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.

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