As you may know, Powell Valley Electric Cooperative’s service territory spans across two states – Tennessee and Virginia. Every year, each state’s legislative body, the Tennessee General Assembly and the Virginia General Assembly, convenes in the second week of January to conduct the business of the state.

Both of these bodies are “part-time” bodies, and many of your elected leaders hold other jobs while serving. Each state’s legislative body spends on average 45-60 days in session.

This means that most legislators spend around 60 days a year in the State Capitol. That’s 60 days away from family, 60 days away from careers, 60 days away from neighbors and friends. Politics aside, I am grateful for the sacrifice made by members of the Tennessee and Virginia legislatures who give up so much to serve our states. While we might not always agree on the details, it is safe to say that each and every one of these lawmakers is willing to make these sacrifices because they all genuinely desire to improve our quality of life in our communities.

The decisions they are asked to make can have enormous consequences for all state citizens, and that is why Powell Valley Electric Cooperative works to engage with lawmakers representing our service area.

Connecting with lawmakers is important for a couple of reasons.

Trust matters. During the course of the legislative session, lawmakers meet with hundreds — if not thousands — of visitors who are advocating for or against various issues. It is hard to trust a stranger. Because Powell Valley Electric Cooperative has built relationships with our lawmakers, they can trust what we have to say on issues that impact our co-op and the communities we serve.

Knowledge is power. The subjects discussed with legislators can be incredibly complex, and it is unreasonable to expect them to be experts on every issue. Because they know us at Powell Valley Electric Cooperative, we are sometimes invited to provide additional context and serve as subject matter experts during discussions that could impact the cost of energy or the ability for us to serve our communities.

Leaders from our co-op join other electric co-op leaders in Nashville during each legislative session for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association’s annual legislative conference. Employees and members of our co-op spend time with our lawmakers, discussing energy policy, broadband and other issues important to our members.

Powell Valley Electric Cooperative is proud to advocate for the people and places we serve. It is an important part of our work to deliver safe, reliable and affordable energy to our communities.

— Brad Coppock