State’s electric cooperatives gather in Nashville to explore the opportunities facing co-ops
NASHVILLE – “Co-ops Connect” was the theme of the 81st annual meeting of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, held Sunday, Nov. 20, through Tuesday, Nov. 22, in Nashville. More than 350 electric cooperative leaders from across the state attended the event where they explored the impact of co-ops and challenged one another to meet the needs of their communities.
“Co-ops make connections every day,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “We connect substations and meters, but those might not be the most important connections that we make. Our power grid connects communities with energy, our broadband infrastructure connects local communities with global knowledge and markets, programs like the Washington Youth Tour connect young people with limitless opportunities and visionary investments connect today with tomorrow.”
United States Senator Bill Hagerty complimented electric co-ops on the work they are doing to connect Tennessee. “The contributions you make contribute to Tennessee’s success,” said Sen. Hagerty. “What you do with broadband is making a real difference.”
During the event, attendees heard from speakers and presenters who shared insights and information to help co-ops be better prepared for the changes they face, including long-time CNBC anchor Sue Herera, Tennessee Valley Authority CEO Jeff Lyash, recently-named Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service Andy Berke and Chris Christensen, chairman of the National Rural Electric Membership Corporation board of directors.
Keith Carnahan, president and CEO of Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative in Centerville was elected to serve as chairman of the association’s board of trustees. Dan Rodamaker, president and CEO of Gibson Electric Membership Corporation in Trenton and Buddy Dicus, director for Caney Fork Electric Cooperative in McMinnville were elected to serve as vice president and secretary.
Elections were also held for three positions on the association’s board of trustees. Robert Kendrick, a director for Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation in Brownsville; Chris Jones, CEO for Middle Tennessee Electric in Murfreesboro; and Jimmy Sandlin, CEO of Holston Electric Cooperative in Rogersville were elected to four-year terms.
“We congratulate those selected to serve on the TECA board of trustees,” says Callis. “Their talents and ideas will be valuable as we work to serve Tennessee’s electric cooperatives and their consumers.”
In addition to changes to the TECA board of trustees, attendees also paused to celebrate two long-time employees of the association who retired this year. David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the association and Robin Conover, editor of The Tennessee Magazine, were honored for their notable contributions to the association and to rural Tennessee.
The board used the event to introduce the association’s new leader, Mike Knotts. “I am honored and humbled to be standing before you right now,” said Knotts. “I hope you are as excited as I am about the future of Tennessee’s cooperatives and the future of TECA.”
TECA recognized excellence in communication efforts during the annual Top Tenn Communications Awards ceremony. Gibson Electric Membership Corporation received an award for Best External Newsletter or Magazine Section; Appalachian Electric Cooperative, Best Internal Newsletter; Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, Best Website; Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative, Best Use of Social Media; Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation, Best Video; Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative, Best Photo; Gibson Electric Membership Corporation, Best Annual Report; Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative, Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, Appalachian Electric Cooperative and Middle Tennessee Electric each received awards in the Wild Card category.
“Successful co-ops have a legacy of connecting with their members,” says Trent Scott, TECA’s vice president of communications. “We honor these winners for telling the electric cooperative story in a professional way.”
Electric cooperatives serve more than 2.8 million consumers and 72 percent of Tennessee. The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association provides leadership, advocacy and support for the association’s 25 electric cooperatives and publishes The Tennessee Magazine, the state’s most widely circulated periodical. Visit tnelectric.org or tnmagazine.org to learn more.