LaFollette Utilities (LUB) and TVA were founded on a mission to serve — through reliable and affordable energy, a safe and protected environment and thriving economic development.
LUB provides water, electricity, and wastewater services to communities in East Tennessee. Located in the City of LaFollette, its centerpiece is Norris Lake, which lures both anglers and spectators to bass fishing tournaments. It is also a popular place for both locals and tourists to enjoy boating and jet skiing. And these outdoor enthusiasts have ample lodging options as RV parks, campgrounds, and lakefront rentals continue to spring up.
LUB members and guests are able to use the lake for recreation in harmony with flood control, navigation, power generation and water quality operations thanks to Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) protections established by the TVA Act. One measure is ensuring shoreline alteration project proposals such as building docks or stabilization efforts go through a proper permitting process.
Moving Beyond the Coal Era Toward New Economic Opportunities
LUB and TVA also partner to support economic growth in the area. While retirees and younger folks alike enjoy a relaxed and affordable lifestyle in LaFollette, this charming small town is on the verge of reinvention. It was once a thriving coal mining center before the practice began its descent in favor of more sustainable methods of generating energy. “Now (the) mines are pretty much a thing of the past,” says Kenny Baird, General Manager, LUB.
LUB is working with TVA’s Economic Development team to bring more businesses and jobs back to LaFollette. Together, they scout companies that are an excellent fit for the area and offer incentives to make the move attractive. TVA even has a Site Selector tool where they list lots and buildings available for commercial use to make it easy for organizations to find the perfect place to relocate.
A buzz of revitalization energy is moving into downtown LaFollette. In fact, LUB is so invested they just completed a revitalization project of their own. Baird says, “We’ve moved part of our operation into a remodeled old bakery and a machine shop that was next door to the Studebaker dealership 70 years ago. We kept the historical look of the buildings.” Baird says he’s excited to see other local businesses investing in similar renovation projects in the heart of LaFollette as the town continues to grow.
Powering the Future
To improve power service for existing members and prepare for expansion, LUB is planning a system update based on an assessment of community power needs for the next 15 years. The project includes a potential new substation that will serve the current lake area residents and additional infrastructure that will welcome growth in population. LUB is also partnering with TVA Land Management to upgrade power lines and replace conductors and poles. They will fund the project with low interest municipal bonds.
COVID-19 Financial Relief
Always committed to support their customers in times of crisis, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, LUB provided assistance to those in need thanks to TVA Community Care Fund monies. Baird says the East Tennessee Foundation was instrumental in helping to decide to distribute the donations to the Campbell Enhancement Fund along with Caring Neighbors, a program sponsored by LUB that helps customers pay their utility bills when they experience a financial setback.
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