NASHVILLE – The 71st annual meeting of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association was held Sunday – Tuesday, Nov. 18 – 20, at the Nashville Airport Marriott. The theme of the meeting was “Community,” and Bill Rogers, Caney Fork Electric Cooperative general manager and president of the TECA board of trustees, called the meeting to order.

Representatives from 23 member systems and one associate member were present for the business meeting. Rogers and TECA General Manager David Callis, the resolutions committee, TECA staff and representatives from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative presented reports and updates.

Elections were held for four-year positions on the TECA board of trustees. Robert Kendrick, board member at Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation, was elected from Region I. Britt Dye, CEO and general manager of Fayetteville Public Utilities, was elected from Region II. Robert Drinnen, Appalachian Electric Cooperative board member, was elected from Region III.

“Congratulations to those who have been chosen for leadership roles,” said Callis. “We appreciate their service and are confident they will provide sound direction and represent Tennessee’s electric cooperatives with honor.”

Throughout the year, TECA presents training and education programs for cooperative directors. Recognized at this year’s annual meeting, board members receiving Credentialed Cooperative Director status were Michael Bouldin, Caney Fork EC; Anthony Kimbrough, Duck River EMC; and Robert Sherrill, Sequachee Valley EC. Board members receiving the more involved Board Leadership certification were Dale Fain, Appalachian EC; Glen Page, Caney Fork EC; Stephen Douglass, Cumberland EMC; Nelson Crouch and Baxter White, Duck River EMC; and Britt Dye, Fayetteville Public Utilities.

The Tennessee Magazine reception, featuring products made or produced in Tennessee, was held on Sunday evening, Nov. 18. Attendees to this year’s meeting also heard from Maj. Dan Rooney, professional golfer, retired fighter pilot and founder of Folds of Honor; Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Lee Greenwood; Tom Laing, researcher with TSE Services; Allen Borden, assistant commissioner with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development; Tre Hargett, Tennessee secretary of state; NRECA President Mike Guidry; and Van Wardlaw, executive vice president of customer relations with TVA. The Quebe Sisters Band provided entertainment at the banquet.

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association is a trade group representing the interests of Tennessee’s 23 electric distribution cooperatives and the 1.1 million consumers they serve.

Images from the Annual Meeting are available here.

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.

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

Mike Knotts, director of government affairs

Last Tuesday, Tennessee reelected all nine of its Congressmen to another term and history was made in the state legislature. On the national stage, EPA regulations will come to the forefront of national political discussion following the Presidential election.

In a tight race, the country reelected President Barack Obama (D) to a second term over the challenger, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R). The Congress will remain split. Democrats maintain majority control in the Senate holding 53 seats to the 47 seats held by Republicans. The House will remain under the control of Republicans who hold 240 seats whiledemocrats claim 190.

Tennessee will see no change in its Congressional delegation. The much talked about fourth district race went to the incumbent, Scott DesJarlais (R), with 56% of the vote over former Democratic State Senator, Eric Stewart. Senator Bob Corker (R) defended his seat comfortably as he earned 65% of the vote.

As our Congressional delegation returns to Washington, they face a fast-approaching fiscal cliff, which (if ignored) will result in the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the much talked about automatic spending cuts. Beyond the fiscal cliff, our delegation will see a much more active EPA than it saw in President Obama’s first term.

Reuters (11/7) reports that analysts expect President Obama’s second term will bring tougher regulations for the energy industry. A separate Reuters (11/7, Gardner) article also suggests Obama’s stance on oil and gas regulation is likely to get tougher during his second term.

During Tuesday night’s victory speech, Obama spoke of the need to ensure children live in a country that, “isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet”. These anticipated changes in energy policy means the work of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association will be more important than ever.

At the state level, history was made Tuesday night. For the first time, Republicans will have a supermajority in the State House and State Senate. The only incumbent to lose in the general election was Jim Gotto (R—Hermitage) who lost his seat to Democrat Darren Jernigan. This district is not served by any TECA member electric power systems.

New members winning contested races include: Timothy Hill (R—Blountville), Micah Van Huss(R—Sulphur Springs), Gloria Johnson (D—Knoxville), Andrew Farmer (R—Sevierville), Kent Calfee (R—Oak Ridge), Dawn White (R—Murfreesboro), William Lamberth (R—Gallatin), Courtney Rogers (R—Goodlettsville), Bo Mitchell (D—Nashville), Jason Powell (D—Nashville), Darren Jernigan (D—Hermitage), Barry Doss (R—Lawrenceburg), Mary Littleton (R—Dickson), Debra Moody (R—Covington), and Billy Spivey (R—Lewisburg).

New Senate members include: Frank Nicely (R—District 8), Todd Gardenhire (R—District 10), Janice Bowling (R—District 16), Ferrell Haile (R—District 18), Steve Dickerson (R—District 20), Mark Green (R—District 22), John Stevens (R—District 24) and Joey Hensley (R—District 28).

TECA worked over the past year to become acquainted with the newest members of the General Assembly prior to election day. These relationships will be helpful in long-term policy work, as will the continued friendships TECA has with manylegislative leaders. TECA will continue to monitor and influence legislative matters effecting electric cooperatives.

Crew, weary from setting light poles by hand, proud to be helping so many in need.

BROWNSVILLE – New Yorkers may not understand the word “y’all”, but they do understand that Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation crews are there to help. Nine lineworkers from the Brownsville, Tenn., based cooperative are in Bethpage, New York, assisting Long Island Power Authority restore electric service following Hurricane Sandy.

STEMC crews work outside Bethpage, New York

The workers departed Jackson on Sunday, Oct. 28, to assist restoration efforts in Virginia. On Wednesday, Oct. 31, the crew completed their work there, and a call for assistance came in from New York. “About five minutes later the crew was on their way,” says Mullins. “The hardest part of the trip was crossing over into Long Island. The tunnels that lead to the island were flooded by the storm, so they had to travel further north and cross over on the George Washington Bridge, through the Bronx and into Queens.”

The workers were housed in FEMA trailers with no heat or water for the first two days, and later they were moved to a gymnasium. Now that power is beginning to be restored, the crews are staying in a motel.

The Southwest Tennessee Electric crew is working with a crew from Colorado to repair major three-phase distribution lines. A tree-trimming crew removes trees and the line crews follow repairing or replacing poles and splicing wire. “Because of the underground utilities in the area, all digging must be done by hand,” says Mullins. “Have you ever dug a seven-foot deep hole with posthole diggers?”

STEMC crews repair lines damaged by Hurricane Sandy

The crew is seeing the challenges faced by residents in the area. With no electricity, most gas stations cannot pump gas from underground tanks. Over the weekend the crew drove into an area to work, and people immediately began to line up at a station to purchase gas, even though there was no electricity. The crew worked all day to restore service to the town, and by that time more than 400 people were in line for gas. A police officer asked if the power would be restored that day or if he should disperse the crowd. STEMC crews assured him that the power would be restored, and it was. The station owner later told them that the 14,000 gallons of gas he had was gone by the next morning. The Southwest Tennessee Electric crew had to wait more than two hours to refuel their vehicles.

“Our men say that the idea of ‘northern rudeness’ is a myth so far as they are concerned,” says Mullins. “People blow their horns and wave, shout ‘thank you’ and constantly bring food and drinks to the crew while they are working.”

On Sunday the crew restored power to 27,000 people in Glen Cove, New York. As of Monday, Long Island Power Association still has almost 300,000 customers without power. The Southwest Tennessee Electric crew expects to be there through the end of the week.

Assistance provided by Southwest Tennessee Electric is arranged through mutual-aid agreements in place between utilities. Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation is a member-owned, not-for-profit distribution cooperative serving 50,000 homes, businesses and institutions with power in nine West Tennessee counties. The cooperative, headquartered in Brownsville, has offices in Jackson, Covington, Henderson and Munford.