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. 

Breaking news. Red alert. Crisis status. Influencers. Clickbait. Notifications. Do any of these sound familiar to you? If you watch the news, scroll on social media or put your phone down for more than 10 minutes, you are likely to be overwhelmed with messages trying to get your attention.

While the number of organizations and apps that are competing for your time and focus continues to grow, the one thing that remains constant is that there are 86,400 seconds in every day to do anything — sleep, eat, pray, play, work or anything else. But the demand for your attention continues to grow. And how we handle that is a huge challenge.

Those who are trying to be noticed are facing more competition, so they resort to increasingly extreme language to stand out among the crowd. A simple thunderstorm might now elicit a “red alert” weather statement from the local news station, for instance. I can’t help but think about Aesop’s fairy tale, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”

Unfortunately, this trend of overemphasizing everything has extended to political candidates. Anyone running for office needs to build “name identification” because if you do not know that person’s name, you probably aren’t going to vote for them.

In the February edition of The Tennessee Magazine, I encouraged you to pay closer attention to your local political races and get involved in your own community. Your school board members, county commissioners or state representatives have a greater effect on your daily life than most people acknowledge. However, it is impossible to ignore the impact that the presidential election this fall is having on campaigns — whether in Washington, D.C., or Warren County.

Now that the major-party candidates for president are known, inevitably one or both will tell you, “This is the most important election in our lifetime,” or, “If you don’t vote for me, the country will never be the same.”

This is the politician’s version of clickbait. It is meant to evoke fear and cause you to spend a few of those precious 86,400 seconds of your day devoting your thoughts to the election. But these types of statements are not unlike salesmen offering free samples to encourage you to consider their products or the old newspaper adage, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Getting your attention is the goal.

It is true that our country has significant challenges, and our federal government is facing important policy decisions. Unfortunately, those types of superlative statements don’t always reflect reality.

However, I would argue that we have faced many, many more serious challenges and existential threats in our nation’s history. Some of those stories are detailed in a wonderful book called “The Soul of America” by our fellow Tennessean, Jon Meacham. He very eloquently shows that our nation has always won “the battle for our better angels” and surmises that we will face many more.

While I will likely share thoughts in this column throughout the rest of this year about the policy challenges that confront your local cooperative and the reliability of the electric grid, I encourage you to look past this year’s grandiose speeches and shock-value statements by presidential candidates. This election will be important, but your choice should be based on your own vision for the future, not by an attempt to manipulate your attention.

Nashville – Leaders from Tennessee’s electric cooperatives traveled to Washington, D.C., on Monday and Tuesday, April 22 and 23, to advocate for policies that could impact Tennessee’s rural and suburban communities. The delegation was made up of board members, executives and other leaders from electric cooperatives across Tennessee.

In meetings with legislative staff, co-ops discussed reliability, energy policy, broadband and other issues that directly impact Tennessee’s electric co-ops and the consumers they serve. Lawmakers were also invited to visit their local co-ops to meet employees, attend annual meetings or tour co-op facilities.

“Meetings with lawmakers are important opportunities to build bridges between policymakers and the communities they represent,” says Mike Knotts, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “These conversations are not merely exchanges of words; they truly help shape policy that impacts our communities. I’m grateful for each co-op member who took time away from work and family to serve their co-op in this way.”

In addition to visits with members of Congress, attendees also heard from industry and policy experts, including Xochitl Torres Small, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture; David Turk, deputy secretary of the Department of Energy; and Bret Baier, chief political anchor for FOX News.

Numbers can be tough to grasp — especially the really big ones. How tall do you think a stack of dollar bills might be? One hundred would be less than ½ inch thick, easy enough to put in your pocket. But what about 1 billion? That stack of cash would be a whopping 68 miles tall, extending practically into space.

That scale is hard to comprehend. But you have a good handle on numbers that matter to you, right? Your spouse’s birthday? How much you owe your friend for lunch? Well, maybe numbers are pretty tough.

If you are a frequent reader of this publication, you know that we often highlight the important work that electric co-ops do across the state. Whether it is economic development, youth programs, broadband or making sure the lights come on when you flip the switch, electric co-ops work behind the scenes to make your community stronger, more resilient and better prepared to face the future.

New research conducted by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and Cooperative Finance Corporation assigns economic value to these efforts, and the numbers are — forgive the pun — shocking.

The report, “Economic Powerhouses: The Economic Impacts of America’s Electric Cooperatives,” details the economic impacts of the activities conducted by co-ops through the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity as well as capital investments in the grid, operations and maintenance.

Across the nation, electric co-ops support 622,832 American jobs and contribute more than $111 billion each year to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. There are 11 states that contribute less to the U.S. GDP than electric co-ops do. That is staggering.

While the national numbers are important, the study also looked at economic impact on a state-by-state level.

Electric co-ops in Tennessee create 10,085 jobs annually. Of these, about 3,300 Tennesseans work directly for co-ops, and the remainder are employed by contractors or other businesses that support co-ops. Each year, these 10,085 jobs produce $780 million in income for Tennesseans.

One of the most notable findings to me is that 95% of these jobs and income are created in the rural and suburban communities that co-ops serve.

The study also examined the taxes paid by electric co-ops, their suppliers and other businesses impacted by the work of electric co-ops. This amounts to $113 million in federal taxes, $240 million in state taxes and $112 million in local taxes each year. Your county commissioners will know that the electric co-op is almost always the largest taxpayer in the county.

So what’s the bottom line? Electric co-ops contribute $1.9 billion each year to Tennessee’s economy. Instead of stacking them up, if you laid that many dollar bills out like a blanket, it would cover nearly 4,500 acres. That’s roughly 16 times larger than the entire landmass of New York City.

The findings of the study are interesting, but they point to something more fundamental. Your electric co-op is a foundational institution in your community. Co-ops are local and care about people and the places we call home.

So even if it is easy to get lost in the numbers, you can trust that your co-op wants to do what is best for you and your family. The good people who work there know that connecting you to what is important makes a difference, and they want to make your home a better place. And that is easy to understand.

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.

The importance of indoor air quality at home, at work and in the classroom

Did you know that, on average, Americans spend a whopping 90% of their time indoors, and that the concentrations of some pollutants may be up to five times higher indoors than outdoors? Both short- and long-term exposure to indoor air pollution can lead to a range of health issues including headaches, fatigue, respiratory diseases, heart disease, cognitive deficits and cancer.

Ready for some good news? Take a deep breath: Healthy indoor air quality has been associated with enhanced cognitive performance, better decision-making and increased
productivity. That’s why TVA EnergyRight® and your local power company are ready to help you improve indoor air quality at home, on the job and at school.

What makes indoor air unhealthy?

Contaminants such as allergens, carbon monoxide, chemicals, radon, smoke and mold all
contribute to poor indoor air quality. There are plenty of potential polluters, too, such as gas
ovens and ranges, wood-burning fireplaces, cleaning solutions, chemicals used in certain paints
and furnishings, outdated heating and air conditioning systems, damp basements, pet dander
and dirty ventilation systems.

What do you need for good air quality?

Fortunately, the recipe for cleaner, healthier indoor air is simple: adequate ventilation and
controls for pollution, temperature and humidity levels. Read on for tips and resources that can
dramatically improve the air you breathe, wherever you may be.

Three ways to improve air quality at home … and save money.

1. Minimize pollutants.

An easy way to improve air quality is to cut down on pollutants like carbon monoxide, radon or harsh chemical cleaning products.

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that can build up quickly indoors. Have your gas appliances, chimneys, and fireplaces or wood stoves checked annually by a professional. If you haven’t had your home checked for radon, a natural radioactive gas that can build up in your home, now’s the time! According to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), radon is a very serious problem in our state.

Certain cleaning products may also contain harmful chemicals and fumes that can linger in the air; glass cleaners, bleach, air fresheners and cleaning sprays are common culprits. Try to use non-toxic cleaning products whenever possible. For a green, cost-effective clean, we’re partial to distilled white vinegar, baking soda and pet-friendly essential oils.
Find a contractor who can help make sure your home’s ventilation systems are working well and that your air quality is within a healthy range.

2. Tend to your heating and cooling system.

The average lifespan of an HVAC system is 15-20 years. If you’re approaching the end of your unit’s functional lifespan, investing in a new one is an excellent way to improve air quality and lower energy costs.

Not ready for a new system? Be sure to replace your air filter regularly. Clean filters do a better job of trapping dust, dirt, and airborne particulates. Plus, they’re easier on your HVAC system, helping it work more efficiently and last longer.

Keeping your HVAC unit in tip-top shape is another good way to improve indoor air quality. You can knock out your electric HVAC tune-up with a $50 rebate from TVA EnergyRight. Be sure to explore all our rebates on HVAC systems, duct systems, air sealing and more.
EnergyRight.com/Rebates

3. Get your ducts in a row.

Excellent ventilation in your home can reduce the concentration of indoor pollutants. Install an externally-vented exhaust fan in your kitchen and bathrooms, and open windows regularly to circulate fresh air. You can also get your duct system professionally cleaned to keep clean air flowing, seal cracks or holes in ductwork and increase the efficiency of your HVAC system. Don’t know who to hire for ductwork deep-clean or fan installation? Try a TVA-vetted contractor from our Quality Contractor Network.
EnergyRight.com/Quality-Contractor-Network

Three ways to improve air quality at work and in the classroom.

1. Upgrade your HVAC system.

Much like the heating and cooling systems in your home, commercial HVAC systems have a huge impact on indoor air quality. Upgrading your building’s HVAC system can significantly lower your monthly energy bill, help you achieve energy efficiency goals, reduce maintenance costs and control seasonal spikes in energy use while improving workplace or classroom comfort and air quality.

And guess what? TVA EnergyRight and local power company partners are offering business & industry customers incentives on qualifying HVAC equipment.
EnergyRight.com/business-industry/incentives/hvac

Thanks to a partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education’s Energy Efficient School Initiative, TVA EnergyRight and local power companies are also helping public schools throughout the region save on energy costs and improve indoor air quality. Participating public schools learn about saving energy and receive grants to make much-needed energy upgrades, fostering happier, healthier learning environments.
EnergyRight.com/business-industry/school-uplift

2. Purify with photosynthesis.

Treat yourself to a plant or two and infuse a breath of fresh air into your workspace or classroom. Science alert! How do plants purify the air? During photosynthesis, plants convert carbon dioxide (exhale!) into fresh oxygen (inhale!). The process can also remove toxins commonly found in office furniture and heavy-duty cleansers – like formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene – which makes a pretty plant pretty amazing.

3. Reduce emissions

If your work environment is less desk and more distribution, then you may be familiar with the chug-chug of internal combustion forklift engines. Lower emissions and elevate workplace air quality by switching from gas to electric forklifts.
EnergyRight.com/business-industry/incentives/electric-forklifts

Whether you’re at home, at work or hitting the books, TVA EnergyRight and your local power company are here to help you breathe easy. Take the next step toward improving indoor air quality today! Explore all of our resources at EnergyRight.com.

You still have plenty of time before you’ll need to crank up the air conditioning at home. Use the spring season to do some maintenance that could help your air conditioner run more efficiently and reliably this summer.

Here are five tips:

  1. Replace air filters before you turn the air conditioning on for the first time. Then, replace them again about once a month until autumn. Clean air filters allow conditioned air to flow easily through your rooms. And they lower the amount of dust, dander and pollutants that get pushed into your indoor air.
  2. Move lamps away from thermostats. Electronics and lamps give off heat when they’re turned on, which can fool your thermostat into thinking the room is warmer than it is.
  3. Seal leaks. If you felt cold drafts coming inside during the winter, find the sources of the leaks and caulk them. Look around ducts, cables and wires on the interior side of outdoor walls. Those same leaks will let cool air escape during the summer.
  4. Switch the direction of your ceiling fan blades. For warm weather, the blades should rotate counterclockwise.
  5. Schedule an HVAC inspection. A qualified HVAC pro can spot problems before they occur and make sure your equipment is maintained and ready for warm weather.

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 – The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association today announces that Nicole Christensen has been promoted to field editor and senior communications specialist. In this new role, Christensen takes on expanded responsibilities with The Tennessee Magazine and the TECA Communications Department. 

Christensen joined the TECA team as an intern in 2020 before accepting a full-time position as Communications Specialist in 2021. She holds a degree in journalism from Western Kentucky University.  

“Nicole is an asset to our team,” says Chris Kirk, editor of The Tennessee Magazine. “This new role recognizes her invaluable contributions — writing, editing, overseeing social media and shouldering behind-the-scenes tasks vital to meeting our deadlines each month. The magazine benefits from her creativity, eye for detail and enthusiastic advocacy on behalf of Tennessee’s electric cooperatives and the communities they serve.” 

“I am excited and honored to take on this new role,” says Christensen. “The quality and advancement of The Tennessee Magazine are always at the forefront of my mind with everything I do — along with the lasting legacy and the impact the publication has had on people across Tennessee and beyond over the years. I am so thankful to have been given this opportunity.” 

Electric cooperatives serve more than 3 million consumers across 72 percent of the state. 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 – 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.

 

 

Saving energy during the winter doesn’t have to mean feeling cold in your own home. Here are five free ways to lower your energy bill while staying comfortable indoors. 

  • Lower the temperature in your home by just a single degree. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates you can save 3% on your heating bill for every degree you set your thermostat back during the winter—as long as you leave it there.  
  • Turn off exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom as soon as the steam or cooking smells are gone. It takes only one hour for those fans to blow all of the warm air out of your house, so use them only as needed. 
  • Close the fireplace damper when you’re not burning a fire. An open damper is a hole in your house that sucks heated air out and draws cold winter air in. 
  • Move furniture and rugs away from heating vents so air can circulate freely around the room. That will make your heating system’s work a lot easier. 
  • Open the curtains on south-facing windows on sunny days so the sun’s warm rays can radiate into your home. Close the curtains at night to help trap that heat indoors. 

NASHVILLE – The 82nd  annual meeting of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association was held Sunday, Nov. 19, through Tuesday, Nov. 21, in Nashville. The theme of the event was “Co-ops Connect Today and Tomorrow,” and more than 350 electric cooperative leaders from across the state were present to consider how the actions of today can impact communities tomorrow.

“This event was an outstanding opportunity for co-op leaders to learn more about topics facing their co-ops,” said Mike Knotts, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “We challenged our attendees to cast aside preexisting notions of what an electric co-op does and to truly focus on meeting the current and future needs of their communities.”

Elections were also held for three positions on the association’s board of trustees. John Bowers, a manager for Pickwick Electric Cooperative in Selmer; Dion Cooper, CEO of Volunteer Energy Cooperative in Decatur; and Dana Salters, a director for Duck River Electric Membership Corporation in Shelbyville were elected to four-year terms.

Dan Rodamaker, president and CEO of Gibson Electric Membership Corporation in Trenton, was elected to serve as chairman of the association’s board of trustees. John Bowers was elected to serve as vice president.

“We appreciate the leadership that these individuals provide,” says Knotts. “Tennessee’s co-ops will be well-served thanks to their ideas and insights.”

TECA recognized excellence in communication efforts during the annual TopTenn Communications Awards ceremony. Gibson Electric Membership Corporation received an award for Best External Newsletter or Magazine Section; Appalachian Electric Cooperative, Best Internal Newsletter; Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative, Best Website; Gibson Electric Membership Corporation, Best Use of Social Media; Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation, Best Video; Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative and Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative, Best Photo; Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, Best Annual Report; Middle Tennessee Electric, Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative and Appalachian Electric Cooperative each received awards in the Wild Card category.

“We’re excited to honor the exceptional work of these cooperatives,” says Trent Scott, TECA’s vice president of communications. “Congratulations to these co-ops whose outstanding communication efforts help them connect with their consumers in a meaningful way.”

Electric cooperatives serve more than 3 million consumers and 72 percent of Tennessee. The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association provides leadership, advocacy and support for the association’s 25 electric cooperatives and publishes The Tennessee Magazine, the state’s most widely circulated periodical. Visit tnelectric.org or tnmagazine.org to learn more.

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.