Rockwood Electric Utility logo_70s-80s

Neighbors Powering What Matters

Community Energy: the benefit of Rockwood Electric Utility and TVA working together
Community Energy

Community Energy—
In Our Region, Power Means More

Rockwood Electric Utility (REU) operates with a public power model — owned by and accountable to its customers that live and work in Roane, Cumberland and Morgan Counties in Tennessee. The initiatives REU invests in serve one purpose: helping communities thrive.

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

A Partnership of Service

REU 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

Digital literacy, home energy efficiency and award winning reliability

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.

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.

Recreation

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

Rockwood Campground and Marina on Watts Barr Reservoir near Tom Fuller Memorial Park will soon be added to the list of amenities locals and visitors can enjoy. In December 2021, TVA approved the City of Rockwood’s request to build a campground near Tom Fuller Memorial Park with a full-service, 43-acre marina and RV sites in the City of Rockwood. Bear said REU is involved with the infrastructure—creating the electrical design to serve the marina and RV sites. TVA issued Blue Ridge Development LLC an easement for land rights.

The site will include 204 covered boat slips, fishing piers, parking spaces, water intakes, riprap and campsites along with a swim beach, boat ramp and fuel platform. The collaborative effort accommodates more fishing, boating and camping, and will bring economic development to the area.

This project is good for employment, too. Bear said, “During construction contractor jobs will be added, and when the campground and marina goes into full operation, it will employ an incremental number of workers.”

Recreation

Reliability

REU partners with TVA to provide safe, reliable, clean power to service area customers. TVA supplies community energy to 153 local power companies and about 60 large industrial customers and federal facilities at the lowest feasible cost. For more than 20 years, TVA’s transmission system has achieved a reliability rate of 99.999 percent.

More than half of the electricity generated by TVA is derived from carbon-free resources. TVA’s diverse energy portfolio includes coal, gas, nuclear and hydroelectric plants as well as renewables.

A terrain that includes Appalachian Mountains and Watts Bar Lake and stretches wide across several counties makes for sparsely scattered communities in clusters. As a result, crews often travel many miles and hours to reach downed lines and fix power outages. Their dedication is tireless and contributes to reliable electric service for customers located anywhere in the REU service area.

Reliability

Renewables

Investing in renewable energy sources — like solar and wind — helps keep our power clean and affordable. REU partners with TVA to offer various ways for our neighbors and businesses to join us in supporting renewable resource energy projects in the Tennessee Valley and promote a greener energy future.

Explore available resources from information that helps residents learn about solar options to programs that allow businesses to support renewable energy and operate more sustainably.

Since REU started using TVA Green Connect portal in March 2021, they have been prepared to help customers get started with solar. “The portal is the first place to start when looking to install solar in the home. I can immediately say you need to start there as a customer. The contractors that are a part of the network know how the process works and it makes for consistency,” Bear said.

“We have seen an increase of over two dozen homes using residential solar in the past 18-24 months,” Bear said. REU is able to add to customers’ renewables mix by accessing their 1 MW solar farm in the Westel community in Cumberland County.

Solar panels in a field

Residential

REU partners with TVA to help customers make smart home energy decisions and save money on the power bill through TVA EnergyRight®. Together, they provide resources such as DIY home energy-saving solutions to reputable local contractor recommendations.

“There are many older homes in the area that have not previously gone through any type of home improvement. We have seen large bills from the same residences year after year,” Bear said. Recently, however, REU customers started to benefit from TVA’s Home Uplift program, which provides improvements that help bring down electricity costs.

Bear said, “We were fortunate that a third party provided additional funding and we were able to leverage that with TVA to increase the number of houses we could help.” REU’s role was a quiet one, but the fact that they signed up the residents made it all possible.

Community Energy - Residential