Loyd Muncy

Somerville, TENN. – On July 1, Loyd Muncy became Chickasaw Electric Cooperative’s fifth general manager. Muncy replaces John Collins who announced his retirement in 2019.

Muncy, a 30-year veteran of the cooperative, has served in many capacities while at the cooperative including engineering supervisor, IT manager, project manager, and manager of finance and administration.

Muncy was drawn to the position because he has been involved with management and policies at the cooperative for several years, and he likes the direction the cooperative is headed. “Plus, it is pretty much the only title I have not held at the co-op,” he added. Muncy says his favorite cooperative principle is “Cooperation among Cooperatives,” and he believes there is great value in the co-op network that allows co-ops to solve problems together and learn from one another.

“I have always appreciated and respected the wise counsel of John Collins,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of TECA. “We salute him for an exceptional career and wish him a wonderful retirement. The TECA team also congratulates Loyd and looks forward to working with him as he leads a great co-op.”

Murfreesboro, TENN. – The merger between the Murfreesboro Electric Department (MED) and Middle Tennessee Electric (MTE) became official and finalized today.

“Now we begin bringing our two great teams together for the benefit of all those we serve,” said Chris Jones, MTE’s president and CEO. “While we’ve been preparing for some time, now it is real, and we are thankful and excited.”

Upon completion of TVA’s regulatory review and approval, which came in early June, MTE, MED and the City of Murfreesboro have coordinated efforts to close the transaction over the past few weeks. Closing was completed June 30, making July 1 the first official day that the two utilities are now one.

“There are a number of efficiencies and synergies our coming together will realize,” Jones said. “We are merging our technology platforms, unifying processes and over time we will reduce duplication of effort and investments.”

Jones added that MED customers, now new MTE members, can look for information and updates via U.S. mail and at mtemc.com beginning the week of July 6.

“Our teams are working hard to ensure the transition goes smoothly,” he said. “Most MED customers should not notice any changes. ”

Trimming trees is one of the most expensive things your local co-op does. Co-ops spend million of dollars each year keeping trees and other vegetation away from their power lines. This may leave you wondering, if trimming trees is so expensive, then why do it?

There are three reasons your local co-op trims trees: safety, reliability and to save our consumers money.

The first two reasons seem simple enough. Trees near power lines can pose a safety threat to people and pets on the ground. When trees get too close to power lines, outages are sure to come.

But the third reason – saving money – is a little more complicated. Even though co-ops spend millions of dollars each year trimming trees, it is actually cheaper to trim trees than not. Here’s why.

Trees and other vegetation growing near power lines can create serious damage to the distribution system. A tree falling into a power line can not only break the wire, it frequently breaks the pole as well. Replacing a pole can cost thousands of dollars. If the pole has a transformer, security light or expensive monitoring equipment on it, the cost could be even higher. In most cases, the expense of trimming the tree is far less than repairing or replacing equipment.

Another factor to consider is the efficient use of our crews. Co-op construction and maintenance teams work very hard for about eight to 10 hours each weekday. Statistically, tree damage is far more likely to occur when our crews are not “on the clock.” We believe it is reasonable to pay our crews more when we ask them to make repairs outside of normal business hours. This means that planned tree trimming is far less expensive than making emergency, after-hour repairs.

The final reason that trimming trees saves money is something called line-loss. If you have ever driven along the road where there is poorly maintained right of way (hopefully not on one of our systems), you probably saw the tips of trees burned by power lines. Not only is this a serious safety hazard, it is also an indication of power flowing out of the lines and into the surrounding trees. This “leakage” is called line-loss, and it can add up to serious money for the cooperative. Co-ops buy energy from TVA to sell to their consumers, and loosing power during distribution is a very inefficient way to operate an electric system.

The 111th General Assembly completed its final order of business for the year in the early morning hours Friday, June 19after a marathon through-the-night session. The final hours were marked with plenty of disagreement between political parties and the two chambers. 

The final act was headlined by a $39.4 billion budget that replaced and further trimmed one the legislature approved in March. The scaled back spending plan anticipates a $1 billion shortfall in fiscal year 2021 and, following a “stalemate” between the two chambers, eventually cleared the impasse in a conference committee. 

The new budget closely resembled the one proposed by the governor and approved by the senate last week, reducing expenses for a number of priorities initially proposed by Governor Lee. That, of course, was before the state was physically and financially rocked by two devastating tornadoes and the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are a few notable cuts to the administration’s original list of priorities: 

  • reducing the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Grant Fund from $25 million to $15 million; 
  • eliminating pay raises for teachers, state employees and legislators; and 
  • reducing funding for capital maintenance projects for state-owned properties and higher education, including $37 million worth of projects at the University of Tennessee and $9 million at the University of Memphis.

“Safe Harbor and Recovery Act” Stalls

A bill designed to encourage and stimulate economic activity, by increasing civil liability protection against coronavirus lawsuits against essential businesses and others that reopen amid COVID-19 uncertainty, stalled in the early hours Friday.  Despite support from a broad coalition of interests representing business, healthcare, and education industry, the “Tennessee Recovery and Safe Harbor Act” ultimately failed because republicans in the two chambers vehemently disagreed on the legislation’s effective date.   

Senate Republicans and industry supporters favored retroactive application of the legislation that dated back to early March. House members and opponents, including the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association, fought hard against retroactivity and questioned the provision’s constitutionality. Notably, both sides relied on a 2010 opinion by former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice William Koch that addressed the constitutionality of retrospective laws in Tennessee. 

Ultimately, Republicans in the two chambers held their ground following a conference committee that adopted the senate version. After a bipartisan attack on the bill’s retroactive application, the house fell four votes short of approving the conference committee report. 

Co-op Priority Passes Both Chambers

Despite the last minute budget changes and acrimony caused by controversial legislation, the General Assembly did pass legislation clarifying that electric cooperatives may purchase the Powering Tennessee specialty license plate. Sponsored by Rep. Gary Hicks (R-Rogersville) and Sen Becky Massey (R-Knoxville), the bill was passed unanimously by both the House and Senate. Effective immediately upon the Governor’s signature (which is expected in the coming days), the law ensures that electric co-op vehicles weighing less that 9000 pounds and used for the purpose of passenger transport are eligible to purchase the plate. Proceeds benefit the Tennessee Lineworker Lifeline Fund, and each plate driving on Tennessee roads increases awareness of the important work performed by Tennessee’s 3,500 lineworkers. 

Centerville, TN – Concern for Community is one of the Seven Cooperative Principles by which Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative operates. Recently, it partnered with the Tennessee Valley Authority on a fifty-fifty matching grant to contribute $30,000 to community agencies supporting local residents during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Six-thousand was awarded in each MLEC served county to non-profit organizations.

“Our hometowns continue to deal with the impact of COVID-19, and many are facing challenges they’ve never faced before. We see the community hurting and want to help lighten their burden,” says MLEC President and CEO Keith Carnahan. “By working with organizations as they support local families with groceries, education, pay rent and other expenses, we can stretch their resources to help more people.”

Hickman County – The Hickman County Board of Education received $5000 to help equip some buses with Wi-Fi, making them mobile hot-spots students and the community can use for internet access. Hickman County Senior Citizens Center and Helping Hands of Hickman County each received $500 to help those they serve pay utilities and purchase pantry and other items.

Houston County – Bethesda Community Mission, Inc. received $6000 to assist additional families facing job loss with utilities, rent, groceries and other expenses.

Humphreys County – United Way of Humphreys County established a COVID-19 Family Support Fund and will use its $6000 grant to help with rent, utilities and basic financial needs.

Lewis County – Two non-profits each received $3000. Lewis County Food Bank will purchase additional food for their increased demand brought on by more families facing unemployment due to COVID-19. Lewis County Senior Citizens will prepare the center to reopen and cover the related expenses of masks, thermometers, and cleaning supplies, as well as serve member and non-member needs.

Perry County – Perry County School Nutrition received $6000 to help offset the hardship of COVID-19.  Extra food and labor costs, as well as required changes to their operating procedures, created unexpected expenses as they as they continued to feed children nutritious meals during the pandemic.

“In the spirit of public power, we are honored to partner with local power companies like MLEC to address the unprecedented challenges facing those we serve,” says Jeannette Mills, TVA executive vice president and chief external relations officer. “TVA has a mission of service to make life better for the people of the Valley, and providing these funds to address immediate needs is one way we can help.”

For additional information about MLEC, see mlec.com. For additional information about TVA, see tva.gov.

Trenton, Tenn. – Gibson Electric Membership Corporation in partnership with the Tennessee Valley Authority and CoBank will contribute a total of $45,000 over the months of April, May, June and July to the food banks that serve Gibson EMC’s members and communities. Already, Gibson EMC has donated $20,000 to our local foodbanks.  TVA has agreed to contribute $15,000 and CoBank has agreed to contribute $10,000.

“One of the unexpected blessings of the COVID-19 pandemic has been an outpouring of goodwill,” says Dan Rodamaker, Gibson EMC and Gibson Connect President and CEO.  “During this time Gibson EMC sought out opportunities to serve.  And after speaking with our local leaders about the needs within our communities, we were encouraged to work with our local food banks.”

“We have been thrilled and very thankful that both TVA, our wholesale power supplier, and CoBank, a national cooperative bank that annually provides ‘Sharing Success’ grants to improve the quality of life for our communities, shared our vision for meeting the critical need of food during the pandemic,” Rodamaker said.

The donations will be distributed among more than a dozen food banks, with donation amounts based on the number of Gibson EMC members in each of the areas.

“We are strong because we care about the people around us,” Rodamaker continued.  “Regardless of the challenges we face, we can be confident that the people of Northwestern Tennessee and Western Kentucky will find ways to adapt, demonstrate compassion and, above all, power on,” he said.

Gibson EMC is a local, not-for-profit, member-owned and member-controlled electric cooperative serving almost 39,000 homes and businesses in eight west Tennessee counties (Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Haywood, Lake, Obion, Madison and Weakley) and four west Kentucky counties (Carlisle, Fulton, Graves and Hickman).  Gibson Connect is a wholly-owned, not-for-profit subsidiary of Gibson EMC, working to provide high-speed, fiber-based broadband service access to all of the cooperative’s eligible members.

Volunteers distribute food through a mobile food pantry in Alamo, Tennessee on Saturday, June 6.

MURFREESBORO, TN – The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has approved the proposed merger between the Murfreesboro Electric Department (MED) and Middle Tennessee Electric (MTE), it was announced today.

“This represents the coming together of two excellent electric utilities that have coexisted very well in Murfreesboro for the past 80 years. We’re confident the result will be an even stronger entity with increased effectiveness for strengthening our mission of providing safe, reliable and low-cost services to all customers,” said Chris Jones, MTE’s president and CEO. “We would like to thank the City of Murfreesboro, its mayor and city council, the city management team, and our colleagues at Murfreesboro Electric for all of the collaboration and support. And we thank TVA for its very thorough examination and analysis of this opportunity.”

While MTE and the City will work to sign closing documents in the coming days, TVA’s regulatory review and approval was the last step needed to finalize the merger. The regulatory review process was required to determine if the transaction created value for all ratepayers, since TVA supplies wholesale electric power to both not-for-profit distributors and has oversight over such transactions, Jones said.

“The review concluded that this transaction is in the best interest of the affected ratepayers, and upholds our mission to serve the people of the Valley,” said Dan Pratt, TVA vice president of customer delivery. “It aligns with the values and principles of the Valley Public Power Model and reinforces our primary Regulatory role in protecting Valley ratepayers.”

As previously reported, MTE will pay $245 million for MED. With interest, the total payment will be $302 million over 15 years.

“MTE is an exceptional organization with incredibly strong leadership. The future benefits of the combined electric system to the ratepayers and the citizens of Murfreesboro are tremendous,” said Mayor Shane McFarland.

On again, off again talks of a possible merger were renewed in late 2018 when the city approached MTE about the possibility. Throughout last year, efforts to move toward that end culminated in the fall with a series of City Council workshops and listening sessions, meetings with employees and other stakeholders, a citywide open house, and a series of council votes ending in approval by the city in January of this year. Following unanimous approval from the MTE board, the paperwork for the TVA regulatory review was sent, also in January.

About Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation (MTE)

Founded in 1936, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation is the largest electric co-op in the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) region and among the five largest in the U.S., serving more than 500,000 Tennesseans via 236,000+ accounts covering 2,100 square miles in 11 Middle Tennessee counties, primarily Rutherford, Cannon, Williamson, and Wilson counties. Municipalities served include Franklin, Smyrna, Lavergne, Lebanon and Mt. Juliet. MTE employs 420 people in 6 local offices and its Murfreesboro corporate headquarters.

About the Murfreesboro Electric Department (MED)

The Murfreesboro Electric Department has served the city and the surrounding area since 1939, covering approximately 55 square miles via 67,000 accounts and an estimated 136,000 residents.  Like MTE, MED operates under a contract with The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a corporate agency of the federal government. The TVA provides all electricity distributed by MED to its 67,000 customers. The Electric Department has approximately 90 employees, all located in downtown Murfreesboro.

Get your power outage emergency kit ready now

Power outages can occur at any time of the year, whether a result of ice on power lines in the winter, spring storms that bring down trees on lines, car crashes that break poles or an errant squirrel that meets an untimely end. Power at the flick of a switch is something we take for granted, and we may be surprised how much our daily lives depend on a steady flow of electricity if the power goes out.

It’s always a good plan to have an emergency preparedness kit on hand, stocked with necessities that will help you make it through an extended power outage as safely and comfortably as possible. Especially if you know ahead of time that a power outage may be coming your way, such as when ice storms or tornadoes are predicted, don’t wait until the last minute to stock up on the essentials.

Some items to consider are water for drinking, cooking and sanitary needs; food that doesn’t need to be cooked or that can be prepared on a camp stove or grill outside with proper ventilation; a manual can opener; an adequate supply of necessary medications and first aid supplies; flashlights with batteries; candles and matches (keeping in mind that you will need to practice the necessary safety precautions when using open flames); plenty of warm clothing, coverings and perhaps sleeping bags if it’s winter; and radios or TVs that are battery powered or powered by other means such as solar or hand crank. It is also important to keep your cell phones and power banks charged.

If you have a back-up generator, be sure that it is installed and operated properly. For details on how to operate a generator safely, read the guidelines provided by the U.S. Department of Energy: energy.gov/ceser/activities/energy-security/emergency-preparedness/using-portableemergency-generators-safely

One item you might not think of but that will be handy to have at the ready is the manufacturer’s instructions on how to open your garage door manually. While it’s understandable to want to protect your vehicle from damaging weather, you will also need to be able to get the car out if an emergency arises. Also, make sure your vehicle’s gas tank is full in advance.

For more suggestions of items to include in an emergency preparedness kit, check out the listing from the American Red Cross at redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/survival-kit-supplies.html, or contact your local electric cooperative.

As we’re nearing the midpoint of 2020, I think everyone is ready for this year to just be over or for a “do-over.” It seems that we have veered from one calamity to the next; tornadoes to a derecho, topped off with a pandemic. We know that this year has been catastrophic in rural communities. Unfortunately, we can’t turn back the clock; we have to deal with the reality of today.

David Callis, executive vice president and general manager, TECA

Our electric cooperatives are not immune to the challenges. From the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, they’ve taken measures to protect their employees so they could keep the lights on, which is critically important for our homes, businesses, and hospitals. Given the damage from storms this year, it’s been challenging to repair and rebuild the grid while properly protecting workers. We’ve gotten the job done because, first and foremost, we exist to help our communities.

That assistance hasn’t ended at keeping the electricity flowing. Cooperatives across the state have provided assistance to help consumer-owners who have been hit hard by the economic collapse. Whether it is providing assistance with bills or making contributions to local charities, we’re committed to our communities. We’ve been working with TVA, state government and Congress, sending the message that electric co-ops need flexibility and relief to meet these community needs and ensure the delivery of affordable, reliable electricity.

Backing up those co-ops is the staff here at The Tennessee Magazine and Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. Our staff is dedicated to supporting Tennessee’s electric cooperatives in a variety of ways: youth programs, safety training, employee education, communications, community outreach, government relations and economic development — anything that helps your cooperative help you and your community.

Our staff, based primarily in Nashville, last met as a group on March 16 for lunch — properly separated from each other in the early days of the pandemic. From that point, we worked mostly from home over the next two months, keeping in touch remotely with our co-ops, elected officials and each other.

They are great co-workers. I appreciate the work they do and their ability to adjust to this new reality we’re all facing. But mostly, I admire their dedication to the job they do every day — doing anything and everything they can for Tennessee’s rural communities.

The good rapport and cooperative attitude of our staff is evident in their smiles during a recent Zoom video conference. We work hard for the people in our service areas, but we have a good time doing it.

Tennessee electric co-ops provide energy to 2.5 million Tennesseans in 84 of the state’s 95 counties. To keep the power on, we maintain 86,000 miles of power lines. Lined up end to end, our lines would stretch from Nashville to London, England, 20 times.

Keeping these powerlines maintained and functional is not an inexpensive undertaking. We invest more than $28 million each month maintaining the power grid. It may surprise you that one of our largest expenses on average is not poles or wire, but trimming trees.

Reliable energy is important to the co-op and to the homes and businesses we serve. Keeping trees and other vegetation safely away from power lines is a crucial part of our ongoing system maintenance. While some power outages are out of our control – things such as car accidents or lightning – many outages can be prevented by making sure trees and other vegetation are kept well away from the lines.

Each year co-ops and our tree-trimming contractors clear limbs and brush and in some cases remove entire trees that are too close to the lines or near other electrical equipment. They carefully follow guidelines and best practices provided by the International Society of Arboriculture.

“It’s pretty simple,” says Matt Kirk, right-of-way coordinator for Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative in Centerville. “When trees and other vegetation get too close to the lines, it will result in a power outage. One tree could knock out the power for a hundred homes. Keeping them away from the lines is necessary to keep the lights on.”

Proper right-of-way maintenance is a good investment that keeps the lights on for our consumer-members. “To keep everyone in our community safe, our distribution system is designed to cut the power when it detects a contact with the power line,” says Kirk. “We can’t tell if the contact is from a child flying a kite, a car accident or a limb brushing against the line. This means that trees and limbs can knock out the power even if they don’t actually break the lines. If they do break the lines, the outage can last even longer. That’s why it is so important to keep vegetation away from the lines.”

Co-op members can help maintain a reliable flow of electricity in your community by reporting any potential problems you see. It’s also important to be understanding when tree trimming crews are working on or near your property. The work they are doing impacts both you and your neighbors. While most co-ops have the right to inspect and maintain power lines without the consent of property owners, they make every effort to meet with property owners to discuss the work ahead of time.

From homes to hospitals and farms to factories, much of our lives depend on reliable energy. Power is essential to maintain health, safety, comfort, productivity and connection, and Tennessee’s electric co-ops are passionate about fulfilling our responsibility and meeting your expectations.

Nashville — Several Tennessee co-ops and the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association received recognition in the national 2020 Spotlight on Excellence Awards program sponsored by the Council of Rural Electric Communicators (CREC) and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).  

This year’s recipients include 

Best Feature Story 
Gold — Duck River Electric Membership Corporation 
“Peach pit perfection” 

Best Internal News Publication 
Gold — Appalachian Electric Cooperative 

Best Special Publication — Large 
Gold — Appalachian Electric Cooperative 
“B is for Bucket Truck” children’s book 

Best Total Communication Program 
Gold — Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association 
Power and Opportunity Campaign 

“Tennessee’s electric co-ops have a great story to tell, and communicating with passion and professionalism is vitally important for our co-ops,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association.  

“Printed news publications, social media and videos are all more important than ever to keep members updated on issues affecting the electric cooperatives and their members,” added Scott Peterson, senior vice president of communications for NRECA. 

The annual Spotlight on Excellence Awards program recognizes the best communication and marketing efforts by electric cooperatives and related organizations. Entrants competed with electric cooperatives of similar size in 16 categories. Electric cooperative communicators and marketing professionals submitted nearly 670 entries in the Spotlight on Excellence program. Faculty members from the University of Missouri — Columbia and the University of South Carolina as well as noted professionals in the fields of marketing, web design and digital communications, and newspapers judged the event, which uses a finite scoring system to determine the winners. 

“We have always felt that our communications program at TECA was exceptional, and this award validates it,” says Callis. “Congratulations to our communications team and to all of this year’s Tennessee winners.” 

You can view TECA’s complete winning entry here

Nashville — Thanks to the incredible generosity of co-ops, employees and industry partners, more than $70,000 has been contributed as of the end of May to the Electric Co-op Employee Emergency Assistance Fund. 

Four electric co-op employees lost their homes — and one nearly lost her life — as two devastating tornadoes tore through Middle Tennessee on the morning of March 3. TECA and Tennessee’s electric co-ops established the fund to assist these employees. 

“My husband and I are forever grateful for the grant money that was gifted to us,” says Jessica Reed, a member service representative with Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation who was seriously injured in the storm. “It has provided us peace of mind during this trying time and is allowing us to recover and heal without the added stress of unforeseen expenses that inevitably arise. We feel truly blessed to be alive and humbled by the overwhelming generosity of so many.” 

“Team MTE had three employees affected by the Wilson County tornado,” says Chris Jones, president of Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation. “We’re blessed to have them with us and thankful for the funds donated through TECA to help them recover from the storm’s destruction. Because of the funds provided, our employees could focus more on their families when they needed to most. The kind words and thoughtful actions of our sister utilities show that our cooperative family extends beyond Team MTE and the service territory we serve. On behalf of MTE employees and members, thank you to all who have donated to TECA’s Electric Co-op Employee Emergency Assistance Fund.” 

“I had the opportunity to visit with Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation’s injured employee just a few days after the storm,” said David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “She was moved to tears when we presented her with the first check from the fund. Thanks to the support of our industry, she and the others impacted by the storms are in the process of recovering and rebuilding.” 

“We work in a great industry,” said Callis. “I hope you share my sense of pride in the important work we do each day and the way we care for our own.” 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It is unfortunate but predictable – you can count on scammers to take advantage of people when they are vulnerable, and the COVID-19 virus is no exception. Tennessee’s electric cooperatives encourage you to remain on the lookout for financial scams during the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s vitally important, as your mind may be filled with other thoughts, to make sure you make wise financial decisions.  

Electric co-ops will not call you demanding immediate payment via prepaid card or personal information like social security numbers or checking account information. The same goes for the government or anyone claiming to be from a government agency.  

No legitimate party will require a checking account number, PIN, wire transfer or any other bit of personal information to conduct a transaction over the phone. The same is true for any potential government stimulus payments coming in the future.  

The same caution should be extended to emails and text messages offering services and resources: if the sender seems fishy, don’t click any links. When in doubt, contact your local electric co-op.

Keeping yourself safe during this pandemic should also include watching your financial health.

Nashville, TENN. – Voting is important for the rural communities served by electric co-ops, and Tennessee’s next statewide election is August 6. Eligible Tennesseans can request to vote absentee by-mail. 

Some popular reasons allowed under state law to vote absentee by-mail: 

  • The voter is age 60 or older.
  • The voter will be outside the county where they vote during the early voting period and all day on Election Day.
  • The voter or the voter’s spouse is enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited college or university outside the county of registration.
  • The voter will be unable to vote in person due to service as a juror.
  • The voter is hospitalized, ill or physically disabled and because of such condition, cannot vote in person.
  • The voter is a caretaker of a person who is hospitalized, ill or disabled.
  • The voter will be working as a poll official.
  • The voter is a member of the military and out of the county where they vote.

For a more exhaustive list of statutory reasons to vote absentee by-mail go to GoVoteTN.com. Voters who meet a reason under Tennessee law to vote absentee by-mail can submit a written request to their local election commission by mail, fax or email. The request must be received by your local election commission no later than seven (7) days before the election.  

Your written request must include:

  • Your name
  • Your address where you live
  • Your full social security number
  • Your date of birth
  • The address to mail the ballot, if different than your home address
  • Your reason for voting absentee by-mail. For example, I am 60 years old.
  • Your signature
  • For the August election, to receive a primary ballot request either a Republican or Democratic primary ballot. If no indication, you will receive a general election only ballot.

July 30 is the request deadline for the August 6, 2020, State and Federal Primary and County General Election. Don’t wait. Make your request TODAY!

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – More than $11 million of $19.7 million in broadband accessibility grants announced last week by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development will go to Tennessee electric cooperatives. Ten of the 17 grant recipients were electric co-ops.

“One of my top priorities is ensuring the success of rural Tennessee. With the assistance of these grants, communities across 21 counties will now have access to broadband that will aid in that success,” Gov. Bill Lee said. “I applaud the efforts of these 17 broadband providers as they play a fundamental role in our efforts to boost rural communities throughout Tennessee.”

The grants come at a time when the need for rural broadband is clear.

“We’re excited about this investment in rural Tennessee,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “The current COVID-19 crisis has confirmed what we’ve known for some time: Rural America needs reliable broadband. Education, healthcare and commerce rely on a dependable, high-speed connection to the internet. More than ever, we’re seeing how vital that connection to the rest of the world truly is.”

Electric co-ops receiving grants are:

  • Fayetteville Public Utilities: $1,750,000, serving parts of Lincoln County
  • Forked Deer Electric Cooperative: $719,921, serving parts of Haywood and Lauderdale counties
  • Gibson Electric Membership Corporation: $703,518, serving parts of Obion County
  • HolstonConnect LLC (Holston Electric Cooperative): $361,211, serving the Mooresburg community in Hamblen and Hawkins counties
  • Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative: $593,166, serving parts of south Perry County
  • PVECFiber (Powell Valley Electric Cooperative) and Scott County Telephone Cooperative: $1,908,811.24, serving part of Union County
  • SVEConnect (Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative): $1,654,882, serving the Battle Creek and South Pittsburg Mountain communities in Marion County
  • Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation: $1,768,686, serving parts near the Brownsville community in Haywood County
  • Tri-County Fiber Communications LLC (Tri-County Electric Membership Corporation): $501,811, serving parts of Trousdale County
  • United Communications (Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation): $1,331,504.80, serving the Eagleville community in rural Rutherford and Williamson counties

The broadband accessibility grant fund was created in 2017 as a key component of the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act – sweeping legislation designed to close the digital divide in Tennessee. In the years since, many of Tennessee’s electric co-ops have invested more than $187 million in broadband projects that will eventually bring high-speed internet access to more than 790,000 homes and businesses.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As the impacts of COVID-19 are felt across Tennessee, the state’s consumer-owned electric co-ops have a simple message for those who have been impacted: We can help you.

“If you are unable to pay your bill due to the financial impacts of the pandemic, I urge you to call your electric co-op today,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Electric co-ops are committed to keeping the lights on for all Tennesseans who have been impacted by the pandemic.”

Electric co-ops across the state are working with consumer-members to set up deferred payment schedules and find sources of additional assistance. Resources that can help pay utility bills are available for families and small businesses through the recent federal stimulus program. Co-ops are a good resource for information on LIHEAP grants for individuals and SBA loans for small businesses.

Co-ops also encourage their members to use energy wisely. As families spend more time at home, they will likely see a surge in home energy use. Here are some steps consumers can take to help control their energy bills:

  • Program your thermostat to maximize energy savings. Setting your thermostat 1 degree lower when heating or 1 degree higher when cooling can reduce energy use by up to 5 percent.
  • Wash only full loads of laundry, and use cold water. Using warm water instead of hot can cut a load’s energy use in half, and cold water will save even more.
  • Air dry dishes. This step can cut your dishwasher’s energy use by up to 50 percent.
  • Substitute LEDs for conventional lightbulbs. Lighting can amount to up to 12 percent of monthly energy use. LED bulbs can cut lighting costs by 75 percent.
  • Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use. Small appliances and electronics consume energy even when not in use. When powered on, game consoles, televisions and similar electronics are responsible for up to 12 percent of energy use.

“Electric co-ops recognize the critical need for energy – especially during a crisis,” says Callis. “After food, water and medicine, reliable energy is critical to maintaining health, safety, comfort and connection. We are not going to sit on the sidelines as this crisis unfolds. Contact your local co-op, and we will help you.”

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association has made the decision to cancel the 2020 Washington Youth Tour amid concerns over COVID-19. The event presented by the state’s consumer-owned electric cooperatives takes more than 130 high school juniors from across the state to Washington, D.C., each summer to learn about history, leadership and public policy.

“We are heartbroken to make this announcement, but the health, safety and well-being of our delegates are our primary concerns,” says Todd Blocker, vice president of member services and Tennessee’s Washington Youth Tour director. “Youth Tour includes visits to the most historically significant and meaningful places in our nation. With large crowds common, TECA is unable to fully protect students from exposure. This creates a risk we are simply not willing to take.”

“This is a difficult decision because the Washington Youth Tour is a unique opportunity for young leaders across our state,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of TECA. “Each year, the tour impacts the lives of young people for the better. We are mourning the connections that will not be formed, the opportunities that will not be realized and the memories that will not be made.”

In lieu of the trip, Tennessee’s electric cooperatives are currently evaluating options to recognize and honor this year’s winners. 

Lineworkers serve on the frontlines of our nation’s energy needs, and on April 13, 2020, Tennessee electric co-ops along with other electric cooperatives across the country, will honor the brave men and women who work hard to keep the lights on.

Line crews work around the clock, sometimes in difficult and dangerous conditions, to keep power flowing to our local communities. Whether they’re restoring power after a major storm or maintaining critical infrastructure to our electric system, lineworkers are at the heart of our co-op.

When a storm hits, they set aside their personal priorities because Mother Nature doesn’t work around holidays, vacations and birthdays. A service-oriented mentality is one of the many admirable characteristics of an electric lineworker.

Tennessee’s 800 electric co-op lineworkers maintain more than 102,000 miles of power line and keep the lights on more than 99.96 percent of the time.

“We honor the dedicated service of these courageous Tennesseans and recognize the critical roles they play in keeping the lights on,” said David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Our communities depend on reliable energy, and Tennessee’s electric lineworkers place themselves in harm’s way to power our everyday lives.”

Tennessee’s electric co-ops invite you to take a moment and thank a lineworker for the important work they do. On April 13, you can use #ThankALineworker on social media to show your support for the brave men and women who power our lives.

Click to download

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The spread of COVID-19 represents a real threat to our co-ops and the communities we serve, and stopping the spread of the virus has quickly become an important part of what Tennessee co-ops do each day. TECA is working to support our members systems, and we call your attention to the following information.

Best Practices

On Monday, March 16, TECA held the first of a weekly COVID-19 call with co-op leadership teams. This forum allows co-ops to discuss their individual responses to the virus and share ideas and information. We also launched a weekly COVID-19 survey to better understand co-op response and track operational modifications over time. Co-ops can view the results of this study in the CEO Forum.

Communications Resources

A COVID-19 communications toolkit was distributed to co-ops on Friday, March 6. The kit includes media releases, social graphics, internals memos and an update to our existing Tennessee Electric Co-op Crisis Communications Plan. Additional resources are added each week. Co-ops can access these tools via our CommKit library.

Education, Training and Events

Electric co-op employees are stewards of critical infrastructure, so the spread of the illness among co-op employees represents a real threat to the communities we serve. TECA has a heightened responsibility to protect the health and well-being of the co-op workforce, so we are modifying both our schedule and our content delivery methods to accommodate.

  • We are working with utilities who participate in our Job Training and Safety program to reschedule in-person meetings and transition to online delivery when possible
  • All Director Training sessions have been postponed through May 1
  • The NRECA Legislative Conference has been cancelled. TECA will coordinate dates for legislative visits later this year
  • The 2020 Youth Leadership Summit has been rescheduled for July 20 – 22
  • The 2020 Accountants’ Conference has been rescheduled for Sept. 23 – 25
  • The 2020 TennComm Conference has been rescheduled for Sept. 22 – 25
  • The 2020 Administrative Professionals and Human Resources Conference has been cancelled

TECA Staff

TECA has implemented work travel restrictions on all staff, developed guidelines for returning to work following potential exposure and temporarily adapted our alternative work arrangement policy to allow staff to work from home with fewer restrictions. The TECA office will be closed with all staff working from home on Friday, March 20 – Tuesday, March 24. Visit our staff page for contact information.

As Tennessee’s rural communities adapt to the challenges and limitations created by COVID-19, TECA is working with Tennessee’s electric cooperatives to share ideas and provide innovative solutions. We believe that co-ops provide an essential service to their communities, and together, we have the power to be resilient in the face of this public health challenge. Please contact us if we can be of assistance.