(NASHVILLE, TENN.) — The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) today awarded the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association (TECA) its Paul Revere Award. NRECA recognized the association for its ability to mobilize cooperative consumer-members on behalf of the electric cooperative industry.
Tennessee electric cooperatives faced an expensive and difficult fight with the cable industry in 2013 over the issue of pole attachments. The cable industry spent hundreds of thousands of dollars pushing legislation that would have created a $13 million subsidy paid by co-ops to the cable companies and stripped local co-op boards of control.
Cable’s attacks were countered in typical co-op style. TECA’s Government Affairs Director Mike Knotts deployed a grassroots strategy to activate advocates across the state, urging them to contact state legislators, share information on social media channels and write letters to local papers in support of more reasonable legislation. Ultimately neither party prevailed, which amounted to a win for co-ops and a setback for the cable industry.
“The power of a well-implemented grassroots campaign cannot be overstated, and TECA demonstrated that in spades. Against a well-funded opponent, they thoughtfully and effectively tackled the issue legislator by legislator,” said Jo Ann Emerson, CEO of NRECA. “TECA’s approach provides a road map for co-ops across the country on how to organize, educate and execute a plan for a victory.”
“We are honored to receive the award,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of TECA. “Protecting the pocketbooks of our members is our most important mission. We share this award with the co-op members across the state who picked up the phone, sent letters and emails, or otherwise took action to defend their co-op when it was threatened.”
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.
The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association is a trade group representing the interests of 23 electric distribution cooperatives and the 1.1 million members they serve across rural and suburban Tennessee.
More than 8,500 representatives from cooperative electric utilities across the nation are attending the NRECA Annual Meeting March 2-5, during which they will set NRECA’s legislative and organizational agenda for 2014. In addition to considering and acting upon policy resolutions, delegates receive reports from NRECA officials, hear addresses by key public figures and business experts, and attend educational forums on major issues affecting electric cooperatives and their consumer-owners.