO David Callis issued the following statement on the introduction of HB 0529 and SB 1215 earlier this week.

“Rural and suburban Tennessee have a great need for expanded high speed internet access, and electric co-ops are pleased to see the introduction of legislation this week that would allow co-ops to provide broadband to our members. We appreciate Sen. Mark Norris and Rep. David Hawk for sponsoring bills in their respective chambers, and we encourage members of the General Assembly to support this important legislation.”

Co-ops members are encouraged to visit takeactionTN.com to send a message to their legislators to encourage them to support the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act.

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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Trent Scott | Vice President of Corporate Strategy
Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association
tscott@tnelectric.org | 731.608.1519

State of the State address highlights role co-ops play in rural broadband

NASHVILLE – Tennessee’s 23 electric cooperatives listened to the Governor’s State of the State address on Monday, Jan. 30, with interest as he outlined the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act. 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 that 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. “This proposal would create new opportunities for education, healthcare and commerce in our communities. We look forward to working with the Governor and the General Assembly to increase connectivity across rural and suburban Tennessee.”

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.

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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Photo via Gov. Haslam Flickr

Co-ops Respond to Governor’s Broadband Plan

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

Co-op statement on election of Evans as TVA board chair

[NASHVILLE] –The Tennessee Valley Authority announced today that V. Lynn Evans was unanimously elected as chair of the board of directors.

“We are pleased that the TVA board elected V. Lynn Evans as chair of the agency’s board of directors,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Experienced leadership is necessary to ensure that TVA delivers low-cost, reliable energy to its utility customers and the people of our region. Tennessee’s electric cooperatives have a long partnership with the Tennessee Valley Authority, and we congratulate Ms. Evans on her election.”

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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Trent Scott | Vice President of Corporate Strategy
Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association
tscott@tnelectric.org | 731.608.1519

 

Lynn Evans, center, addresses co-op leaders during the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association's annual meeting in Nashville on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016.

Lynn Evans, center, addresses co-op leaders during the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association’s annual meeting in Nashville on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016.

110th Tennessee General Assembly app now available

Legislative directory app connects Tennesseans with elected officials

NASHVILLE – Tennesseans interested in government and politics have a powerful, pocket-sized tool for connecting with their elected representatives.

The 110th Tennessee General Assembly app features a continually updated, searchable database of contact, staff and committee information as well as photos, leadership roles and social media profiles for members of the Tennessee House and Senate.  The app also contains information on the governor and his cabinet and the Tennessee Congressional delegation.

Developed by the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and Bass, Berry & Sims PLC, the 99-cent app is available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices and can be found by searching for “Tennessee General Assembly” in the Apple App Store or Google PLAY Marketplace.

newphone“We have produced print directories of the General Assembly for more decades, and this is our fifth year to release an app,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “It is important for Tennesseans to be active and involved with their elected officials, and the app is a tool that makes it easy to speak up on issues that are important.”

“The app is ideal for anyone who wants to monitor the activities at the state Capitol and is designed to be the best reference possible for those who are interested in or work with Tennessee legislators,” says Dick Lodge, partner with Bass Berry & Sims PLC.

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

Images:
Download high resolution graphics of the app icon and the app.

Legislature expected to bring big changes

When the 110th General Assembly gavels into session on January 10th, a number of issues of importance to electric co-ops stand to become major points of focus for lawmakers.  After the first week’s formalities and announcements of committee assignments, there will be a two-week recess to move offices and re-organize. Then, the session will kick into high gear as Governor Haslam will deliver his State of the State address on the first day that Members return to Nashville.

Currently, the State has a budget surplus of over $1 billion. The State of the State typically focuses on the Governor’s budget priorities, and this year’s address should provide no shortage of ideas on how to budget those surplus funds. The following day, January 31, will be TECA’s annual Day on the Hill and Legislative Reception. Attendees will witness first-hand the collective reaction of lawmakers to the new spending priorities.

In addition to passage of a budget, the Governor has publicly indicated on several occasions that he intends to focus on three large issues: transportation funding, broadband and the internet sales tax. Broadband has been a hotly debated topic at the Capitol for nearly a decade; however, most of the controversy has surrounded the role(s) of municipal electric utilities and existing private sector broadband providers. No significant legislation has passed, and pressure on lawmakers continues to increase to find solutions to the lack of adequate access to broadband in rural areas.

Meanwhile, both the Department of Economic and Community Development and the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations have conducted studies to gauge the extent of the problem. ECD’s study found that 34 percent of rural Tennesseans lack access to basic broadband services, and both studies concluded that electric cooperatives are well positioned to help solve the problem but face legal restrictions from doing so.

Governor Haslam convened an inter-agency task force to discuss the topic and heard presentations from many interested parties, including electric cooperatives. While the final language is not yet available, it is expected that the Governor will propose comprehensive legislation to the General Assembly for consideration this year. We expect this legislation will include repealing laws that currently prohibit electric cooperatives from offering broadband internet service.

This would be the most significant and far-reaching legislation involving electric cooperatives in decades. Other broadband bills, in addition to the one brought by the Administration, could be introduced by other members of the Legislature.

While the legislative process is always difficult to predict, there should be a number of other bills that are of interest to co-ops. Legislation concerning net metering and third-party solar financing are anticipated to return in 2017. Representative John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge), should re-file his bill to create a Tennessee Energy Policy Council. The Tennessee Municipal Electric Power Association is expected to again pursue changes that would require a public referendum in any instance of the sale of a municipal electric plant. We will be watching for any potential state-level reaction to Nashville’s passage of a “One-Touch Make Ready” ordinance (also called “Climb Once”) regarding the process for making new pole attachments.  Increased interest in small-cell technology by the wireless phone industry could result in pole-attachment related legislation.

TECA’s Government Affairs team is prepared and looking forward to working with co-ops across the state through what could be a history-making legislative session.

TECA celebrates 75th anniversary at annual meeting in Nashville

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.