Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative and TVA were founded on a mission to serve — through reliable and affordable energy, a safe and protected environment and thriving economic development.
Serving members in Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Lewis and Perry Counties in rural Middle Tennessee, Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative (MLEC) provides more than electricity to its members. According to Keith Carnahan, MLEC President & CEO, MLEC’s partnership with TVA helps to boost the economic development potential for the service area.
“TVA’s economic development team has been very active in our area and good about involving us when prospective customers come into the area,” Carnahan says, “They have been helpful with site prep and readiness.” Carnahan says recent examples include help with preparing and listing sites for prospective commercial development in Perry County, Humphreys County, and Centerville.
MLEC’s commitment to the community extends beyond affordable, reliable power and economic development. Carnahan says, “One of our co-op principles is giving back to our community in the best way we can.”
One way that MLEC puts this principle into practice is by partnering with TVA and Second Harvest Food Bank to help ensure vulnerable members in the community don’t go hungry. And, during the COVID-19 pandemic, MLEC participated in the TVA Community Cares Fund to make sure qualifying members were able to pay their power bills. Carnahan says, “The gratitude was overwhelming. You get more from giving than receiving and that’s the truth.”
Meanwhile, membership continues to grow in the service area. Carnahan explains, “We’re experiencing a lot of growth. A lot of people are moving in from out of state. But even though we have more meters, growth on electric sales is modest; it’s not dramatic. A lot of that goes back to energy conservation. We’re one of the only businesses that helps our customers use less of our product.”
MLEC also partners with TVA EnergyRight to offer participating residential members opportunities to save money on their power bill through energy upgrades. Member engagement with the program has been robust, says Carnahan, “It’s a great program and has really benefited members.”
While economic development and energy efficiency are important, so is taking time to enjoy life. For many MLEC members, that includes spending time fishing or boating along the Tennessee and Duck Rivers, which are both accessible within the MLEC service area. Carnahan says stewardship of these outdoor recreational areas is a priority, “We work hard with TVA to make sure our waterways are accessible and enjoyable.”
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