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Evolving technology is changing how energy is generated and distributed through the electric grid to homes and businesses. These changes have brought new challenges and opportunities to electric co-ops working to keep pace with the evolving landscape.

Within the electric cooperative workforce, new skills and experience are needed to help co-ops meet shifting market and consumer demands. This is why electric co-ops are recruiting fresh talent to help us provide even greater value to our members.

Co-ops are owned by the people we serve. This subtle fact impacts everything that happens at the cooperative.

People – the consumers we serve – always come before profits, and our employees are serious about the responsibility that we have to provide power to our communities. The work that we do not only makes life more comfortable and convenient, but we also make the hospitals operate, the factories run and the cell phones, computers and other technology that we rely on each day function.

Our employees power everyday life for our region. It is a serious – and sometimes hazardous – job that is incredibly rewarding and full of opportunity.

There is a broad range of highly-trained professionals working behind the scenes at your local co-op.

Lineworkers are the most visible and identifiable employees of the co-op, but their responsibilities go far beyond climbing poles and repairing lines. They can also pinpoint an outage from miles away and restore power remotely.

Experts in information technology are increasingly important to safeguard the grid and protect data and other sensitive cyber assets. Engineers provide ongoing expertise and guidance on the operations side of the utility, particularly as system upgrades and more renewable energy choices become available.

Professionals in business administration, communication and digital media help co-ops deliver messages through multiple platforms and keep members informed of critical information in today’s 24/7 media environment.

Electric co-ops are looking for people with technical skills who also understand our mission to serve our communities and members.

Simply put, we believe co-ops build a better world, and we are looking for talented people to join us. Contact your local co-op to learn more about a career that is close to home, but far from ordinary.

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association submitted feedback regarding the Rural Utilities Service’s e-Connectivity Pilot Program during a comment period provided by the RUS.

The e-Connectivity Pilot Program was was made possible by a $600 million appropriation from Congress in the Consolidated Budget Act of 2018. The USDA is working to create new funding and finance offerings through this pilot program to expand rural broadband in underserved rural and tribal areas.

Comments made by TECA to the RUS highlighted the successes of Tennessee’s electric co-ops in broadband and the need for additional funding to speed deployment. TECA affirmed comments made by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and requested consideration of seven additional suggestions:

  • Projects that achieve universal service inside a provider’s service territory should be incentivized over similar projects that leave significant gaps in coverage between communities
  • Projects that leverage additional investment in broadband infrastructure beyond the receipt of a grant itself should be incentivized over a similar project(s) that rely solely upon the program itself for its existence
  • Allow applicant(s) an opportunity to rebut any challenges of eligibility by third parties
  • Allow flexibility to award funds to any party participating in a partnership or other project that involves multiple eligible parties
  • Allow grants to be payable in multiple awards, rather than a single payment, if so desired by the recipient
  • Allow a small percentage of grants to be usable for start-up expenses of subsidiary entities
  • Provide loan products inside the pilot program at an interest rate below what is otherwise available by existing RUS programs, including FFB loans, or other more advantageous terms.

“We believe that the RUS’s e-Connectivity Pilot Program has the potential to have a meaningful impact on the expansion of broadband in rural Tennessee,” says Mike Knotts, vice president of government affairs with the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “We appreciate Secretary Purdue and the team at RUS for considering the input of Tennessee’s electric cooperatives.”

You can read TECA’s full comments below.

[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.tnelectric.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/TECA-RUS-e-Connectivity-Comments.pdf” title=”TECA RUS e-Connectivity Comments”]

NASHVILLE – More than 140 lineworkers from 15 Tennessee electric cooperatives will soon be heading to North Carolina to assist with Hurricane Florence recovery efforts. The massive hurricane is expected to leave widespread damage across much of the Atlantic seaboard.

Tennessee electric co-op crews are planning to leave from multiple locations beginning on Wednesday morning. Most will ride out the storm in western or central North Carolina before heading further east once the storm passes through. It is unclear how long they will be in North Carolina.

“Our crews have a reputation for responding quickly, working safely and showing compassion to those who have been impacted by storms like this one,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Associaiton. “We commend their desire to serve and wish them well in the days to come.”

Please keep the people of the Atlantic coast, as well as our volunteer lineworkers and their families, in your thoughts and prayers in the days ahead.

Below is a list of Tennessee co-ops providing assistance and the name and location of the co-op they will be helping. This information is likely to change as the storm nears the coast.

  • Appalachian Electric Cooperative in New Market, Tenn. – 12 lineworkers to Piedmont EMC in Hillsboro, North Carolina
  • Caney Fork Electric Cooperative in McMinnville, Tenn. – eight lineworkers to Pee Dee EC in Wadesboro, North Carolina
  • Chickasaw Electric Cooperative in Somerville, Tenn. – five lineworkers to Randolph EMC in Asheboro, North Carolina
  • Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation in Clarksville, Tenn. – 10 lineworkers to South River EMC in Fayetteville, North Carolina
  • Duck River Electric Membership Corporation in Shelbyville, Tenn. – nine lineworkers to Lumbee River EMC in Red Springs, North Carolina
  • Fayetteville Public Utilities in Fayetteville, Tenn. – eight lineworkers to Tri-County EMC in Dudley, North Carolina
  • Holston Electric Cooperative in Rogersville, Tenn. – eight lineworkers to Lumbee River EMC in Red Springs, North Carolina
  • Meriwether Lewis Electric Membership Corporation in Centerville, Tenn. – five lineworkers to Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative in Buxton, North Carolina
  • Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation in Murfreesboro, Tenn. – 15 lineworkers to Carteret-Craven EC in Newport North Carolina
  • Plateau Electric Cooperative in Onieda, Tenn. – 13 lineworkers to South River EMC in Fayetteville, North Carolina
  • Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative in South Pittsburg, Tenn. – 10 lineworkers to Four County EMC in Burgaw, North Carolina
  • Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation in Brownsville, Tenn. – 10 lineworkers to Jones-Onslow EMC in Jacksonville, North Carolina
  • Tri-County Electric Membership Corporation in Lafayette, Tenn. – eight to Energy United in Statesville, North Carolina
  • Tennessee Valley Electric Cooperative in Savannah, Tenn. – 10 lineworkers to Central EMC in Sanford, North Carolina
  • Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation in Carthage, Tenn. – 12 lineworkers to Four County EMC in Burgaw, North Carolina

NASHVILLE – Three Tennessee electric co-ops will receive almost $3 million to help expand broadband availability. Gibson Electric Membership Corporation, Holston Electric Cooperative and Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative each submitted winning bids in the most recent Federal Communications Commission Connect America Fund II (CAF II) reverse auction.

Over the next ten years, Gibson Connect, a subsidiary of Gibson EMC, will receive $1.22 million, Holston Connect, a subsidiary of Holston EC, will receive $530,000 and ML Connect, a subsidiary of Meriwether Lewis EC, will receive $1.18 million.

These three Tennessee co-ops were among 35 nationally that will receive $225 million to help defray the costs of deploying broadband in underserved areas. The CAF II auction marks the first time that the FCC allowed electric cooperatives to bid for funding as broadband service providers.

“We are pleased to see the FCC recognize that electric co-ops have a unique opportunity to bring broadband to rural and suburban America,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Tennessee’s electric co-ops have demonstrated our ability to successfully deliver broadband, and we will continue to seek out innovative funding sources and partnerships to make this happen.”

NASHVILLE – It is an exciting and exhausting time, the culmination of a season of hard work. However, the rush to harvest can also yield tragic outcomes. Each year, dozens of farm workers are killed and hundreds are injured in accidents involving power lines and electrical equipment.

“Things get very busy this time of year on the farm, and it is all too easy to forget the danger that may be just overhead,” says Trent Scott, spokesperson for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association.

Review with all workers the farm activities that take place around power lines. Inspect the height of farm equipment to determine clearance. Keep equipment at least 10 feet away from power lines – above, below and to the side – a 360-degree rule.

“Take the time to lower grain augers before moving them, even if it’s only a few feet,” says Scott. “Also use extreme caution when raising booms or buckets on equipment.”

Tennessee’s electric cooperatives encourage farm workers to take these steps to ensure a safer harvest season:

  • Use care when raising augers or the bed of grain trucks around power lines.
  • Use a spotter when operating large machinery near power lines. Do not let the spotter touch the machinery while it is being moved anywhere near power lines.
  • As with any outdoor work, be careful not to raise any equipment such as ladders, poles or rods into power lines. Remember, non-metallic materials such as lumber, tree limbs, ropes and hay will conduct electricity depending on dampness, dust and dirt contamination.
  • Never attempt to raise or move a power line to clear a path!
  • Don’t use metal poles to break up bridged grain inside bins. Know where and how to shut off the power in an emergency.
  • Use qualified electricians for work on drying equipment and other farm electrical systems.

Operators of farm equipment or vehicles must also know what to do if the vehicle comes in contact with a power line: Stay on the equipment, warn others to stay away and call 911. Do not get off the equipment until the utility crew says it is safe to do so.

“If the power line is energized and you step outside, high-voltage could flow through your body,” Scott said. “Stay inside the vehicle unless there’s fire or imminent risk of fire.”

If this is the case, jump off the equipment with your feet together, without touching the ground and vehicle at the same time. Then, still keeping your feet together, hop to safety as you leave the area.

Once you get away from the equipment, never attempt to get back on or even touch the equipment. Some electrocutions have occurred after the operator dismounts and, realizing nothing has happened, tries to get back on the equipment.

It is very important that all farm workers and seasonal employees are informed of electrical hazards and trained in proper procedures to avoid injury.

For other tips on how to be safe around electricity visit www.everydaysafe.org or call the safety experts at your local electric cooperative.

NASHVILLE – Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative lineman Nick Gipson flipped a ceremonial switch to light the midway at the 2018 Tennessee State Fair on Friday, Sept. 7, in Nashville.

Attendees of the opening ceremony heard from legislators and elected officials, including Nashville Mayor David Briley and David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association.

“The theme for this year’s fair is ‘The Heart of Tennessee,’ and over the next 10 days this will be a celebration of our state’s unique culture, art, music and food,” said Callis. “You can also find the heart of Tennessee in the 2,600 electric co-op employees across the state. Their work keeps the lights on, our cell phones charged and the computers running. Their time, effort and sacrifices make civilized life possible for the rest of us.”

“For more than 150 years, the fair has been a celebration of rural Tennessee life,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “It is where World War I hero Sgt. Alvin York showed his prize Hereford and generations have marked the beginning of autumn. It is an honor for Tennessee’s electric co-ops to be a part of this great event.”