JACKSON – Union University is pleased to announce that Matthew Keen of Halls, Tennessee, is the recipient of the school’s first $10,000 Washington Youth Tour Creative Writing Competition scholarship. Keen plans to attend Union University this fall.

“Matthew is an exceptionally bright young man, academically gifted and musically talented,” said Robbie Graves, Assistant Vice-President for Undergraduate Admissions at Union University. “We believe that he will thrive here and are so excited to keep this family’s Union legacy alive.”

Keen, a student from the Forked Deer Electric Cooperative service territory, had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. as a part of the 2023 Washington Youth Tour to learn more about leadership, history and public policy.

“Forked Deer Electric is proud and honored to have a local student receive such an award,” said Jeff Newman, general manager of Forked Deer Electric Cooperative. “Mathew is an exceptional student with so much potential. Forked Deer Electric will continue to support our community and encourage others to follow Mathew’s example of what is possible.”

Keen, along with 6,000 other high school students from across the state, have participated in the Electric Cooperative Creative Writing and Scholarship Competition since its start in the 1960s.

“This scholarship means a lot to me as it allows me to attend college at an affordable cost,” said Matthew Keen, scholarship winner. “The Washington Youth Tour was an eye-opening experience that changed the way I view our country. I believe that every American should visit Washington at least once, and the depth that we were allowed to go on with the tour was a big bonus. It truly gave me memories that will last a lifetime.”

The scholarship is part of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association’s partnership with both Carson Newman and Union University. Union University will also award 24 $4,000 per year scholarships for other delegates who plan to enroll at the school for the fall semester immediately after high school graduation.

Amber Weaver

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association is pleased to announce the addition of Amber Weaver to its communications team as a feature writer and content creator. With a strong background in storytelling and content creation, Amber brings a fresh perspective and a wealth of experience to the association. 

Weaver has years of experience in journalism and writing. She has previously worked for Tennessee Farm Bureau, Journal Communications and RFD-TV, and she has a proven track record of engaging audiences through compelling storytelling. 

“We are excited to welcome Amber to our team,” said Chris Kirk, editor of The Tennessee Magazine. “Her storytelling talent and ability to connect with readers will be tremendous assets to the association and the magazine. Her passion for highlighting the interesting stories of the Volunteer State is a perfect fit with the magazine’s mission of celebrating all that’s great in Tennessee.” 

In this role, Weaver will write feature stories for The Tennessee Magazine and develop multimedia content for the association. 

“I am honored to join the TECA team as a writer for The Tennessee Magazine and the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association,” said Weaver. “Writing and the rural way of life have always been passions of mine, and I am excited to continue working in both of those areas with an organization that has such a great impact on the state I love.” 

Amber holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture communications from the University of Tennessee at Martin. She and her family live in Dickson County.

NASHVILLE – Today the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors held a public listening session at Lipscomb University in Nashville. Mike Knotts, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, addressed the board during the listening session, and a readout of his comments is below.

Lipscomb University Shinn Center | Nashville, TN | 2:00 p.m. CST

 

Good afternoon. My name is Mike Knotts, and I serve as the CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association.  I appear here today on behalf of 25 local power companies who collectively serve consumers in six of the seven states TVA calls home. TECA’s members own and operate over $6 billion in distribution assets, and their wholesale power bills comprise over 25% of TVA’s revenues.  

At previous listening sessions, I have encouraged you to focus TVA’s strategic goals on reliability and affordability, and I have also asked you to consider that while TVA’s structure and mission is certainly unique, the cooperative business model provides a closer comparison for TVA than the large investor-owned utilities. That is because the cooperative ownership structure aligns with TVA’s mission.  

Remember that President Roosevelt called for the creation of a government corporation “possessed of the flexibility and initiative of a private enterprise”? Co-ops are privately owned by their members, but they operate on a not for profit basis – similar to  the TVA Act’s requirement that for electric power to be provided at rates as low as feasible. 

TECA members accomplish this by adhering to the seven cooperative principles – which require accumulated capital remain the common property of the cooperative, and requires members to democratically control the co-op’s activities, much like this Board controls TVA. 

Here in the TVA ecosystem we tend to think of co-ops as distribution utilities, but there are 62 Generation and Transmission cooperatives across America that function much like TVA. These “G&T’s” collectively perform the same functions that TVA’s power program does and could be included as “peer utilities” in TVA’s benchmarking activities. Notably, they should serve as sources of potential new talent for TVA’s team.  

But the 49 distribution cooperatives TVA serves have a lot to offer you as well. 

Today, I would like to encourage you as Board to consider how cooperatives can help you accomplish your goals.  

The path before you is not a simple one. The demands for your attention are great, and the opinions about what decisions you should make next are many. At its core, you are charged with powering everyday life and maintaining the economic vitality of our region.  

And you are being asked to do so with no interruptions and at the speed of light. The margin for error for both TVA and electric co-ops is so slim – milliseconds can mean the difference between light and dark, and indeed life and death. 

We’ve all heard the old adage, “if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.” When it comes to your responsibilities, truer words have never been spoken. That has become more relevant last week as the EPA finalized a number of new rules last week that rely upon unproven technologies based on an unachievable mandate of “regulate to innovate.” 

The highest of ideals cannot trump the realities of physics. The electric grid is carefully and wonderfully made. The complexity of the grid is both its greatest achievement and one its biggest weakness. You can be certain the electric cooperatives will be leading the charge to ensure public policy doesn’t harm the “least of these.” 

As you react to these developments in Washington, D.C., please remember that rates as low as feasible are meaningless if the lights turn off. Reliability AND affordability must be at the top of your priority list.  

And electric co-ops are ready to help you accomplish this, even if the path before us is not simple or easy. 

NASHVILLE – Forty-six high school juniors from across the state were 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 team-building skills at the Joe C. Davis YMCA Outdoor Center at Camp Widjiwagen, participated in an electric safety demonstration and completed a leadership training course with leadership expert Amy Gallimore. Delegates also attended a Nashville Predators hockey game as special guests of the Preds.

“When I was invited to go on the Youth Leadership Summit, I never thought I would be leaving with new friends and memories like the ones I have now,” said Nathan Salvador, a junior from Chester County High School and a YLS delegate from Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation in Henderson. “I am deeply honored to have been nominated to go and am forever grateful to the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. The knowledge I have now of electric cooperatives, specifically the teamwork and networking aspects, will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

Delegates to the Youth Leadership Summit are encouraged to be leaders and use their talents to improve their communities. “The future of Tennessee is only as strong as the next generation of leaders,” says Todd Blocker, vice president of member services for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and director of the Youth Leadership Summit. “Investing in these young people is a great opportunity to make a lasting impact on the communities we serve. These students are selected by their local electric co-ops, school officials and guidance counselors, and they are among the most talented students in the state. It is an honor to help them learn and grow.”

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association today announces that Kayla Gladden has joined the association as Director of Finance and Administration. TECA is a Nashville-based trade association that represents 25 electric cooperatives in Tennessee and North Georgia.

Before joining TECA, Gladden was Senior Accountant at Dempsey Vantrease & Follis PLLC. She holds a degree in Accounting from the University of Memphis and a Masters of Accounting from Middle Tennessee State University.

“We are excited to welcome Kayla,” says Mike Knotts, CEO of TECA. “Her financial expertise will be crucial as we expand the services we provide to our members. We are fortunate to have someone with Kayla’s knowledge and background join our staff.”

“Electric co-ops have a long history of providing critical services to Tennessee,” says Gladden. “It is exciting to join an organization that is focused on supporting the co-ops that support Tennessee. TECA has a reputation of providing leadership, advocacy and support for its members, and I’m honored to be joining this great team.”

Electric cooperatives serve more than 3 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 – More than 175 electric cooperative leaders from across the state gathered in Nashville on Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 20 and 21, for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association’s 2024 Legislative Conference. Electric co-op members and employees in attendance had important conversations about energy and policy that will impact electric co-ops and the rural and suburban communities they serve.

Attendees at the event heard from political strategists and policy advisors as well as Tennessee leaders, including advisors to Gov. Bill Lee and Secretary of State Tre Hargett.

“Reliability took center stage during discussions with legislators this year,” said Ryan King, vice president of government affairs for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “From cybersecurity to EPA regulations, co-op leaders advocated for specific legislation that will harden the grid and protect energy supply.”

Meetings were also about building relationships. “When a bill crosses a legislator’s desk that can impact energy or rural and suburban Tennessee, we want them to know who to call,” said King. “Building strong relationships with lawmakers can have a significant impact on bills that are passed and, ultimately, an electric co-op’s ability to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy to its communities.”

“We have great legislators serving Tennessee’s rural and suburban communities, but energy is an incredibly complex industry,” said Dan Rodamaker, CEO of Gibson Electric Membership Corporation and chairman of the TECA board of trustees. “It is critical that electric co-ops are at the table, helping lawmakers understand the real-world impacts of policy and law.”

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

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association provides leadership, advocacy and support for Tennessee’s 23 electric cooperatives and 3 million consumers. The association also publishes The Tennessee Magazine, the state’s most widely circulated periodical. Visit tnelectric.org or tnmagazine.org to learn more.

 

Photos from the event are available here.

JOHNSON CITY, TN – Today the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors held a public listening session at the James and Nellie Brinkley Center in Johnson City. Mike Knotts, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, addressed the board during the listening session, and a readout of his comments is below.

James and Nellie Brinkley Center | Johnson City, TN | 2:00 p.m. EST

 

Good afternoon. My name is Mike Knotts, and I serve as the CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. I appear here today on behalf of TECA’s 25 member power companies who collectively serve consumers in six of the seven states TVA calls home. We are still searching for that one farmhouse across the border in Alabama to make it 7 for 7!

TECA’s members own and operate over $6 billion in assets, and their wholesale power bills comprise over 25% of TVA revenues. Cooperatives are private sector entities focused making life better for our members and the rural and suburban communities where they live work and play. At the last listening session, I encouraged you to consider that the cooperative business model, specifically the 62 generation and transmission cooperatives across America, were the only benchmark that aligns with BOTH TVA’s operations AND mission. But the 49 distribution electric cooperatives you call customers have a lot to offer you as well. 

Today, I would like to offer you some reassurance about a major initiative TVA is currently engaged in. 

I understand that you will hear an update during tomorrow’s board meeting on the progress of TVA’s Integrated Resource Plan. This is a tremendously important endeavor, and I can understand how important its successful completion is to all of you. I am serving as a member of the IRP Working Group and have been involved in the process since the beginning.  

Let me assure you, the process is working and it is working well.  

TVA is to be commended for putting a diverse group of stakeholders in the room and listening to their input. Far from entering the process with foregone conclusions – we have painstakingly considered scenario after scenario, strategy after strategy, consulted with industry experts, challenged your planners, pondered the future of the global economy, invited thought leaders to share their vision of the future and debated with your economists. This has taken a significant investment of time and energy from the members of the working group.  

The end result will be a framework to help this board – and future boards – make sound decisions. It will not tie your hands but serve as light to guide your way

A colleague of mine recently asked me to explain what we were doing. After a long dissertation full of technical jargon, I could see that his eyes were glazing over, so I explained the IRP was a lot like the weather forecast. The weatherman doesn’t make the sun shine or bring the clouds and the rain, and he doesn’t always get it right. That doesn’t stop us from checking to see if we need an umbrella before we leave home or if we will need shorts or sweaters tomorrow.  

Please know that I believe the TVA staff, the working group and all of the external experts involved in the IRP are producing a useful tool. I look forward to its completion and your adoption of its use. 

On behalf of TECA and our member cooperatives, we remain ready to work with you to ensure that TVA’s strategic direction remains focused on what is best for the people we jointly serve.  They deserve nothing less. Thank you. 

NASHVILLE – Tennessee’s electric cooperatives, along with the Tennessee Valley Authority, ask consumers to voluntarily reduce nonessential electricity use through mid-morning Wednesday. Small, voluntary actions will help power providers to continue delivering reliable service during this period of exceptionally cold temperatures across the region. 

“A little effort can go a long way at a time such as this,” says Mike Knotts, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Periods of extreme cold can have a major impact on the demand for energy. Taking voluntary steps now helps us ensure that the power grid remains stable and energy is available to meet the needs of the region.” 

Here are some quick and easy ways to make an impact and save you money:  

  • Lower your thermostat to 68 degrees or a temperature that is both comfortable and safe.  
  • Set your ceiling fan to spin clockwise, which pushes warm air down.  
  • Wear additional layers and bundle up to stay warm. 
  • Turn off everything when you leave a room. 
  • Open window coverings on the sunny side of your home. Close them overnight to retain that heat. 
  • Delay using washing machines, dryers, dishwashers and other large appliances until the warmest part of the day when overall heating demand is lower. 

Other energy efficiency tips to consider for long-term savings: 

  • Weather strip leaky doors and windows. Sealing air leaks saves money on power bills. 
  • Lower your water heater temperature to 120 degrees. 
  • Install a programmable thermostat so you can set the temperature to automatically adjust when you are not home. 
  • Replace incandescent lights with more energy-efficient LED bulbs.
  • Unplug electronic devices when they’re not in use. 

 

 

NASHVILLE – Tennessee’s electric cooperatives are closely monitoring a major winter storm expected to bring the coldest air in more than a year to the state. Temperatures are expected to fall below freezing sometime on Saturday and remain below freezing until at least Thursday. Tennesseans are urged to plan accordingly.

Here are some tips to prepare your home for the cold weather.

Prepare your Home

Inside Your Home

  • Open cabinets doors in your kitchen and bathrooms to allow warm air to circulate around the water pipes.
  • Allow faucets along exterior walls to drip a small amount of water. Running water will prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Ensure that your home has some minimum heat, even if you are away.

Outside

  • Cover or close foundation vents.
  • Drain and store water hoses.
  • Protect outdoor faucets and pipes with insulation. If pipe insulation is not available, use newspapers, rags, trash bags or other household items to create a layer of protection.
  • Familiarize yourself with your water shut off valve and have the tools necessary to close it if necessary.
  • Turn off power to your water heater before draining pipes.

 

Energy Saving Tips

Energy consumption can spike during periods of extremely cold weather. Even with your thermostat set at the same temperature, the greater the difference between inside and outside temperatures, the more your heating system must work to maintain a comfortable living space. Here are some tips to save energy during periods of extreme cold weather.

Set your thermostat to 65 degrees. You can drop it even lower if you plan to be away from home.

Use drapes to control temperatures. Open drapes to allow sunlight to warm your home. Close them in the evening to retain heat.

Seal cracks. Use towels or other materials to seal cracks around windows or under doors to prevent cold air from entering your space.

Be sure air filters are clean. Your heating and cooling system runs more during periods of extreme weather, and that means that your air filters can become dirty much quicker. Dirty air filters make your heating system run less efficiently, and that can have a big impact on comfort and your energy bill.

 

 

TUPELO, MS – Today the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors held a public listening session at the Cadence Bank Center in Tupelo, Miss. Mike Knotts, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, addressed the board during the listening session, and a readout of his comments is below.

Cadence Bank Center | Tupelo, MS | 2:00 p.m. CST

 

Good afternoon. My name is Mike Knotts, and I have the pleasure of serving as the CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association.  I appear here today on behalf of the 25 local power companies who collectively serve consumers in Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi. TECA’s members own and operate over $6B in assets, and their wholesale power bills comprise over 25% of TVA’s revenues.  

Cooperatives are unique among the TVA “family” of entities because co-ops are private companies, not government entities. Co-ops are owned by our specific, individual customers instead of a unit of government or even the public at large. This private-sector perspective brings a unique point of view and important context to the challenges we face. But because we are not for profit, we share in TVA’s purpose and labor every day to make our communities a better place. Electric co-ops empower rural and suburban Tennessee to grow and thrive, and our communities are smarter, healthier, more productive, and better connected because of electric co-ops. 

We urge each of you, as you exercise your fiduciary duty to TVA, to actively seek the advice and counsel of your private sector, cooperative partners. 

TVA and the 153 local power companies (co-op and municipal alike) have traditionally focused on our own core competencies…generation and transmission for TVA, and distribution for the LPCs. Each of the three competencies require unique skill sets and expertise. 

 So while the needs of today are beginning to blur the lines between generation and distribution, TVA and your cooperative partners remain inexorably linked through our history, common mission, and contractual relationship. 

It is that shared mission I ask you to consider today. 

Good organizations take the time to benchmark themselves against their peers, to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of its efforts. In the case of TVA, those peers are usually other large investor-owned utilities. I believe that many of the decisions you will consider tomorrow will be based on data that takes into account a comparison of this type.  

Might I suggest to you that size alone is not the only measure for determining who is similar? Mission must also be considered as key factor. While TVA is unique as a government entity with the multi-faceted purposes of energy, environmental stewardship, and economic development – please hear me say that TVA is not alone in its mission to deliver wholesale energy at the lowest feasible cost while working to make the region the best place in the country to live, work and play.

Generation and Transmission Cooperatives share this purpose – 100%. And all across America, there are G&T’s who serve their communities in the way TVA serves our region. They collectively own and operative dams with hydroelectric generation, nuclear power plants, coal and gas facilities, and many G&Ts are aggressively promoting the implementation of renewable energy into the grid. In fact, TVA’s first CEO counted over 15 years of prior experience at one of the nation’s largest G&Ts -Oglethorpe Power Corporation in Georgia.  

Co-op G&T’s should be an important source of resources, collaboration, benchmarking, and comparison for TVA staff and for you in your role as a Board member – particularly in the coming months and years as you seek new and innovative ways to fulfill our shared mission.  

On behalf of TECA and our member cooperatives, we remain ready to work with you to ensure that TVA’s strategic direction remains focused on what is best for the people we jointly serve. They deserve nothing less. Thank you. 

LaQuella Bond
Communications Support Specialist

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association today announced that LaQuella Bond is joining the organization as communications support specialist.

Bond comes to TECA after spending 14 years working in the electric cooperative industry at Jackson Purchase Energy Cooperative in Paducah, Kentucky. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management from Mid-Continent University in Mayfield, Kentucky. In her new role, she will focus on enhancing customer service for The Tennessee Magazine and coordinate advertising and other support functions for the TECA communications department.

“LaQuella’s unique blend of people skills and industry experience make her a valuable asset to our team,” says Trent Scott, vice president of communications for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “We are excited to see the positive impact that LaQuella will have on our interactions with co-ops, readers and partner organizations.”

“I am excited to join the team at TECA,” says Bond. “It is clear that the people here at TECA are passionate about what they do, and it is great to be a part of an organization that has such an impact on so many.”

Nashville, TENN. – The seventh Tennessee Electric Cooperative Day of Service takes place today. More than 800 electric co-op employees are scheduled to volunteer some 2,100 hours to complete twenty-six individual service projects across the state. This year’s projects include cleaning up litter and storm damage and building beds and playgrounds to hosting supply and food drives and luncheons to celebrate educators and first responders.

“Each day co-op employees work to make life better for their communities, but the Day of Service takes that up a notch,” says Trent Scott, TECA’s vice president of communications and organizer of the event. “This event gives them the opportunity to light up more than homes and street lights. Across the state today, co-op volunteers are eagerly rolling up their sleeves and working on projects that will have a meaningful impact on their neighbors. Co-op care, and that is especially clear to see today.”

Sponsors for the 2023 Day of Service were TVA, Bass, Berry and Sims, Ervin Cable Construction, Silicon Ranch, Tennessee811  and The Tennessee Magazine.

In the seven-year history of the Day of Service event, 3,500 employees have volunteered more than 8,700 hours to complete 179 individual projects in co-op communities across the state.

Co-ops participating in the 2023 Day of Service and the projects they completed were:

  • Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation – Building a playground for Judy’s Hope. 
  • Fayetteville Public Utilities – Volunteering at the Hands of Mercy Mobile Food Pantry. 
  • Forked Deer Electric Cooperative – Hosting “A Drop in the Bucket” supply drive for Lauderdale and Dyer County Carl Perkins Centers. 
  • Fort Loudoun Electric Cooperative – Completing mission critical tasks for Second Harvest Food Bank and Isaiah 117 House. 
  • Gibson Electric Membership Corporation – Supply drive for Isaiah 117 House 
  • Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative – Volunteering with litter pick up and at a food distribution event and hosting a food drive.
  • Middle Tennessee Electric – Providing lunch for educators on Teacher Appreciation Day, revitalizing a playground at a local school and participating in a community tailgate at a Cannon County High School football game. 
  • Pickwick Electric Cooperative – Volunteering at the Jesus Cares Thrift Store. 
  • Powell Valley Electric Cooperative – Hosting First Responders Luncheons. 
  • Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative – Build beds for Sleep in Heavenly Peace. 
  • Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation – Hosting a canned food drive to donate to various food pantries throughout their service territory. 
  • Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association – Sorting food at Second Harvest Food Bank. 
  • Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation – Participating in Rock the Block with Habitat for Humanity, helping the chamber decorate the town square in Gainesboro, cleaning up tree damage from storms at Smith County Middle School and painting at “The Spot.” 
  • Volunteer Energy Cooperative – Volunteering at Meigs Ministries and Crossville Mission Bible Training Center and collecting supplies for Monterey Headstart and money for Birchwood Cares Center. 

CHATTANOOGA, TN – Today the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors held a public listening session at the Chattanooga Convention Center. Trent Scott, vice president of communications for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, addressed the board during the listening session, and a readout of his comments is below.

Chattanooga Convention Center | Chattanooga, TN | 2:00 p.m. EST

 

Good afternoon. My name is Trent Scott, and I serve as Vice President of Communications for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. TECA represents 25 consumer-owned electric co-ops that deliver power to 3 million homes and businesses.

In 1965 my father – Norman Scott – went to work for Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation, a TVA-served co-op in west Tennessee. He began his career as a groundman and worked his way up, retiring in 2004 as a district manager.

As a child, I remember sitting at my father’s desk following a storm. He would use Post-it Notes to keep track of power outages. These notes didn’t have GPS coordinates or addresses – just a name. He knew where each and every person lived, which substation breaker they were on and how the reports from the crews impacted them.

Today, this same task is performed by outage management software that aggregates data in real-time to pinpoint the location of damage to the grid.

We no longer live in a Post-it Note world.

Ours is an industry that evolves at a rapid pace.

Increasingly, critical areas of our economy, from education to healthcare, commerce to communication, even transportation, depend on reliable and affordable electric energy.

And while much has changed, a lot remains the same. Electric co-ops and TVA share a commitment to innovation, service, and boldly investing in our communities.

In 1983 my dad received this – a commemorative Coke bottle celebrating TVA’s 50th Anniversary. It reads “50th Anniversary, TVA, 1933–1983, Shaping Tomorrow Today.”

Much to the chagrin of my mother, this lived in my parent’s china cabinet. There in the dining room, next to grandma’s silver, was this TVA Coke bottle. My dad loved this industry and the opportunity it provided him to serve his community.

This year, TVA celebrates its 90th anniversary, and the slogan “Shaping Tomorrow Today” printed on this now 40-year-old bottle of Coke, could not be more profound.

The decisions we make today have lasting impacts.

There are great opportunities facing the Tennessee Valley, but with those come very real challenges.

As this board works to solve those challenges, let me encourage you to view co-ops as partners.

Tennessee’s electric co-ops provide TVA with well over $3 billion of revenue each year, but our partnership can represent much more. We can be a source of capacity as well. Whether it be energy efficiency and demand response programs or added flexibility to develop our own generation, electric co-ops are ready to work alongside TVA to solve the Valley’s energy needs.

We value our partnership, we share your commitments, and we’ve been here since the beginning. We want to help you “Shape Tomorrow Today.”

Thank you

Today, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced the appointment of Chris Jones, CEO of Middle Tennessee Electric, to the Tennessee Nuclear Energy Advisory Council. The council was created earlier this year to position Tennessee as a national leader for nuclear energy innovation and advancement.

Jones joins appointees from a broad range of industry experience. The council will build upon the state’s legacy in nuclear innovation and drive continued investment to create a nuclear energy ecosystem for the future of Tennessee, including business development, government relations and stewardship of natural resources.

“Tennessee can lead America’s energy independence and deliver continued economic growth with safe, reliable and clean nuclear energy for the future,” said Gov. Lee. “I am confident that these appointees will use their unique industry expertise to ensure that Tennessee is the top state for nuclear energy companies to invest and succeed, creating quality jobs and greater opportunity for Tennesseans.”

“This is an investment in Tennessee’s future, and we are fortunate to have a proven leader like Chris representing local utilities and each and every Tennessean who depends upon them for reliable and affordable electricity to power their homes and businesses,” says Mike Knotts, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “New nuclear development like small modular reactors is the path to a sustainable tomorrow, bolstering economic growth, fostering energy independence and providing Tennessee – and the nation – with clean, abundant, and reliable energy. We commend the administration for taking this bold step to extend Tennessee’s legacy as a leader in the nuclear sector.”

Other members appointed to the council include:

  • Commissioner David Salyers – Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation
  • Braden Stover – Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development
  • Director Patrick Sheehan – Tennessee Emergency Management Agency
  • Dr. Loong Yong, Ph.D., Spectra Tech – Congressional Delegation Designee
  • Adam DeMella, ADG Strategies – Congressional Delegation Designee
  • Don Moul – Tennessee Valley Authority Representative
  • Jeff Smith – Oak Ridge National Laboratory Representative
  • Dr. Wes Hines, Ph.D., University of Tennessee – Higher Education Representative
  • Tracy Boatner, East Tennessee Economic Council – Workforce Development Representative
  • Mayor Terry Frank, Anderson County – Local Government Representative
  • Jennifer Stone, Thompson Engineering, Inc. – Energy Production Representative
  • Dr. Hash Hashemian, Ph.D., Analysis and Measurement Services – Nuclear Industry Representative
  • Michelle Amante-Harstine – Member At-Large
  • Blake Harris – Member At-Large
  • Steve Jones – Member At-Large
  • Maria Korsnick – Member At-Large
  • Dr. Padma Raghavan, Ph.D. – Member At-Large

In addition to signing Executive Order 101 this year, Gov. Lee also partnered with the Tennessee General Assembly to create a $50 million Nuclear Fund in the state’s Fiscal Year 2023-2024 budget. The fund will establish a nuclear development and manufacturing ecosystem built for the future of Tennessee by providing grants and assistance to support nuclear power-related businesses that choose to relocate or grow in the state.

As automakers retool their factories to build electric vehicles (EVs), many more EVs will be on the roadways in the next decade. Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative is helping to make sure that Tennessee is ready with charging infrastructure.

On June 29, MLEC announced that it has installed two chargers at its 28 Park Avenue South, Hohenwald, Tennessee office as part of Fast Charge TN, a partnership between the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), and Seven States Power Corporation.  This Fast Charge TN installation is part of the regional Fast Charge Network that will cover major travel corridors across TVA’s seven-state service area and will complement the broader efforts of the National Electric Highway Coalition, which seeks to enable long-distance EV travel by placing fast chargers along interstates and major highways throughout the United States.

“We moved quickly to participate in Fast Charge TN because we want to make it easy for people to choose EVs so our community can enjoy the environmental and economic benefits of electric transportation,” said MLEC President and CEO Keith Carnahan. “The funding from TVA and TDEC makes it possible to add fast chargers in our community by providing 80% of the project cost.”

TVA and TDEC have brought together local power companies, state and local government partners, and others to pave the way for over 200,000 EVs on Tennessee Valley roads by 2028. The benefits that these EVs bring to the Tennessee Valley region are significant:

  • Attracting good jobs — $13.8 billion in EV and battery manufacturing have helped create over 10,000 EV-related jobs.
  • Reducing carbon emissions from gasoline vehicles by almost 1 million metric tons per year or the equivalent of the carbon sequestered by 1 million acres of US forests in one year.
  • Reinvesting $120 million in the local economy every year from electric refueling.
  • Saving drivers up to $1,000 in fuel and maintenance costs every year.

“TVA is partnering with local power companies like Meriwether Lewis EC and state agencies like TDEC to invest in charging infrastructure across the Tennessee Valley region because electric vehicles benefit everyone,” said Justin Maierhofer, TVA regional vice president. “These investments allow TVA to save drivers money and attract good jobs and tourism– all powered by electricity from TVA and your local power company.”

“Tennessee’s air is cleaner as measured by federal air quality standards than it has been in generations, and a clean environment helps drive economic development,” TDEC Deputy Commissioner Greg Young said. “TDEC is partnering with TVA and MLEC on the development of this station to continue Tennessee’s environmental and economic momentum while further entrenching our state as the epicenter of the electric vehicle transition.”

“This charging location does more than charge cars — it connects Hohenwald to the Fast Charge Network and plays an important role in putting our region on the leading edge of the new electric economy,” said Carnahan.

“As the go-to technology partner for local power companies across the Tennessee Valley, Seven States is proud to support the growing demand for EV charging infrastructure,” said Betsey Kirk McCall, President and CEO of Seven States Power Corporation. “This project is the latest example of how partnerships between private, public, and nonprofit entities can produce lasting real-world impacts on our economy and environment.”

To learn more about the Fast Charge Network, calculate how much money an EV could save you or locate EV charging stations on your travel route, check out  https://energyright.com/ev/.

Learn more about Fast Charge TN here:  www.tn.gov/EVFastCharge.

Today the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Biden administration announced Tennessee will receive $813 million as part of the federal Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program. This funding will strengthen Tennessee’s broadband infrastructure and address inadequate service that remains a challenge for many areas of the state.

Tennessee’s electric cooperatives fully support the state’s commitment to ensure that every resident has access to affordable and reliable broadband connectivity.

“Today’s announcement of BEAD resources is exciting for Tennessee,” said Mike Knotts, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Electric cooperatives have established an excellent track record of rapidly deploying broadband networks to the most rural parts of our state. These funds will only accelerate the ability of electric cooperatives to provide that same service to even more unserved and underserved Tennesseans.”

Electric co-ops in Tennessee have taken swift action to tackle the challenges posed by a lack of reliable broadband service. Cooperatives have made remarkable progress in meeting the pressing demands for improved access. With the new opportunities presented by BEAD, electric cooperatives will continue to collaborate with partners at the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development to ensure the allocated resources are utilized effectively to establish robust and dependable broadband networks that will meet to the needs of Tennesseans.

“ECD is a strong partner for broadband providers in Tennessee, including electric cooperatives, and Tennesseans can be proud of the state’s stewardship of broadband deployment resources,” said Ryan King, Vice President of Government Affairs for TECA. “We have full confidence their administration of the BEAD program will hit the mark to extend broadband service to as many Tennesseans as possible, as efficiently as possible.”

Rodney Metcalf was recently named the new CEO of Mountain Electric Cooperative. He will begin on July 17.

Mountain City, Tenn. — Mountain Electric Cooperative is pleased to announce that Rodney Metcalf will be joining the co-op as the new Chief Executive Officer. He will begin his duties on July 17, 2023. With a proven track record of leadership and expertise in the energy industry, Mr. Metcalf brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to lead MEC into the future.

Mr. Metcalf has served multiple roles at BrightRidge Energy Authority in Johnson City, Tenn., where he spent the last nine years as the utility’s Chief Operations Officer. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated strategic vision and a strong commitment to serving communities with reliable and affordable energy.

Mr. Metcalf earned his Bachelor of Science degree in business from Tusculum University, where he is currently completing an MBA.

“I am honored to join Mountain Electric Cooperative as its CEO,” said Metcalf. “The cooperative has a rich history of providing reliable and affordable electricity to its members, and I am committed to building on that legacy. Together with the dedicated team at MEC, we will work towards enhancing the cooperative’s services and fostering innovation. I am excited about the opportunity to serve the cooperative and its members.”

The Board of Directors at MEC is confident that Mr. Metcalf’s exceptional leadership qualities and deep understanding of the energy industry will guide the cooperative towards a successful future.

“We are thrilled to welcome Rodney Metcalf as the new CEO of Mountain Electric Cooperative,” said David Ellis, president of the MEC board. “His extensive experience and innovative mindset will drive MEC forward, ensuring that our members continue to receive the safe, reliable and affordable energy they deserve.”

Metcalf will be relocating to the Mountain Electric area with his wife Angie Metcalf. The Metcalf’s have two children, Brittany Gray and husband Brian Gray, Logan Metcalf and wife Madison Metcalf. They have four grandchildren.

Mountain Electric Cooperative is a member-owned electric distribution cooperative serving 36,000 consumers across northeast Tennessee and northwest North Carolina. MEC is dedicated to providing reliable and affordable electricity to its members while actively supporting the communities it serves.

NASHVILLE –Tennessee Valley Authority recently announced that Mike Knotts, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, will serve on its Integrated Resource Plan working group.

TVA’s IRP is a comprehensive study that provides direction on how to best meet the region’s future electricity demand. Twenty-two influential leaders from various sectors will serve on the working group.

“The partnership between electric co-ops and TVA has literally changed Tennessee,” said Knotts. “Tennessee’s rural and suburban communities and the co-ops that serve them have unique needs, and it is important that those needs are heard and understood. I applaud TVA for giving stakeholders a seat at the table to shape the future of the region’s power supply.”

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

Washington, D.C. – A group of electric cooperative leaders from Tennessee traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to meet with lawmakers and advocate for policies that could impact co-ops communities. The delegation was made up of board members, executives, and other leaders from electric cooperatives across Tennessee.

The primary goal of the meetings was to raise awareness among lawmakers about the unique needs and challenges faced by rural communities in Tennessee. Specifically, electric cooperative leaders discussed policies related to energy, infrastructure and broadband access, which are critical to the economic development and well-being of Tennessee’s rural and suburban communities.

“Bringing electric co-op leaders together with lawmakers in our nation’s capital is critical to ensuring the reliable, affordable and sustainable energy and infrastructure that our communities depend on,” said Keith Carnahan, President and CEO of Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative and Chairman of the TECA board of trustees. “This is an opportunity for us to advocate for policies that support the needs of rural and suburban Tennessee.”

While in D.C., co-op leaders met with Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty as well as Reps. Burchett, Desjarlais, Fleischmann, Harshbarger, Kustoff and Rose.

“We are proud to support electric cooperatives as they advocate for the needs of rural Tennessee,” said Mike Knotts, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “These discussions are an opportunity to showcase the important work of co-ops and ensure that policymakers in Washington understand the vital roles they play in their communities.”

NASHVILLE – Today Tennessee becomes the first state in the nation to formally adopt a standing Lineworker Appreciation Day. The second Monday of April of each year has been codified into state law as a day to show appreciation for the state’s 3,500 electric lineworkers.

Dozens of lineworkers from across the state were at the State Capitol today to be honored by members of the Tennessee General Assembly. They were welcomed by Sen. Paul Bailey and Rep. Clark Boyd, sponsors of the legislation creating the day of appreciation, along with Secretary of State Tre Hargett in a special ceremony in the Old Supreme Court Chambers. Later they were recognized from the floor of the House of Representatives.

“You should be honored and appreciated for what you do on a daily basis,” said Sen. Paul Bailey.

“Today we’re being recognized at the State Capitol for what we do, and I consider that to be a great honor,” said Greg Allison, a lineworker for Middle Tennessee Electric. “I love this career, I love the management that I have had in this industry, and I am very appreciative for what it has given me and my family.”

Electric lineworker is consistently ranked among the most dangerous jobs in America. “Safe and reliable energy is a critical part of Tennessee’s economy,” says Mike Knotts, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, “and lineworkers are the guardians of that infrastructure. Their tireless efforts, often in the face of extreme weather conditions and challenging environments, keep the lights on and our homes, businesses, and communities powered. We owe a debt of gratitude to these brave men and women who work so hard to ensure our safety and well-being.”