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

[NASHVILLE] – More than 135 students from across Tennessee are headed to Washington, D.C., as a part of the 2018 Washington Youth Tour later. 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.

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 – Going Beyond the Wires” that explains how co-ops provide communities with much more than electric power.

Delegates on this year’s trip will visit museums and monuments, including the White House and the Capitol Building. The group is also scheduled to meet with Sens. Alexander and Corker as well as other members of Tennessee’s Congressional delegation.

West Tennessee youth tour delegates received a surprise greeting from Gov. Bill Haslam as they departed on Thursday, June 7, in Jackson. Haslam happened to be in Jackson and boarded the bus to speak with the students. “I hope you have a great time,” said Haslam. “I also hope you fall in love with the idea of serving in public office – whether it’s in Washington, Nashville or on the local city council or school board.”

“As easy as it is to get frustrated with Washington politics, we can’t allow this generation to lose interest in government and public service,” said David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Youth tour gives these students the opportunity to experience history and democracy up-close, and we hope they return with a deeper appreciation of America and a desire to serve their communities.”

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.

 

FORT WORTH – TECA staff received 11 awards during the Cooperative Communicators Institute awards ceremony Monday afternoon in Fort Worth, Texas.

The Cooperative Communicators Association works with electric, telephone, agriculture and purchasing cooperatives across the country to help members excel in communications – from writing, photography, and editing to video, layout, and design.

“The CCA awards recognize excellence in communications from co-ops of all types, and we are encouraged by this positive feedback,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “We take pride in the quality of work that we produce, and it is exciting to see others recognize our efforts. Congratulations to our communications staff and the other award winners.”

Awards were presented to TECA team members in the following categories:

Writing

Column
Third Place
David Callis
“Tennessee Today”

Headline
First Place
Ron Bell
“A Drive Against Poverty”

Photography

Scenic/Pictorial
Robin Conover
First Place
“Sunset at Buzzard’s Roost”

Photo Feature
Second Place
Robin Conover
“Hippie Helps”

Smartphone
Second Place
Robin Conover
“Self Portrait”

Photo Illustration
Third Place
Robin Conover
“Unique Spring Greens”

Photo Illustration
First Place
Robin Conover and Trent Scott
“Well-dressed Lineman”

Photo Essay or Story
First Place
Robin Conover
“A Drive Against Poverty”

Cover of the Year
Second Place
“The Tennessee Magazine – December 2017”

Cover of the Year
Third Place
“The Tennessee Magazine – April 2017”

Programs and Projects

Web Site
First Place
Trent Scott
“The Tennessee Magazine website: www.tnmagazine.org

by Michael W. Kahn, staff writer for NRECA

After seeing the mildest winter in almost five decades last year, the winter of 2018 was a very different story for the Tennessee Valley Authority.

A colder-than-normal January helped TVA set three of its top 12 winter peak demand records, as well as an all-time record for energy demand in a 24-hour period: 706 million kilowatt-hours.

The provider of electricity to more than 150 co-ops and municipal systems reported May 4 that electricity sales climbed 6 percent in the first six months of fiscal 2018. At the same time, operating costs were down 4 percent, which TVA credited to more hydro and natural gas production, along with cheaper natural gas.

TVA raised base rates 1.5 percent last October. But John Thomas, chief financial officer, said the authority was “able to more than offset” that through fleet performance and lower fuel costs.

While the base rate increased from 4.8 cents to 5 cents, the fuel rate slipped from 2.1 cents to 1.8 cents. “So the overall effective rate to our customers is lower this year for the first six months than it was last year,” Thomas told a conference call.

TVA retired its Johnsonville Fossil Plant in December and its Allen Fossil Units 1-3 in March. But Bill Johnson, TVA president and CEO, made clear, “We expect coal-fired assets to continue to be part of our diverse generating mix for years to come.”

“We have continued to invest in our coal fleet, which remains an important part of TVA’s system,” he told the call.

Still, “TVA believes a diverse portfolio will continue to provide the most consistently low rates for our customers,” Johnson noted.

“One of the major changes for us is more nuclear capacity,” he said. “More nuclear power is a key part of our effort to make TVA’s power system cleaner and more diversified.”

For the first half of fiscal 2018, TVA said net income was up 140 percent from a year ago, to $750 million. Operating revenues were $5.3 billion, an increase of 5 percent from a year earlier.