[button link=”http://tnelectric.org/templates/finalMay12_template.qxp”]Download Template →[/button]

More than 200 directors and employees from Tennessee’s electric cooperatives were in Nashville Monday and Tuesday, March 12 and 13, for the 2012 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 them. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam also addressed the group.

“It is an honor to travel around the state and meet people who really do care about their communities, and you all represent businesses that do that,” said Gov. Haslam. “You really are trying your best to provide a service that people need at the lowest possible cost. I am grateful for what you are doing.”

Tennessee’s electric cooperatives maintain an active presence in Nashville and Washington, D.C., to be certain that the interests of co-op members are protected. “Our electric cooperatives are private, not-for-profit businesses, but the decisions made by elected officials can affect co-op members in big ways,” says David Callis, general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “It is important that legislators understand the impact their decisions will have on our co-ops’ ability to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy.”

During the conference, TECA staff explained to co-op directors and employees how this year’s redrawing of house and senate districts had impacted their service areas. Attendees were also briefed on pending legislation that would impact Tennessee’s electric cooperatives. Armed with this information, the co-op delegation took to the hill to help legislators better understand the important role of electric cooperatives and their position on various issues and legislation.

Most issues affecting co-ops this year revolve around local control. “We believe that our members are best served when local decisions are made by local board members elected to run the cooperative,” says Mike Knotts, director of government affairs with TECA. “We are concerned when legislation limits a board’s ability to act in the best interests of its members.”

The primary issue facing electric cooperatives this year is nothing new – pole attachments. Electric utilities charge cable TV and telephone providers when they attach their wires to electric poles. Cable and telephone companies believe these rates should be lower, but co-ops believe they charge fair rates based on the actual cost of installing and maintaining the pole. “We believe that our local boards are more than capable of establishing fair attachment rates,” says Knotts. “This is an issue that is best settled locally, not by state government.”

“The impact of co-op members coming to talk with their legislators is huge,” said Callis. “Educated and informed legislators are a key component of low-cost, reliable power in Tennessee.”


[button link=”http://teca.smugmug.com/Legislative/Legislative-Day-2012/21916851_RVCFs6#!i=1749821770&k=FcBwFKK”]View photos from the event →[/button]

TECA’s David Callis responds to Cable’s presentation to Senate Commerce Committee during the 2012 Legislative Rally on March 13th.

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Some of the most breathtaking scenery Tennessee has to offer lies within our state parks. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Tennessee State Parks system, and to celebrate this milestone, The Tennessee Magazine and the parks system are teaming up to host the first-ever State Parks Shutterbug Photography Contest.

The theme, “Celebrating 75 Years of State Parks,” will give you plenty of room to be creative. Subjects could range from scenic vistas full of wildlife to hikers enjoying the solitude of a backcountry hike. In fact, any photograph taken inside a Tennessee state park, state historic park, state archeological park or state natural area can be entered as long as you follow the rules.

Photographers shouldn’t have a shortage of subjects. No matter where you are in Tennessee, you are less than an hour from a state park. Photographs will be judged on sharpness, composition, lighting, creativity and adherence to the contest rules. Print quality will also be taken into consideration.

“I’m thrilled that Tennessee State Parks is working with The Tennessee Magazine to sponsor a state parks 75th anniversary photo contest,” says Charles Brewton, Tennessee State Parks director of marketing. “It will be fun having our visitors share their memories with us. We look forward to seeing their photo images as they explore and enjoy our state parks.”

The winning images will be published in the June 2012 issue of The Tennessee Magazine.

Note: By entering the contest, photographers automatically give The Tennessee Magazine and Tennessee State Parks permission to publish the winning images in print and digital publications and on websites.

Contest Rules

  1. The contest is open to amateur photographers only. If you earn your living as a photographer, please refrain from entering.
  2. Photographs must have been taken at one of Tennessee’s state parks. Visit www.tnstateparks.com for a complete list or call 1-888-867-2757 for a free brochure.
  3. A photographer can enter no more than three photographs in any category. There is no cost to enter.
  4. A completed entry form (below) must be attached to the back of every photograph entered. Omitting any of this information may result in disqualification.
  5. Extensive digital manipulation of photographs is prohibited. The use of photo-editing software should be limited. Adjusting exposure, color balance, contrast and sharpness is allowable, but highly manipulating colors and content of images is not.
  6. Employees of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Tennessee’s electric cooperatives and their immediate families are not eligible to win.
  7. Please include the name of each recognizable person in your photograph. It is the photographer’s responsibility to have the subject’s permission to enter his or her image into the contest. You must include the subject’s name and contact information with your submission. Omitting any of this information can result in disqualification.
  8. Media: Use any camera, film or digital; any film, black-and-white or color.

Parks Rules

Photographers and their subjects are expected to follow all rules and regulations posted by each state park. Noncompliance will result in disqualifications. These regulations include but are not limited to staying on marked trails, keeping dogs on leashes and wearing life jackets when required.


  1. All photographs must be entered as unmounted, 8-by-10-inch prints. Images can be color or black-and-white. Please don’t send your only print of a photo. Because of large numbers of entries, prints will not be returned.
  2. Send entries to: The Tennessee Magazine, State Parks Photo Contest, P.O. Box 100912, Nashville, TN, 37224. Entries may not be emailed or submitted via the tnelectric.org website.


Entries must be postmarked by Friday, April 20.


  1. Shutterbugs 18 and older
  2. Junior Shutterbugs 17 and younger

Prize Packages:

Judges will select a first-, second- and third-place winner in each category. The following prizes will be awarded:

Shutterbugs win:

  • First place
    Six nights at any state park inn, plus $75 from The Tennessee Magazine
  • Second place
    Four nights at any state park inn, plus $65
  • Third place
    Three nights at any state park inn, plus $50

Junior Shutterbugs win:

  • First place
    Three nights at any state park inn, plus $75
  • Second place
    Two nights at any state park inn, plus $65
  • Third place
    One night at any state park inn, plus $50

Note: Accommodations subject to availability

Entry Form


Mike Knotts, Director of Government Affairs for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association

For years, I’ve heard the saying, “Patience is a virtue.” I’m not sure I’ve ever really thought about what that means. Have you? I just hear it, reflexively agree with it and move on to the next thing. Just another cliché, something that people say.

According to Wikipedia, “A virtue is a positive trait or quality subjectively deemed to be morally excellent and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being.” I know Wikipedia might not be the most authoritative source, but I think this entry passes the smell test. So, if I actually believe that definition, do I live in such a way that demonstrates patience? After all, actions speak louder than words — as we’ve always been told. Does our society really value patience?

In my opinion, it is undeniable that we are an instant-gratification nation. Fast food, ATMs, disposable diapers, digital cameras — all are incredible luxuries that have without doubt shortened our attention spans. I work in an industry that literally changed the world — but where patience is defined in milliseconds. Our margin for error is so slim. When you flip the switch, you expect the lights to come on. If the power stops flowing for just a second, all those digital clocks start blinking “12:00,” and the phone calls start pouring in to your co-op.

And these were only 20th century changes. The Internet has exponentially increased our ability to demand more and more information in less and less time.

For example, I am a voracious consumer of news. I have a need to stay connected to current events but see very little of it on television anymore. The 5 o’clock news has not been a part of my routine since I was in high school. I might read the newspaper to learn more detail of a major story, but almost never do I learn about it for the first time in the pages of my local daily. Most of my news comes to me now in near-real time through websites, email updates and social media like Twitter.

These advancements are not bad things; they are just changes. It’s hard to argue against the value of societal advancement. Take the automobile, for instance. Just because we’ve been trained to expect to cross the state in a matter of hours instead of days doesn’t mean we are impatient. We might be getting less patient in some of the ways we live our lives, but those changes by in large have enriched us and made us a more comfortable and prosperous people.

But what about those things that still require us to exercise patience? Parenthood has certainly put me to the test. I have three young sons, including 4-year-old twins, so there has been no shortage of opportunities to demonstrate my patience. Or, more appropriately, my lack thereof. I have to constantly remind myself that I can’t expect my boys to perfect a new task the first time, and I can’t expect them to grow without a lot of stumbles along the way.

When I arrive at the office, I again face the same struggles. It is my job to get involved in the details of how your elected representatives write the law. And the legislative process can sometimes be slow and arduous, it can sometimes be quick and haphazard, but it always requires careful diligence. However, it can be easy to sometimes jump to premature conclusions and not do the hard work that is necessary to make good decisions and accurate judgments.

Case in point: As a lobbyist, there are some lawmakers on whom you just come to rely. Experience has shown you time and time again that they are supportive of your organization and what it stands for, and when it comes time to cast a vote, they usually make the right decision. So what do you do when they suddenly reverse course and do something that could be incredibly harmful to the things you care about?

This happened to me recently. I could not believe the name when I read it at the top of the page. Someone I had come to rely upon suddenly appeared to be in opposition to the interests of electric cooperatives. Why? My first reaction was to take decisive action. Fire up the engines, and let’s head off to battle.

But wait a minute: Why would someone change their position when the circumstances surrounding that issue have not changed? Why would someone embrace a multimillion-dollar impact to our industry that would cause electric bills for almost all Tennesseans to unnecessarily rise? There had to be a reason. So I made a decision that flies in the face of our impatient, 24-hour news cycle culture. I decided to wait until I could actually talk to the person and determine what their motives might be.

So far, that decision has been a good one — both for my virtue and the interests of the member-owners of Tennessee’s electric cooperatives. There was a reason, and my first reaction would have made the situation much worse. So don’t forget: If patience truly is a virtue, then it just stands to reason that good things come to those who wait!

by David Callis, Executive Vice President and General Manager for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association

Our weekend shopping excursion had several oddly related purchases. Among them: butter, dog food, cranberry juice and running gear. All interconnected to each other. And all have something uniquely in common with your electric bill. The link?

For the first clue, we go to England. The year is 1844, and 28 weavers have just formed the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers. This group of tradesmen was able to collectively sell their products in a store that they could not have individually afforded. Yet working together, they prospered, eventually expanding into ownership of a mill and textile factory. The “Rochdale” principles they adopted eventually evolved into today’s Seven Cooperative Principles. Your electric cooperative still operates by them. And 2012 has been named the International Year of the Cooperative.

Residents of rural and suburban Tennessee are most likely members of an electric or telephone cooperative — often both. Occasionally derided as anachronistic relics of the Depression Era, electric cooperatives are anything but irrelevant. Nationwide, we’re leaders in energy-efficiency efforts, advanced metering infrastructure and alternative energy solutions. Member-owned and member-governed, we are nonprofits, operating as economically as possible and reinvesting margins back into the cooperative and the community.

“At a time when folks are losing faith in big corporations, the International Year of Cooperatives offers us a great opportunity to showcase many ways the local, consumer-owned and member-controlled cooperative form of business benefits communities all over the world,” declares Glenn English, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

The number of cooperatives is staggering: There are 900 electric cooperatives and 260 telephone cooperatives in the U.S., serving 42 million electric co-op members and 1.2 million rural telephone members. All told, the United States boasts 29,200 co-ops that run the gamut from insurance companies, food processors, daycare centers and apartment complexes to the better-known farmers co-ops.

Other familiar names you might not recognize as cooperatives are Ace Hardware, Blue Diamond Almonds, Welch’s, Nationwide Insurance, Sunkist, the Associated Press and Dairy Farmers of America. All are based on the same principle-driven model that forms the foundation for electric cooperatives.

So what co-op stops were on our shopping trip? The butter was made by Land O’ Lakes, the dog food came from Sumner Farmers Co-op, Ocean Spray made the cranberry juice and the running gear came from Recreational Equipment Inc. — better known as REI.
To quote Martin Lowery, longtime cooperative advocate and NRECA executive vice president of external affairs, “Co-ops empower people to take control over their own economic destiny. It’s in every co-op’s DNA to serve members in the best way possible. That’s why co-ops remain the best type of business around.”

For more information about the Rochdale cooperative, Benjamin Franklin’s cooperative effort and an international perspective, go to tnelectric.org.

Electric Power Associations of Mississippi

Ridgeland, MS

Job Description


      Job Title:            Safety and Loss Control Instructor

Department:            Safety and Loss Control

 Reports To:            Vice President, Safety and Loss Control

            Date:            March 1, 2012




Administers monthly safety and loss control meetings to all Electric Power Associations in Mississippi. Participates in schools, seminars and other functions as needed. Helps implement the Emergency Work Plan during times of disaster. Responsible for the planning, development and implementation of safety and training programs.

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPOSIBILITIES include the following. Other duties may be assigned.

Plan, write, organize and teach electric distribution subjects and regulatory compliance to Electric Power Association personnel.

Must be a good communicator and have excellent speaking skills to work with both small and large audiences.

Willing to assist, supervise or train at lineman schools, seminars and other functions as needed by the Association and/or Vice President, Safety and Loss Control.

Conduct safety audits on Electric Power Association crews and facilities and report results to proper personnel.

Must be available to provide disaster assistance to the Associations and be willing to assist in system restoration.

Must be able to provide safety and loss control guidance to system employees that will maximize a safer work environment, compliance and education.


Must possess a minimum of a high school diploma and have a minimum of four years experience with an electric utility, preferably line construction and maintenance.

Must have experience and knowledge of powerline construction including RUS, NESC, OSHA, DOT and EPA regulations

Possessing the qualification or willing to earn the qualification of Certified Safety Professional (CSP), or the NRECA Certified Loss Control Professional (CLCP), is highly desired.

Computer skills, especially in Microsoft PowerPoint, Word and Outlook, is highly recommended.


Work is both inside and outside the Associations. Some irregular hours including night, weekends and holidays may be required.

Extensive travel within the state of Mississippi and limited out of state travel.

Must reside within reasonable commuting distance to the EPA office in Ridgeland.


$50K – $65K. Salary to be determined by work related experience, education and pre-qualifications.


Micheal Weltzheimer, CLCP

Assistant to the Vice President, Safety and Loss Control

Electric Power Associations of Mississippi

P.O. Box 3300 – Ridgeland, MS 39158-3300

Fax: (601) 605-8601

[email protected]