Much of the electricity that Tennessee residents and businesses use is generated by one utility, the Tennessee Valley Authority. TVA doesn’t sell electricity directly to consumers, but to distributor utilities such as cities, towns and rural electric cooperatives, which then re-sell it to residents and businesses. In electric co-ops, the customers are members who have equal ownership shares in the utility and a voice in how their co-op operates and what programs it offers.
Appalachian Voices’ “Energy Savings for Appalachia” campaign began as a response to the availability of increased federal funding for inclusive energy efficiency programs at rural electric cooperatives. After several years of promoting these essential programs to co-op leadership and educating members about the opportunity, it became clear that members both want and need more decision-making power in order to implement programs and policies that benefit their community and protect local ecosystems.
Join us to help Tennessee families lower their energy bills and improve the comfort and value of their homes, support the local economy, and reduce our community’s impact on the environment. Contact Brianna Knisley, (865) 291-0083, ext 700, or brianna [at] appvoices.org
Members of electric co-ops are often unaware of what it means to be a member and of the resources that could be utilized by their co-ops. Transparent, two-way communication between members and leadership is often lacking, resulting in poor or uninformed decision making at the leadership level.
The Energy Savings for Appalachia campaign seeks to advance our goal of making modern day electric cooperatives more responsive to their members and democratic in their decision making by:
- educating co-op members on their rights and responsibilities and electric co-op best practices
- training members in community organizing and skill building
- providing research and support to activated members
- facilitating relationships between current leadership and members
Ultimately, our goal is for electric co-op members to have the power to affect the implementation of clean, affordable energy and other programs that address the needs of rural communities and environments.
Appalachian Electric Cooperative
Appalachian Voices is working with multiple local agencies and community service providers to conduct educational energy efficiency workshops in Appalachian Electric Cooperative’s (AEC) service territory. AEC is a leader in the effort to develop a statewide on-bill financing program for energy efficiency.
Powell Valley Electric Cooperative
Over the last year, our Tennessee Energy Savings team has been supporting member-owners of Powell Valley Electric Cooperative by providing workshops on their rights and responsibilities, skills trainings, and research assistance. The member-owners were able to form their own group called “Powell Valley Electric Cooperative Member Voices.” The group recently launched a campaign to make their cooperative more transparent, accountable and responsive to the needs of its members.
Ways To Save Now
Residents in Tennessee can complete a free eScore self-audit to learn ways to save money on their electric bills. Additionally, eligible residents can apply for financing through TVA or their local utility for energy efficient heat pumps and other household energy improvements. Unfortunately, those financing programs are not accessible for low-income residents who need help the most.