Watson named Duck River EMC President

Duck River Electric Membership Corporation Vice President Michael Watson has been named President and Chief Executive Officer of Duck River Electric Membership Corporation, Board Chairman Brent Willis announced today.

Watson will succeed President/CEO Jim Allison who will retire at the end of June, ending a 13 year career with the cooperative. He will be the eighth manager/CEO in the Cooperative’s 77 year existence.

“Michael has served the cooperative as Vice President for the past year and has proven his exemplary performance as he led DREMC through an extensive technology expansion program and Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) roll-out. He was selected from a pool of more than 50 applicants as the Board of Directors conducted a national search through the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Executive Search Program,” Willis explained.

“Duck River Electric is a vital part of the utility infrastructure in the counties and communities it serves in south central Tennessee, providing electricity to more than 71,000 meters. It is critically important that the person heading this organization be immensely qualified and capable of leading the more than 155 employees charged with delivering safe, reliable electric service to the Cooperative’s member owners. The Board of Directors felt that of the many qualified candidates interviewed for the position, Michael is that person,” Willis added.

Watson began his career with Duck River Electric in 1992 as an Electrical Engineer, working in the headquarters Engineering Department. He was later named District Manager overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Shelbyville/Lynchburg District. He then served as Director of Operations prior to being named Vice President in 2012, having direct supervision over the Cooperative’s Engineering and Operations Departments, as well as all five District Managers. He was recently recognized by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) for his outstanding work in research and development in the area of Power Delivery and Utilization, specifically the collection and analysis of data involving power transformer and circuit breaker fleet management.

He is a native of Memphis and a graduate of Mississippi State University with a Bachelors Degree in Electrical Engineering, The University of Memphis with a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering and is a registered professional engineer in the State of Tennessee. Prior to joining Duck River Electric Watson worked with Memphis Light, Gas and Water as a Substation and Protective Relay Engineer. He is married to Dr. Dianne Watson, a Shelbyville Dentist, and they have three children, Ruth, Will and Wes.

“It has been a pleasure working with Michael as he has grown in his responsibilities over the course of his career with DREMC. Because of his knowledge  and experience I feel the cooperative is being left in good hands and there will be a smooth transition as I retire from Duck River Electric,” Allison said.

Duck River Electric, a Touchstone Energy Cooperative, is an electric distribution cooperative with its headquarters in Shelbyville, TN serving all or portions of 16 counties in south central Tennessee with safe, reliable electric service.

DREMC director to lead TRH Health Plans

President Lacy Upchurch announced recently that the TRH Board of Directors has named Anthony Kimbrough as the next chief executive officer of TRH Health Plans. The board made its decision in a special-called meeting Nov. 21.

“I look forward to working with Anthony in his new role as CEO of TRH,” said Lacy Upchurch, board president. “Anthony has a dynamic personality and excellent people skills. In his responsibilities related to marketing and government relations, Anthony has proven himself as a dedicated and knowledgeable employee. He has been at the forefront of company development as TRH has expanded product offerings to assist other state Farm Bureaus. He has worked with current management through the many challenges, including the unknown possibilities related to the Affordable Care Act. Having that experience and the great working relationship with the current management team will enable Anthony to hit the ground running. We congratulate him on the recognition of his talent and commitment.”

Long-time CEO Lonnie Roberts, who announced his retirement to the board on Nov. 1, will step down at the end of December after a 25-year career at TRH, including the last 16 as CEO.

“The Board of Directors has made an excellent choice in Anthony,” said Roberts. “He has a high energy level, excellent communication skills and he understands what it means to be a part of a membership organization. He will do a great job leading the TRH team for years to come.”

Kimbrough, 49, has been in the Farm Bureau family since September 2000, when he became the first employee to share responsibilities for government relations work for both TRH and Farm Bureau Insurance. He was named vice president of government relations in that joint role in 2004 and then, in September 2007, moved to TRH as Vice President of Marketing and Government Relations.

“To say ‘I am blessed’ is quite an understatement,” said Kimbrough, an Arkansas native who moved to Tennessee in 1989. “I came to this organization a dozen years ago largely because I was attracted to its values and its people. That appreciation has only deepened during my time here. I thank the board for the trust it has placed in me, as well as Mr. Roberts and the many, many colleagues and co-workers in the TRH and Farm Bureau families who have made this opportunity possible.”

Kimbrough and his wife Michele live in Columbia and have two teenage daughters, McKayla and McKenzie. They are active members at First Baptist Church. He serves as a board member for Duck River Electric Membership Corporation.

DREMC’s Allison to Head TRA

The Tennessee Regulatory Authority (TRA) recently announced that the members of the TRA have elected Director James Allison to serve as chairman of the agency. In the capacity of chairman, he will have the responsibility of formulating the broad strategies, goals, objectives and long-range plans and policies of the TRA. Mr. Allison succeeds TRA Director Kenneth C. Hill who has served as chairman since October 2011.

On accepting the role as TRA chairman, Mr. Allison said, “I am honored to accept the role as chairman to continue the Tennessee Regulatory Authority’s commitment to protecting the public interest.” He resides in Shelbyville, Tennessee and was appointed to the TRA in 2012 by Governor Bill Haslam, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell.

The TRA members also elected Director Herbert H. Hilliard to serve as vice chairman of the agency.

The mission of the TRA is to promote the public interest by balancing the interests of utility consumers and providers. For more information on the TRA, visit online at

DREMC solar farm launched

(Shelbyville, TN) Duck River Electric Membership Cooperative became the first electric cooperative in the seven state TVA service territory offering members access to green power through the newly constructed 25.92kW solar farm. Ribbon cutting festivities were held Wednesday, August 15th at 1:00pm. Representatives from DREMC’s Board of Directors, DREMC management staff, local school officials, students, elected officials and TVA representatives attended the event.

The DREMC Solar Farm Limited Partnership is located at 1411 Madison Street in Shelbyville, TN. Duck River Electric is the fourth largest electric cooperative in the state providing power to approximately 71,000 homes and businesses in all or portions of Bedford, Coffee, Franklin, Giles, Grundy, Hickman, Lawrence, Lewis, Lincoln, Marion, Marshall, Maury, Moore, Rutherford, Warren and Williamson counties.

The new DREMC Solar Farm Limited Partnership allows its members to invest in solar energy without the cost of installing or maintaining their own system. “Many people don’t want to incur the cost of home solar installation or their location isn’t ideal for solar because of their home design or an abundance of shade trees in the yard,” said Jim Allison, President and Chief Executive Officer of DREMC. “This allows our members to participate in solar energy sustainability efforts at a fraction of the cost of installing their own system.”

DREMC members can invest for as little as $600 for one unit of limited partnership interest. They will see an energy credit on their monthly bill for the duration of their ownership of the unit(s) of interest in the DREMC Solar Farm. Member investors will receive premium pricing offered by TVA in their Generation Partners Program that will help offset their original investment. DREMC will also provide its members with financing for up to a year.

“The partnership with TVA gives our members the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of the solar industry,” said Allison.  “We’re proud to offer our members the chance to support efforts in making green energy more widely available and have located this installation in proximity to elementary, middle and high schools so that it can be used as a teaching tool as well.”

Duck River Electric Membership Corporation is a member owned electric distribution cooperative founded in 1936 that currently serves nearly 71,000 members with its headquarters in Shelbyville, TN. Additional information can be found at

Allison named TRA Director

Jim Allison, president and CEO of Duck River Electric Membership Corporation, has been named as a director for the Tennessee Regulatory Authority by Gov. Bill Haslam.

“TECA staff has been supportive of Jim’s selection, and we’re extremely pleased to learn of his appointment as a TRA director,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Jim is a well-respected leader, and brings extensive utility industry experience to the TRA.”

A media release from Gov. Bill Haslam’s office is attached.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Executive director, two directors appointed to reconfigured TRA

NASHVILLE – The newly reconfigured Tennessee Regulatory Authority (TRA) has its first full-time executive director and two new part-time directors after Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s reforms were passed during this year’s legislative session.

Haslam worked with Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) and House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) on the joint appointments of business executive Earl Taylor as executive director and utility industry veteran James Allison as a director.

The governor also appointed Herbert Hilliard, executive vice president and chief government relations officer of First Horizon National Corporation, as a TRA director.

“It is our job to make state government as accountable and responsive as possible to Tennesseans,” Haslam said. “These appointees bring years of experience and expertise to the TRA. I am grateful for their willingness to serve our citizens and appreciate the lieutenant governor and house speaker for their efforts in this selection process.

Passed during this year’s legislative session and signed into law by Haslam, HB 2385/SB 2247 changed the membership of the TRA from four full-time members to five part-time members and established the executive director position, the first of which was to be jointly appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and house speaker.

The TRA sets utility rates and service standards of privately-owned telephone, natural gas, electric and water utilities.

Taylor practiced law in Johnson City for ten years and has an executive background as part owner of the CBS affiliate in Knoxville and as a business developer in Knoxville, the Tri-Cities area, Florida and Texas. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and a J.D. from the University of Memphis. Taylor serves as a Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority commissioner, Knoxville Fellows Program mentor and as a Young Life of Knoxville committee member.

Allison has utilities experience in Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, and is also regarded as one of the top instant replay officials in college football after having been an on-field official in the Southeastern Conference for more than 12 years.

Hilliard has spent 42 years at First Horizon and is currently the board chair for the National Civil Rights Museum, a board member of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Tennessee and a commissioner for the Memphis/Shelby County Airport Authority.