Florence Utilities and TVA were founded on a mission to serve — through reliable and affordable energy, a safe and protected environment and thriving economic development.
Mary McDuffa, Manager of the City of Florence Electricity Department, explains that despite the name, they are proud to serve customers throughout all of Lauderdale County.
Situated on the Tennessee River and home to the University of North Alabama, Florence offers locals and tourists a charming downtown and plenty of opportunities for outdoor activity. McDuffa said, “People in Lauderdale County really like the outdoors. We have the river and many creeks where people enjoy kayaking and fishing.”
When asked about Florence Electricity Department’s partnership with TVA, McDuffa said many people in the community are aware of TVA’s influence on the environment and outdoor recreation, “I think people see TVA more as an environmental steward than as a power provider. They see how TVA manages the fish and the water.”
But the relationship with TVA also impacts the Lauderdale community in many other ways, from providing electric power to generating economic development to supporting customers in need.
McDuffa said many businesses and industrial customers choose to come to the area because of the resources available through the partnership with TVA. “We have our first Data Center company coming in. TVA helped to estimate the company’s power usage and power bill. The TVA Economic Development team was also a big help. I believe the teamwork between Florence and TVA was instrumental in the company’s decision to come here.”
Economic growth in the area also depends on local education and workforce training. Lauderdale County Schools will soon open a new Workforce Development Center as part of its Career & Technical Education program. McDuffa notes that both the Florence Electricity Department and TVA helped support the facility and programming, “TVA has been very instrumental in planning the center, including curriculum development, such as welding and pipefitting. We also shared our curriculum needs, which, of course, include electrical line workers.”
McDuffa says the program will help students gain critical job skills and career training that will prepare them to land good jobs after graduation.
Many local students needed virtual learning support in 2020 when the pandemic began. Florence Electricity Department participated in the TVA Community Care Fund to assist students in Florence and Lauderdale County during this difficult time. Both Florence Electricity Department and TVA contributed matching funds that were then distributed to the schools to expand remote and virtual learning options by providing technology assistance to students.
McDuffa said, “We are proud to serve all of Lauderdale County.”
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