NASHVILLE, Tenn. – More than $11 million of $19.7 million in broadband accessibility grants announced last week by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development will go to Tennessee electric cooperatives. Ten of the 17 grant recipients were electric co-ops.

“One of my top priorities is ensuring the success of rural Tennessee. With the assistance of these grants, communities across 21 counties will now have access to broadband that will aid in that success,” Gov. Bill Lee said. “I applaud the efforts of these 17 broadband providers as they play a fundamental role in our efforts to boost rural communities throughout Tennessee.”

The grants come at a time when the need for rural broadband is clear.

“We’re excited about this investment in rural Tennessee,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “The current COVID-19 crisis has confirmed what we’ve known for some time: Rural America needs reliable broadband. Education, healthcare and commerce rely on a dependable, high-speed connection to the internet. More than ever, we’re seeing how vital that connection to the rest of the world truly is.”

Electric co-ops receiving grants are:

  • Fayetteville Public Utilities: $1,750,000, serving parts of Lincoln County
  • Forked Deer Electric Cooperative: $719,921, serving parts of Haywood and Lauderdale counties
  • Gibson Electric Membership Corporation: $703,518, serving parts of Obion County
  • HolstonConnect LLC (Holston Electric Cooperative): $361,211, serving the Mooresburg community in Hamblen and Hawkins counties
  • Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative: $593,166, serving parts of south Perry County
  • PVECFiber (Powell Valley Electric Cooperative) and Scott County Telephone Cooperative: $1,908,811.24, serving part of Union County
  • SVEConnect (Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative): $1,654,882, serving the Battle Creek and South Pittsburg Mountain communities in Marion County
  • Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation: $1,768,686, serving parts near the Brownsville community in Haywood County
  • Tri-County Fiber Communications LLC (Tri-County Electric Membership Corporation): $501,811, serving parts of Trousdale County
  • United Communications (Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation): $1,331,504.80, serving the Eagleville community in rural Rutherford and Williamson counties

The broadband accessibility grant fund was created in 2017 as a key component of the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act – sweeping legislation designed to close the digital divide in Tennessee. In the years since, many of Tennessee’s electric co-ops have invested more than $187 million in broadband projects that will eventually bring high-speed internet access to more than 790,000 homes and businesses.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As the impacts of COVID-19 are felt across Tennessee, the state’s consumer-owned electric co-ops have a simple message for those who have been impacted: We can help you.

“If you are unable to pay your bill due to the financial impacts of the pandemic, I urge you to call your electric co-op today,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Electric co-ops are committed to keeping the lights on for all Tennesseans who have been impacted by the pandemic.”

Electric co-ops across the state are working with consumer-members to set up deferred payment schedules and find sources of additional assistance. Resources that can help pay utility bills are available for families and small businesses through the recent federal stimulus program. Co-ops are a good resource for information on LIHEAP grants for individuals and SBA loans for small businesses.

Co-ops also encourage their members to use energy wisely. As families spend more time at home, they will likely see a surge in home energy use. Here are some steps consumers can take to help control their energy bills:

  • Program your thermostat to maximize energy savings. Setting your thermostat 1 degree lower when heating or 1 degree higher when cooling can reduce energy use by up to 5 percent.
  • Wash only full loads of laundry, and use cold water. Using warm water instead of hot can cut a load’s energy use in half, and cold water will save even more.
  • Air dry dishes. This step can cut your dishwasher’s energy use by up to 50 percent.
  • Substitute LEDs for conventional lightbulbs. Lighting can amount to up to 12 percent of monthly energy use. LED bulbs can cut lighting costs by 75 percent.
  • Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use. Small appliances and electronics consume energy even when not in use. When powered on, game consoles, televisions and similar electronics are responsible for up to 12 percent of energy use.

“Electric co-ops recognize the critical need for energy – especially during a crisis,” says Callis. “After food, water and medicine, reliable energy is critical to maintaining health, safety, comfort and connection. We are not going to sit on the sidelines as this crisis unfolds. Contact your local co-op, and we will help you.”

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association has made the decision to cancel the 2020 Washington Youth Tour amid concerns over COVID-19. The event presented by the state’s consumer-owned electric cooperatives takes more than 130 high school juniors from across the state to Washington, D.C., each summer to learn about history, leadership and public policy.

“We are heartbroken to make this announcement, but the health, safety and well-being of our delegates are our primary concerns,” says Todd Blocker, vice president of member services and Tennessee’s Washington Youth Tour director. “Youth Tour includes visits to the most historically significant and meaningful places in our nation. With large crowds common, TECA is unable to fully protect students from exposure. This creates a risk we are simply not willing to take.”

“This is a difficult decision because the Washington Youth Tour is a unique opportunity for young leaders across our state,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of TECA. “Each year, the tour impacts the lives of young people for the better. We are mourning the connections that will not be formed, the opportunities that will not be realized and the memories that will not be made.”

In lieu of the trip, Tennessee’s electric cooperatives are currently evaluating options to recognize and honor this year’s winners. 

Lineworkers serve on the frontlines of our nation’s energy needs, and on April 13, 2020, Tennessee electric co-ops along with other electric cooperatives across the country, will honor the brave men and women who work hard to keep the lights on.

Line crews work around the clock, sometimes in difficult and dangerous conditions, to keep power flowing to our local communities. Whether they’re restoring power after a major storm or maintaining critical infrastructure to our electric system, lineworkers are at the heart of our co-op.

When a storm hits, they set aside their personal priorities because Mother Nature doesn’t work around holidays, vacations and birthdays. A service-oriented mentality is one of the many admirable characteristics of an electric lineworker.

Tennessee’s 800 electric co-op lineworkers maintain more than 102,000 miles of power line and keep the lights on more than 99.96 percent of the time.

“We honor the dedicated service of these courageous Tennesseans and recognize the critical roles they play in keeping the lights on,” said David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Our communities depend on reliable energy, and Tennessee’s electric lineworkers place themselves in harm’s way to power our everyday lives.”

Tennessee’s electric co-ops invite you to take a moment and thank a lineworker for the important work they do. On April 13, you can use #ThankALineworker on social media to show your support for the brave men and women who power our lives.

Click to download

Planning to put in a new pool before the hot days of summer arrive? Or maybe you’ll beautify your yard with some pretty flowering trees or shrubbery? Before you dig any holes or excavate part of your yard, be sure to take an important safety step in calling 811. This is imperative for small jobs such as installing a new mailbox as well as larger ones such as building new fencing or a deck because the depth of utility lines varies. You don’t want to be the neighbor who inadvertently knocks out utility service to your entire neighborhood, not to mention potentially causing harm to yourself or your family.

Tennessee 811 is a nonprofit organization that helps homeowners and contractors locate underground utility lines so that digging can proceed safely. With one call, you can notify the owners of various underground utility lines who, within a few days, will mark the locations of the lines. Calling is required by law. If you dig without calling and damage utility lines, fines can be assessed and repair costs will come out of your pocket.

Keep in mind that private utility lines will not be covered by a call to Tennessee 811. Examples of private lines are water and sewer lines that run from your meter to your house. You might need to contact your local or city government, tax assessor or registrar of deeds to help locate these lines. Also not covered are customer-owned lines such as those for invisible fencing, outdoor lighting and irrigation. Tennessee 811 maintains a list of private locators. For a fee, these professionals can help you locate these underground lines.

The call center for Tennessee 811 is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by calling 811 or 1-800-351-1111 or via an online e-ticket program at The website also has an FAQ section to answer more specific questions about the process and what to expect.