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

Annual Meeting toolkit

TECA is developing resources to help co-ops spread the word about your annual meeting. The zip files below contain fully editable Quark documents.

Annual Report

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Collateral

Media Releases

  • Annual meeting announcement
  • Election announcement
  • Election results
  • Annual meeting summary

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.

Broadband Communications Plan

You do not have access to this content. Please contact Trent Scott at tscott@tnelectric.org for more information on the broadband communications plan.

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.

Call for Nominations: TCC Young Leaders Conference

Once again it’s time to choose your cooperative’s couples (or individuals) to attend the 2017 Tennessee Young Leaders Conference on Friday and Saturday, February 24 and 25, at the Drury Plaza Hotel in Franklin, Tennessee.  Please pass this information along as soon as possible to the person in your organization who is responsible for couple selection.

This highly regarded conference is a combined effort of the Tennessee Council of Cooperatives (TCC) and the Tennessee Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers organization.  Your TCC dues cover the conference registration fee, hotel room cost and cost of conference meals.  All information is available at tennesseecouncilofcoops.org. I would encourage you to review the exciting agenda which has been included with this announcement.  Once again, the 2017 YLC is lining up to be one of the most diversified events ever assembled by the TCC and we hope that you will send an outstanding couple or individual who will benefit and appreciate this unique educational opportunity.  And as an added bonus the host hotel is located at the Drury Plaza in Cool Springs / Franklin TN, an area that has something to offer everyone!

TCC’s annual conference provides cooperatives across the state a unique opportunity to educate its young leaders regarding the benefits of cooperatives.  Your council has worked hard to build a foundation of appreciation and support for existing cooperatives among conference participants.  Those attending the 2017 conference will be exposed to ideas and information that will enable them to add value to their own businesses, form new niche cooperatives with others in their communities, and meet the challenges of the future with cooperative marketing innovations.

More than ever, to be selected for this conference should be considered a true honor and opportunity for your participants.  We encourage you to carefully select attendees.  Sending outstanding people to this conference may be your single most important outreach activity to ensure that the cooperative way of doing business remains strong in the future.

Couple(s) or person(s) chosen should be:

  • under 50 years of age
  • interested member(s) of your cooperative
  • persons who will benefit from this educational experience

For attendees with young children, childcare will be provided during the meeting sessions.

Please select your representatives, complete a copy of the attached registration form in full and mail, e-mail, or fax it to the TCC’s Administrative Secretary-Treasurer Roberta Smith no later than Wednesday February 1, 2017.  We will need one registration form per couple or per single participant.  When we receive the completed registration forms, Roberta will make hotel registrations for the couple or person you have chosen.

If you have additional questions, do not hesitate to contact Roberta Smith at smithr@bledsoe.net or at the information listed on the registration form.

 

tcc-2017-ylc-registration-form
2017-ylc-agenda

Unified

The theme for Tennessee’s electric cooperatives in 2017 is “Unified.” We’ve just completed one of the most contentious elections in our nation’s history, and this country is as divided politically as ever.

With that backdrop, many of you gathered in Nashville in late November for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association’s annual meeting. There, we focused on the things that bring us together rather than those that push us apart.

Our role at the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association (TECA) is to provide leadership, advocacy and support to co-ops, their employees and board members. The annual meeting marks our preparation for the coming year. TECA provides leadership through our educational programs, advocacy through our communications and legislative efforts and support through our mutual aid programs. Our efforts are designed to empower co-op leaders to perform their mission of improving everyday life for co-op consumer-owners.

During the course of the meeting, attendees were given updates on the political climate and what to expect in the coming months and years. A major issue this year is our relentless effort to bring broadband to rural Tennessee. Rural residents deserve the same access to essential services as their urban and suburban counterparts. Without the access that broadband internet provides, our communities are left behind in education, economic development and healthcare. This is our century’s great effort — like rural electrification was for the 1900s.

We took time to honor legislators who have gone above and beyond in their commitment to our cooperatives. State Sen. Ken Yager received the first K.T. Hutchinson Award. We also recognized Megan Lewis, a delegate from Tri-State Electric Membership Corporation on the 2015 Youth Tour, who won a $10,000 scholarship provided by Tennessee’s electric cooperatives.

Though the annual meeting lasted only a few days, communications, government relations, education and training are activities that go on year-round. TECA’s role is to train our cooperative employees and directors to be leaders. Our education and training programs elevate the effectiveness and professionalism of co-op directors and employees, increase workplace safety and prepare co-ops for the rapid changes impacting our industry. These are critical roles that TECA fulfills for our member cooperatives.

Working together and speaking with one voice that carries a unified message amplifies the impact we have. It is critical to our cooperatives and the communities we serve.

You can learn more about TECA’s Scope of Work here.