Electric Co-op Day on the Hill: MLEC brings rural voices to state legislators

More than 150 electric co-op members from across the state were in Nashville Feb. 11 and 12 for the 2019 Legislative Conference to deliver an important message to lawmakers: Electric co-ops are important to Tennessee.

Representing Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative at the Legislative Conference were President and CEO Keith Carnahan and directors Ronny Averett and Tommy Graham of Perry County, as well as Larry Mayberry and Jessie Wallace of Humphreys County.

“There are a lot of new legislators this term. While many of them know about co-ops, some do not,” says Carnahan. “It is important for us to tell the story of electric co-ops, share that rural and suburban Tennessee matters, and that electric co-ops are a big part of their growth and prosperity.”

During visits, co-op members spoke to legislators about local governance, tax issues, broadband and other regulatory concerns that affect the ability of electric co-ops to provide affordable and reliable energy and other services that matter to rural and suburban communities.

The evening after the visits, Gov. Bill Lee stressed the importance of rural Tennessee while speaking with electric co-op leaders.

“I grew up in rural Tennessee, so rural issues matter a lot,” said Lee, a resident of Fernvale and member of Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation. “I think what happens in rural Tennessee should matter to every Tennessean. That’s why our first executive order was in fact to strengthen our rural communities and to require every department of state government to give an impact statement on how they impact rural communities.”

Lee spent nearly an hour with co-op members and staff discussing the administration’s plans and policy positions and the role that co-ops play in the communities they serve. Broadband was a popular topic of discussion. Lee shared the importance of continuing to expand broadband all across the state.

Electric co-ops are best known for energy, but they have far reaching impacts on rural and suburban areas of the state. From economic development to youth programs to broadband expansion, electric co-ops enable many Tennessee communities to grow and prosper.

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