2016 Legislative Conference

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Members take co-op message to legislators

NASHVILLE – Directors and staff from [CO-OP NAME] were among more than 200 electric co-op leaders in Nashville on Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 9 and 10, for the 2016 Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association’s Legislative Conference. [CO-OP NAME] directors [DIRECTOR NAMES] joined [CO-OP STAFF NAMES AND TITLES] in meetings with 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. “We must tell the electric cooperative story and educate lawmakers about the impact of proposed legislation.”

“Decisions made in Nashville can have serious consequences for our co-op, our members and the communities we serve,” says [CO-OP LEADER, TITLE]. “We have a responsibility to our members to see that their voice is heard.” 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.

[CO-OP BOILERPLATE]

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.

# # #

FOR MORE INFORMATION
[CO-OP MEDIA CONTACT INFORMATION]
Trent Scott | Vice President of Strategy | 615.515.5534 | tscott@tnelectric.org

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 www.SharingChange.org.

“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.

Meriwether Lewis EC teaches students about safety

Waverly Elementary School first graders learned valuable lessons in electric safety on Feb. 26. As part of Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative’s commitment to safety and education, Material Handler Alan Carter, left, and Energy Specialist Nathan Wagner, right, used the Electric Junction demonstration to show students how to be safe around electric lines and equipment.

Supreme Court short-circuits Clean Power Plan

Last December, I let you know that America’s electric cooperatives were filing suit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asking a federal court to prevent a rule called the Clean Power Plan from taking effect. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and 39 generation and transmission co-ops asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to intervene and recognize the lack of legal authority behind the EPA’s regulation. Tennessee’s electric cooperatives were part of this effort.

The Court of Appeals denied our request for a stay. But on Feb. 9, the Supreme Court took the unusual step of blocking the EPA’s landmark carbon rule for power plants, throwing into doubt whether President Barack Obama’s signature climate-change initiative will survive a legal battle before the high court.

The decision read, in part, “The application for a stay submitted to The Chief Justice and by him referred to the Court is granted. The Environmental Protection Agency’s ‘Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units,’ 80 Fed. Reg. 64,662 (October 23, 2015), is stayed pending disposition of the applicants’ petitions for review in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.”

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association is very pleased with this decision halting implementation of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. If this stay had not been granted, cooperatives across the nation would have been forced to take costly and irreversible steps to comply with the rule.

From its inception, we have believed this rule is unneeded regulatory overreach. Our initial step was to provide real-life concerns about the impacts of the proposed rule. More than 1 million Americans joined our push, agreeing that the EPA’s actions jeopardize rural America’s supply of safe, affordable and reliable electricity.

These regulatory hurdles make it increasingly difficult to deliver power to you. We are committed to a cleaner energy future. But the Clean Power Plan goes far beyond what the Clean Air Act authorizes the EPA to do and could seriously challenge our nation’s electric system. We continue to believe this is a huge overreach of EPA’s legal authority.

Low rates and reliable power must be part of our clean-energy future. This decision opens the door to find real solutions that effectively balance environmental and economic concerns. Cooperative members hardest hit by new regulations will be those who can least afford to pay more to keep the lights on — those living on fixed incomes or in poverty.

What’s next?

The decision does not address the merits of the lawsuit. The ruling from the highest court in the land puts the rule on hold until the case is argued in court. The stay is no guarantee that the rule will eventually be struck down, but the development is a bad omen for EPA’s chances. It does indicate that the court believes the states, utilities and coal companies have raised serious questions.

It also means that the deadlines imposed by the EPA will have to be revised. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals put the case on a fast track: Oral arguments are scheduled for this June, and that court’s decision could come in late summer or fall. Depending on the result, a Supreme Court appeal could come in early 2017.

As developments proceed, we’ll keep you informed.

The Super Bowl only has one winner

So, the postgame conversation with my 8-year-old son went something like this:

Me: Why are you crying?
Son: The Panthers lost the Super Bowl. (sobbing)
Me: I’m sorry. But it’s just a game, you know.
Son: But the Panthers lost the Super Bowl. (sobbing louder)
Me: You’re not even a fan of either team. Wasn’t it fun to watch the game?
Son: No!
Me: When you play sports, do you win every game?
Son: How come every team I cheer for always loses? (crestfallen, his head falls into hands)

I live a lot of my life through the eyes of my four young sons. In this instance, a one-day infatuation with a football team ended up in sheer devastation for this sweet young boy. But this lesson is one of the many reasons we encourage our sons to play sports. The idea that “you don’t win them all” is much better taught on the baseball diamond or the basketball court than in a court of law.

In the world of politics, where I spend most of my professional life, that can be a tough pill to swallow. For instance, our nation is engaged in the process of selecting the next president of the United States. With more than 100 primary elections involving a dozen candidates and then the general election pitting one candidate from each party against each other, it is safe to say that we will be inundated with voices telling us who should be our next president. And yet, at the end of all the elections, there will only be one person to hold the highest office in the land.

Closer to home, one of your electric cooperative’s most dedicated champions in Congress, Stephen Fincher, has announced that he will not seek re-election. He is coming home to Frog Jump to run the family farm. While I am personally sad to see him leave public service, I’m heartened to know that his priorities are sound and he has truly put his family first. He will be missed in Congress, but he was just one man. And of the many people who will seek to assume the office he holds, only one will prevail.

But the founders of our nation didn’t rest power with just one man, did they? We are not a monarchy, where one person “wins” and everyone else loses. The real genius of our system of government is that your local, state and federal governments are made up of many individuals whose responsibility is to represent the many more people in their towns, districts or states. Further, our representative republic relies on the willingness of public servants to recognize that they won’t win every battle they undertake and, therefore, need to prioritize their efforts and work with others to get anything at all accomplished.

As someone whose job is to guide people through the complicated process of lawmaking, these are great reminders. Your local co-op has to take all these things into consideration as it works with elected officials in Nashville and Washington, D.C., to promote public policy goals. When we disagree with a particular stance taken by a particular lawmaker, it is important to remember that another decision will come very soon. And we sure hope that lawmaker will agree with us the next time.

The Super Bowl gave me a great teaching moment with my son. But, like much we do as parents, it was just as much a lesson for me. Thanks, William. I love you, buddy.

Broadband Expansion Act

Below is information for co-ops regarding the Broadband Expansion Act.


Talking Points

Tennessee’s electric cooperatives support The Broadband Expansion Act (SB 2512/HB 2408).

Almost one in three rural Tennesseans served by an electric cooperative does not have access to wired broadband that meets modern standards. This places a burden on rural communities to remain competitive and seriously impacts commerce, healthcare and education.

The Broadband Expansion Act removes legal barriers that currently prevent electric cooperatives from providing broadband access. Electric cooperatives in Tennessee serve 71 percent of the state’s landmass, including a majority of areas that lack access to high-speed Internet.

Electric cooperatives are private, not-for-profit, member-owned businesses that exist to serve rural and suburban Tennessee. Tennessee’s cooperatives were created to bring electricity to rural and suburban Tennessee, an act that created opportunity for generations of Tennesseans and changed the landscape of our state. Co-ops are uniquely positioned to provide real solutions to Tennessee’s need for broadband access.

The Broadband Expansion Act was introduced on Monday, Feb. 22, by Rep. Art Swann.

It will be considered by the House Business and Utilities Subcommittee at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

 


Co-op Statement

[Co-op name] today announces its support of The Broadband Expansion Act (SB 2512/HB 2408).

“We are well aware of the need for broadband in our service area,” says [name, title] with [co-op]. “We have been prevented by Tennessee state law from providing broadband access to our members, but the Broadband Expansion Act opens the door for new solutions. We are excited about the opportunities this presents to our members and the communities we serve.”

Access to wired broadband that meets modern standards is unavailable to almost one in three Tennesseans served by an electric cooperative. The Broadband Expansion Act removes legal barriers that currently prevent the state’s not-for-profit, member-owned electric cooperatives from providing broadband access.

#   #   #


TECA Statement

NASHVILLE, Feb. 23, 2016 – Tennessee’s electric cooperatives today announce their support of The Broadband Expansion Act (SB 2512/HB 2408).

“Limited access to high-speed Internet has had a profound impact on rural and suburban Tennessee. New solutions are needed to provide these communities with the opportunities that lie just around the corner or right down the street,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Co-ops have a legacy of expanding services beyond the city limits. A generation ago, the issue was power; today it is broadband.”

Access to wired broadband that meets modern standards is unavailable to almost one in three Tennesseans served by an electric cooperative. The Broadband Expansion Act removes legal barriers that currently prevent the state’s not-for-profit, member-owned electric cooperatives from providing broadband access.

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.

#   #   #

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