Entries by David Callis

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The Power to Be

You don’t have to look far to find news stories that speak to the decline of rural America: aging population, unemployment, opioids. It can be a depressing outlook. We see it firsthand; Tennessee ranks 46th in life expectancy as rural hospitals close their doors. Schools struggle to attract teachers and provide advanced academic opportunities. And […]

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A Kinder, Gentler 2019

Last month, our nation did what we’ve only done a handful of times — said a final goodbye to a president. In ceremonies public and private, coupled with a national day of mourning, we celebrated the life of President George H.W. Bush. Reflecting on someone’s life provides a perspective that levels things out. It’s not […]

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October is Co-op Month

Cooperatives are, by any measure, a big deal in our state. From the Mississippi River to the Great Smoky Mountains, cooperatives improve the well-being of rural residents and communities across our state. They provide electric, internet and telephone services to homes, farms and rural businesses. They help Tennesseans secure financing for land. They offer products […]

Members are in control

In early April, Gibson Electric Membership Corporation held its annual members meeting. The cooperative’s board and management submitted an annual report to the  members. Bylaw and policy changes were proposed, discussed and approved by the membership who attended. This is a democratic process that will be repeated at all of our co-ops by the end […]

Unified

The theme for Tennessee’s electric cooperatives in 2017 is “Unified.” We’ve just completed one of the most contentious elections in our nation’s history, and this country is as divided politically as ever. With that backdrop, many of you gathered in Nashville in late November for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association’s annual meeting. There, we focused […]

Nine Hundred Words

The Washington Youth Tour essay contest rules are specific. Rule number 3 states: The short story should be no more than 900 words in length (including articles of speech); 800 to 900 words will make your paper competitive. One of the last things a high school student wants to do is write an essay. It […]

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The cooperative difference

I don’t think we realize how much we benefit from the internet and the communications services it provides. Not that many years ago, companies debated whether they should invest in having an online presence. I know that because I was involved in those conversations. Today, you can go online to change your mobile phone’s data […]

Become a Co-op Voter

If you are a co-op director, every few years you ask people to vote for you. Here is a question for you – when was the last time you voted in a political election? As member-owned electric cooperatives, voting is already in our DNA. By holding membership meetings, it’s how we maintain electric utilities which […]

Dealing with polarization

We are several primaries into a presidential election year, and even the most experienced political observer seems astounded by the level of polarization that exists in our country. The right hates the left; Democrats distrust Republicans — you get the point. Depending on whom you ask, it’s obviously the other party’s fault. Armchair observers will […]

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Supreme Court short-circuits Clean Power Plan

Last December, I let you know that America’s electric cooperatives were filing suit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asking a federal court to prevent a rule called the Clean Power Plan from taking effect. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and 39 generation and transmission co-ops asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for […]

Cyber Security

Question: What do you do for a living? Answer: I can tell you, but I’d have to kill you. We’re not secret agents, but we do have more knowledge than the general public about cyber security concerns. We work hard to mitigate fear mongering and any sense of panic among our members. At the same […]

Small Towns, Big Ideas

Small towns, big ideas – that’s our theme for the coming year. But more than just a theme, it is an appropriate phrase to describe the character of the small towns across the state served by our cooperatives. Communities such as Linden, Lascassas, Red Boiling Springs, and Henderson. Those aren’t exactly population centers, but everything […]

Singleness of Purpose

What is the single purpose we have in running an electric cooperative? Serving our members by keeping the lights on and the rates low. You’ve heard – or said – that refrain for years. It is simple, direct and resonates with employees and members. And, it is absolutely true. Just ask the members we serve. […]

Safe, reliable, affordable

Last September, Tennessee’s electric cooperatives were privileged to participate in the opening ceremony of the Tennessee State Fair in Nashville. And during the fair, we provided Tennessee residents the opportunity to share their concerns about the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan. A year later, we are again participating in the “lighting of the […]

Staying Power

Another successful Washington Your Tour is the in books. All told, that makes 50 times that Tennessee has made this annual investment in our rural youth. Past alumni include military and civic leaders, legislators, and the occasional business leader. In fact, none other than Apple CEO Tim Cook took his first trip to Washington, DC […]

Energy Independence

Last month, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected an early challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to curb carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, saying the legal action was premature. The panel did not rule on the merits of the lawsuit, stating that […]

Engineering success

There are a number of constants in the electric utility industry: keeping a watchful eye on the weather, a 24/7 readiness to respond to weather emergencies, innovation, intensive investment and poking fun at engineers. OK, the last one isn’t work-related, but it is a constant. Engineers often don’t understand why we would joke about them, […]

Cable Disconnect

Last month, Arkansas’s electric cooperatives faced an unexpected attack by cable TV concerns. Under the guise of promoting broadband, the cable giants wanted huge reductions in the pole attachment rates charged by the state’s rural electric cooperatives. Cable’s claim was that pole attachment rates were limiting broadband expansion into rural areas. Sound familiar? To address […]

Cooperation among Cooperatives

Let’s just say it – we’re tired of cold weather.  This winter has brought us bitter cold, snow, and multiple rounds of ice. Statewide, our systems have experienced tremendous damage that has taken days – in some cases weeks – to repair. The Cumberland Plateau was hit the hardest with an inch of ice. High […]

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Commitment to Community

In 1965, fourteen high school juniors loaded left Nashville for Washington, DC. The purpose of the trip was twofold – to educate them about rural electrification and how their government operates. Fifty years later, Tennessee’s Washington Youth Tour program is still going strong. This year, we will send 150 students and 40 chaperones on the […]