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Sen. Hagerty discusses critical infrastructure supply chain issues with co-op leaders

Dyersburg – Sen. Bill Hagerty met with Arkansas and Tennessee co-op leaders Monday at the ERMCO distribution transformer manufacturing plant in Dyersburg, Tenn., to discuss how global supply chain disruptions and labor shortages have impacted critical infrastructure.

Distribution transformers like the ones made by cooperative-owned ERMCO are an essential component to the power grid. Transformers convert high voltage power into something that can be safely managed inside a home or business. Every home, farm and business in Tennessee depends on transformers for the reliable and safe delivery of energy.

Global supply chain issues and labor shortages have created challenges for ERMCO to meet skyrocketing demand for their products. “Demand is simply outpacing our ability to manufacture transformers,” says Tim Mills, President and CEO of ERMCO. “2020 and 2021 were both record years in terms of production, but we are turning away about 40 percent of our orders because we don’t have the capacity to fulfill them.”

“Labor is our greatest need,” says Jeff Hammons, COO of ERMCO. “We have 70 unfilled positions on our production line now. We have space to add additional lines, but we are not confident that we could find qualified labor to run them.”

During his visit, Sen. Hagerty toured the ERMCO facility and participated in an extended conversation about supply chain issues and their impact on the power grid.

“As was made strikingly clear by my visit to ERMCO, stable supply chains are key to secure critical infrastructure, including electric distribution,” says Sen. Hagerty. “The gravity of the supply chain-electric distribution relationship affirms the need for legislative solutions that address today’s supply chain crisis and prevent new disruptions going forward.”

Thanks to the efforts of ERMCO and other suppliers, Tennessee’s electric co-ops have managed supply chain disruptions with limited impact to consumers. “We have been fortunate so far, but we are one ice storm or tornado outbreak away from real issues,” says Trent Scott, vice president of corporate strategy for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, “ It is a serious situation, and we appreciate Sen. Hagerty and our co-op partners at ERMCO for their efforts to develop meaningful solutions.”

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