Neighbors Powering What Matters

Community Energy: the benefit of Arab Electric Cooperative and TVA working together
Community Energy

Community Energy—
In Our Region, Power Means More

Arab Electric Cooperative is powered by a public power model — owned by and accountable to the people who live here. So the initiatives we invest in through our power model serve one purpose: helping our communities thrive.

Because we support public power, we all benefit from Community Energy. It’s the progress our model enables — like more job opportunities thanks to thriving and growing communities, outdoor recreation thanks to our protected lands, cleaner energy sources, and much more.

A Partnership of Service

Arab Electric Cooperative and TVA work together to power not just our homes and businesses, but our potential too — by combining efforts to help create a future we all believe in.

Working Together to Make Life in Our Community Better

Wildlife Safety and Improved Lighting

Arab Electric Cooperative (AEC) and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) were founded on a mission to serve — through reliable and affordable energy, a safe and protected environment and thriving economic development.

Perched atop scenic Brindlee Mountain in Arab, Alabama, Arab Electric Cooperative (AEC) serves parts of Marshall, Cullman and Morgan counties. Their members include farmers as well as commuters who work at Redstone Arsenal in nearby Huntsville. The region is home to Guntersville Lake, best known for its world-class bass fishing as a result of its many well-attended tournaments. The woodlands at Guntersville State Park are also popular with both tourists and locals who enjoy hiking, trail running and camping.

Wildlife Protection

Protecting natural resources and wildlife while maintaining the lake and surrounding waterfront areas for recreation is a priority to AEC. This is possible thanks to strong environmental stewardship programs such as those operated by TVA. AEC is especially grateful for the partnership during times when members’ desire for uninterrupted electricity is at odds with the basic needs of other living creatures.

The collaborative forces came in handy back in 2019 when a female osprey selected a power pole in Guntersville as the site for the four-foot nest she would build to nurture her two chicks. To prevent their home from becoming kindling—and cutting off service for the members, SEC worked with TVA wildlife biologists for a month to find a humane method to safely remove the avian family. Last we heard, the birds were thriving in the new residence, and may have adopted a new call that sounds a lot like, “Location, location, location.”

Infrastructure Upgrades

The partnership between AEC and TVA is also instrumental in making infrastructure improvements that will encourage economic development in the area. Stacey White, AEC General Manager, says she and the Board are working with TVA to build a much-needed power substation to support the electrical grid. “(This) will allow growth on our system, which will help to grow our community. We’ve already seen the population increase and it is predicted to continue to rise. The substation will make our grid safer for current members, and allow it to accommodate new ones. And while we embrace new residents and businesses we would like to assure our members that we are here to support their continued service.”

The electric grid improvements will enable streamlined operations designed to improve customer service. It will also create capacity for automation tools that help keep households better informed so they can manage energy consumption with ease, which will inevitably save members money.

AEC is also investing in additional equipment that will provide more cost-effective, efficient and reliable electricity. This includes advanced meters that will improve electric bill accuracy and make it easier to diagnose problems that impact service.

“AEC recognizes that new technology and communication capabilities are essential to maintaining the service our customers expect. While our electric system has served us well, it has remained largely unchanged for decades and is rapidly running up against limitations,” White says.

Sustainability

The AEC is building on the capabilities afforded by the new substations to team up with TVA and create a new recycling plant slated for construction during the second quarter of 2022. “Prior to the new substation, we wouldn’t have had the means to provide electricity to them,” White says. The facility will be able to increase the region’s capacity to process recyclables and keep these materials out of the watershed. This will be even more important as the growing population inevitably generates more waste.

She says, “The TVA Economic Development team has been very helpful with this project, and it’s going to be great for our community.” The building process and site operation will provide many job opportunities and allow talent recruitment in a variety of industries.

Lighting

AEC has also partnered with TVA through the City of Arab to install street lamps along Highway 231, a main thoroughfare on the route from Arab to Huntsville. “It meant a lot that we were able to do that and that TVA was here to support us,” White says.

Transportation Design

People traveling on Highway 69 between Guntersville and Arab will soon enjoy a more scenic route. AEC and local power company (LPC) Electric Board of Guntersville (EBOG) service areas meet in the middle of this causeway. Guntersville needed an infrastructure upgrade to provide a loop feed for their electric system, so AEC and EBOG, along with TVA, have partnered to relocate half of the staggered power poles from to a single side of the road on the causeway.

White points out that teamwork has been critical to the endeavor, “We’ve worked very well together with Guntersville Electric and TVA to make that project happen. It’s an ongoing project that has been quite an undertaking. TVA has provided great support for moving the poles and lines.”

COVID-19 Financial Relief

TVA’s COVID-19 Community Care Fund enabled the Arab Emergency Relief Committee to double the number of families they could help when the pandemic safety requirements prevented many workers from getting a paycheck. AEC matched a $10,000 donation from TVA on two occasions. White says those funds were critical because “the money helped many families in the area keep their lights on. We were thrilled to be a part of that.”

Our energy has fueled progress in our region since 1933. See the ways it's helping shape our future.

Resources for Your Home, Business and Life

Our partnership makes helpful programs like these possible.

Schools

AEC was proud to award a 2021 TVA STEM grant to Arab Junior High School.

The grant was part of $800,000 in funding TVA awarded to public school educators, in partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated, a TVA retiree organization. The funds are used to develop science, technology, engineering and math projects across the Valley. The STEM classroom grant program received more than 600 applications for the competitive awards.

The program provides teachers in the seven-state TVA service area a chance to apply for up to $5,000 to support STEM projects. Schools must receive their power from a TVA distributor to qualify for grant funds.

Recreation

TVA’s management of the Valley’s public lands and waterways provides many opportunities for Tennessee residents and tourists to participate in outdoor activities.

The AEC community enjoys fishing and recreation on Guntersville Lake, which is supported by TVA’s environmental stewardship program.

Recreation

Residential

AEC partners with TVA to help customers make smart energy decisions and save money through TVA EnergyRight.

Our partnership with TVA EnergyRight offers you resources to help with your home’s energy needs. From DIY energy-saving advice to finding a local contractor you can trust, TVA EnergyRight resources can help you improve your home’s energy efficiency and save money on your power bill.

As of September 2021, many customers in the AEC service area have participated so far this year in several TVA EnergyRight programs.

Community Energy - Residential

Reliability

AEC partners with TVA to provide safe, reliable, clean power to service area members.

TVA supplies community energy to 153 local power companies and about 60 large industrial customers and federal facilities at the lowest feasible cost. Over half of the electricity generated by TVA comes from carbon-free resources. TVA’s diverse energy portfolio includes coal, gas, nuclear and hydroelectric plants as well as renewable resources. For over 20 years, TVA’s transmission system has achieved a reliability rate of 99.999 percent.

Reliability