October 2021: News from your cooperative

Specific months have long been set aside to draw attention to or commemorate causes, products or areas of focus. I’m not sure whose job it is to actually decide these things, but it can be a helpful way for us to pause and recall the importance of maintaining awareness of various issues.

There are, of course, extremely worthwhile topics of which to be mindful. There’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Black History Month and National Foster Care Month. And then there are slightly less noteworthy observances with months set aside to call attention to things like celery, model railroading and bird feeding. It’s interesting to see how different states step up to observe and honor different causes and products: California has set aside a month to tout the role “dried plums” (prunes, the last time I checked) play in digestive health, while our own state of Tennessee has proclaimed the month of January as Be Kind to Food Servers Month.

I’m proud to be able to share with you that October is “Co-op Month.” (Although, in my opinion, a period of 31 days is not nearly long enough to recognize and celebrate all the ways co-ops make our lives better.) This designation attempts to draw attention to many different kinds of cooperatives, not just those that distribute electricity to their members. Along with Powell Valley Electric Cooperative, companies like ACE Hardware, State Farm, REI and Land O’ Lakes are in business to benefit those they serve. Like co-ops all across Tennessee and Virginia (as well as our nation and even in other countries), they adhere to the same set of seven principles that we do.

An easy way to understand this is to think about what makes co-ops special — and different from the way other businesses and organizations are governed and operated. These seven core values that guide us and characterize our unique business model are:

• “Voluntary and open membership”
• “Democratic member control”
• “Member economic participation”
• “Autonomy and independence”
•“ Education, training, and information”
• “Cooperation among cooperatives”
• “Concern for community”

Taken together, these principles capture the things we work toward, care about and believe in. We are governed by those we serve and exist solely to benefit our members. We look beyond the profit motive that guides most businesses to operate. Instead, we look for the greater good. The services we provide are available to all. We help each other during times of crisis. We are future-minded with an emphasis on remembering that what we do today will benefit generations to come. We look outward with an eye toward making the communities we serve stronger and better.

The Seven Cooperative Principles embody what we call “the cooperative difference.” They set us apart and make us who we are. And that, my friends, is something to celebrate. So even though the official commemoration of Co-op Month is relegated to October, feel free to join me and all the other employees of Powell Valley Electric Cooperative in honoring the contributions we make to our communities throughout the entire year.

-Brad Coppock

Area High School Seniors Earn Electric Co-op College Scholarships

Five high school seniors from the service territory of Powell Valley Electric Cooperative have each received $1,000 college scholarships awarded by the Education Scholarship Foundation of the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives.

The 2021 scholarship recipients are:

  • William Fugate of Tazewell, a student at Claiborne High School
  • Elizabeth Napier of Harrogate, a student at Claiborne High School
  • Emma Brooks of Harrogate, a student at Claiborne High School
  • Brianna Trent of Tazewell, a student at Claiborne High School
  • Jordan Walker of Sharps Chapel, a student at Union County High School

The students were eligible for consideration because their parents or guardians are members of Powell Valley Electric Cooperative.

“We commend these students on their outstanding academic achievements,” said Russell G. “Rusty” Brown, chair of the VMDAEC Education Scholarship Foundation Board and vice chairman of the board of directors at Northern Neck Electric Cooperative. “Our electric cooperatives are delighted to provide sup­port to these worthy students, as they represent a future generation of leaders in their communities.”

The Foundation awarded Worth Hudson Scholarships of $1,000 each to 57 students. They are named in honor of Hudson, the first chairman of the VMDAEC Education Scholarship Foundation.

Since 2001, the Foundation has provided ap­proximately 780 scholarships totaling more than $800,000 to aspiring college students as well as to the next generation of electric lineworkers.

“We’re extremely proud to be able to help these deserving young people from electric cooperative service areas continue their education, whether at a college or university, or in learning a trade,” says Brian Mosier, president and CEO of the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives.

The Foundation is supported through tax-deductible donations and bequests from individuals, proceeds from fundraising events and CoBank’s Sharing Success Program. One hundred percent of donations go to students for scholarships. For information on donating to the Foundation, visit vmdaec.com/scholarship.

Bringing Fiber to Your Home

Powell Valley Electric Cooperative understands that broadband access has become a necessity for many cooperative members.  While the road to broadband can be a lengthy one, Powell Valley Electric Cooperative’s Board of Directors is committed to provide broadband services to all members throughout the cooperative’s system.  Based on the direction of our Board, PVEC Fiber, a partnership between Powell Valley Electric Cooperative and Scott County Telephone Cooperative, was created to fulfill this commitment.   This multi-year project will help the Cooperative enrich the lives of its members and serve as a basis to stimulate economic growth for the region.

The process of building a fiber infrastructure network from the ground up is no small job.  The opportunities for grant funding and the ability to receive material play a factor in which area to begin the fiber buildout.  As of today, we have received grant funding in Sharps Chapel and in areas of Virginia.  We will continue to apply for additional grant funding allocated for broadband expansion.  Grant projects have deadlines that must be met to honor the contract.  As the fiber project began, the amount of time it took to receive fiber material after an order was placed neared 52 weeks.  Now, the material is received monthly.  The monthly material allotments will vary in fiber wire size and hardware.  The location of the fiber buildout will be determined by the material that is received.

To bring fiber to an area, several steps must be completed.  First, the design of the system must go through an engineering process.  This includes determining the size and path of the fiber cable.  The locations for fiber optic cabinets, which house the electronics that make the fiber serviceable, must be determined and installed.  Second, a fiber optic backbone must be built.  A backbone is comparable to a 3-phase electrical line, which will feed the individual cable going to the house.  Once the backbone has been hung in an area, the fiber optic cable must be spliced to make the fiber continuous.  A backbone fiber cable has from 144 to 288 fibers within its sheathing.  Each fiber must be spliced individually.  It can take up to two days to complete one splice location on the backbone fiber.  This is an example of the time-consuming process of just one step of the fiber process.  The spliced cables must now be connected to the electronics sites.  Once these steps are complete, broadband service is available to that area.

When an area is serviceable, customers who have requested PVEC Fiber service will be contacted.  The line that runs to a home is referred to as a “fiber drop”.  Once a customer has requested service, an engineer must design the fiber drop going into the home.  The completed design will be given to a construction line crew.  After the drop is run to the home, a splicing crew must splice the fiber drop to the enclosure or loop on the pole.   After these steps are complete, the installation inside the home can be scheduled by a PVEC Fiber representative.

The task to bring broadband to every cooperative member is massive, and the road for some will be long.  Today, PVEC Fiber crews are working six days a week and additional fiber contractors have been hired.  As of today, we have hung approximately 900 miles of backbone and installed 770 services to the home.

Here at PVEC Fiber, we promise to continue the expansion of broadband coverage throughout the region as quickly and as safely as possible.  If you haven’t already, call your local PVEC office to get on our interest list or complete the PVEC Fiber Request Form at pve.coop.  To help our members understand our current progress, updates will be provided in our Cooperative magazines and on our website.  We appreciate your patience as we strive to bring this life-changing infrastructure to the communities we serve – just like PVEC started doing in 1938 when families in our area received electric service for the very first time.







Complimentary Wi-Fi at All Three PVEC Offices

In an effort to keep the communities we serve connected to the online resources they need, Powell Valley Electric Cooperative is pleased to offer a complimentary Wi-Fi hotspot at all three PVEC offices.  Individuals can access the internet from the safety of their vehicles by choosing the wireless connection named “PVEC Public Wi-Fi”.  To obtain guest access to the internet, individuals should check the “Terms of Use” box and click “connect”.  This service will work with laptops, tablets, cell phones and other Wi-Fi enabled devices.

Powerful Careers Essay Contest

The need for skilled workers in the energy field has never been greater, and electric cooperatives hope that post-elementary school students will emphasize that as part of a new essay contest.

The Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives is sponsoring a “Powerful Careers” contest for schoolchildren of electric cooperative members and the 1.3 million readers of Cooperative Living magazine.

Essays will be accepted starting March 1 through Sept. 1 through an online submission form at vmdaec.com/powerfulcareers. No mail-ins will be accepted.

Essays should focus on one career opportunity in the energy field. Possibilities include lineworkers, dispatchers, graphic designers, business specialists, IT professionals and CEOs. Submissions should explain what the job is, why it matters and how it relates to the energy business.

“The diversity of job roles is one of the strengths of the electric cooperative network,” said Steven Johnson, editor of Cooperative Living. “Through this contest, we hope students will take a close look at the value of careers in the energy field.”

The Contest is open to any student in grades 7-12 whose parents are members of Powell Valley Electric Cooperative.  Grades 7-9 should submit essays of 500 to 750 words. Grades 10-12 should submit essays of 800-1,000 words. First prize in each age category is a $100 gift card. Second prize is a $50 gift card. Third prize is a $25 gift card. The first-place entries will be printed in the November-December 2021 issue of Cooperative Living.

Please review all rules and requirements at vmdaec.com/powerfulcareers before entering.

Cooperative Living Youth Art Contest

Cooperative Living magazine is accepting entries for its 19th annual Youth Art Contest, which is designed to showcase the best work of the youngest members of electric cooperatives.  The theme for this year’s contest is “How My Pet Makes Life Better.”

Entries should reflect young artists’ conception of that theme.

The contest is open to students in kindergarten through fifth grade who reside in a residence that is served by Powell Valley Electric Cooperative. (Both Virginia and Tennessee residents may participate in this contest.)

First-place winners in each category will receive a $25 gift card. The “Best in Show” artist will receive a $100 gift card and appear on the cover of the July issue of Cooperative Living, which will feature other winning artwork. The entry deadline is May 3.

Artwork should be configured vertically (portrait style) on an 8 ½-x-11-inch sheet of white paper. Art can be color or black and white in any medium, including crayon, pen, acrylics, charcoal and pencil. No tracing or party pictures are permitted.  All entries should be submitted using the online form with full instructions at www.co-opliving.com/contests/youth-art.

CL Youth Art Contest 2021

Youth Preparedness Council

Dear Prospective Applicant,

 As a teen living in a rural electric cooperative service territory who exhibits promising leadership skills and a concern for your community, we believe you would be an ideal candidate to apply for FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Council (YPC)!

 Read the information from FEMA below and decide if this is an opportunity you’re interested in pursuing. If so, please kick off your application process by emailing NRECA’s Youth Programs & Training Manager, Beth Knudson, to let her know: beth.knudson@nreca.coop . We are eager to see youth from rural America represented on this council and will be happy to assist in your application process.

 How Does the YPC Work?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is committed to actively involving students like you in preparedness- related activities through the Youth Preparedness Council (YPC).

YPC members meet with FEMA leadership throughout their term to develop strategies, initiatives, and projects that aim to promote preparedness in communities. Also, YPC members attend the annual YPC Summit, where they interact with FEMA representatives and elected officials and drive emergency preparedness projects. Please note, the 2021 YPC Summit will be conducted virtually.

Apply to join the YPC for a two-year term, in which members take on projects on both a local and national level, to make a difference in their communities.

Why should You Apply?

The YPC provides an opportunity for you to make a difference in your community and build invaluable experiences to prepare you for college and beyond. It would also look great on a college application!

If you are ready to collaborate with peers and improve your leadership and project management skills, apply today!

How do I Apply?

– The YPC application period is currently open and closes on March 7, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. PST.
– Students in grades 8 through 11 are eligible to apply.
– To learn more about the YPC and application requirements, visit our website.
And click the following link to apply!


Does this sound like a challenge you would enjoy? Apply today!

And be sure to email Beth prior to sending your application.

Remember – NRECA, the association representing your local rural electric cooperative, is here to help!