NASHVILLE – More than 400 electric co-op employees participated in the 2018 Tennessee Electric Cooperative Day of Service on Thursday, Oct. 18. Twenty-five individual service projects were completed across the state with 13 co-ops allowing 425 employees to volunteer more than 1,000 hours in service to their local communities.

“It’s amazing what giving hearts and willing hands can do!” says Vanessa Clayborn, manager of member services at Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative in Centerville, Tenn. “We had 53 employees participate in this year’s Day of Service, and the results are staggering and life-changing for those who participated and those we helped.”

“It is really incredible to see the passion that co-op employees have for their communities,” says Trent Scott, vice president of corporate strategy and organizer of the event. “We frequently talk about service to community, and this event puts words into action in very real and tangible ways.”

Service projects completed for this year’s event include four energy efficiency workshops or safety demonstrations, five parks and playgrounds cleaned and refurbished, seven food and clothing drives, four luncheons for local veterans or first responders and two home building projects.

This is the second Day of Service event conducted by Tennessee co-ops. In its two-year history, 756 employees have volunteered more than 2,000 hours in service to their communities.

Photos from the 2018 Day of Service event:

NASHVILLE – More than 180 volunteer lineworkers from 20 electric co-ops across Tennessee are heading to Georgia, Florida and North Carolina to assist with Hurricane Michael recovery efforts. This is the largest storm assistance effort made by Tennessee co-ops in recent years.

The dangerous Category 4 hurricane brought strong wind, significant rainfall and widespread power outages to the northern Gulf Coast. Tennessee co-op 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.

“Working on high-voltage lines on a sunny day is dangerous, but in disaster conditions the danger is exponentially greater,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Please keep these brave volunteers in your prayers.”

Below is the most up to date list of crews and their locations:

  • Appalachian Electric Cooperative – 11 lineworkers to Talquin Electric Cooperative in Quincy, Florida
  • Caney Fork Electric Cooperative – Nine lineworkers to United Energy in Statesboro, North Carolina
  • Chickasaw Electric Cooperative – Five lineworkers to Grady Diverse Power Cooperative in LaGrange, Georgia
  • Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation – nine lineworkers to Grady Electric Membership Corporation in Cairo, Georgia
  • Duck River Electric Membership Corporation – 14 lineworkers to Colquitt Electric Membership Corporation in Moultrie, Georgia
  • Fayetteville Public Utilities – eight lineworkers to Diverse Power Cooperative in LaGrange, Georgia
  • Fort Loudoun Electric Cooperative – eight lineworkers to Mitchell Electric Membership Corporation in Camilla, Georgia
  • Gibson Electric Membership Corporation – eight lineworkers to Carroll Electric Membership Corporation in Carrolton, Georgia
  • Holston Electric Cooperative – nine lineworkers to Talquin Electric Cooperative in Quincy, Florida
  • Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation – eight lineworkers to Excelsior Electric Membership Corporation in Statesboro, Georgia
  • Mountain Electric Cooperative – 12 lineworkers to Mitchell Electric Membership Corporation in Camilla, Georgia
  • Plateau Electric Cooperative – four lineworkers to Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative in Wewahitchka, Florida
  • Powell Valley Electric Cooperative – 12 lineworkers to Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative in Live Oak, Florida
  • Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative – 10 lineworkers to Mitchell Electric Membership Corporation in Camilla, Georgia
  • Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation – 10 lineworkers to Grady Electric Membership Corporation in Cairo, Georgia
  • Tennessee Valley Electric Cooperative – 10 lineworkers to Mitchell Electric Membership Corporation in Camilla, Georgia
  • Tri-County Electric Cooperative – eight lineworkers to Diverse Power Cooperative in LaGrange, Georgia
  • Tri-State Electric Cooperative – five lineworkers to Mitchell Electric Membership Corporation in Camilla, Georgia
  • Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation – 11 lineworkers to Flint Energies in Warner Robbins, Georgia
  • Volunteer Energy Cooperative  – 10 lineworkers to Sumpter EMC in Americus, GA

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association submitted feedback regarding the Rural Utilities Service’s e-Connectivity Pilot Program during a comment period provided by the RUS.

The e-Connectivity Pilot Program was was made possible by a $600 million appropriation from Congress in the Consolidated Budget Act of 2018. The USDA is working to create new funding and finance offerings through this pilot program to expand rural broadband in underserved rural and tribal areas.

Comments made by TECA to the RUS highlighted the successes of Tennessee’s electric co-ops in broadband and the need for additional funding to speed deployment. TECA affirmed comments made by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and requested consideration of seven additional suggestions:

  • Projects that achieve universal service inside a provider’s service territory should be incentivized over similar projects that leave significant gaps in coverage between communities
  • Projects that leverage additional investment in broadband infrastructure beyond the receipt of a grant itself should be incentivized over a similar project(s) that rely solely upon the program itself for its existence
  • Allow applicant(s) an opportunity to rebut any challenges of eligibility by third parties
  • Allow flexibility to award funds to any party participating in a partnership or other project that involves multiple eligible parties
  • Allow grants to be payable in multiple awards, rather than a single payment, if so desired by the recipient
  • Allow a small percentage of grants to be usable for start-up expenses of subsidiary entities
  • Provide loan products inside the pilot program at an interest rate below what is otherwise available by existing RUS programs, including FFB loans, or other more advantageous terms.

“We believe that the RUS’s e-Connectivity Pilot Program has the potential to have a meaningful impact on the expansion of broadband in rural Tennessee,” says Mike Knotts, vice president of government affairs with the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “We appreciate Secretary Purdue and the team at RUS for considering the input of Tennessee’s electric cooperatives.”

You can read TECA’s full comments below.

TECA RUS e-Connectivity Comments

NASHVILLE – More than 140 lineworkers from 15 Tennessee electric cooperatives will soon be heading to North Carolina to assist with Hurricane Florence recovery efforts. The massive hurricane is expected to leave widespread damage across much of the Atlantic seaboard.

Tennessee electric co-op crews are planning to leave from multiple locations beginning on Wednesday morning. Most will ride out the storm in western or central North Carolina before heading further east once the storm passes through. It is unclear how long they will be in North Carolina.

“Our crews have a reputation for responding quickly, working safely and showing compassion to those who have been impacted by storms like this one,” 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.”

Please keep the people of the Atlantic coast, 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 and the name and location of the co-op they will be helping. This information is likely to change as the storm nears the coast.

  • Appalachian Electric Cooperative in New Market, Tenn. – 12 lineworkers to Piedmont EMC in Hillsboro, North Carolina
  • Caney Fork Electric Cooperative in McMinnville, Tenn. – eight lineworkers to Pee Dee EC in Wadesboro, North Carolina
  • Chickasaw Electric Cooperative in Somerville, Tenn. – five lineworkers to Randolph EMC in Asheboro, North Carolina
  • Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation in Clarksville, Tenn. – 10 lineworkers to South River EMC in Fayetteville, North Carolina
  • Duck River Electric Membership Corporation in Shelbyville, Tenn. – nine lineworkers to Lumbee River EMC in Red Springs, North Carolina
  • Fayetteville Public Utilities in Fayetteville, Tenn. – eight lineworkers to Tri-County EMC in Dudley, North Carolina
  • Holston Electric Cooperative in Rogersville, Tenn. – eight lineworkers to Lumbee River EMC in Red Springs, North Carolina
  • Meriwether Lewis Electric Membership Corporation in Centerville, Tenn. – five lineworkers to Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative in Buxton, North Carolina
  • Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation in Murfreesboro, Tenn. – 15 lineworkers to Carteret-Craven EC in Newport North Carolina
  • Plateau Electric Cooperative in Onieda, Tenn. – 13 lineworkers to South River EMC in Fayetteville, North Carolina
  • Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative in South Pittsburg, Tenn. – 10 lineworkers to Four County EMC in Burgaw, North Carolina
  • Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation in Brownsville, Tenn. – 10 lineworkers to Jones-Onslow EMC in Jacksonville, North Carolina
  • Tri-County Electric Membership Corporation in Lafayette, Tenn. – eight to Energy United in Statesville, North Carolina
  • Tennessee Valley Electric Cooperative in Savannah, Tenn. – 10 lineworkers to Central EMC in Sanford, North Carolina
  • Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation in Carthage, Tenn. – 12 lineworkers to Four County EMC in Burgaw, North Carolina

Today two Tennessee co-ops announced projects to expand broadband.

Just over 79 years ago, from the Centerville Courthouse steps in Hickman County, Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative’s first leaders announced its commitment to provide safe, affordable, reliable electricity to areas overlooked by other providers. Today from the same location, MLEC President and CEO Keith Carnahan announced that MLEC was furthering that original initiative and launching Meriwether Lewis Connect, LLC, to deliver broadband internet across the five counties it serves.

“Our areas need broadband for education, healthcare, and community development. Studies show it is a vital need to attract and retain families and businesses,” said Carnahan. “Bringing high-speed internet to all our members is one of the largest investments we’ve made since our inception 79 years ago. It is a huge step in a completely different arena, but helping rural communities build essential services is just another facet of what cooperatives are designed to do.”

Additionally, Middle Tennessee Electric, the state’s largest electric cooperative, and United Communications, Middle Tennessee’s leading provider of fiber and fixed wireless internet services, today announced that they have partnered to expand broadband access to underserved areas across seven counties in Tennessee.

The partnership between Middle Tennessee Electric and United Communications allows the two organizations to combine their resources and decades of experience to offer affordable, high‐speed internet services to members and customers in the coming years and improve quality of life for those in the areas they serve.

“We’re proud to be the first electric cooperative to pursue a partnership of this kind in Tennessee and answer the calls we have long heard from our members. They want and need access to broadband service,” said Chris Jones, president and CEO of Middle Tennessee Electric. “United Communications is the ideal partner for us. They have already built an impressive fiber backbone throughout many areas we serve which will allow us to work together to more rapidly and cost effectively expand internet services.”

This initiative is already under way and full implementation will be a multi‐year process. Based on input from the community, the partnership will prioritize implementation in areas with the highest demand. It allows both organizations to build a world‐class smart grid in the region, at the lowest possible cost, while not impacting Middle Tennessee Electric members’ electric rates, which are some of the lowest in the country.

Both co-op announcements come as a result of the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act signed into law in 2017 by Gov. Bill Haslam. The law removed restrictions to allow co-ops to provide broadband to the communities they serve. Since implementation of the law, eight of the state’s 23 co-ops have announced broadband projects.

Dean Batey

SHELBYVILLE – Dean Batey, senior lineman for Duck River Electric Membership Corporation, died from injuries sustained in a fall as he tried to escape a bucket truck fire on Monday afternoon, July 9. An investigation is currently underway to determine the cause of the fire and the actions that led to Batey’s death.

Batey was repairing a security light in Beech Grove, Tenn., when the incident occurred. Homeowners who were outside during the time of the incident reported that Batey was working on the light when a fire suddenly ignited at the end of the boom connected to the truck’s bucket. As Batey attempted to lower the bucket and cradle it to safety, he was unable to complete the descent and was forced to release his safety harness and climb from the bucket. It is estimated that he jumped 12 to 15 feet from the bucket and reportedly landed on his side.

Batey was conscious and responsive when first responders transported him to Unity Medical Center in Manchester, and a life flight helicopter was on the scene ready to transport as medical teams worked to stabilize Batey. His injuries from the fall were severe, and he died before he could be airlifted.

“We do not know at this time how the fire started,” says DREMC President and CEO Michael Watson. “The incident is still under investigation.”

“Accidents such as this are a terrible experience, not only for Dean’s family and friends, but also for his fellow employees,” says Watson. “Electric linemen have a unique bond. Their jobs are extremely dangerous, and they rely heavily on their own skills and training to keep them safe every day.”

“Batey was an experienced lineman and valuable member of our team, and this is a great loss to our cooperative family and community,” comments

NASHVILLE – Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation hosted the 21st Annual Tennessee Valley Lineman Rodeo on Friday and Saturday, June 29-30. The two-day competition recognizes and rewards excellence in safety, skill and knowledge in the field of utility line work.

Full results are available on the Tennessee Valley Lineman Rodeo website.

Results of Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association members are listed below (top three in each category).


Team Results

Hurtman Rescue

Volunteer EC, First Place
Cumberland EMC, Third Place
Tri-State EMC

Hot Cutout Change

Cumberland EMC
Tri-State EMC
Volunteer EC

3 Phase Tie Event

Volunteer EC
Tri-State EMC
Cumberland EMC

VC1-2 Insulator Change

Tri-State EMC
Cumberland EMC
Volunteer EC

Overall Totals

Tri-State EMC
Cumberland EMC
Volunteer EC


Individual Apprentice Results

Written Test

Donald Young, Southwest Tennessee EMC, Third place
Ricky Hutcherson, Southwest Tennessee EMC
Ireneo Rose, Caney Fork EC

Hurtman Rescue

Ireneo Rose, Caney Fork EC, First Place
Jonathan Fitzpatrick, Middle Tennessee EMC, Second Place
Bobby Buttrey, Middle Tennessee EMC

B-1 Tie In

Jonathan Fitzpatrick, Middle Tennessee EMC, First Place
Chase Patterson, Middle Tennessee EMC
Dalton Stephenson, Southwest Tennessee EMC

A-6 Bell Change

Dalton Stephenson, Southwest Tennessee EMC, Second Place
Jonathan Fitzpatrick, Middle Tennessee EMC
Harley Deline, Southwest Tennessee EMC

Dead Lift

Jonathan Fitzpatrick, Middle Tennessee EMC, First Place
Chase Patterson, Middle Tennessee EMC, Third Place
Harley Deline, Southwest Tennessee EMC

Overall Totals

Jonathan Fitzpatrick, Middle Tennessee EMC, First Place
Chase Patterson, Middle Tennessee EMC, Third Place
Dalton Stephenson, Southwest Tennessee EMC


Individual Journeyman Results

Hurtman Rescue

James Grant, Middle Tennessee EMC, Second Place
Thomas Carlton, Southwest Tennessee EMC, Third Place
Brad Kincaid, Middle Tennessee EMC

A-6 Bell Change

James Grant, Middle Tennessee EMC
Nathan Neal, Middle Tennessee EMC
Danny Crawford, Middle Tennessee EMC

Cutout Change

James Grant, Middle Tennessee EMC, First Place
Chris Gossett, Middle Tennessee EMC, Third Place
Rusty George, Middle Tennessee EMC

Skill Climb

James Grant, Middle Tennessee EMC, Second Place
Brad Kincaid, Middle Tennessee EMC
Danny Crawford, Middle Tennessee EMC

Overall Totals

James Grant, Middle Tennessee EMC, First Place
Brad Kincaid, Middle Tennessee EMC, Second Place
Danny Crawford, Middle Tennessee EMC, Third Place


Senior Results

Hurtman Rescue

Chris Couch, Holston EC, Second Place
Bo Ashbury, Middle Tennessee EMC, Third Place
Trent Cary, Gibson EMC

B-7 Insulator

Bo Ashbury, Middle Tennessee EMC, Second Place
Chris Couch, Holston EC
Trent Cary, Gibson EMC

Dead Lift

Bo Ashbury, Middle Tennessee EMC, Second Place
Trent Cary, Gibson EMC
Chris Couch, Holston EC

Overall Totals

Bo Ashbury, Middle Tennessee EMC, Second Place
Chris Couch, Holston EC, Third Place
Trent Cary, Gibson EMC

NASHVILLE – Electric lineworkers face many dangers – high voltage, heights and extreme weather conditions. Despite these challenges, one of the most dangerous aspects of the job has less to do with what they do and more to do with where they do it.

Lineworkers frequently work alongside busy roadways, often only feet away from passing cars.

Tennessee’s “Move Over” law was passed in 2006 to protect first responders like police officers, firefighters and paramedics. In 2011, Tennessee’s electric cooperatives led a coalition to revise the state’s move over law to include utility workers as well. Unfortunately, seven years after the law was passed, many motorists do not follow it.

“We have had cars come through at high rates of speed, hitting the cones we have set up and clipping the outriggers that we have down to support the trucks,” says Greg Bryant, line foreman for Gibson Electric Membership Corporation in Trenton, Tenn. “I think people care, they just don’t pay attention like they should.”

The requirements of Tennessee’s move over law are simple. On a four lane road, if safety and traffic conditions allow, a driver approaching a utility vehicle with flashing lights should move into the far lane. On a two lane road or when changing lanes is not possible, a driver should reduce their speed.

Electric co-op vehicles aren’t the only utility vehicles covered; service vehicles used by municipal electric systems, telephone companies and utility districts are also protected by the law.

More information about the law is available at moveovertennessee.org.

MURFREESBORO – Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation will host the 21st Annual Tennessee Valley Lineman Rodeo this coming Friday and Saturday, June 29-30, at Tennessee Miller Coliseum located at 304 W. Thompson Lane, Murfreesboro, Tenn. The two-day competition recognizes and rewards excellence in safety, skill and knowledge in the field of utility line work.

Hundreds of competitors from across the Tennessee Valley will perform various tasks from 40 feet in the air on utility poles, including hurtman rescues, skill climbs and various equipment installations and replacements. Participants are judged on safety procedures, work practices, neatness, ability, equipment handling and timely completion of each task. The rodeo includes events for apprentices, journeymen teams of three, individual linemen and a senior category for lineman age 45 years and up.

“We are excited about the opportunity to host the Tennessee Valley Lineman Rodeo,” said MTEMC President Chris Jones. “A lot of planning and hard work will come together at the end of this week, and we encourage those in Murfreesboro and Rutherford County to come by and join us.”

The rodeo will begin with an opening ceremony Friday at 1:30 p.m. at the Miller Coliseum. Individual and senior competitions will take place Friday beginning at 2 p.m. The rodeo continues Saturday beginning at 7:30 a.m. There is no cost to attend the Tennessee Lineman Rodeo, and it is family-friendly with food trucks and a kids play area.

For more information about the event, visit www.tnrodeo.com.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tennessee’s electric cooperatives awarded $16,000 in scholarships to Washington Youth Tour delegates on Tuesday evening, June 12, in Washington, D.C.

Matthew Byrd, a senior from Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation, was awarded a $10,000 Cooperative Youth Ambassador Scholarship. Byrd was a 2017 delegate of the Washington Youth Tour. In the year following the tour, delegates who remain engaged with their sponsoring cooperative and complete certain community service requirements are eligible for the scholarship. Byrd’s name was randomly selected from among the 37 delegates from across the state who completed the requirements.

Silas Freeze from Gibson Electric Membership Corporation, McKinley Thomas from Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative and Mary Kate Sheppard 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 more than 10,000 papers submitted across the state.

2018 Robert McCarty Memorial Scholarship winners from left Silas Freeze, McKinley Thomas and Mary Kate Sheppard. Photo by Robin Conover.

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.

More than 135 high school Juniors from across the state are in the nation’s capital this week for the 2018 Washington Youth Tour. The annual event teaches students about public policy, history, leadership and electric cooperatives. The annual event is coordinated by local electric cooperatives, the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

“Washington Youth Tour is an investment that pays real dividends for students, co-ops and our rural communities,” said David Callis, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “These are exceptional students, and our hope is that their youth tour experience creates opportunities for them, their families and their communities.”

Instagram photo by Youth Tour delegate Mikala Blackmon