Centerville, Tenn. — The Tennessee Valley Authority, in partnership with Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative and Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated (a TVA retiree organization), recently awarded grant monies for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education projects. Nichole McMillan received $1550 for Erin Elementary, and Emily Waters received $5000 for Perry County High School.

The competitive grant program provided teachers an opportunity to apply for funding up to $5,000 and preference was given to grant applications that explored TVA’s primary areas of focus: environment, energy, economic and career development and community problem solving as well as pandemic related projects.

“Educating area youth takes commitment and teamwork,” said MLEC President and CEO Keith Carnahan. “We are grateful to work with TVA and area teachers to create more opportunities in the classroom through this program and many others. Together, we’re changing lives and helping build brighter futures for these students and our communities.”

“Despite the new challenges Valley teachers faced in 2020, they are still focused on providing the best STEM education possible and have adjusted to new ways of teaching,” said TVA Community Engagement Senior Program Manager Rachel Crickmar.  “I am proud of the partnerships we have built with these amazing educators across the Tennessee Valley over the past few years and are pleased to be able to provide some support through this program. Through the grants awarded this year, over 72,000 students will be directly impacted across the Valley.”

MLEC is a member-owned, not-for-profit electric utility serving more than 35,000 meters in Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Lewis and Perry counties.  Learn more about MLEC and MLConnect broadband internet at www.mlec.com. ###

NASHVILLE – This week, electric co-op leaders from across the state held online meetings with Tennessee’s congressional delegation as part of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s 2021 Legislative Conference. During the meetings, co-op leaders discussed issues that are important for electric co-ops and for rural and suburban Tennessee.

Mike Knotts, vice president of government affairs for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, said that hearing from people back home is important. “Lawmakers consider hundreds of pieces of legislation, and co-op leaders can help them better understand the real-world impacts of laws and policies created in D.C.”

Lawmakers were encouraged to support broadband and other investments in rural infrastructure and to co-sign legislation that would allow electric co-ops to take advantage of historically low interest rates. Lawmakers were also invited to visit their local co-ops to meet employees and tour co-op facilities.

“Tennesseans know all too well the importance of keeping the lights on in the Volunteer State,” said Sen. Marsha Blackburn. “Thank you to Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association for mobilizing industry leaders and solving problems for hardworking Americans.”

Co-op leaders hosted meetings with Sen. Marsha Blackburn and Sen. Bill Hagerty’s staff, along with Reps. Tim Burchett, Scott DesJarlais, Chuck Fleischmann, Mark Green, Diana Harshbarger, David Kustoff and John Rose.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe today announced Ultium Cells LLC, a joint venture of LG Energy Solution and General Motors, will invest more than $2.3 billion to build its second battery cell manufacturing plant in the United States.

Located in Spring Hill, the project will create 1,300 new manufacturing jobs in Maury County.

Ultium Cells LLC will build the new 2.8-million-square-foot, state-of-the-art plant on land leased from General Motors. Construction will begin immediately, and the plant is scheduled to be open in late 2023. Once operational, the Ultium Cells plant will supply battery cells to GM’s Spring Hill assembly plant.

In October 2020, GM announced it would invest $2 billion in its Spring Hill assembly plant to begin the transition to become the company’s third electric vehicle manufacturing site, and the first outside of the state of Michigan. The all-new Cadillac LYRIQ will be the first electric vehicle produced at GM’s Spring Hill assembly plant. GM will also continue to produce the Cadillac XT6 and XT5 at the facility.

GM’s proprietary Ultium battery technology is at the heart of the company’s strategy to compete for nearly every EV customer in the marketplace, whether they are looking for affordable transportation, luxury vehicles, work trucks, commercial trucks or high-performance machines.

“The addition of our second all-new Ultium battery cell plant in the U.S. with our joint venture partner LG Energy Solution is another major step in our transition to an all-electric future,” said Mary Barra, GM chairman and CEO. “The support of the state of Tennessee was an important factor in making this investment in Spring Hill possible and this type of support will be critical going forward as we will continue to take steps to transition our manufacturing footprint to support EV production.”

Ultium batteries are unique in the industry because the large-format, pouch-style cells can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack. This allows engineers to optimize battery energy storage and layout for each vehicle design. Energy options range from 50 to 200 kilowatt hours, which could enable a GM-estimated range up to 450 miles or more on a full charge with 0-60 mph acceleration in 3 seconds*.

GM’s future Ultium-powered EVs are designed for Level 2 and DC fast charging. Most will have 400-volt battery packs and up to 200 kW fast charging capability while GM’s truck platform will have 800-volt battery packs and 350 kW fast charging capability.

With a 30-year history in the battery business, LG Energy Solution has made consistent, large-scale investments to accumulate enough stability, credibility and manufacturing experience to invent its own cutting-edge technologies. The company established its first research facility in the U.S. in the early 2000s. In 2010, the company built its first U.S battery plant in Holland, Michigan.

Through Ultium Cells, LG Energy Solution and GM will merge their advanced technologies and capabilities to help accelerate automotive electrification.

Tennessee claims nearly 40 percent of the Southeast’s electric vehicle manufacturing jobs and investment, with more than $4.2 billion invested by companies in Tennessee’s electric vehicle industry. In addition, more than 16,000 electric vehicles are produced in the state each year, which ranks Tennessee No. 1 in the Southeast for electric vehicle manufacturing.

“The decision to build this plant in Tennessee is a testament to our state’s position as a leader in the automotive industry,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “As automakers continue to shift production to electric vehicles, I am proud that Tennessee offers the business climate and skilled workforce to support their growth. I appreciate General Motors and LG Energy Solution for making this substantial investment in Spring Hill and for creating 1,300 new jobs for Tennesseans.”

LYNCHBURG, Tenn. – A little sunshine will soon be in your next glass of whiskey as Jack Daniel’s partners with the Tennessee Valley Authority, Duck River Electric Membership Corporation, and Nashville-based solar power producer Silicon Ranch to provide the iconic Tennessee whiskey maker’s Lynchburg distillery with 20 megawatts of solar energy.

TVA signed a long-term power purchase agreement with Silicon Ranch to build, own, and operate the solar facility just a few miles from the world-famous distillery in Moore County, Tennessee, pending environmental reviews.

This Middle-Tennessee solar project is another win for TVA’s nationally recognized Green Invest program, which has already secured solar farms to help meet the renewable energy goals of auto manufacturers, data centers, local power companies, cities, and universities.

“Our commitment to making great whiskey is only matched by our commitment to preserving the world we call home through sustainable practices,” said Jack Daniel’s Vice President and Assistant General Manager Melvin Keebler. “We’re excited to be the first distillery to sign a Green Invest deal that will provide nearly three-quarters of our electricity needs. Now the world’s most iconic whiskey is even greener.”

Jack Daniel’s runs its distillery with a zero-waste to landfill policy and has programs to protect the water and wood used to make its whiskey.

“This announcement demonstrates the environmental leadership of Jack Daniel’s and Duck River, fueled by our shared long-term commitment to renewable energy and community engagement,” said Chris Hansen, TVA vice president, Origination and Renewables. “TVA’s Green Invest program is the nexus for any organization interested in making renewable energy a part of their business.”

Since 2018, Green Invest has attracted nearly $2.7 billion in solar investment and procured over 2,100 megawatts of solar on behalf of its customers – maintaining TVA’s green energy leadership as the energy provider with the greatest amount of renewable generation in the Southeast.

“TVA, Jack Daniel’s and Duck River are excellent neighbors who are valuable assets to our community,” said Mayor Bonnie Lewis, Metro Lynchburg, Moore County, Tennessee. “Each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world tour the distillery, and this solar farm from our newest corporate citizen Silicon Ranch will be another attraction as they provide additional construction jobs and tax revenue to Moore County.”

Silicon Ranch collaborated with local landowners Cumberland Springs Land Company, the leadership at Motlow State Community College, and officials in Moore County to develop the solar project.

“The Tennessee Valley is our home, and Silicon Ranch is honored to be part of this compelling story that demonstrates what’s possible when partners work together with a shared commitment to our local communities,” said Reagan Farr, Silicon Ranch Co-Founder and CEO. “Thanks to the leadership of our friends at TVA, local power companies such as DREMC, and visionary companies such as Jack Daniel’s, Silicon Ranch is on pace to invest more than $1 billion across the Valley, and we are proud to expand this legacy to Moore County.”

TVA sees a bright future for solar fueling the region’s economy and has increased its contracted solar capacity by 60% since October 2020.

“Duck River is honored to serve as Jack Daniel’s trusted energy provider,” said Scott Spence, DREMC president and CEO. “We have witnessed great things happen over the years through Jack Daniel’s investment in the Metro Lynchburg, Moore County community, and this is no exception. Duck River is thrilled to be a part of this project.”

Congressman David Kustoff met with Gibson Electric Membership Corporation management Thursday, April 8. During the visit, Kustoff gave a Washington legislative update and asked questions about Gibson EMC’s broadband subsidiary, Gibson Connect.

“We really appreciate the information Congressman Kustoff shared with us and we are grateful for the work he is doing to help Gibson EMC and other electric cooperatives provide high-speed internet service to our member-owners and communities,” said Dan Rodamaker, President and CEO of Gibson EMC and Gibson Connect. “His discussion with us demonstrated a keen understanding of the importance of broadband to rural west Tennessee and a sincere concern for those we serve.”

Gibson EMC formed Gibson Connect in 2017 when the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act was passed, allowing cooperatives to provide and sell internet directly to their member-owners.

“Since then, we have worked diligently to build our fiber network and provide access to our eligible members,” Rodamaker said.  “Thanks to Congressman Kustoff and others in our state and federal government who have provided support, Gibson EMC has applied for and been awarded $7.5 million in state construction grants,” he said.  “This is extremely important to all of our members because it will enable us to provide access to this essential service more affordably.”

Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative puts Co-op Principle Number 7, Concern for Community, in practice by supporting local organizations. A $3,000 contribution was presented to the Hickman County Economic and Community Development Association to help with the efforts in promoting and building a strong county. From left, MLEC President and CEO Keith Carnahan, MLEC Directors Johnnie Ruth Elrod and Dr. Zack Hutchens, HCECDA Executive Director Brenda Brock, MLEC Director Wayne Qualls and District Manager Matthew Chessor.

Nashville – Today the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development announced that five Tennessee electric co-ops will receive a total of $5.3 million to expand access to broadband in rural Tennessee. Now in its fourth year, the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Grant Fund has invested more than $100 million in state and federal dollars to bring fast and reliable internet access to all Tennesseans.

“Every Tennessean should have access to the same high-speed broadband, no matter what ZIP code they live in,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “Our continued investment in internet connectivity will help level the playing field for rural communities across our state, and I thank these 13 providers for partnering with us to help nearly 18,000 more Tennesseans get connected.”

Since the Broadband Accessibility Act passed in 2017, 14 of Tennessee’s 23 electric co-ops have launched broadband projects.

“Broadband access is an essential service for  families and businesses alike, and that is just as true on the farm as it is on Main Street,” said Mike Knotts, vice president of government relations with the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “We appreciate Gov. Lee and ECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe’s commitment to bring high-speed connectivity to rural Tennessee, and we are honored that they have once again turned to co-ops to get the job done.”

Electric co-ops and their partners receiving grants are:

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Six major utilities today announced a plan to ensure that electric vehicle drivers have access to a seamless network of charging stations connecting major highway systems from the Atlantic Coast, through the Midwest and South, and into the Gulf and Central Plains regions.

The Electric Highway Coalition – made up of American Electric Power, Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Entergy Corp., Southern Co., and the Tennessee Valley Authority – announced a plan to enable EV drivers seamless travel across major regions of the country through a network of DC fast chargers for EVs. The companies are each taking steps to provide EV charging solutions within their service territories. This represents an unprecedented effort to offer convenient EV charging options across different company territories and allow EV travel without interruption.

The Edison Electric Institute estimates 18 million EVs will be on U.S. roads by 2030. While many drivers recognize the benefits of driving an EV, such as the ease of low-cost home charging, some are concerned with the availability of charging stations during long road trips. With efforts like the Electric Highway Coalition, electric companies are demonstrating to customers that EVs are a smart choice for driving around town as well as traveling long distances.

This effort will provide drivers with effective, efficient, and convenient charging options that enable long distance EV travel. Sites along major highway routes with easy highway access and amenities for travelers are being considered as coalition members work to determine final charging station locations. Charging stations will provide DC fast chargers that are capable of getting drivers back on the road in approximately 20-30 minutes.

“TVA and the local power companies we serve are focused on being innovative transportation leaders, and we’re pleased to collaborate with neighboring utilities such as American Electric Power, Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Entergy Corp. and Southern Company on this initiative,” said Jeff Lyash, TVA president and CEO. “Together, we can power the electric road trip of tomorrow by ensuring seamless travel across a large region of the U.S. This is one of many strategic partnerships that TVA is building to increase the number of electric vehicles to well over 200,000 in the Tennessee Valley by 2028.”

Lyash believes that electrifying transportation can spur the same innovative transformation that electrifying the Tennessee Valley did back when TVA was founded. He said, “EV adoption will spur jobs and economic investment in the region, keep refueling dollars in the local economy, reduce the region’s largest source of carbon emissions, and save drivers and businesses money.”

TVA is leading the charge to increase EV adoption in its seven-state service area with the recently announced EV Initiative, which is based on building partnerships with LPCs, state agencies and other organizations. TVA is making investments and coordinating partner funding that could bring up to $40 million in programs to support EV adoption in the next five years. This initiative is a multi-year plan to accelerate the electrification of transportation through programs to reduce or eliminate the market barriers that currently prevent more people from choosing EVs. By addressing the barriers to EV adoption, the anticipated outcome is:

  • Well over 200,000 EVs on Valley roadways by 2028.
  • $120 million reinvested in the local economy per year from electric refueling.
  • $200 million in consumer fuel savings per year.
  • Almost 1 million metric tons of CO2 saved per year (or the equivalent of the carbon sequestered by 1 million acres of U.S. forests in one year).

This announcement comes on the heels of the recently announced partnership between TVA and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to develop and fund a fast charging network across the interstates and major highways of Tennessee. TVA plans to work with state agencies in other states to develop a fast charging network across the Tennessee Valley.

“Tennessee is on the forefront of the electric vehicle revolution thanks to its robust automotive manufacturing sector, supply chain capabilities, its highly trained workforce and its commitment to developing a reliable, fast-charging network,” said TDEC Commissioner David Salyers. “TVA’s participation in this coalition is a critical step in ensuring Tennessee’s fast charging network connects regionally and nationally, providing efficient transportation for future travelers while improving air quality in our state.”

The Electric Highway Coalition welcomes interested utilities to join as it seeks to extend the reach of network. Additionally, it supports, and looks forward to working with, other regional utility transportation corridor electrification initiatives.

The Arbor Day Foundation has named Middle Tennessee Electric a 2021 Tree Line USA®utility to honor its commitment to proper tree pruning, planting and care in the utility’s service area. This marks the third consecutive year MTE has earned this recognition.

“I am proud Team MTE has once again received this honor,” said MTE President and CEO Chris Jones. “I would like to congratulate the hard work and dedication of our Vegetation Management Team. The job they do greatly enhances the reliability of our system.”

Tree Line USA is a national program recognizing public and private utilities for practices that protect and enhance America’s urban forests. A collaboration of the Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters, Tree Line USA promotes the dual goals of delivering safe and reliable electricity while maintaining healthy community trees.

“Trees are a critical part of urban landscapes all across the United States,” said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. “They provide important benefits to residents, including clean air, clean water and a tolerable climate. Service providers like Middle Tennessee Electric demonstrate it’s possible for trees and utilities to co-exist for the benefit of communities and citizens.”

MTE achieved Tree Line USA by meeting these five program standards:

  • Utilities must follow industry standards for quality tree care
  • Provide annual worker training in best tree care practices
  • Sponsor a tree planting and public education program
  • Maintain a tree-based energy conservation program
  • Participate in an Arbor Day celebration.

For more information on MTE’s Vegetation Management Program, please visit www.mtemc.com/VegetationManagement.

If you’d like to know more information about Tree Line USA, please visit  www.arborday.org/TreeLineUSA.

About Middle Tennessee Electric (MTE)
Founded in 1936, MTE is the largest electric cooperative in the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) region and the second largest in the United States, serving more than 600,000 Tennesseans via 310,000+ accounts covering nearly 2,200 square miles in 11 Middle Tennessee counties, primarily Rutherford, Cannon, Williamson and Wilson. Municipalities served include Murfreesboro, Franklin, Brentwood, Smyrna, Lavergne, Lebanon and Mt. Juliet. MTE employs 510 people in 7 local offices and its Murfreesboro corporate headquarters.

For more information, please visit www.mtemc.com.

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For more information, please contact:
Amy Byers at 615-494-0407 or Amy.Byers@mtemc.com

NASHVILLE – The 112th Tennessee General Assembly app gives Tennesseans interested in government and politics a powerful tool for connecting with lawmakers.

Tennessee legislators will return to Nashville on Jan. 12 for the first session of the 112th Tennessee General Assembly. During this year’s session lawmakers will consider legislation that can have an impact on Tennessee families and businesses. That makes it important to stay informed and, at times, reach out to your elected officials.

The Tennessee General Assembly app features a continually updated, searchable database of contact, staff and committee information as well as district maps, photos, leadership roles and social media profiles for members of the Tennessee House and Senate. It also contains information on the governor and his cabinet and the Tennessee congressional delegation.

The app was developed through a partnership between the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and Bass, Berry & Sims PLC. TECA has published an annual directory of the General Assembly for more than 50 years. “Each year, we collect and maintain information on legislators, and we believe that all Tennesseans should have easy access to this information for their lawmakers,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “The app makes it easier than ever to connect with your elected representatives.”

The free app is available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices and can be found by searching for “Tennessee General Assembly” in the Apple App Store or Google PLAY Marketplace.

Tradition and pride create effective outage restoration teams

By Paul Wesslund

When a big storm knocks out power for you and your neighbors, there’s a good chance help is already on the way from electric cooperatives near and far.

That lightning-fast response comes from a combination of a centuries-old co-op tradition, the latest in weather-forecasting technology, an ingenious contract between electric cooperatives and municipal utilities, and lineworkers’ spirit of dedication, pride and adventure.

When a power outage is caused by an especially severe natural disaster, the devastation can be more than your local electric co-op can quickly repair on its own. That’s when other co-ops swoop in, from next door and sometimes, from other states.

Perhaps you’ve seen them. They arrive in caravans of utility vehicles with military-like precision as part of a plan called a “Mutual Aid Agreement.”

The origins of the Mutual Aid Agreement can be traced back to 1844, even before there were electric utilities, when the first formally organized cooperative created a set of operating principles that included “Cooperation Among Cooperatives.”

When electric co-ops were formed in the 1930s, they used that handshake-style working arrangement to help each other with repairs after severe storm damage. But in the early 1990s, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requested a more legalistic accounting for the aid it provided electric cooperatives after natural disasters.

So electric co-ops, represented by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), got together with FEMA and the organization for city-owned utilities, the American Public Power Association, and produced a stunningly short contract—it’s exactly one page long. The contract says when one co-op goes to help another, it will charge reasonable rates for the crews and equipment.

The simplicity of that arrangement fits the tradition of co-ops cooperating with each other, says Martha Duggan, senior director for regulatory affairs with NRECA.

“It is a natural extension of who we are,” she says. “Helping each other is something we do naturally as part of our co-op family and our culture.”

A contract is one thing, but success means carrying it out effectively. To that end, Duggan says electric co-ops rely on their decades of experience. They share that experience with each other, and they meet regularly to keep procedures updated.

The response to your power outage can start days before it even happens, with co-ops tracking weather patterns that could knock down poles. They organize themselves under their own state associations, planning for how many line crews might be needed and where they will come from, and even making hotel reservations to house crews.

One recent, crucial update of the mutual aid procedure was in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Duggan explains that keeping lineworkers safe from the virus can mean more time and more expense. She asks co-op members for extra patience as social distancing requirements mean changes––for example, only one lineworker per truck rather than two, and no more bunking multiple lineworkers in a hotel room.

In addition to the careful planning and procedures, there’s another secret ingredient to why co-ops come together in a crisis so effectively—the lineworkers. When they head out to a storm-ravaged area, it’s with a serious kind of excitement as they get ready to use their skills for a cause they passionately believe in—restoring electricity.

“It is a pride of workmanship,” says Duggan. “There is this sense of adventure to it, but there is also the sense of responsibility that this is what we do. We get the lights back on.”

Paul Wesslund writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 percent of the nation’s landscape.

FBA Recognizes Gibson EMC’s and Gibson Connect’s Charles Phillips

TRENTON, Tenn.—  The Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) recently awarded the Dr. Charles Kao Award for Community Broadband to Charles Phillips, Gibson Electric Membership Corporation VP of Technical Services and Gibson Connect VP of Operations.  The award recognizes individuals, organizations, or companies that honor Dr. Kao’s innovation and connect communities with fiber optic technology.  In its communication, the FBA said Philips is receiving the award in recognition of his work with Gibson EMC and Gibson Connect to build a fiber network throughout the cooperative’s 12-county service area.”

“We are delighted to award Charles Phillips with this honor,” said Fiber Broadband Association President and CEO Gary Bolton. “In a time when connectivity is more important than ever, we commend Charles’ commitment to providing high-speed internet to his community through state-of-the-art fiber broadband.  Congratulations to Charles and the entire Gibson EMC cooperative.”

In his time with Gibson EMC, Phillips has worked extensively with neighboring utilities to create an interconnected regional fiber network that connects 20 distribution systems. This network of independently owned and maintained fiber systems has provided the backbone for a high-speed and low latency network for intra- and inter-utility traffic, as well as inter-utility fiber contracts.

“We are extremely proud of Charles and we appreciate his excellent leadership as Gibson EMC and Gibson Connect work to provide reliable, high-speed internet access to our consumer-members,” said Dan Rodamaker, President and CEO of Gibson EMC and Gibson Connect. “Making this essential service available creates exciting opportunities for our members and communities,” said Rodamaker, “and Charles has been instrumental in the successful implementation of this project.”

Phillips has been with Gibson EMC since 1997.  In addition to his role in the broadband buildout and telecommunications business, Phillips also manages the cooperative’s technical services division.

Gibson Connect is a wholly owned, not-for-profit subsidiary of Gibson EMC formed to provide high-speed internet access to Gibson EMC’s members.  Gibson EMC is a local, not-for-profit, member-owned and member-controlled cooperative serving almost 39,000 homes and businesses in eight west Tennessee counties (Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Haywood, Lake, Lauderdale, Obion and Madison) and four west Kentucky counties (Carlisle, Fulton, Graves and Hickman).

Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association holds virtual annual meeting

NASHVILLE – “Building a Brighter Tennessee” was the theme of the 79th annual meeting of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association held Monday, Nov. 23. Though the event was held online, it allowed co-op leaders from across the state to receive industry and legislative updates and hear from Sen. Lamar Alexander and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee.

“I would like to thank each one of you for all you do for the 2.5 million homes, farms and businesses in rural and suburban Tennessee,” said Alexander in a video address to Tennessee co-ops. “Because of you, the lights stay on, our homes stay warm and cool and Tennesseans have even more access to the internet. You provide Tennesseans with electricity and service that are both reliable and affordable.”

Lee commended electric co-ops for their service to rural Tennessee. “The success of rural Tennessee is a priority that I share with you, and I see electric cooperatives playing a key role in accelerating the transformation of rural communities,” said Lee. “Thank you for your continued innovation and partnership as we work together to build a brighter Tennessee.

Also addressing the membership during the virtual meeting were Phillip Fulmer, athletic director and former head football coach for the University of Tennessee, and David Wasserman, house editor for the non-partisan Cook Political Report.

Co-ops are “building a brighter Tennessee” through investments in energy, broadband, education and community that create a solid foundation for future growth, development and prosperity. Rural Tennessee is stronger, more resilient and better prepared for the future thanks to the work of electric co-ops.

Addressing the membership during the President and General Manager’s Report, Kevin Murphy, CEO of Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation and board chair of TECA, highlighted the impact that co-op investment has on the people and places they serve. “Despite the uncertainties we face, it is safe to say that Tennessee’s future looks bright, and the work we do will play an important role in that future.”

TECA General Manager David Callis thanked electric co-op employees for their service during this difficult year. “As so much of the country shut down, co-ops went to work,” said Callis. “To each co-op employee who stepped up and did what needed to be done this year – possibly putting the well-being of yourself and your family at risk in the process – we salute you. In a time of darkness and fear, our employees provided light, hope, comfort and connection when it was needed most.”

Prior to the virtual meeting, an online business session and election was held to appoint new members to the association’s board of trustees. Elected to four-year terms were Richard Lacher, director for Tennessee Valley Electric Cooperative; Paul Thompson, CEO of Tri-County Electric Membership Corporation; and Hugh Rogers, director for Tri-State Electric Membership Corporation.

“We congratulate those selected to serve in leadership positions,” said Callis. “Your input, feedback and guidance help the association better meet the needs of our co-ops, and we are grateful for the board’s service.”

The TECA Top Tenn Communications Awards were also announced during the event. Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative received an award for Best External Newsletter or Magazine Section; Appalachian Electric Cooperative, Best Internal Newsletter; Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative, Best Website; Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation, Best Use of Social Media; and Fayetteville Public Utilities, Best Video. Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative, Appalachian Electric Cooperative  and Gibson Electric Membership Corporation received Awards of Excellence in the Wild Card category.

“We are the people who build stuff,” said Callis. “We build infrastructure. We build connections. We build hope and opportunity. Electric co-ops build a brighter Tennessee.”

The virtual meeting and additional content will be available on the TECA website through the end of December. Visit tnelectric.org/am2020 to learn more.

Across Tennessee there are 3,500 electric lineworkers who put their lives on the line to bring power to homes, farms, hospitals, schools and factories across the state.

In 2019 the Tennessee’s electric cooperatives worked with state lawmakers to introduce a specialty license plate to honor the important work that Tennessee’s electric lineworkers do each day.

Funds raised through the sale of the Powering Tennessee specialty plates go to the Tennessee Lineworker Lifeline Fund, a nonprofit foundation established to support lineworkers and their families in the event of a serious injury or fatality while on the job.

While we hope that the funds never have to be used, but the foundation is ready to assist lineworkers and their families when tragedy strikes.

The Powering Tennessee specialty plates have been available for just over a year, and already hundreds of motorists in our service area are using the plates. You don’t have to be a lineman to order a plate, and we encourage you to join us in supporting Tennessee’s electric lineworkers. You can learn more about the Powering Tennessee specialty license plate, or learn how to order your own, at poweringtennessee.org.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee’s 23 electric cooperatives contributed $1.65 million to assist their communities during the COVID-19 public health crisis. An additional $388,000 in matching grants was secured through the Tennessee Valley Authority’s COVID-19 Community Care Fund, resulting in total community support of more than $2 million.

The contributions were made to a variety of projects, including support of local nonprofits and food banks, construction of community Wi-Fi hotspots and utility bill assistance.

Throughout the spring and summer, electric co-ops committed to keep the lights on for Tennesseans impacted by the pandemic, and co-ops continue to work with consumers who are struggling to pay their energy bills. Unfortunately, the overall impacts of the pandemic in much of rural and suburban Tennessee have been deep and lasting.

“From financial struggles to health concerns, COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of life,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Co-ops are in a unique position to see and respond to the specific needs of their communities. They care deeply about the people and places they serve.”

More than $1.4 million went to support local food banks and other nonprofits already working in co-op communities to address emergency needs such as food and shelter, but co-ops also found other ways to help.

As the pandemic pushed school, church, work and other activities online, several co-ops utilized their existing broadband networks to develop community Wi-Fi hotspots for their communities.

“The pandemic presented challenges for healthcare, education and commerce, especially in rural areas where internet access is limited,” said Paul Thompson, CEO of Tri-County Electric. “The five Wi-Fi hotspots we installed will ensure that everyone in Trousdale County can take advantage of online educational and healthcare services.”

“Every community that we serve has been affected,” said Keith Carnahan, CEO of Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative. “ We know that the impacts of the pandemic will stretch far into the future, and we are committed to serving our members and meeting the needs of our communities.”

 

The best way to celebrate democracy is by encouraging full participation in public life. That’s why Tennessee’s electric co-ops are supporting National Voter Registration Day on September 22, 2020.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, less than 70% of eligible American citizens of voting age – 18 and over – were registered to vote in 2018. That means that up to 30% have not filed the required applications with their counties, parishes or states of local voter registrar’s offices, which are essential for making our voices as meaningful in American life as they might be.

We’re among thousands of organizations committed to making September 22 the most successful National Voter Registration Day in history, because we believe its goals are more important than ever before. Here’s why:

Unusual Year-Unexpected Changes

While 2020 began as a very active political year, disruptions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic concerns altered the campaign plans of many candidates. They also dramatically reduced overall access to voter registration forms through department of motor vehicle offices, public libraries and schools.

Suspension of on-site classes at many high schools prevented guidance counselors and government teachers from passing out registration applications to students who reached voting age this spring and summer.

Voter education efforts by churches or by state and local officials who normally would have booked space at community events to encourage community outreach found many of those events scaled back or canceled throughout spring and summer.

Lingering concerns about a resurgence of COVID-19 cases this autumn continue to fuel uncertainties on exactly how polling locations will operate or just how states and other jurisdictions will handle absentee and mail-in balloting.

The Challenge Ahead

“According to the PEW Charitable Trust’s state-by-state comparison of voter turnout for the 2014 midterm elections, Tennessee was dead last at just 28.5 percent,” said Trent Scott, vice president of corporate strategy with the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Increasing overall participation in the election process begins with registering as many eligible voters as possible.”

That’s the goal of National Voter Registration Day. Recognized as a civic holiday since 2012, the annual event has served as a rallying point for voter registration initiatives supported by a network of nonpartisan organizations committed to increasing overall participation in the electoral process.

“Voting is central to American democracy,” said Laura Vogel, a senior political affairs advisor at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. “That’s why many electric cooperatives and their statewide associations are committed to making this year’s National Voter Registration Day the most successful event ever.”

Vogel, who represents electric co-ops on the National Voter Registration Day steering committee has worked with co-ops in [State] and throughout the nation to help develop new and effective ways to encourage co-op members to participate in local, state and national politics.

“Since 2012, National Voter Registration Day awareness efforts have helped to register more than 3 million voters,” said Vogel. “This year, we’re putting even more emphasis on digital engagement, because 41 states and the District of Columbia allow voters to register online.”

Many electric co-ops are using their social media pages to promote voter registration, and encouraging political engagement with articles in their newsletters, on their websites and with bill attachments or point of contact brochures and leaflets.

“More than 20,000 volunteers are committed to promotion of National Voter Registration Day,” said Vogel. “In the weeks ahead, electric co-ops will be promoting webinars on digital organizing and working closely with community organizations and businesses that are likely to remain open even if a resurgence of COVID-19 pandemic concerns occurs this autumn.”

“National Voter Registration Day is a great opportunity for us all to begin focusing on the most important aspects of this political season,” said Scott.  “This nonpartisan program promotes participation, and that includes ensuring that those who are registered to vote stay abreast of any changes that we might see in how to legally cast ballots in our state on election day.”

Remember to mark your calendar for National Voter Registration Day on September 22, and together, let’s enjoy the rights and opportunities we all share as Americans and celebrate our democracy. To learn more about National Voter Registration Day, visit www.nationalvoterregistrationday.org.

Derrill Holly writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 percent of the nation’s landscape.

NASHVILLE – Sixty-eight volunteer lineworkers from seven electric co-ops across Tennessee are heading to Alabama to assist with Hurricane Sally recovery efforts.

The Category 2 hurricane brought strong wind, significant rainfall and widespread power outages to the Alabama Gulf Coast. Tennessee co-ops are assisting with efforts to reconstruct the severely damaged electric infrastructure in the region.

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association in Nashville coordinates requests for mutual aid and makes travel and lodging arrangements for crews who respond.

Assisting Baldwin Electric Membership Corporation in Summerdale, Alabama, are:

  • Seven lineworkers from Chickasaw Electric Cooperative in Somerville
  • Five from Ft. Loudoun Electric Cooperative in Vonore
  • Five from Mountain Electric Cooperative in Mountain City
  • 21 from Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation in Murfreesboro
  • Five from Pickwick Electric Cooperative in Selmer
  • 13 from Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation in Carthage
  • 12 from Volunteer Energy Cooperative in Decatur

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Sept. 9, 2020) – Seventy-nine lineworkers from across Tennessee are traveling to Louisiana today to assist with recovery and reconstruction following Hurricane Laura, a powerful Category 4 storm that struck the Gulf Coast on Aug. 27. These workers will replace workers from two Tennessee co-ops who have been in Louisiana since shortly after the storm hit.

“The current recovery is going to be long,” said Jeffrey Arnold, CEO of the Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives. “We cannot give co-op members an estimate of time other than ‘weeks’ at this moment because of the number of transmission poles and towers that are down and the time and effort it will take to rebuild the power grid.”

Returning home are 18 lineworkers from Plateau Electric Cooperative and Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation who have been assisting Jeff Davis Electric Cooperative in Jennings, Louisiana.

Traveling to assist Jeff David Electric Cooperative in Jennings, Louisiana, are:

  • 10 lineworkers from Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation in Brownsville

Assisting Beauregard Electric Cooperative in DeRidder, Louisiana, are:

  • 11 lineworkers from Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation in Clarksville
  • Five lineworkers from Duck River Electric Membership Corporation in Shelbyville
  • 10 lineworkers from Holston Electric Cooperative in Rogersville
  • Five lineworkers from Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative in Centerville
  • 21 lineworkers from Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation in Murfreesboro
  • Six lineworkers from Mountain Electric Cooperative in Mountain City
  • 10 lineworkers from Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative in South Pittsburg

 


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Aug. 31, 2020) – Eighteen lineworkers from two Tennessee electric cooperatives are in Louisiana to assist with Hurricane Laura recovery efforts. The powerful hurricane left massive amounts of destruction after it made landfall last week.

“Our crews have a reputation for responding quickly, working safely and showing compassion to those who are in need,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Associaiton. “We commend their desire to serve and wish them well in the days to come.”

Crews will be assisting Jeff Davis Electric Cooperative in Jennings, La. Following the storm, JDEC reported that 100 percent of the co-op’s 11,000 meters were without power and more than 1,000 poles had been broken. Tennessee crews are expected to be in Louisiana for seven to 10 days before being replaced with additional Tennessee crews.

“Hurricane Laura left catastrophic damage in its wake,” said Mike Heinen of JDEC. “In response, we’ve launched a massive storm recovery and power restoration effort, assisted by hundreds of personnel from other states. Even so, a full recovery could be weeks away.”

Please keep the people of coastal Louisiana, as well as our volunteer lineworkers and their families, in your thoughts and prayers in the days ahead.

Below is a list of Tennessee co-ops providing assistance. This information is likely to change as crews are replaced in the coming weeks.

  • Plateau Electric Cooperative in Onieda, Tenn. – eight lineworkers
  • Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation in Brownsville, Tenn. – 10 lineworkers

 

 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today the TVA Board of Directors approved a special $200 million Pandemic Relief Credit for the coming fiscal year. The 2.5% base rate credit will begin in October and remain in effect through most of 2021 for local power companies – including electric cooperatives – served by TVA.

“On behalf of Tennessee’s electric cooperatives, we applaud TVA’s decision to provide $200 million in Pandemic Relief Credits,” said David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Electric co-ops and the homes, businesses and communities we serve face extreme challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The region’s economy is fragile, and the future remains uncertain. Today’s announcement is a positive move that will provide needed relief for many. Co-ops exist to provide power, but in reality, we exist to serve our consumers and our communities. As our wholesale power provider and public power partner, it is essential that TVA shares our vision for reliable power, affordable rates and a vibrant Tennessee economy. We appreciate TVA for providing these resources that will assist the entire region.”

“The continued impact of this pandemic on our communities is unprecedented and creates continued economic uncertainty,” said Jeff Lyash, TVA president and CEO. “Because of the TVA team’s strong operational and financial performance under challenging circumstances this past year, we have an opportunity and responsibility to use TVA’s resources and expertise to provide continued support for customers, businesses and communities.”

Nashville – State officials on Friday awarded $61 million in emergency broadband grants, with $40 million going to Tennessee’s electric co-ops. The grants were awarded through the recently created Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us that broadband is essential for modern life,” said Mike Knotts, vice president of government affairs with the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “From telemedicine and distance learning to telecommuting and e–commerce, Tennessee’s rural communities must have reliable and affordable access to high–speed internet. Families and businesses in rural communities unfortunately understand what life is like without internet access, so today’s announcement is welcomed news.”

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development worked with the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and other stakeholders to develop the Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund using a portion of resources allocated to Tennessee through the Coronavirus Relief Fund. Recipients must utilize the funds before the end of 2020.

Nearly 70 percent of the funds awarded went to electric cooperatives. “When the state asked ‘Who can build rural broadband quickly?’ they turned to electric co-ops,” said Knotts. “Tennessee’s co-ops are demonstrating their ability to expand access quickly and leverage grant funds for maximum impact. We appreciate the trust and confidence Governor Lee has placed in us through today’s announcement.”

Tennessee’s electric co-ops will immediately begin construction on 29 separate projects to bring broadband to locations that currently do not have access. These projects will enable tens of thousands of people in some of the most remote parts of the state to participate in modern work, education and commerce. Broadband expansion will also improve Tennessee’s ability to respond to current and future public health emergencies.