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If you want to work where the action is, how about a job in the fastest-growing occupation in America?

As a wind-turbine technician you could make about $50,000 a year and know that your career is expected to grow 108 percent in the next seven years, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And you’d be part of the cutting-edge essence of the American economy, according to a report on electric utility jobs.

“Electricity is the backbone of our economy and is crucial to our national security,” concludes a recent report by M.J. Bradley and Associates, LLC, titled Powering America: The Economic Workforce Contributions of the U.S. Electric Power Industry. The report says, “Our high-tech society demands electricity to power or charge nearly every new product or technology that comes to market.”

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) sponsored that study, along with two other national utility groups, to show how electric utilities power the economy as a result of lighting our homes and businesses.

$100 million a year on infrastructure

Powering America cites the utility industry as the most capital-intensive economic sector, investing more than $100 million a year on the nation’s electricity infrastructure with advances in technology, environmental protections and other improvements. And that’s in addition to money spent on regular operations and maintenance.

All that adds up to supporting more than 7 million jobs. More than 2.6 million of those jobs result from direct employment, like utility employees and contractors. As all those people go to work and live their lives, they create another 4.4 million “induced jobs”—teachers, doctors, real estate agents and service workers.

The report calculates the economic impact of the electric power industry at $880 billion—about 5 percent of the nation’s $18 trillion Gross Domestic Product.

The U.S. Department of Energy slices and dices those numbers a different way, shedding a little more light on wind-turbine technicians and other renewable energy jobs.

DOE’s second annual United States Energy and Employment Report released in January views energy jobs more broadly than just electric utilities. It includes careers in energy efficiency, mining and transportation, and concludes: “Rebuilding our energy infrastructure and modernizing the grid, diversifying our energy mix, and reducing our energy consumption in both our built environment and motor vehicles, America’s labor markets are being revitalized by our new energy and transportation technologies.”

Wind power jobs may be growing rapidly, but the DOE report lists solar energy jobs as the largest share of people working on all types of electricity generation. Almost 374,000 people are working in solar power—43 percent of the electricity generation workforce. Wind employs about 100,000 people.

Powering America

Co-ops hire veterans

Those renewable energy jobs are in addition to a raft of other careers in energy, from mining, to energy efficiency, power plant operators, and social media and cyber security specialists. Jobs at electric co-ops especially offer openings in cutting-edge careers, says Michelle Rostom, director of workforce development for NRECA.

“There are a lot of great opportunities at co-ops,” says Rostom, noting that electric co-ops expect to hire as many as 25,000 new employees in the next five years. “Electric co-ops are doing a lot of research on integrating solar power and wind with coal and other cutting-edge solutions. There are opportunities to be part of the next generation of the energy industry.”

Part of the reason those jobs will be available is that the large Baby Boom Generation is retiring—Rostom says 6,000 co-op employees retired last year. Other parts of the energy industry went through that wave of retirements several years ago, but Rostom says it’s just catching up with electric co-ops. “People stay at the co-op for so long because they’re great jobs, with interesting work, a chance to grow professionally in a lot of different areas and they have a strong connection with their local communities,” says Rostom.

Electric co-ops formally addressed that need to hire more talent when NRECA set its six strategic objectives, one of which is to develop the “Next Generation Workforce.”  In 2006, NRECA joined with other national groups to form the Center for Energy Workforce Development as a way of making sure jobs get filled with high-quality workers.

NRECA sees military veterans as part of the solution: Another part of Rostom’s job is coordinator of NRECA’s Serve Our Co-ops; Serve Our Country veterans hiring initiative.

“Veterans have always been a core part of our co-op workforce, and this program creates additional intent to hire more veterans,” she says. “Veterans are mission oriented, disciplined and safety-focused… They show strong leadership capabilities and they work well under pressure.”

Rostom adds that the experience veterans bring to their jobs matches the culture of the local, member-owned electric co-ops: “There are a lot of parallels between the military and cooperative principles, like teamwork, autonomy, independence and community.”

Locally, co-ops employee more than 2,600 Tennesseans, and we are always hiring. Visit tnelectric.org/about/careers/ to learn more.

[NASHVILLE] – Today President Donald Trump announced that he would nominate Kenneth E. Allen of Kentucky, James R. Thompson III of Alabama, A. D. Frazier of Georgia and Jeffrey Smith of Tennessee for the TVA board. David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, made the following statement:

“Decisions made by the TVA board have a major impact on Tennessee’s 23 electric cooperatives and our 2.1 million consumer-owners. We believe that qualified and experienced leadership is critical to the agency’s success. TVA is an important partner in our mission to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy across rural and suburban Tennessee, and we look forward to working with these nominees.”

Volunteer lineworkers from 11 electric cooperatives to participate in restoration effort following massive hurricane

NASHVILLE – More than 90 electric cooperative lineworkers from Tennessee are heading to Florida and Georgia to restore power to those affected by Hurricane Irma.

“Eleven electric cooperatives in Tennessee are sending personnel and equipment to Florida and Georgia to assist electric cooperatives impacted by this incredible storm,” said David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association.

Tennessee crews have been making plans since last week, but co-ops were hesitant to commit crews until the remnants of Hurricane Irma moved through Tennessee. With the storm passed, some crews have already left and others are making final preparations to leave for hard-hit Florida and Georgia. This cooperation is enabled through mutual-aid agreements among electric cooperatives.

“On more than one occasion our friends from other states have offered assistance following tornados and ice storms,” says Callis. “We are glad to repay their kindness. Cooperation is one of the founding principles of electric cooperatives. It is what makes us different from other utilities.”

Crews from Tennessee are joining some 5,000 electric cooperative workers from 25 states who are converging this week on the hurricane’s impact zone. This represents one of the largest coordinated electric restoration efforts in history.

“We invite you to keep these co-op heroes in your thoughts and prayers,” says Callis, “Today they are lacing up their boots, leaving their families and heading to a difficult and dangerous environment. Our lineworkers are second-to-none, and we are very proud of their desire to help those in need.”


Crews already departed:

  • 12 lineworkers from Appalachian Electric Cooperative, New Market
  • 8 lineworkers from Holston Electric Cooperative, Rogersville
  • 9 lineworkers from Plateau Electric Cooperative, Onieda


Departing today, Sept. 12, at 1:00 p.m.:


  • 12 lineworkers from Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation, Murfreesboro
  • 4 lineworkers from Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative, Centerville
  • 9 lineworkers from Fr. Loudoun Electric Cooperative, Vonore
  • 9 lineworkers from Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, Clarksville


Departing Wednesday, Sept. 13, at 8:00 a.m.:


  • 9 lineworkers from Fayetteville Public Utilities, Fayetteville
  • 12 lineworkers from Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative, South Pittsburg
  • 8 lineworkers from Gibson Electric Membership Corporation, Trenton
  • 8 lineworkers from Tennessee Valley Electric Cooperative, Savannah

[NASHVILLE] – Electric cooperatives across Tennessee today are monitoring the track of Hurricane Irma and preparing to assist in the recovery efforts if needed.

Electric cooperatives from 17 states, including co-ops in Tennessee, have spent the week developing a plan to assist in the recovery of areas impacted by the dangerous storm. “We work days ahead of events like this to organize resources, line up volunteers and make travel and lodging arrangements,” says Todd Blocker, vice president of member services for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and coordinator of cooperative mutual aid for the state. “Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi will provide assistance to Florida, and our crews will likely assist coastal Georgia and South Carolina. These plans may change as we get more information on the track of the storm and extent of the damage.”

The storm is expected to bring significant wind and rain to portions of Tennessee early next week, so volunteer crews will not be released until the remnants of the storm have passed. “Restoring service to our own members will be our priority,” adds Blocker.

“Tennessee lineworkers have provided assistance to several states in recent years,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Our crews have a reputation for responding quickly, working safely and showing compassion to those who have been impacted. We appreciate our employees’ desire to serve and wish them well in the days to come.”