Nashville, TENN. – More than 750 electric co-op employees participated in the sixth annual Tennessee Electric Cooperative Day of Service on Thursday, Oct. 20. Forty-six individual service projects were completed across the state with 757 employees from 17 electric co-ops volunteering more than 1,581 hours in service to their local communities. This year’s projects included painting and repairing playground equipment, picking up litter and coordinating food, clothing and toy drives.

“This is one of my favorite days of the year,” says Trent Scott, TECA’s vice president of communications and organizer of the event. “Co-ops have an impact on their communities each day, but today is special. Co-op employees live, work and raise their families in these communities, and they get excited about these projects. Giving back is natural when you care about the place you call home.”

Sponsors for the 2022 Day of Service were Bass, Berry and Sims, Central Service Association, Ervin Cable Construction, Silicon Ranch, Tennessee811, TVA and The Tennessee Magazine.

In the six-year history of the Day of Service event, 2,705 employees have volunteered more than 6,520 hours to complete 153 individual projects in co-op communities across the state.

Co-ops participating in the 2022 Day of Service and the projects they completed were:

  • Appalachian Electric Cooperative – Support for coat and food drives in Jefferson County
  • Caney Fork Electric Cooperative – Coordinated Christmas toy drive for area children
  • Chickasaw Electric Cooperative – Hot line safety demonstration at a festival, supporting food and toy drive for Fayette Cares
  • Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation – Painted playground equipment for local schools
  • Fayetteville Public Utilities – Assisted Hands of Mercy Outreach’s mobile food pantry
  • Gibson Electric Membership Corporation – Provided classroom supplies for Samburg and Hornbeak areas of Obion County
  • Holston Electric Cooperative – Restoration work at Crockett Springs Park
  • Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooeprative – Multiple litter pick up projects in Hickman and Humphreys counties, food bank projects in Hickman and Lewis counties. Additional projects in Perry and Houston counties.
  • Middle Tennessee Electric – Habitat for Humanity build in Lebanon, Scholastic Book Fairs in Woodbury and Christiana, Discovery Center’s Lantern Parade in Murfreesboro
  • Pickwick Electric Cooperative – Assisted the Jesus Cares Thrift Store
  • Plateau Electric Cooperative – Volunteer work in Scott and Morgan counties
  • Powell Valley Electric Co-op – Lunch for first responders in New Tazewell and Jonesville
  • Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative – Provided meals for veterans, assisted with renovation of a senior center’s garden, building beds for Sleep in Heavenly Peace and work with local animal shelter
  • Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation – Support for Breast Cancer Awareness Day
  • Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association – Volunteering at local domestic violence shelter and The Store free community grocery
  • Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation – Beautification project in Livingston, lunch for front line workers and boxing and landscaping at a food bank
  • Volunteer Energy Cooperative – Donations to food banks in Spring City, Decatur, Georgetown, Benton, Cleveland, Crossville and White County

Dave Cross, CEO Plateau Electric Cooperative and Board President, TECA

Vince Lombardi, famed coach of the Green Bay Packers, once said, “Success demands singleness of purpose.” The purpose of Tennessee’s electric cooperatives — the reason we exist — is to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy and improve the lives of the people we serve.

October is National Co-op Month, which is the perfect time to consider how our purpose impacts almost everything we do.

Co-ops are consumer-owned.

Electric co-ops are owned by the people we serve, not by the government or investors. Co-op members elect directors to represent their interests and set policy and procedures for the co-op. This focus on our consumers makes co-ops far more responsive to the people and places we serve.

Co-ops are not-for-profit.

Co-ops serve their communities instead of shareholders. We distribute and sell energy to our members at cost and invest excess revenues back into the electric system. All of this means that our consumer-owners pay less for energy — 15 percent below the national average.

Co-ops are community-focused.

Electric co-ops work to improve everyday life in our rural and suburban communities. We do this through reliable energy and investments in education and community development.

Later this month, cooperatives across the state will participate in the Tennessee Electric Co-op Day of Service, an intentional effort to get our hands dirty by serving our communities. This is a small but real example of the many ways our co-ops impact the communities we serve.

According to Coach Lombardi, if you wish to be successful, you need to first identify your one true purpose.

Tennessee’s electric cooperatives are successful because we have identified that purpose. It is not serving shareholders in another state. It is not making a profit. It is not pushing a political agenda.

Our business model is unique. It is pragmatic, mission-oriented and people-focused.

Our one true purpose is serving our members, and I hope that is seen in everything we do.

Chris Kirk has been named editor of The Tennessee Magazine, replacing Robin Conover who retired at the end of September.

Kirk joined the magazine team as field editor in May of 2005 and has served as associate editor since 2011.

“Chris is a journalist of integrity who has been an asset for the magazine for many years,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, publisher of the magazine. “He has shown tremendous skill, commitment and passion, and I know the magazine will thrive under his leadership.”

Kirk follows in the footsteps of his father, Jerry Kirk, who also served as editor of The Tennessee Magazine in the late 1980s.

“As far as I’m concerned, I step into this new role as a steward of the quality, informational, entertaining publication that for 65 years has been telling the stories of Tennessee’s electric cooperatives and the communities they serve,” says Kirk.

With more than 775,000 subscribers and 1.7 million monthly readers, The Tennessee Magazine is the state’s most widely circulated periodical. The magazine is published by the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and Tennessee’s 23 electric cooperatives. Visit tnelectric.org or tnmagazine.org to learn more.

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association has named Trent Scott vice president of communications. He joined the staff of the association in 2011 and was most recently vice president of corporate strategy.

Scott will lead the association’s internal and external communication activities, including the publication of The Tennessee Magazine, the state’s most widely circulated monthly periodical.

“Over the past decade Trent has been instrumental in positioning TECA as a nationally recognized leader in the electric cooperative community,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “His dedication has greatly improved our outreach and raised our visibility through programs such as the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Day of Service. The state’s co-ops and the consumers they serve will benefit from Trent taking ownership of all of TECA’s communication efforts.”

“I grew up around this industry,” says Scott, whose father was a lineman for Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation in Henderson. “From energy to broadband, this is a dynamic time for electric co-ops and the state’s rural and suburban communities. It is a privilege to help co-ops highlight the impact they have on the people and places they serve. Tennessee’s electric co-ops have a great story to tell.”

Electric cooperatives serve more than 2.5 million consumers and 72 percent of Tennessee. The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association provides leadership, advocacy and support for Tennessee’s 23 electric cooperatives and publishes The Tennessee Magazine, the state’s most widely circulated periodical. Visit tnelectric.org or tnmagazine.org to learn more.

 

NASHVILLE – Sixty-five volunteer lineworkers from six electric co-ops across Tennessee are heading to Florida, Georgia and South Carolina to assist with Hurricane Ian recovery efforts. Sixteen lineworkers from three additional electric co-ops are waiting to be assigned.

The Category 4 hurricane brought strong wind, historic storm surge, significant rainfall and widespread power outages to Florida. Tennessee electric 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 Edisto Electric Cooperative in Bamberg, South Carolina, are:

  • 12 lineworkers from Appalachian Electric Cooperative in New Market
  • Eight from Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation in Clarksville

Assisting Okefenoke Rural Electric Membership Corporation in Nahunta, Georgia, are:

  • Seven lineworkers from Fayetteville Public Utilities
  • 10 from Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation in Brownsville

Assisting Black River Electric Cooperative in Sumter, South Carolina, are:

  • Eight lineworkers from Holston Electric Cooperative in Rogersville

Assisting Palmetto Electric Cooperative in Hardeeville, South Carolina, are:

  • 20 lineworkers from Middle Tennessee Electric in Murfreesboro

Volunteered and waiting for assignment are:

  • Four lineworkers from Gibson Electric Membership Corporation in Trenton
  • Four from Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative in Centerville
  • Eight from Plateau Electric Cooperative in Onieda

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, electric vehicle (EV) sales doubled from 2020 to 2021, reaching a record high of 608,000 sales. Sales of internal combustion engine vehicles grew by only 3% the same year.

The number of EVs on the road will continue to grow over the next five to 10 years, and many brands have pledged to convert to manufacturing only EVs within the next three to 12 years.

Part of this sales growth stems from more choices in the EV market. Today, more than 80 base models of sedans, SUVs and minivans are available. The number of automakers that are exclusively manufacturing plug-in vehicles is also increasing, from recognizable brands like Tesla to growing brands like Rivian, Polestar, Karma and Lucid. Ford introduced its now sold-out F-150 Lightning in April and is already taking orders for 2023.

While the EV market is growing, it has some challenges to overcome before broader adoption takes place. The upfront cost of an EV is more expensive than a comparable gas-powered vehicle, and many EVs are limited to a driving range of 250 miles on average––though there are exceptions. Some automakers offer EV models with ranges over 300 miles and a handful are approaching 400.

Ford, Hyundai, Kia and Nissan offer EV models that are priced around $30,000, and available federal tax credits can bring the initial costs down considerably. EV range numbers are approaching those of a tank of gas, but EVs require more time to charge compared to a gas-powered vehicle’s quick fill-up. Even at the fastest charging level, it takes approximately 20 minutes to charge 80% capacity. This makes EVs suitable for daily driving needs like commuting or running errands but less suitable for longer road trips.

Access to publicly available charging stations is not as plentiful or as geographically accessible as gas stations, which makes using an EV for an extended road trip less straightforward. However, The Department of Transportation and the Department of Energy have teamed up to offer grants to help states and local partners, including electric cooperatives, to develop a national charging network with EV chargers located every 50 miles on interstates. The goal is to place EV chargers where they make the most sense in terms of business or recreational activities. National parks, convenience stores and local businesses could be popular stops for EV charging.

Compared to a standard wall outlet, charging times can be shortened by using a Level 2 charger. Level 1 chargers are the standard charger that come with an EV and provide about 40 miles of range after eight hours of charging. Level 2 chargers provide about 25 miles per charging hour. They consume a lot of power over a short amount of time and require local electric infrastructure to support the increased energy load.

If you’re considering a Level 2 charger, make sure your home’s electrical system is in good shape and give your electric co-op a heads up. This allows the utility to ensure the transformer in your neighborhood can safely and reliably provide power––and your neighbors will thank you.

Katherine Loving writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives

The Hickman County Rescue Squad recently received support from Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative with a donation of $1,500 through its community involvement fund. Pictured from left: MLEC District Manager Matthew Chessor, MLEC Director Johnnie Ruth Elrod, Hickman County Rescue Squad’s Tim Jackson and Chief Toby Warren; MLEC President and CEO Keith Carnahan; and MLEC Directors Wayne Qualls and Dr. Zack Hutchens.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tennessee’s electric cooperatives awarded $16,000 in scholarships to Washington Youth Tour delegates on Monday evening, June 20, in Washington, D.C.

Camden Robertson, a senior from Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation was awarded a $10,000 Cooperative Youth Ambassador Scholarship. Robertson was a 2021 winner of the Electric Cooperative Creative Writing Contest. Delegates who remain engaged with their sponsoring cooperative during their Senior year and complete certain community service requirements are eligible for the scholarship. Robertson’s name was randomly selected from among the 14 delegates from across the state who completed the requirements.

Trace Gearlds from Tri-County Electric Membership Corporation, Malcom Gora from Caney Fork Electric Cooperative and Brayden Rouse from Forked Deer Electric Cooperative were awarded $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 Robert McCarty Memorial Scholarships for having the first, second and third place papers of the thousands of papers submitted across the state for this year’s contest.

McCarty was an employee of Volunteer Energy Cooperative and long-time chaperone on the annual youth tour. McCarty lost a battle with cancer in 2015, and sponsoring cooperatives renamed the scholarship in honor of his love for young people.

Forty-nine high school Juniors from across the state are in the nation’s capital this week for the 2022 Washington Youth Tour. The annual event teaches students about public policy, history, leadership and electric cooperatives. The tour is coordinated by local electric cooperatives, the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

“Investing in these young people is a sound strategy that will pay dividends for rural Tennessee,” said David Callis, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “These are exceptional students, and our hope is that their youth tour experience empowers them to return home and make a difference in their communities.”

TRENTON, Tenn. — Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced today that Gibson Electric Membership Corporation has been awarded a grant of $4,650,880 through the Kentucky Broadband Deployment Program.  The grant will help build a broadband infrastructure to make high-speed, fiber-based internet service available to 1,763 Gibson EMC member-owners in Kentucky.

“We are thrilled that we will receive Kentucky Broadband Deployment Program funds for this important project,” said Dan Rodamaker, President and CEO of Gibson Electric Membership Corporation and Gibson Connect (Gibson EMC’s broadband subsidiary).  “Our member-owners desperately need high-speed, fiber-based internet service; and it will vastly improve the quality of life in our communities by providing opportunities for education, healthcare, jobs, entertainment and more. We sincerely thank all those who have made the grant possible and particularly Governor Andy Beshear, our legislators and members of the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority,” Rodamaker said.  “We also are grateful to our local leadership for their support and to our members for their patience as we have worked to provide broadband service as economically as possible.”

Rodamaker said Gibson EMC and Gibson Connect anticipate being able to start construction mid-July, after receiving the grant parameters and signing the grant contract. “We’ll communicate more details about the buildout soon,” he said.

“Access to high-speed internet service is truly transformational,” said Rodamaker, “and an important part of having access is affordability.  We’re working hard to manage the cost of our broadband buildout and to also enable access,” he said.  “This is why Gibson Connect offers both the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and the Lifeline discounts to qualifying members to lower the cost of its residential internet plans.”

Rodamaker said Gibson EMC already has invested $3.9 million on a broadband middle-mile network in its Kentucky service area and will match the Kentucky broadband grant (of $4.6 million) with $6.4 million for a total investment of $15 million.  He said this grant award moves Gibson EMC and Gibson Connect a step closer to the ultimate goal of making the essential service of high-speed, fiber-based internet available to every Gibson EMC member.

Gibson Connect is a wholly-owned, not-for-profit subsidiary of Gibson EMC.  It was formed to make high-speed, fiber-based internet service available to members of Gibson EMC.  Members can register for internet, phone and TV service at join.gibsonconnect.com or by calling 731-562-6000.  Registration is just $20 and will apply toward a member’s first Gibson Connect bill when service is received.  Sign up now to ensure you receive service as quickly as possible.

Gibson EMC is a local, not-for-profit, member-owned and member-controlled electric cooperative serving more than 39,000 homes and businesses in four west Kentucky counties (Carlisle, Fulton, Graves and Hickman) and eight west Tennessee counties (Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Haywood, Lake, Lauderdale, Obion and Madison).

NASHVILLE – Seventy-two student-delegates, teachers and co-op advisors from across Tennessee are headed to Washington, D.C., as a part of the 2022 Washington Youth Tour. The annual event, which begins today, provides young leaders with an opportunity to explore the nation’s capital, learn about government and develop their leadership skills. This is the first youth tour since 2019.

The Washington Youth Tour is sponsored by the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and local electric cooperatives from across the state. Students were selected for the trip by writing a short story titled “Electric Cooperatives – Building a Brighter Tennessee” that explains how co-ops are investing in the future of their communities.

Delegates on this year’s trip will visit museums and monuments, including the Smithsonian museum complex, the White House and the Capitol Building. The group is also scheduled to meet with members of Tennessee’s Congressional delegation.

“We are very excited about the 2022 youth tour,” says Todd Blocker, vice president of member relations for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and tour director. “Our team, our co-ops and our youth tour partners have worked hard to put together a trip that will be both safe and memorable for this year’s delegates. Thanks to the flexibility and cooperation of our hotel, bus company, airlines and venues, this year’s itinerary looks very similar to that of previous years.”

President Lyndon Johnson inspired the tour in 1957 when he encouraged electric cooperatives to send youngsters to the nation’s capital. In the years since, more than 6,000 young Tennesseans have been delegates for the Washington Youth Tour. Politicians, business leaders, authors and athletes are Washington Youth Tour alumni, including Apple CEO Tim Cook.

“We all know the impact that youth tour can have on young people,” says Blocker. “We are thrilled to be able to help these delegates learn more about public policy, history, leadership and cooperatives.”

Centerville, TN —  John Brennan of rural Hickman County is Meriwether Lewis Connect’s 10,000th subscriber. Service was installed June 2, 2022.

“When Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative announced it was bringing broadband, I thought I hope I live to see it, and now here it is,” says Brennan. “MLConnect will allow me to stream and surf the Internet, while also saving on subscription services. It is a significant upgrade and opportunity for our rural communities and gives us the flexibility to work in a place we love to live.”

Formed in 2018 in response to MLEC members requesting fiber-to-the-home, MLConnect’s goal was to finish construction in all five counties by the end of 2022. The first in-home installation happened in March 2019, and the final phase of construction (Hickman County) is on target to finish later this year. In-home and business installations will be ongoing.

“We appreciate everyone’s support of the MLConnect broadband project and what we’re trying to accomplish for those we serve,” says MLEC President and CEO Keith Carnahan. “We’re working as quickly as we can to make fast, affordable, reliable broadband an option for MLEC members.”

MLEC is a member-owned, not-for-profit electric utility that serves more than 34,500 meters in Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Lewis and Perry counties. We are helping build brighter futures and make connections possible for those we serve. Learn more at mlec.com.

NASHVILLE – More than 45 high school juniors from across the state are in Nashville this week for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association’s annual Youth Leadership Summit.

Delegates to the event receive a hands-on look at state government, learn networking and leadership skills and develop a better understanding of their local electric cooperatives.

Tre Hargett, Tennessee Secretary of State, welcomed the students to the Capitol where they visited with legislators, sat in on committee meetings and debated and voted on a mock bill.

In addition to meeting lawmakers and experiencing the state Capital, students also developed their leadership and teambuilding skills at the Joe C. Davis YMCA Outdoor Center at Camp Widjiwagen, completed a leadership training course with leadership expert Amy Gallimore and met Trooper Shane Moore and K9 officer Sumo from the Tennessee Executive Protection Detail. Students also spent a morning at Middle Tennessee Electric in Murfreesboro for a behind-the-scenes look at an electric cooperative.

“Meeting our state representatives was amazing,” said Madison Gean, a junior from Hardin County High School and a Youth Leadership Summit delegate from Tennessee Valley Electric Cooperative in Savannah. “We’ve all learned so much. You can always grow and adapt and build leadership skills, and I am grateful for this opportunity. Please continue to do this for other young students.”

Delegates to the Youth Leadership Summit are encouraged to be leaders and use their talents to improve rural Tennessee. “The future is built on the investments we make today, and there is no greater investment that we can make than to prepare these young people to face the opportunities and challenges of tomorrow,” says Todd Blocker, vice president of member relations for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and director of the Youth Leadership Summit. “These students are selected by their local electric co-ops, school officials and guidance counselors, and they truly are the best and the brightest. The Youth Leadership Summit is an example of the many ways that electric co-ops are building a brighter Tennessee.”

With the 2022 Winter Olympics underway, some of the world’s most exceptional athletes have taken the stage to compete for the gold. From snowboarding to skiing to figure skating, there are a variety of events taking place that will have you cheering for Team USA from your living room.

While the Olympics are happening on the other side of the globe, did you know that Tennessee is home to a company that specializes in none other than figure skating boots?

Last October, figure skating boot manufacturer SP-Teri announced plans to invest more than $430,000 to relocate and expand its headquarters and manufacturing operations from Nashville to McEwen, Tennessee.

It’s easy to wonder how such a specialty manufacturer like SP-Teri landed in a state as hot as Tennessee, so without further ado, let us explain.

Founded in California by Joseph Spiteri in 1963, SP-Teri has served elite figure skaters by manufacturing ice skate boots for more than 50 years.

When the founder’s son, George, decided to retire in 2019, a two-time Olympic figure skating competitor and current coach with Nashville Skating Academy, Bill Fauver stepped up to the plate to assist in purchasing the company as he had previously served SP-Teri as a brand and sales representative for Tennessee.

Thus, SP-Teri’s operations moved from California to Tennessee just months before March of 2020 when Nashville was struck by the horrific tornados.

SP-Teri was among the list of businesses that experienced complete devastation, and about three months after settling in Davidson County, the company had to find a new location for its operations.

Fast forward to 2021, company president Bill Fauver settled SP-Teri in McEwen, Tennessee, operating in the former OshKosh B’gosh building. McEwen is served by Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative.

Just when one might think that blue skies were ahead, Humphreys County experienced torrential flooding, and in its path was SP-Teri’s new facility.

Fortunately, aside from roof damage, the building remained intact, and SP-Teri was able to maintain production.

Now that 2022 is in full swing, things are looking up as the company is in talks with Chattanooga-based Moonlight Roller about manufacturing roller skate boots.

“That is the bright future,” said Fauver. “The company has done well out of Chattanooga and is trying to bring production to the United States.”

Although Fauver weathered two of Tennessee’s roughest storms, his outlook remains positive as the company will continue to operate here in Tennessee.

Regarding working with Moonlight Roller, Fauver mentioned that “there won’t be shipping issues” and that the company “will be able to pivot design changes easily.”

“We think there will be some opportunities for us to offer a complete roller skate down the road,” Fauver said.

While the company may be shifting its focus to roller skate boots in the short term, they will continue manufacturing ice skate boots, keeping SP-Teri’s legacy alive.

According to Fauver, the busy season is year-round for competitive skaters, but there is always an uptick in activity for public skating during the Olympics.

“You’ve got more skaters wanting to learn to skate, and then more people wanting boots,” he explained.

Whether it’s ice skating or roller skating, remember, the next time you find yourself slipping on a pair of skates, know that the boots may have been mastered in Tennessee.

This story originally appeared on the TNECD website. Thanks to Lindsey Tipton for permission to share.

NASHVILLE – More than 140 electric co-op leaders from across the state were in Nashville on Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 15 and 16, for the 2022 Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association Legislative Conference. During meetings with legislators on Capitol Hill, co-op members and employees stressed the important role that co-ops play in their communities and briefed lawmakers on issues that impact rural and suburban Tennessee.

Gov. Bill Lee welcomed attendees to Nashville on Wednesday morning. “The services you provide to rural Tennesseans are incredibly important,” said Lee.

Tennessee’s electric cooperatives maintain a visible presence in Nashville and Washington, D.C., to protect the interests of co-ops and their consumer-owners. “Electric co-ops are complex and heavily regulated businesses, and the decisions made by legislators can have a significant impact on the affordability and reliability of the energy they provide to millions of families across Tennessee,” says David Callis, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “We must tell the electric cooperative story and educate lawmakers about the impact of proposed legislation.”

“Advocating for our members doesn’t stop at the edge of our service territory. It is critically important that our elected leaders keep cooperatives in mind when crafting laws and regulations that impact us,” says Dave Cross, president of TECA’s board of trustees and CEO of Plateau Electric Cooperative, headquartered in Oneida. “We have a responsibility to our communities to tell their story.”

Broadband was a topic discussed during visits with legislators. “We’ve invested heavily in broadband expansion, and you’re key to that,” said Gov. Lee. “Unless every Tennessean has access to opportunity – every kid in the urban center and every kid in the farthest-reaching rural communities – then we have not done our job. The ways we do that in large part is through the services and technology that you make possible.”

More than 100 legislative visits were made during the conference, and many legislators from across the state attended a reception honoring members of the Tennessee General Assembly.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Trent Scott | Vice President of Strategy | 615.515.5534 | [email protected]

NASHVILLE – Electric co-ops across west and middle Tennessee today are preparing for a significant winter storm that is expected to impact the Volunteer State overnight and Thursday.

“Damage caused by ice can be widespread and create extended power outages,” says Trent Scott, vice president of corporate strategy for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Co-ops are closely monitoring forecasts and preparing crews and equipment to respond quickly if outages occur, and we encourage our members to get ready for the potential of power outages, especially in the hardest hit areas.”

When ice builds up, the added weight can break trees, poles and wires leading to power outages. Co-ops crews will work to restore power, but there are a few things you can do to prepare.

Stay warm

Plan to use a safe alternate heating source, such as a fireplace or wood-burning stove during a power outage. These are great options to keep you and your loved ones warm, but exercise caution when using, and never leave the heating source unattended. If you are using gasoline-, propane- or natural gas-burning devices to stay warm, never use them indoors. Remember that fuel- and wood-burning sources of heat should always be properly ventilated. Always read the manufacturer’s directions before using.

Stay fed

The CDC recommends having several days’ supply of food that does not need to be cooked handy. Crackers, cereal, canned goods and bread are good options. Five gallons of water per person should also be available in the event of an extended power outage.

Stay safe

When an outage occurs, it usually means power lines are down. It is best not to travel during winter storms, but if you must, bring a survival kit along, and do not travel alone. If you encounter downed lines, always assume they are live. Stay as far away from the downed lines as possible, and report the situation to your local electric co-op. Take caution when using generators. Follow all directions and do not connect a generator to your home’s electrical system without proper equipment and inspections. Check on the welfare of neighbors, especially the elderly.

Vanderbilt University, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Nashville Electric Service (NES), Duck River Electric Membership Corporation (DREMC), and Silicon Ranch Corporation broke ground today on a new solar farm that is now under construction in Bedford County, Tennessee. The 35-megawatt (MWAC) Vanderbilt I Solar Farm is expected to begin producing power before the end of 2022, bringing new renewable generation to the Tennessee Valley.

Originally announced in January 2020, the partnership was the first of its kind under TVA’s nationally-recognized Green Invest Program, which matches demand for green power from diverse business, industrial and organizational customers with new utility-scale solar projects located within the Valley. The award-winning renewable energy program offers customers an effective, timely, and cost-competitive solution to meet their sustainability goals in a way that benefits the broader community.

“Today marks a milestone for the Tennessee Valley as we break ground on the first project ever developed under TVA’s Green Invest program, and we are thrilled to be doing so with Vanderbilt University, our long-term partners NES and DREMC, and our local renewable energy partner Silicon Ranch,” said Jeannette Mills, TVA Executive Vice President and Chief External Relations Officer. “Together with 153 local power company partners, TVA is building the energy system of the future.  Green Invest has positioned us to bring together customers and renewable energy partners who are all investing in our communities.”

In 2019, Vanderbilt announced its goal to power the campus entirely through renewable energy and become carbon neutral by 2050. The renewable generation from the Vanderbilt I will offset approximately 70% of Vanderbilt University’s annual Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions, or the equivalent of enough power to help serve more than 6,000 homes for one year.

“We are excited to partner with TVA, NES, and Silicon Ranch on this landmark solar project, which we hope will provide a model of collaborative, forward-thinking solutions that can be adopted by other organizations in our region and across the country,” said Daniel Diermeier, Chancellor of Vanderbilt University. “The Vanderbilt I Solar Farm will generate new jobs and tax revenues for the local community and also yield new educational and research opportunities for our faculty and our students—setting a bold precedent for how we can continue to work together on behalf of our shared future.”

Nashville-based Silicon Ranch is funding the project and plans to hire more than 250 craft workers, the majority of whom will be recruited from the Bedford County area and the military veteran community, to install the facility. Silicon Ranch will also own, operate, and maintain the Vanderbilt I Solar Farm, a disciplined approach the company takes with every project it develops.

“Several of our colleagues and I are proud Vanderbilt alumni, and all of us at Silicon Ranch applaud this world-class institution for its bold and thoughtful leadership,” said Matt Kisber, Co-Founder and Chairman of Silicon Ranch. “Thanks to Vanderbilt’s commitment and the vision of our friends at TVA, NES, and DREMC, Silicon Ranch is on pace to invest well over $1 billion in renewable energy projects across the Tennessee Valley, and we are proud to expand this legacy to Bedford County.”

To facilitate the Vanderbilt I Solar Farm, Vanderbilt entered into an agreement with TVA and NES, the university’s local power company. The solar project will interconnect to the electric grid through the distribution system of another local power company, DREMC.

“NES is proud to partner with TVA, Vanderbilt, DREMC and Silicon Ranch to reduce carbon emissions in our region,” said Decosta Jenkins, President and CEO of NES. “We are committed to providing safe, reliable, and affordable power while continuing to listen to our customers’ needs.”

“Duck River Electric is thrilled to support this project and our friends at Vanderbilt, NES, TVA, and Silicon Ranch on this journey,” said Scott Spence, President and CEO of DREMC. “It is a privilege to be part of helping Vanderbilt achieve their sustainability goals, while ensuring the members of Duck River Electric do not incur any of the expense.”

The Vanderbilt I Solar Farm will utilize Silicon Ranch’s transformative Regenerative Energy® land management model, a holistic approach to design, construction, and operations that co-locates renewable energy production with regenerative agriculture practices. The innovative platform delivers valuable environmental, social, and economic outcomes above and beyond the significant positive impacts a solar facility alone can generate, creating additional value for the surrounding communities and project stakeholders. Once the project is operational, Silicon Ranch will restore the land to a functioning grassland ecosystem while keeping the project in agricultural production through managed sheep grazing using regenerative land management practices.

Murfreesboro, Tenn. – Middle Tennessee Electric (MTE) President and CEO Chris Jones has received the 2022 J.C. Brown CEO Communication Leadership Award. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) presented Jones the award at the organization’s CEO Close-Up Conference Jan. 10 in Phoenix. 

According to NRECA, the J.C. Brown Award “recognizes an electric cooperative or public power district CEO/general manager who is committed to advancing communication at the cooperative and in the electric cooperative industry.”  

Jones has an extensive background in the communications field, graduating from the University of Tennessee with a degree in communications and starting his career as a journalist and editor. He went to work at MTE in 1999, serving as communications coordinator and the VP of communications and member services before being named CEO in 2013. 

“We should understand, yet not be intimidated by, the reality that communication is work that is never finished and demands intentionality and continuous improvement,” Jones said. “I have been studying communication since college and attempting to execute it throughout my professional career, and I know I still have much to learn and improve upon. However, I am humbled by and appreciative of this recognition from NRECA.” 

Jones emphasizes the importance of clear, simple and repeated communication across multiple channels to all of MTE’s audiences, always striving to meet the goal of making the lives of MTE members better. In recent years, his leadership and robust communication efforts have navigated the organization through a major tornado in its service area, several severe weather events, the acquisition of United Communications, the merger with the Murfreesboro Electric Department, the continued impacts of COVID-19 and a complete brand refresh. 

His nomination was given a perfect score by one of the three judges who helped select this year’s winner and another mentioned his “notable” use of a strategic plan to communicate the organization’s mission and goals with both employees and members. 

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. 11 for the second 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.

Weather impacts us all. And this past December was no exception, bringing severe weather to our region. The losses were devastating. My heart goes out to everyone who was affected by the storms. I truly hope that things are on the mend and life is improving. While we all do our best to be aware of severe weather and keep our families safe by hunkering down in an interior closet or a concrete bunker as tornadoes pass, protecting the electric grid is another story entirely.

Storms can severely impact businesses and different industries in a variety of ways. For example, several years ago, I participated in an educational conference that was primarily attended by people involved in agriculture. At that time, there was a large storm system packing hurricane-force winds moving into the Southeast. I was concerned about the effects it would have on the electric grid. The other attendees were concerned about their crops and livestock. All of us were concerned — but for very different reasons. That was an eye-opener for me.

While weather impacts us all, for those of us in the electric utility industry, what happens to our systems affects everyone. In our industry, we keep a close eye on the weather, depending on the National Weather Service, local and national meteorologists, private weather and climate experts, and our own in-house specialists. In early December, we knew the potential for damaging storms existed at least two days before the storms hit on the 10th and 11th.

But no matter what precautions we take to limit loss of life, we can’t do anything about the infrastructure that keeps our homes comfortable and the economy moving.

The December storm was one of the most devastating to hit our region in more than a decade. Not only were many lives lost and homes and businesses destroyed, but the infrastructure that provides power to all of us was also severely damaged.

Your cooperative depends on wholesale delivery of power by the Tennessee Valley Authority, which generates the power and then uses its transmission system to deliver electricity to your local utility.

The destruction to TVA’s transmission system was the worst since 2011; the storm damaged 97 TVA power structures (towers and poles), and 29 transmission line sections were downed. Some towers were destroyed. The result was that even if local utility lines were intact, there was no power to the substation to be able to serve those people.

Compounding this disaster was a lack of materials available to effect repairs. Transformers, which are required to bring the electricity safely into your home at voltages you can use, have been in short supply for months. In recent years, multiple storms have affected numerous utilities, resulting in limited inventories. Manufacturers and suppliers have yet to meet increased demand after being sidelined during the pandemic.

Like always, we pulled together. TVA, Tennessee’s electric co-ops, municipal power providers and contractors restored power as quickly as possible to the communities impacted. Even in the face of tragedy, it was encouraging to see how many rushed to provide assistance when neighbors needed help.

We’ve done this before, and we’ll do it again. We can’t prevent disasters; we can only plan on how we respond. Hopefully, it will a long time before we have to do it again — at least on this scale.

Please click here to learn how you can help recovery efforts.

On the evening on Friday, Dec. 10, a series of violent tornadoes ripped through Tennessee and Kentucky. Hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed, and 77 lost their lives.

In the wake of the storm, many are looking for opportunities to assist.

Danny Jowers, emergency management
director for Obion County stands in front of a mountain of donated items in the Samburg, Tenn., resource center.

“The outpouring has been phenomenal,” said Danny Jowers, emergency management director for Obion County as he worked in the Samburg resource center that was established in the days following the storm. “We have plenty of supplies, but if someone wants to make a monetary donation, find a way to do that. People are going to need funds to get their lives back – for housing, for rent or other things they’ll need.”

Several organizations are working in or collecting funds for the affected areas. Some are focused exclusively on co-op employees, while others are providing support for entire communities.

Below is a list of some ways to help victims of the tornadoes.

Kentucky Rural Electric Disaster Fund

Kentucky Electric Cooperatives has organized a fund to assist members of the co-op family who face challenges after disasters and for the aid of communities served by co-ops. Contribute online: https://kyelectric.coop/2021/12/15/kentucky-rural-electric-disaster-fund/

Sensus/Xylem Matching Fund

Sensus, an associate member of TECA, has partnered with Americares to collect funds for those impacted. Sensus/Xylem will match funds up to $25,000 for any donations provided. These funds will go directly into affected areas to assist with real-time needs. Contribute online: https://mywatermark.benevity.org/community/fundraiser/5759

Additional Community and Faith-based Funds

Obion County Tornado Relief Fund
Security Bank and Trust Company
securitybanktn.com • 731-642-6644

Samburg Relief Fund
Security Bank and Trust Company
securitybanktn.com • 731-642-6644

Lake Road Relief Fund
Simmons Bank
simmonsbank.com

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee
Middle Tennessee Emergency Response Fund
cfmt.org/tornado2021 • 888-540-5200

American Red Cross
redcross.org • 1-800-RED CROSS

Southern Baptist Churches Disaster Relief
tnbaptist.org • 615-373-2255

United Methodist Committee on Relief
umcmission.org • 800-862-4246

Churches of Christ Disaster Relief
churchesofchristdrt.org • 937-308-7593

Samaritan’s Purse
samaritanspurse.org • 828-262-1980

 

If you are aware of other groups or funds who are supporting the recovery effort, please contact Trent Scott.