(NASHVILLE, TENN.) — The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) today awarded the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association (TECA) its Paul Revere Award. NRECA recognized the statewide association for its ability to mobilize its cooperative consumer-members on behalf of the electric cooperative industry.
The Tennessee electric cooperatives faced an expensive and difficult fight with the cable industry over the issue of pole attachments. As the cable industry pushed for new legislation that would have created a $13 million subsidy paid by co-ops to the cable companies and stripped local co-op boards of control, they simultaneously spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of the initiative.
In typical co-op style, TECA deployed a grassroots strategy to activate advocates across the state, urging them to contact state legislators, share information on social media channels, and write letters to local papers in support of more reasonable legislation. Ultimately neither option prevailed, which amounted to a win for co-ops and a big loss for the cable industry.
“The power of a well-implemented grassroots campaign cannot be overstated, and TECA demonstrated that in spades. Against a well-funded opponent, they thoughtfully and effectively tackled the issue legislator by legislator,” said Jo Ann Emerson, CEO of NRECA. “TECA’s approach provides a road map for co-ops across the country on how to organize, educate and execute a plan for a victory.”
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.
More than 8,500 representatives from cooperative electric utilities across the nation are attending the NRECA Annual Meeting March 2-5, during which they will set NRECA’s legislative and organizational agenda for 2014. In addition to considering and acting upon policy resolutions, delegates receive reports from NRECA officials, hear addresses by key public figures and business experts, and attend educational forums on major issues affecting electric cooperatives and their consumer-owners.