Young Leaders Descend on State Capitol for Youth Leadership Summit

Speaker Beth Harwell today greeted students from across Tennessee attending the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association’s annual Youth Leadership Summit in Nashville. Harwell welcomed the young leaders to the House Chamber of the Tennessee State Capitol this morning and spent time explaining her role as speaker of the House and the process that is required to pass legislation.

Rep. Kevin Dunlap also addressed the group and encouraged them to stay active and involved. “You are already leaders or you would not be here today,” he said. “He also helped students understand the role electric cooperatives play in rural Tennessee. “The electric co-ops were created because there was a problem: rural Tennessee did not have the privilege of electricity,” said Dunlap. “Our leaders and citizens worked together to form the electric cooperatives and solve the problem.”

Senators Mike Bell, Richard Briggs and Ferrell Haile and Representatives Kent Calfee, Kevin Dunlap, Dan Howell, Jay Reedy and David Shepard joined Harwell and Dunlap for a town hall meeting with students in the House Chamber.

The theme of this year’s summit is “Small Towns, Big Ideas,” and attendees are encouraged to 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. “During this year’s Youth Leadership Summit, we hope to teach these exceptional students that advances in technology have created unique career opportunities in their hometowns. 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,” said David Callis, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Each year we plan to encourage these young leaders, but they always manage to turn the tables. We are the ones moved by their optimism and vision, and we can truly say that the future of rural Tennessee is bright. ”


Tennessee’s co-ops express concern over sale of TVA Bellefonte site

In a letter to Sherry Quirk, TVA executive vice president and general counsel, on Friday, March 18, TECA CEO David Callis expressed concern with the proposed sale of the TVA Bellefonte nuclear site.

“Our membership is concerned with the disposition of the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant Site,” said Callis. “We understand that Bellefonte isn’t needed in TVA’s current IRP. However, we are troubled that this valuable power asset could be sold as surplus property in a public auction.”

“Tennessee’s cooperatives believe this decision requires a thorough evaluation process that takes into consideration the full value of the site – both current and future needs,” said Callis. “While it may be two decades before TVA needs additional generation (potentially from the Bellefonte site), the value of TVA’s rights-of-way for high voltage transmission lines is too great to risk their loss. In today’s environment, securing paths and siting for new electric lines and substations is costly and time consuming.”

The letter also urged the TVA Board to consider additional input from TVA’s existing Public Advisory Councils and the Local Power Companies that depend on TVA.  Callis also expressed co-op support for the comments of the Tennessee Valley Public Power Association.

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association is the service association representing the interests of Tennessee’s 23 electric distribution cooperatives and the 2.5 million rural and suburban consumers they serve.

Be a Co-op Voter

When was the last time you voted?

As member-owned electric cooperatives, voting is already in our DNA. It’s how we maintain an electric utility which is responsive to the consumers it serves. But voting also plays a crucial part in our representative democracy. Federal, state and local elections offer an opportunity to exercise a civic responsibility – to select the best leaders for our communities.

Yet in places all over America, even those served by electric cooperatives, citizens aren’t exercising that right.

In the 2012 national elections, voter turnout dropped overall, but the decline in rural counties was 18 percent—twice that of the nation as a whole.

And when voters miss the chance to vote, they also lose the opportunity to communicate their concern to our leaders about the issues that matter to us, where we work, live, and raise families.

Reliable electricity, access to rural broadband and the quality of our healthcare system are just a few issues we all care about. Still, they only become priorities if enough people show elected officials that they are paying attention. Registering to vote and voting are the most effective ways to send this message.

When we go to the polls with the cooperative principle of “Concern for Community” in mind, we instantly improve our political system. It’s a system designed to produce a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.” People like you and me.

I’d like you to join me in a new initiative to get every eligible person registered to vote—you, me, our family and friends—and take the pledge to BECOME A CO-OP VOTER.

Tennessee’s electric cooperatives have joined America’s electric cooperatives in launching a campaign to help get out the vote and insert issues important to co-ops into the public discussion. Called “Co-ops Vote,” this effort will help boost voter turnout in areas served by cooperatives across the country to ensure that our voices are heard loud and clear every day, and especially on Election Day.

Here’s what you can do to help. Visit the Co-ops Vote web site, WWW.VOTE.COOP, and take the pledge to BECOME A CO-OP VOTER to support your community and electric cooperative when casting your vote in 2016. The web site will give you information on your elected officials and candidates, the voter registration process, election dates and locations, and background about eight key co-op issues we want our elected leaders to understand: rural broadband access, hiring and honoring veterans, low-income energy assistance, cybersecurity, water regulation, rural health care access, affordable and reliable energy, and renewable energy.

Co-ops Vote is a non-partisan program developed by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives. With 42 million members across the nation, electric co-ops are a powerful voice on national issues that have a local impact.

If you have any questions, please visit WWW.VOTE.COOP or contact your local electric cooperative. I hope to see you at the polls!

TECA’s Knotts graduates from MIP

Mike Knotts, vice president of government affairs for TECA, recently completed an intensive program in electric utility management with the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The Robert I. Kabat Management Internship Program (MIP) is a series of workshops offered by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin. The program guides participants through all facets of the electric utility industry, including the many changes occurring around the nation.

Knotts is one of only a few electric utility leaders that will graduate from the Management Internship Program this year.

“MIP provides the opportunity to network with other co-op leaders and engage in high-level, in-depth discussion of the issues facing co-ops,” says Knotts. “Completing this program has helped me to better understand the difficult decisions that co-op CEOs and Directors face each and every day. I’m excited to put this education to work for the benefit each of the electric cooperatives of Tennessee.”

MIP participants go through three 10-day sessions designed to challenge and educate participants in new, innovative management techniques. Participants leave with a better understanding of what consumers want and how to ensure they get it.

Rural electric cooperative CEOs and top level management participate in the Management Internship Program. This allows greater emphasis of study on management challenges and the aspects of consumer-ownership that cooperatives enjoy. Participants learn focus on member value as part of day-to-day decision making.


Members take co-op message to legislators

NASHVILLE – More than 250 members and employees from Tennessee’s electric cooperatives were in Nashville on Monday and Tuesday, March 7 and 8, for the 2016 Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association’s Legislative Conference. Attendees met with their legislators on Capitol Hill to help them better understand electric cooperatives and the issues that impact rural and suburban Tennessee.

House Speaker Beth Harwell welcomed the group to Nashville. “You serve 71 percent of our state and 2.5 million Tennesseans,” she said. “We recognize the impact you have on our state.”

Tennessee’s electric cooperatives maintain a visible presence in Nashville and Washington, D.C., to protect the interests of co-op members. “We are here to give a voice to rural Tennesseans,” says David Callis, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association.

“Legislators consider bills that have serious consequences for co-ops and the communities they serve. We must tell the electric cooperative story and educate lawmakers about the impact of proposed legislation,” says Callis. Attendees reminded legislators that co-ops are not-for-profit, member-owned and –regulated private businesses that impact rural and suburban Tennessee in many ways.

Visits focused on specific legislation that impacts co-ops and the communities they serve. Co-op leaders expressed support for a bill that allows electric co-ops to provide broadband Internet service. “We serve the areas with the greatest need for broadband,” says Mike Knotts, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “We have a role to play in bringing high-speed connectivity to rural Tennessee.” Co-ops also voiced their support of legislation that modernizes the tax code for co-ops and discussed the impact of the recent Supreme Court decision to halt implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

“Educated and informed legislators are necessary for us to provide low-cost, reliable power, and our members make a powerful impression when they come to Nashville,” says Knotts. More than 100 legislative visits were made during the conference, and dozens of legislators from across the state attended a reception honoring members of the Tennessee General Assembly.

MTEMC launches new charitable foundation

Middle Tennessee Electric today launched its new charitable foundation SharingChange. The foundation gives members the opportunity to easily give to local charitable organizations.

The move streamlines the cooperative?s charitable efforts and gives members more options on how they can contribute to their communities.

“Over the last 13 years, Middle Tennessee Electric members have donated more than $8 million to over 550 local nonprofit organizations in the four-county service area served by MTEMC,” said Chris Jones, MTEMC President. “Every penny that members donate, 100 percent, goes back to those communities through local charitable organizations.”

A highlight of the new program is the different ways to give. Members can now round up their bill to the nearest dollar; or they can add a fixed amount to each monthly bill; or they can do both.

“We recognized over the years, these were additional options our members wanted in their charitable giving,” said Jones. “For pennies each month, the collective impact on our communities is significant.”

Averaging about $6 dollars per year, the rounding of the bill is the easiest option. If a member?s bill is $48.50, the bill is rounded up to $49, and that 50 cents is contributed to SharingChange.

“For much less than a cup of coffee a month, our members are changing the lives of their neighbors,” Jones added.

Past grant recipients and their programs included helping fulfill medical needs of local senior citizens, student scholarships, helping control the pet population and even funding local veterans; programs designed to help build camaraderie and find productive, safe ways to deal with conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder.

To learn more about the program, or to begin participating in SharingChange, visit

“I encourage you to take the steps to do absolutely the easiest good thing, you’ll ever do,” Jones said.

Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation is a member-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperative providing electricity to more than 210,000 residential and business members in Williamson, Wilson, Rutherford and Cannon counties.

For more information, please contact MTEMC Communications Coordinator Josh Clendenen at 615-494-1071 or 615-516-5020.

Co-ops Vote

(NEW ORLEANS) — The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) today launched a major initiative to enhance voter engagement. The goal of the “Co-ops Vote” campaign is to boost voter turnout in areas served by cooperatives by encouraging electric co-op employees and their consumer members to exercise one of their most basic rights—the right to vote.

“America’s electric cooperatives are leaders in the communities they serve throughout the country with a powerful sense of their civic duty,” said NRECA Interim CEO Jeffrey Connor. “Co-ops Vote focuses elected leaders on the people who are most invested in the success of their own communities.  With 42 million members across the nation, electric co-ops are a powerful voice on national issues that have a local impact.  We want to be sure that voice is always heard, especially on Election Day.”

Working in collaboration with states and local co-ops, this non-partisan campaign will educate and engage all voters on important issues, such as ensuring continued access to reliable electricity, promoting co-ops’ development of innovative renewable energy solutions, and expanding broadband coverage throughout rural America.

Co-ops Vote will provide a wide variety of tools to its more than 900, not-for-profit members to help educate and engage employees and communities, including voter registration information, candidate information and a campaign video. Co-ops are urged to take simple steps, such as encouraging employees to register to vote, hosting voter registration drives at co-op offices, and partnering with local civic groups to plan voter registration efforts.

For more information, visit and follow #CoopsVote.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.

Statement on Supreme Court Decision to stay Clean Power Plan

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association was pleased with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to halt implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan.

Last fall, Tennessee’s electric cooperatives joined the National Rural Cooperative Association (NRECA) in launching legal efforts to stop implementation of the Clean Power Plan. On Tuesday, the United States Supreme Court took action halting the EPA’s landmark carbon rule.

“We continue to believe that low rates and reliable power must be a part of our clean energy future. This decision opens the door to find real solutions that effectively balance environmental and economic concerns,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association.

“If this stay had not been granted, cooperatives across the nation would have been forced to take costly and irreversible steps to comply with these new regulations. The Supreme Court’s ruling validates our belief that the Clean Power Plan is an overreach of EPA’s legal authority.”

In 2014, electric consumers from across Tennessee submitted more than 14,000 comments to the Environmental Protection Agency in opposition to the agency’s proposals to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association is a trade group representing the interests of Tennessee’s 23 electric distribution cooperatives and the 2.5 million rural and suburban consumers they serve. The association publishes The Tennessee Magazine and provides legislative and support services to Tennessee’s electric cooperatives. Learn more at

Electrify Africa becomes law

(ARLINGTON, Va.) — The President signed into law S. 2152, the Electrify Africa Act, with strong praise from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and America’s electric cooperatives. Three years after the bill was first introduced, this law will now bring electricity to 50 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa, and lift rural communities from impoverished conditions to improved economic activity and a higher quality of life. The presidential signature came after passage of the Act in the U.S. House of Representatives last week. This followed the Senate’s unanimous passing of the legislation in December.

“We are celebrating this achievement with all our members, because our domestic and international work has always focused on power distribution, and making it possible for people to have direct access to electricity,” said NRECA Interim CEO Jeffrey Connor. “This new law makes it possible to have a significant impact on the lives of millions, and we are proud to be part of this worthwhile effort to bring power to Sub-Saharan Africa. We applaud and thank the bipartisan leadership of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Ranking Member Sen. Ben Cardin (D-M.D.), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), who all believe that promoting economic development by expanding access to electricity will benefit people on both sides of the Atlantic.

“Sen. Corker’s leadership on this legislation has been extraordinary,” says David Callis, executive vice president of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “We are looking forward to see the lights come on for millions in rural Africa.”

NRECA’s international affiliate—NRECA International – has worked in developing countries since 1962. Its global commitment has provided electricity to more than 110 million people in 43 countries.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives in the United States. Those co-ops provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.

Be prepared for winter storm

When winter temperatures drop and storms hit, it can be challenging to stay safe and warm. Winter storm severity varies depending on where you live, but nearly all Americans are affected by extreme winter storms at some point. Tennessee’s electric cooperatives care about your safety, and we want you to be prepared.

Heavy snow and ice can lead to downed power lines, leaving co-op members without power. During extremely low temperatures, this can be dangerous. During a power outage, our crews will continue to work as quickly and safely as possible to restore power, but there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself.

Stay warm

Plan to use a safe alternate heating source, such as a fireplace or wood-burning stove during a power outage. These are great options to keep you and your loved ones warm, but exercise caution when using, and never leave the heating source unattended. If you are using gasoline-, propane- or natural gas-burning devices to stay warm, never use them indoors. Remember that fuel- and wood-burning sources of heat should always be properly ventilated. Always read the manufacturer’s directions before using.

Stay fed

The CDC recommends having several days’ supply of food that does not need to be cooked handy. Crackers, cereal, canned goods and bread are good options. Five gallons of water per person should also be available in the event of an extended power outage.

Stay safe

When an outage occurs, it usually means power lines are down. It is best not to travel during winter storms, but if you must, bring a survival kit along, and do not travel alone. If you encounter downed lines, always assume they are live. Stay as far away from the downed lines as possible, and report the situation to your local co-op.

Winter weather can be unpredictable and dangerous, and planning ahead can often be the difference between life and death. Tennessee’s electric co-ops are ready for what Mother Nature has in store, and we want you to be ready, too. For more winter safety tips, visit

Abby Berry writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.