Rockwood Electric Utility (REU) and TVA were founded on a mission to serve — through reliable and affordable energy, a safe and protected environment and thriving economic development.
REU provides electricity to nearly 15,000 residential and business customers within Roane, Cumberland and Morgan Counties in Tennessee, serving the Cities of Rockwood and Kingston and surrounding communities.
Students Plugged into Learning with TVA STEM Grants
In 2022, Michelle Spradlin, first grade teacher at Ridge View Elementary School in Rockwood, Tennessee was awarded a $5,000 TVA STEM grant. Spradlin said, “I shared the funds with my first grade team. We chose to purchase each of the six first grade classrooms a computer-charging cart. We only have four outlets per classroom. So, having a safe, dedicated space to be able to charge all of our students’ Google Chromebooks at one time is very beneficial for our students. With the remaining funds, we purchased additional Chromebooks, and now every first grader has a dedicated computer to use.”
Eric Harbin, director of finance, Roane County School District said, “During the past school year, we learned that many of our children do not have access to the internet or technology outside of school. Often our children have never used a computer.” This was problematic during quarantine, as keeping up with learning not only required a one-to-one device per child, but to understand how to use online education tools such as Google Classroom.
He said, “Also, they are expected to take a benchmark test using the computer within the first weeks of the school year. We will teach our children how to independently log in to a Chromebook, how to navigate the internet, how to type, and how to troubleshoot basic computer issues.”
“Our ultimate goal is to encourage students to graduate high school, seek higher education in college or a trade school and will become successful employees in our community,” Harbin said.
In 2021, TVA STEM grants were given to Cherokee Middle School and Kingston Elementary School, both in Kingston, Tennessee. Kendall Bear, general manager of Rockwood Electric Utility said, “We are grateful for TVA’s support to improve the learning experience of students in our service area.”
Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) Status a Testament to Community Energy
REU earned a platinum Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) designation from the American Public Power Association (APPA) in 2020, a status they will retain for three years.
“The RP3 designation demonstrates Rockwood Electric’s proficiency in the disciplines of reliability, safety, workforce development, and system improvement. Receiving the RP3 designation is a great privilege and honor because it exemplifies our commitment to implementing industry best practices in utility operations. It is also nice to be recognized for that work by a group of our peers,” Bear said.
“Although we are a small utility, our employees are able to bring the highest quality electric service to our customers and support jobs in the community in part because we have people that partner with and provide resources to us. Working with organizations like TVA and Tennessee Valley Public Power Association, Inc., Tennessee Municipal Electric Power Association and Tennessee Job Training and Safety –that’s community energy.”
Pooling Funds to Keep Neighbors Above Water
REU started its “Thinking of Others” program to give customers a way to chip in to help community members pay their electric bills. The program has been going strong for 12 years, and is an easy way to donate. All it takes is paying a little extra each month to contribute to the fund. Bear said, “Most people are genuinely happy to help somebody else in any way they can. And what may be an insignificant amount to some can help fulfill a basic need for another.”
The funds go to the Mid-East Community Action Agency (MECAA), where potential recipients are evaluated to ensure monies support customers facing an emergency situation. MECAA also manages donations from Warming the Hearts, a similar program operated by neighboring LPC Harriman Utility Board. Joining efforts with another TVA partner fortifies the ability to support residents in Southeast Tennessee.
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