TVA President Bill Johnson met with Caney Fork EC directors and staff on Thursday, April 2. Johnson shared his background and vision for TVA –  controlling costs to provide efficient, affordable power for the Valley. He answered questions about the coal ash cleanup project at Kingston Fossil Plant and economic development.

TVA-Visit-3“We value our relationship with TVA, and we appreciate Mr. Johnson’s willingness to meet with us,” says Bill Rogers, general manager of Caney Fork EC. “TVA shares our commitment to public power, and our members are best served when Caney Fork and TVA work together to provide them with affordable and reliable service.”

Following his visit to Caney Fork EC, Johnson spoke to the McMinnville Rotary Club.

 

Tennessee Linemen Answer the Call

“I knew things were going to be difficult for Tennessee,” says Sid Sperry, director of public relations, communications and research at the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives. In 2007, Sperry — with the assistance of Steve Piltz of the National Weather Service office in Tulsa, Okla. — developed the Sperry-Piltz Ice Accumulation Index, or SPIA Index, a prediction tool that projects the footprint, ice accumulation and damage from approaching ice storms.

Three days before freezing rain, trees and power lines began to fall on Saturday, Feb. 21, Tennessee co-ops were aware that the SPIA Index was predicting widespread damage, including a Level 4 event in part of the state. “A L­­evel 4 event means significant damage and prolonged power outages,” says Sperry.

“Ice is different from tornadoes and thunderstorms,” says Aaron Hood, a service foreman for Volunteer Energy Cooperative in Benton. “In those types of events, you might have severe damage in some areas and no damage in others. But with ice, the damage is widespread.

“The entire (Cumberland) Plateau suffered severe damage. We saw areas where everything was covered in an inch of ice. The weight brought down trees, poles, all of it.”

Hood left home on Saturday, Feb. 21, and did not return home until Tuesday, March 3, working about 16 hours each day. “We would work from daylight until 10 p.m. or midnight,” Hood says.

“These folks can’t get their power on themselves; they need our help,” he says. “I think about the elderly. That’s someone’s mother or father, and we are accountable to those people. We have a responsibility — a privilege — to help them. In an event like this, when you know it will take several days to help everyone, it is a marathon — mentally and physically. We are not reconnecting meters; we are reconnecting people.”

The Feb. 21 event and another the previous week left their marks on Tennessee: more than $10 million in damage and 1,000 broken poles across the state. Some 500 lineworkers from Tennessee and surrounding states descended on the areas of greatest damage, working for days to restore service to co-op members.

“These are special people,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “The conditions are brutal and dangerous, yet they keep working. It is an honor to be associated with them.”

Hood was moved by the response restoration crews received from members: “They gave us meals, coffee and doughnuts. People I had never met hugged us. They went out of their way to show their hospitality and appreciation. Everyone was working together to help each other.”

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

National Lineman Appreciation Day is Monday, April 13. In Tennessee, there are more than 700 co-op linemen who restore power during outages and maintain 86,000 miles of distribution lines and equipment. Linemen put their lives on the line every day to serve our communities. Help us tell them “Thanks!” by posting on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #ThankAlinemanTN. We will share your messages with co-op linemen across the state.

Rogersville, TN – Holston Electric Cooperative announces the hiring of James B. “Jimmy” Sandlin P.E. as the new general manager for Holston Electric Cooperative. Sandlin will assume his responsibilities at Holston on May 4, succeeding Larry Elkins, who is retiring after a 35-year career.

Sandlin is a 27-year veteran of the electric utility industry, having spent his entire career at the Scottsboro Electric Power Board in Scottsboro, Ala. Sandlin has a bachelor of science degree from the University of Alabama and is a licensed professional engineer and a licensed instrument-rated private pilot. Sandlin was hired by the Scottsboro EPB in 1988 as an electrical engineer and has been the general manager since 1996. He has a proven track record. Under Sandlin’s leadership, Scottsboro EPB has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success in the expansion and modernization of its electric system, the construction of a $8.5 million cable system and the acquisition of a $2.1 million power generation plant, which is under contract with TVA.

Holston EC Board president Gordell Ely congratulates Sandlin and expressed his excitement for the cooperative, members and employees: “The board of directors desires that Holston EC continues its record of success with Jimmy and the dedicated staff of employees. We appreciate his enthusiasm, experience and vision for our utility. The next five to 10 years will be key in charting a course for success for Holston EC, and we feel sure that Jimmy will show great, competent leadership, a concern for our employees and a focus on customer service for our members.”

“I am excited about this opportunity here at Holston Electric Cooperative, and I am grateful for the confidence the board of directors has placed in me,” Sandlin says. “I look forward to getting to know the employees as we work to serve our members. We are going to continue the exemplary record of good service, good reliability and an excellent safety record here at Holston Electric Cooperative. There will be challenges, but with everyone working together toward a common goal, we indeed can enjoy success.”

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Holston Electric Cooperative serves 30,500 members in Hawkins, Hamblen and Greene counties in Tennessee. Holston EC has 60 dedicated employees who maintain and operate a 2,600 mile distribution system that covers a 525 square-mile service area.

The Tennessee General Assembly returned last week with 23 new faces and a list of old problems to address. The first week of session was primarily ceremonial in nature culminating with the inauguration of Governor Bill Haslam for his second four-year term and the announcement of committee composition in both the House and the Senate. A two-week recess will allow for reorganization, as members will move their offices and staff is reassigned in order to be prepared for the next two years of lawmaking.

They will return on February 2 to begin a special session, called by the Governor, to consider Insure TN. This program is controversial, as it will use a combination of Federal funding and an assessment on hospital revenue to expand the population of citizens who qualify for TennCare (the state’s version of Medicaid). Since it is a special session of the legislature, Insure TN is the only topic that can be considered.

The special session is planned to last one week, with regular session set to commence on February 9. Major issues expected to dominate the headlines after Insure TN is settled include: revisions to the state’s educational standards (known as “Common Core”), proposals to regulate abortion providers and clinics, a discussion about funding for road projects which will include possible restructuring of the gas tax, and the inevitable disagreement over passing the state’s budget and its impact on funding for all other proposed new or revised programs.

Issues of concern for electric cooperatives will be many, although we cannot be 100% sure of all issues until the deadline for filing bills as passed. This year, the deadline is set for February 12 – although any delays in the Special Session could push that deadline back. TECA is proactively encouraging legislation to address liability concerns that arose from a court case regarding property owner claims of inverse condemnation. This legislation would reestablish a statute of limitations on the amount of time a property owner could bring such an action.

Also, TECA has been involved with a coalition of concerned parties who have been studying the State’s reaction to the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan. Director of Government Affairs, Mike Knotts, testified to joint meeting of the House and Senate Government Operations committees on this topic in December.  Click here to see the full video of the hearing, Mike’s testimony begins at 00:50:30. Legislation is likely to be proposed to guide the state’s reaction to EPA’s plan, once its becomes final later this year. TECA’s main concern is preserving all of the remedies, both legal and legislative, available to ensure that EPA’s plan does not harm cooperative members through unnecessary hikes in rates or reductions in reliability.

If you want to stay informed throughout the legislative session, join the mailing list for our legislative newsletter – View from the Hill.  To do so, sign up by clicking here.

Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative’s Board of Directors has named Mike Partin SVEC’s new President and Chief Executive Officer. Partin succeeds Robert W. (Bob) Matheny who retired earlier this month after serving for over 16 years,. Partin will be the seventh manager/CEO in the Cooperative’s 75 year existence.

“Mike is knowledgeable and experienced in the electric cooperative industry, having grown in responsibility and leadership over the course of his career,” said Board Chairman Mike Jordan. “The Board has complete confidence in his ability to lead SVEC in the delivery of safe, reliable, affordable electric service to its 35,000 members.”

Partin began his career with SVEC in 1998, serving first as Vice President of Marketing and Member Services and for the past 5 years, as Chief Operating Officer. He is an alumnus Grundy County High School and Middle Tennessee State University. Partin is also a graduate of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s management program at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Partin has also served in various capacities with industry related organizations including Touchstone Energy Cooperative, the Tennessee Valley Public Power Association and the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association.

“I am certainly humbled and honored that the Board has put their trust in me to lead the cooperative,” said Partin. “I look forward to the opportunity to work with our Board and the dedicated men and women serving our communities and members. Our industry is on the brink of tremendous change and I look forward to the challenge of navigating SVEC into the future.”

Partin and his family live and farm in the Pelham Valley on the same land that has served his family for generations. Mike and his wife Kim, a teacher at Monteagle Elementary School, have two daughters, Macy and Maty. The Partins attend Monteagle Church of Christ.

After more than forty years in the electric utility industry, the last sixteen at Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative, President/CEO Bob Matheny retired on January 2.

Matheny began his career at SVEC in July 1998, after the passing of the previous manager, Bob Pickering. Early in his career Matheny gained electric utility experience working in member and energy services with TVA and two cooperatives in Florida. He then served as general manager for Tri-County Electric Cooperative in Michigan for almost 15 years before taking the reins at SVEC.

During Matheny’s tenure, the Cooperative has grown in membership, miles of line and advanced in technology, improving reliability for members and helping the Cooperative operate more efficiently.

While at SVEC, Matheny served  as a director on several national and regional industry-related boards, such as the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative, the Cooperative Response Center and Southeastern Data Cooperative. Matheny was also a member of the South Pittsburg Rotary Club and served as a member of the Marion County Partnership for Economic Development and a term on the Marion County Chamber of Commerce board.

“I have enjoyed a long career and worked with many dedicated people over the past 40 years,” Matheny said. “Thank you for your support. I am very proud of the accomplishments we made at SVEC.”

He and his wife Joyce plan on retiring to Florida and spending more time with family.

Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative, a Touchstone Energy® cooperative, is a non-profit organization offering reliable, low-cost electricity to 35,000 members in Bledsoe, Grundy, Marion and Sequatchie counties. SVEC is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Governor lauds Tennessee’s member-owned organizations during Co-op Month in October

The proclamation, also signed by Secretary of State Tre Hargett, reads, in part: “Tennessee cooperatives improve the well-being of rural residents and communities across our state by providing electric, internet, and telephone services to homes, farms, and rural businesses; financing for land, assets, and inputs; products and services, including genetics and seed, nutrients and feed, crop protection and health, equipment and fuel for growing and marketing crops and livestock; and insurance for individuals and family businesses, resulting in employment for thousands of Tennesseans.”

Haslam also stressed that rural cooperatives are important partners with today’s farmers “as they work diligently to produce safe, abundant, dependable, and affordable food and fiber for both a rapidly growing world population and an increasingly interconnected and proactively health-conscious local consumer.”

What sets cooperatives apart from other types of businesses is that they are owned and controlled by the people who use their products and services, so members have a chance to share in their successes and have a voice in their operation. Cooperatives are led by their membership through an elected board of directors and share profits with members by reducing costs of their products or services or by providing patronage refunds.

“Governor Haslam recognizes the importance of cooperatives, particularly to our rural communities,” Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson said. “Cooperatives illustrate the very best of the American Way through members who participate in local, community ownership, and where shared responsibility not only helps reduce the cost of products and services but provides economic opportunity.”

Haslam also had good things to say about the Tennessee Council of Cooperatives (TCC), calling it “the state’s flagship organization for coordinating, promoting, educating, and extending cooperative development in Tennessee.”

“It often serves as a clearinghouse for the open exchange of information and experiences among cooperative businesses, a sounding board for new ideas, and a forum for discovery, discussion, and dissemination,” he said.

Tennessee Farmers Cooperative Marketing Manager Keith Harrison, current president of TCC, said, “Our board of directors is committed to promoting the cooperative way of doing business.  That’s evident in many of our current programs.  The council sponsors scholarships for agricultural students at each of Tennessee’s four-year agricultural colleges, hosts an annual leadership conference for more than 400 young leaders from across the state, sponsors an annual education workshop for more than 50 employees of cooperatives in addition to providing leadership, cooperation, and support to various other programs.  We truly believe the cooperative business model will continue to play a vital role in strengthening our state’s rural economy in the future.”

Nationwide this year, more than 29,000 cooperatives will celebrate October Co-op Month, promoting the advantages of cooperative membership and recognizing the benefits and value co-ops bring to their communities. The observance has been celebrated annually for the past 84 years. This year’s theme —“The Co-op Connection”— celebrates the ways co-ops connect with each other, their communities, and their world.

Visit tennesseecouncilofcoops.org for more information about Tennessee cooperatives or the TCC and its programs. Visit ncba.coop/coop-month for more information about the national Co-op Month celebration.

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Photo caption: Gov. Bill Haslam, front center, presents a proclamation to the Tennessee Council of Cooperatives board of directors proclaiming October as “Cooperative Month” in Tennessee.  Pictured with the governor are, front from left, Greg Anderson, Bledsoe Telephone Cooperative, and Keith Harrison, Tennessee Farmers Cooperative. In back are Todd Blocker, Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association;  Scott Lewis, Farm Credit Mid-America;  Dan Strasser, Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation; and Tom Womack, Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

View high-resolution photo here.

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Aug. 26, 2014 – The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, a trade group representing the interests of electric cooperative members across the state, announced today that Alex Perkerson joins the association as government affairs specialist. In this role, Perkerson will assist with the association’s legislative and grassroots efforts.

“Tennessee’s electric cooperatives work to inform and protect their members,” says Perkerson. “It is exciting to be a part of their mission to serve the people of rural and suburban Tennessee.”

A 2011 graduate of the University of Alabama with a degree in political science, Perkerson previously worked as a legislative assistant at the Tennessee General Assembly.

“We are thrilled to add Alex to our team,” says Mike Knotts, director of government affairs for TECA. “I am confident that she will make positive contributions on behalf of our members.”

About TECA

The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association is a trade group representing the interests of Tennessee’s 23 electric distribution cooperatives and the 1.1 million consumers they serve. The association publishes The Tennessee Magazine and provides legislative and support services to Tennessee’s electric cooperatives.

A high-resolution photo is available here.

Forty-six high school juniors from across Tennessee attended the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association’s 2014 Youth Leadership Summit March 24-26 in downtown Nashville. Two students from each of the state’s 23 electric cooperatives attended the annual event.

“The Youth Leadership Summit teaches these exceptional students how important electric cooperatives are to Tennessee’s communities and provides them an opportunity to see the legislative process in the Capitol,” said Todd Blocker, TECA director of member relations. “Local electric co-ops, school officials and guidance counselors chose these deserving students to attend the summit based on their interests in government and strong leadership abilities.”

The summit began Monday evening, March 24, with dinner at the group’s hotel, the Millennium Maxwell House. Get-acquainted activities and an introduction to cooperatives followed, led by electric co-op leaders, and the night ended with a leadership development presentation by Amy Gallimore of TRI Leadership Resources LLC.

Students rose early on Tuesday, March 25, for breakfast and preparations for a visit to Legislative Plaza. TECA Director of Government Affairs Mike Knotts introduced Sen. Mike Bell of Riceville and Rep. Cameron Sexton of Crossville, who welcomed the students to Nashville and answered their questions about legislative issues. The 11th-graders then toured the Capitol and saw state government in action at Senate and House committee meetings before posing for photos in front of the historic building.

Following the visit to Capitol Hill, the group enjoyed lunch and leadership activities at a Nashville-area YMCA camp, where the students were also treated to a hot-line trailer demonstration by Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative and Sunbelt Rentals. SVEC employees showed that electric power does a tremendous amount of work for us, but because it is such a powerful force, we must be careful around it and always exercise safety around power lines. The fun continued with dinner and games at Dave & Buster’s, and the busy day was capped off by special guest speakers Miss Tennessee Shelby Thompson and Tennessee Titans cheerleader Anne Peterson.

Wednesday morning, the students were divided into teams and formed their own co-ops and worked together to “buy” and “sell” power distribution supplies and resolve day-to-day issues local electric co-ops face like power outages and rights-of-way conflicts. Then they got an overview of the history of electric cooperatives and answered trivia questions about electric co-ops and the state in the “Energy Battle” competition.

“These students will soon be our community leaders — and electric cooperative member-owners,” said David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “We want them to see what makes their electric cooperative special, appreciate all their co-op provides for their communities and understand why it was so important to form electric co-ops in the first place.”

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