NORRIS, TN – Today the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors held a public listening session at the Norris Middle School in Norris, Tenn. Mike Knotts, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, addressed the board during the listening session, and a readout of his comments is below.


Good afternoon to each of you. My name is Mike Knotts, and I serve as the CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and represent the 25 local utilities serving nearly 3 million people who depend on their cooperative to power their community.

It is a real pleasure to be here and celebrate 90 years of TVA’s history together with you. This history is OUR history, tightly intertwined with that of the local cooperatives and cities that have connected TVA to the millions of people and business over the years.

There is no denying that the connection between TVA, local power companies, and the residents of the Tennessee Valley have made an indelible impact on the lives of generations of Americans. Our story is unique in American history. And while the issues of the day and the challenges we face may look different in 2023 than they did in 1933, we should take pride in knowing that we have literally changed history through our unchanging mission of the last 90 years. We have a great story to tell.

Taking time to reflect on this is important. Electric cooperatives innately understand and appreciate the history TVA is celebrating today because we helped shape it – both in the Valley and across the country.

When TVA was formed it was given its unique multi-faceted mission because of the specific needs of this part of the country. But, a much broader problem existed across all corners of rural America. The problem was universal rural electrification. Though cities like Memphis or Chattanooga or Knoxville had enjoyed electricity for decades, other communities and farms, like where we stand here in Norris, did not.

The solution to the national problem came in the form of the cooperative. Self-owned, private corporations that are built for the benefit of its customers. Governed by its owners. Founded on seven bedrock principles and focused on the local community. While cooperatives were not a new idea – the seven cooperative principles were first enumerated during the industrial revolution in England – cooperatives were the right idea then and continue to be the relevant idea today.

Today, TECA members serve consumers across the state of Tennessee, covering almost 75% of the state’s land mass. In addition, these same 25 utilities also serve significant portions of Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia – as well some circuits in Alabama and Mississippi.  If you are keeping count, yes, that is all seven states. Collectively, these 25 locally-owned utilities provide TVA approximately 25 percent of its revenues – well over $3B dollars per year.

You know, each of the grainy, black and white photos hanging in this room has its own story to tell and lessons to be learned. I’m particularly fond of that one (gesturing to the right), as it bears a striking resemblance to my late grandmother.

And as we all know to be true, those who do not learn from the past are most certainly doomed to repeat it. So, allow me to encourage each of you to learn from the achievements we recognize today.

But let me also encourage each of you look forward – with purpose and passion – knowing that your role on this Board is important and meaningful to millions of people. Our future won’t be told though grainy, black and white photos. Our future is being determined in real time in 4k video, and our inter-connected world allows it to be seen by anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Please know that your electric cooperative customers stand shoulder to shoulder with you, and are ready to work with you to ensure that TVA’s strategic direction remains focused on what is best for the people we jointly serve. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Please call on me anytime I can be of assistance to you.



Muscle Shoals – Today TECA CEO Mike Knotts addressed the TVA Board of Directors during a public listening session in Florence, Alabama. A readout of Mr. Knotts comments are below.

Marriott Shoals Hotel Conference Center | Florence, AL | 2:00 p.m. CST


Good afternoon. My name is Mike Knotts, and I have the pleasure of serving as the CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association.  I appear here today on behalf of the 25 local power companies who are members of TECA, and we would like to share our most sincere congratulations to each of you who have been newly appointed, as well as those of you who are continuing your service on the Board.

The President of the United States has appointed you, the United States Senate has confirmed you, and now the people of the Tennessee Valley will rely upon your judgement and discernment. Your role is important, and the decisions you make will have lasting impacts on the communities and individuals that we jointly serve.

Delivering power requires three components – generation, transmission, and distribution – and each of these three parts require unique skill sets and expertise. As you have undoubtedly already learned plenty about, the way energy is delivered in the Tennessee Valley is unique compared to the rest of the country.

TVA’s role is that of a generation and transmission entity, with 153 locally owned and controlled entities serving the role of distributing power to the end-use consumer. This allows both TVA and the local power companies to focus on core competencies. This more distributed model – rather than a vertically integrated structure that delivers all three components in a single entity –  is not what is unique, however.

It is TVA’s ownership and multifaceted purposes that make TVA unique. TVA is a federal corporation whose assets are owned by the U.S. Treasury rather than shareholders or its customers, a G&T utility, a steward of natural resources, a provider of navigation and flood control, a regulatory body with the powers of a state Public Utility Commission, and even a police force – these many different roles are what make TVA unique.

This structure has positives and negatives for sure, but is undeniable that TVA’s mission has changed the face of the Tennessee Valley and continues to offer significant advantages that result in economic health, environmental benefits, and a focus on the needs of individuals and businesses in our communities.

Among the 153 local power companies served by TVA, TECA represents 25 cooperatively owned utilities that serve consumers in Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi. And collectively, our cooperatives’ member-owners fund 25 percent of TVA’s revenues.

Unlike some of our other friends and colleagues in the local power company community, and TVA itself, electric cooperatives are private corporations. We are not units of government, and our private-sector viewpoint brings unique perspective and important context to the joint challenges we face.

But because we are not for profit, we share in TVA’s mission of service and desire to make our communities a better place.

On behalf of all of TECA’s member cooperatives, we stand ready to work with you and ensure that TVA’s strategic direction remains focused on what is best for the people we jointly serve.  Thank you for your time and attention.