Tennessee’s electric co-ops prepare for arrival of Tropical Storm Cindy

[NASHVILLE] – Electric cooperatives across Tennessee today prepare for the arrival of Tropical Storm Cindy which is anticipated to bring wind and significant rainfall to the Volunteer State overnight Thursday through Friday.

The tropical storm, which made landfall at 4 a.m. today on the coast of Louisiana, is forecast to bring 25 mph winds and up to 6 inches of rain to Tennessee as it moves across the Southeast.

“We are paying attention to the track of the storm and preparing for the possibility of outages,” says John Bowers, CEO of Pickwick Electric Cooperative in Selmer. “We conduct ongoing system maintenance and tree trimming to prepare for events like this, but our crews will be ready to respond if needed.”

Co-ops routinely provide assistance to one another during major outages. The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association coordinates requests for assistance among Tennessee co-ops. “Our cooperatives are always quick to help those in need, whether it be a co-op in the next county or in another state,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association.

Youth Tour delegates return to Tennessee

NASHVILLE – Nearly 140 high school seniors from across Tennessee are back home following the 2017 Washington Youth Tour.

The week long event included sightseeing, visits with elected officials and lots of fun meeting peers from across Tennessee and the nation. Delegates earned their spots on the Youth Tour for writing winning short stories titled “Electric Cooperatives: Going Beyond the Wires.” In their winning entries, the talented young writers described how member-owned, nonprofit electric co-ops strengthen their local communities and improve lives across their service areas while providing safe, reliable, affordable energy.

“We take great pride in recognizing the best and brightest from across the state,” said Todd Blocker, director of member relations for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and tour director. “By recognizing their accomplishments through programs like the Washington Youth Tour, we show these leaders of tomorrow that their hometown electric co-op is more than a utility provider; these students are active members of their community and fully invested in its prosperity.”

For more than 50 years, the Washington Youth Tour has taken students from electric co-op service areas to our nation’s capital to learn more about our country and the cooperative business model. The annual event is coordinated by local electric cooperatives, the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). This year’s Youth Tour involved 1,700 students from 43 states.

“You bring a voice that wants to engage with people and talk about your community and what matters to you,” said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. “It’s up to all of us to support it, nurture it, hold it accountable and make it work. That’s the approach of NRECA, and that’s the approach you will help us pursue.”

On their 2017 visit, Tennessee’s Youth Tour delegates saw the White House and memorials to past presidents Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt as well as monuments honoring the sacrifices of veterans of World War II and the Vietnam and Korean Wars. During visits to the museums of the Smithsonian Institution, the touring Tennesseans saw and experienced natural, historical and artistic treasures. Other fun stops included historic homes of former presidents — George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Jefferson’s Monticello — as well as Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and a boat cruise down the Potomac River. Among other Youth Tour highlights were a solemn and sobering visit to Arlington National Cemetery where the group laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

The group was welcomed to the U.S. Capitol by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and members of the Tennessee congressional delegation who posed for photos and answered questions.

Destinee Gilchrist from Tennessee Valley Electric Cooperative, Taya Lewis from Caney Fork Electric Cooperative and Hope Newell from Gibson Electric Membership Corporation were awarded $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 Robert McCarty Memorial Scholarships for having the first-, second- and third-place short stories of the more than 10,000 papers submitted across the state. McCarty was an employee of Volunteer Energy Cooperative and long time chaperone on the annual Youth Tour. McCarty lost a battle with cancer in 2015, and sponsoring cooperatives renamed the scholarships in honor of his love for young people.

Candace Hargrave, of Franklin County, a recent graduate of Huntland High School, was awarded a $10,000 Cooperative Youth Ambassador Scholarship. Hargrave was a 2016 delegate for Duck River Electric Membership Corporation on the Washington Youth Tour. In the year following the tour, delegates who remain engaged with their sponsoring cooperatives and complete certain community service requirements are eligible for the scholarship. Hargrave’s name was randomly selected from among the 100 delegates from across the state who completed the requirements.

“It’s more than just a talking point,” said David Callis, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Electric co-ops genuinely care about the prosperity of the communities we serve. The Washington Youth Tour is a small but important way for us to show these exceptional students that rural Tennessee matters. We want them to be passionate about their communities and prepared to lead when those opportunities come along.”

Scholarships awarded to youth tour delegates

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tennessee’s electric cooperatives awarded $16,000 in scholarships to Washington Youth Tour delegates on Monday evening, June 12, in Washington, D.C.

Candace Hargrave, a senior from Duck River Electric Membership Corporation, was awarded a $10,000 Cooperative Youth Ambassador Scholarship. Hargrave was a 2016 delegate of the Washington Youth Tour. In the year following the tour, delegates who remain engaged with their sponsoring cooperative and complete certain community service requirements are eligible for the scholarship. Hargrave’s name was randomly selected from among the 100 delegates from across the state who completed the requirements.

Destinee Gilchrist from Tennessee Valley Electric Cooperative, Taya Lewis from Caney Fork Electric Cooperative and Hope Newell from Gibson Electric Membership Corporation were awarded $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 Robert McCarty Memorial Scholarships for having the first, second and third place papers of the more than 10,000 papers submitted across the state.

McCarty was an employee of Volunteer Energy Cooperative and long-time chaperone on the annual youth tour. McCarty lost a battle with cancer in 2015, and sponsoring cooperatives renamed the scholarship in honor of his love for young people.

More than 180 high school Juniors from across the state are in the nation’s capital this week for the 2017 Washington Youth Tour. The annual event teaches students about our country and the cooperative business model. The annual event is coordinated by local electric cooperatives, the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

“Our commitment to community is what sets cooperatives apart from other businesses,” said David Callis, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “The Washington Youth Tour is one way we show the youth of our service area that their co-op is more than their electricity provider. We genuinely care about the prosperity of our communities, and that includes providing special opportunities for these exceptional students and preparing them for future success.”

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Conover wins Klinefelter award

The Tennessee Magazine editor recognized for lifetime
of achievement in cooperative communications

Conover, seated, is the recipient of the 2017 H. E. Klinefelter Award presented by the Cooperative Communicators Association.

[Baton Rouge] – Robin Conover, editor of The Tennessee Magazine, is the 2017 recipient of the H. E. Klinefelter Award. The award was presented Tuesday, June 6, at the Cooperative Communicators Association Institute in Baton Rouge. The Klinefelter Award is presented annually to a communicator who excels in telling the story of cooperatives.

“Robin uses her talents to document the remarkable people and natural beauty of rural Tennessee,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “As the editor of our official publication, hundreds of thousands of people enjoy her work each month in the pages of The Tennessee Magazine. We are fortunate to have Robin on our team, and we celebrate with her on this well-deserved recognition.”

The Tennessee Magazine is the official publication of the electric cooperatives of Tennessee and the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. The magazine is distributed to more than 650,000 homes each month, making it the state’s most widely circulated periodical. Conover joined the staff of the magazine in 1988 and became editor in 2002.

In addition to the Klinefelter Award, the TECA communications department also received awards for Photo of the Year, Cover of the Year, as well as first place awards for column writing, headline writing and social media; second place awards for featurette writing and photo essay; and third place awards for photo feature photography.

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Holiday weekend storms leave 50,000 co-op members without power

Severe storms roared through the Volunteer State on Saturday evening, May 27, leaving more than 50,000 co-op members across the state without power. Wind speeds exceeding 95 miles per hour were recorded in some locations, bringing down trees, breaking poles and snapping power lines.

Crews worked through the holiday weekend to repair the significant damage. Tennessee’s electric cooperatives appreciate the assistance of Nolin RECC from Kentucky, which sent crews to assist with the restoration efforts.

“Severe weather events like this remind us of the resilience and dedication of Tennessee’s electric cooperatives,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “When their communities were in need, co-op lineworkers gave up their holiday weekend, put on their gear and went to work. They have responded with efficiency and professionalism, and we appreciate their efforts.”

On Tuesday morning, May 30, fewer than 1,000 members remain without power. Co-ops expect to restore power to all meters capable of being reconnected by later today.

 

 

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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.”

 

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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.

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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.

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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

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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