10,000 rural electric members meet in one place


March 9, 2o2o                                                                                                                                                     Home

Powell Valley Electric Cooperative (PVEC) provides electricity in eight counties in Tennessee and Virginia.  There are 21 rural electric cooperatives in the state of Tennessee.  There are 831 electric distribution cooperatives in the United States that serve more than 20 million businesses, homes, schools, and farms.  The cooperative grid has more than 26 million miles of power lines. 

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) is the organization that speaks for rural electric cooperatives nationwide.  NRECA holds an annual conference.  This year’s event took place the first week of March in New Orleans.  

I had the privilege of attending the conference as a member-owner. When you pay your electric bill to a cooperative, you are a member-owner.  Every resident of Hancock County is a member-owner of PVEC – as are the folks PVEC serves in its other seven counties.

What was the conference like?  It took place in the Convention Center, a massive building along the Mississippi River, with dozens of halls and rooms.  About 10,000 cooperative board members and staff attended from all over the country.  It is amazing to see women and men from across the nation of all sizes, colors, and wearing all different types of clothing – from suits and ties to jeans and cowboy hats.  Everyone is present for the same reason:  to learn how to improve their cooperatives and better serve member-owners. 

There were dozens of workshops, hundreds of displays of the newest technology, keynote speakers, and lots of meeting and talking.  The keynote speakers addressed an audience of over 5,000 people in one enormous hall.  The topic concerning most people is how to keep up with the rapid technological changes taking place in the industry. 

I learned a lot about how cooperatives work, how co-ops can operate more efficiently, and how digital systems help improve co-ops with results that directly benefit all of us member-owners.  At the conference, NRECA offers training programs for cooperative board members to improve their knowledge of operations, to learn best practices, and to hear about new technology.  Almost all cooperatives require their board members to take these training programs.  PVEC does not require this continuing education for its board members.

One idea that co-ops are very excited about is “beneficial electrification“.  The idea behind this is to increase the use of electric power in coop operations and by coop members.  One example is using electricity-powered forklifts in work areas instead of gas engines.  What about an electric school bus?  The next article in this series will focus entirely on beneficial electrification.  

If you know of programs at other electric cooperatives that benefit member-owners, please let us know by email:  pvecmembervoices@gmail.com

Everyone needs to learn more about our electric cooperative.  For more information, go to pve.coop .

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