“All politics is local.” This observation by the late Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, Jr., former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, means that even national politics have a local impact, and people care most about issues that directly affect them. Indirectly, this famous adage underscores the importance and value of local politics.
At Powell Valley Electric Cooperative, we think it’s critical to develop and cultivate relationships with local legislators because they craft, introduce and vote on legislation that impacts the local business climate, the environment and quality of life for our community. That’s why we work closely with our local elected officials. After all, our purpose is to provide safe, reliable, affordable energy, but our mission is to help our community thrive.
Powell Valley Electric Cooperative is a local business that powers economic development and prosperity for our region. As a cooperative, we have deep roots here, and we listen closely to our members to better understand the needs of the community. Our leadership, board members and employees live and work right here in the community we serve.
We advocate for our community, ensuring that local legislators know, understand and act on the issues that are important to our area.
As a practical matter, we recognize that most legislators are “generalists,” yet they vote on a wide range of issues. Their expertise may not include the changing energy industry, which is why electric cooperatives provide guidance and expertise from subject matter experts who’ve been in the energy industry for many years.
Today’s energy landscape is an increasingly complex topic covering not only the traditional engineering and vegetation management aspects of the industry but also encompassing technology, cybersecurity, the electrification of the transportation sector and more.
Our experts provide briefings and background to legislators, committees and staff, and we offer pertinent information at hearings and other legislative or regulatory meetings or gatherings. And because we’re involved in economic development and know local community leaders, we can provide insight on how issues and policies under discussion might impact our region.
We strive to be a trusted resource on energy issues. Because of our deep roots in the community, we have a firm understanding of local issues and needs. We will continue looking after the long term interests of our consumer-members. This means we are able to cultivate and foster positive, productive relationships with legislators who know and trust us because we’re advocating on behalf of the community we serve.
We’re proud to power your life and bring good things to the community. We hope you’ll continue to advise Powell Valley Electric Cooperative on matters of importance so we can continue to advocate on your behalf and improve the quality of life for all.
Don’t get me wrong. I get as excited as the next person about opening a present on Christmas morning, but I think most of us realize — at least when we get a little older — that it is almost always better to give than receive, especially during this time of year.
The fact is, your co-op gives back to our community every day of the year. Through our work to provide reliable electricity, support local schools, promote economic development and various other community efforts, Powell Valley Electric Cooperative is consistently engaged in the kinds of things that make the communities we serve great places to live, work and raise a family. Many of these efforts can take years to bear fruit, and that’s OK. We’re in it for the long haul.
There is something we do, however, that offers a more immediate payback. Every year, Powell Valley Electric Cooperative sets aside a special day — our “Day of Service” — where we come together to give back to the community we serve.
For this year’s Day of Service event, PVEC delivered lunch to the employees of our local health departments. These workers are among the many who have shown their commitment for the well-being of our community by providing exceptional care throughout this global pandemic. Thank you for your dedication.
It’s hard to describe the feeling we share when working side-by-side on these projects with other PVEC employees. The sense of camaraderie goes way beyond wearing matching T-shirts. Our Day of Service has become a tradition, and it’s one I personally look forward to each year.
I’d like to take this opportunity to challenge you to start 2022 with a resolution to make our community a better place to live. Volunteer your time to help someone less fortunate or help a local organization tackle a project it might not have the funds or the hands to otherwise complete. Donations are great, but there’s just something soul-satisfying about giving time. Whether through your church, a school or a community nonprofit, I promise there’s a project out there just waiting for you to undertake. I can promise you this: The rewards of doing so are meaningful and long-lasting.
The employees of Powell Valley Electric Cooperative join me in wishing you and yours a safe and happy holiday season and many blessings in the coming new year.
This year’s annual cooperative membership meeting was held at Hancock County High School in Sneedville, Tenn. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure the safety our members, changes were once again made to the Annual Meeting program.
During registration, members had the opportunity to speak with a group of electric vehicle owners who shared information about the electric vehicles on display at the meeting. The meeting was called to order by Board President Roger Ball. The cooperative’s director of accounting and finance, John Hoyle, presented the annual financial report. An additional report regarding the operations of the cooperative during the past year was given by the General Manager.
Highlights of the report presented to the membership by General Manager, Brad Coppock, follow:
Just like last year, this year’s annual meeting is very different from years prior to the pandemic. Last year, we met at the Tazewell warehouse to carry on the important business of the cooperative. As I stood in the warehouse, wearing a mask, looking over a very different crowd at our annual meeting than the previous years, I thought to myself, this is a once in a lifetime occurrence and we’ll be back to normal next year. Little did I know, the pandemic would carry on into this year and continue to affect our daily lives in ways no one could have ever imagined.
I’m sure most of us in attendance today know of someone that has been impacted by the pandemic, and possibly lost someone close to you, and for that you have my sympathies.
As the last year and a half has demonstrated, we never know what tomorrow might bring in the way of challenges or opportunities. So, for the second year in a row, we’ve had to modify our meeting to protect the health and well-being of our members. Just like last year, our program has been scaled down, but will cover all the requirements.
So for now, our hope is that next year we will meet at Thomas Walker High School and, once again, be able to have our regular activities such as free health services, bucket truck rides, face painting for children, lunch and door prizes.
In the meantime, we must continue to take preventative measures while we conduct the business of the cooperative. Luckily, at our offices we have been able
to keep our lobbies open to our members. We continue to frequently sanitize, social distance and stagger work schedules where possible. The virus may have changed how we work, our families’ lives, and the way we educate our children, but it has not changed our commitment to serving the members of the cooperative.
Now, over the next few minutes, I will give an update on the status of the cooperative. As John just reported, despite the lingering pandemic, your cooperative had a strong financial year. We also have a financial consultant look over our finances, and I’m happy to report the financial health of the cooperative will remain strong for the foreseeable future. I would like to talk about the net margins that John mentioned in his report. What does your cooperative do with those net margins? Well, the beauty of the public power model is the net margins will be invested back into the cooperative’s system. And we do this in a couple of ways.
This past year, I’m pleased to report that along with our partners at TVA, we gave back $40,000 to our communities to assist businesses and families affected by the pandemic. As of May, TVA and local power companies across the Tennessee Valley provided nearly $8 million to organizations to assist efforts to help those most impacted by the pandemic. This was a tremendous accomplishment. Another way we invest these margins is by investing back into our infrastructure. We use these funds to upgrade substation equipment, our distribution lines, and we just completed a SCADA upgrade that allows us to communicate with our substations and over 60 downline devices on our distribution system such as reclosers, capacitors and voltage regulators.
Also, we have recently started a 5-year project to upgrade our AMI (metering) system that allows us to read over 33,000 meters every day. These upgrades position your cooperative to provide the reliable service you’ve come to expect.
We also use these margins to invest in broadband. As many of you know, your cooperative has partnered with Scott County Telephone Cooperative to form PVECFiber. This was to fulfill a commitment made by our board of directors to provide high-speed internet to all members throughout our service area. To date, we have hung over 1,300 miles of fiber and we have connected nearly 1,600 services.
Now more than ever, reliable highspeed internet is crucial for our members. Because of the pandemic, more adults are working from home, and more children are attending class from home. We are also working with Scott County Telephone Cooperative to obtain grants to offset the cost of deploying fiber. To date, our partnership has been awarded over $7 million in grants, and we believe we’ll be able to announce another $3 million grant at the end of the month. It will take a few years to complete, but rest assured, we are pursuing all avenues to bring high-speed internet to all homes and businesses in our service area as quickly as possible.
Next we’ll talk about our long-term partnership with TVA. Last year, TVA approved a special $200 million Pandemic Relief Credit to help communities and businesses recover more quickly from the pandemic; and, at last year’s annual meeting it was announced that PVEC’s board of directors had made the decision to pass this credit on to our members. That credit will end this month. However, TVA’s board of directors approved an extension to this credit through fiscal year 2022. I’m happy to report, at the last Powell Valley board meeting, your Board of Directors has, once again, made the decision to pass this credit directly to the members. So that is great news for the members of our cooperative.
Last we have an update on upgrades at our Sneedville and Jonesville Facilities The construction of our new Sneedville
Office and a new warehouse is complete. It looks fantastic. Nearly all the labor was done in house. The lots have recently been paved and we’re working on the landscaping. In the very near future, we will be planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony. If you haven’t seen the new buildings, you should make the drive down on Jail Street. It’s really something all our members should be proud of. This past year, building supplies and materials have been very difficult to come by, and there have been considerable delays, but we do still have plans for upgrades at
our Jonesville facilities.
At this time, I’d like to thank the folks at the school for all their help and for allowing us to use their facility. We’d also like to thank those who arranged to have the electric cars on display, to the health department for their participation, and to Mitchel and Mike Cosby for providing the sound system. We appreciate all of you. To our employees, I appreciate the job you do each and every day to serve our members. Throughout this pandemic you rose to the occasion to face any challenge that came our way, and remained committed to those we serve.
On behalf of the Board of Directors and myself, thank you for the fantastic job you have been doing. To the Board, I want to personally say “thank you” on behalf of the employees for the job that you do, to make our job possible, as we all work together to serve our members.
At this time I’d like to recognize a person who played a very important role at the co-op and was instrumental through his guidance and vision in making Powell Valley Electric what it is today. That person is former General Manager and CEO Randell Meyers. So when you see Randell, on behalf of the board, the employees, and the members, please recognize him for his 57 years of dedicated service to the cooperative. Thank you, Randell — we appreciate you.
This completes my report. I would like to say, regardless of what lies ahead, we will continue to focus on our commitment to improve the lives of our members by providing the best possible service at the lowest possible price.
We were pleased to once again have with us David Callis, general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, at this year’s annual meeting. We also welcomed Director Tracey
Sharp, present for her first meeting as representative for Board District 1.
During the business session, presided over by Board President Roger Ball, incumbent directors Roger Ball, representing District 2; Mike Shockley, representing District 7; and David Kindle representing District 8, were reelected to the board of directors without
During the reorganizational meeting of the board, officers re-elected were Roger Ball, president; David Kindle, vice president; and Judith Robertson, secretary-treasurer.
We look forward to once again be able to gather with you — members of the co-op community — to catch up, hear what you have to say and enjoy some good entertainment, food, and fellowship. Thank you for your continued patience and understanding as we work to continue to provide safe, reliable, affordable power during this pandemic.
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.
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.
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.