Sevier County Electric System

Neighbors Powering What Matters

Community Energy: the benefit of Sevier County Electric System and TVA working together
Community Energy

Community Energy—In Sevier County, Tenn., Our Power Means More

Our region is powered by a public power model — owned by and accountable to the people who live here. So the initiatives we invest in through our power model serve one purpose: helping our communities thrive.

Because we support public power, we all benefit from Community Energy. It’s the progress our model enables — like more job opportunities thanks to thriving and growing communities, outdoor recreation made possible by our protected lands, cleaner energy sources, and much more.

A Partnership of Service

Sevier County Electric System (SCES) 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

A Spirit of Service and Readiness for the Future

Sevier County Electric System (SCES) and TVA were founded on a mission to serve — through reliable and affordable energy, a safe and protected environment and thriving economic development.

SCES provides electricity to 60,000 residents and businesses within Sevier County, Tennessee, serving Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Pittman Center. Located near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, approximately 15 million tourists visit the area annually for outdoor recreation and attractions such as Dollywood, SCES’s largest customer.

That Smoky Mountain DNA

Dolly Parton wrote “My Tennessee Mountain Home” about her own sweet memories of growing up in Sevierville, Tennessee. And throughout her life, the legendary singer, songwriter and actor has herself been a source of light in Sevier County. Her theme park, Dollywood provides both kids and adults with not only a source of fun and joy—but knowledge, too. Dolly has prioritized education for area youth in her philanthropic efforts, so it was a natural fit to weave learning into the park experience. For example, Dollywood leverages the roller coaster as an opportunity to teach the concept of potential and kinetic energy. The park works with education partners SCES and TVA to develop these integrated lessons in electricity, energy and conservation.

Classroom teachers and parents who home school their children can build on a day at the park by accessing TVA’s Dollywood-related science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum.

Allen Robbins, general manager of SCES said, “A lot of elementary school students come to the park for spring field trips. During their visits, we emphasize the relationship between TVA and SCES.”

Dollywood also partners with SCES to bring electric vehicle (EV) chargers to DreamMore and the park itself. “They get used quite often there. We want to install more at the park and let people know that alternative transportation is important to SCES as a way to reduce the carbon footprint in the Valley,” Robbins said.

SCES wanted to add generating renewable energy with their own solar power to their offerings, too, but mountainous topography in the service area presents challenges. To determine the feasibility, SCES conducted an analysis with TVA and Seven States Power Corporation. “It turns out that there’s too much shade because we don’t get optimal sun. The only land in a location with sufficient, regular sunlight is already allocated, or on a flood plain,” Robbins said.

As a result, SCES focuses its sustainability work on bringing EVs to the region.

Fire Rescue Efforts and Relief

Robbins had only been on the job as GM for four months when the Great Smoky Mountain wildfires of 2016 were burning through Eastern Tennessee. His initial response to the crisis was to dispatch linemen to outage areas, but as the fire intensified, wind-fueled flames knocked down power poles and lines. Crews changed course and used their trucks, tools, and talent to cut into wires and clear paths, including the mountain’s evacuation exit for fire, emergency medical and police crews and visitors.

Robbins described the intensity of the scene. “Imagine a bucket truck rising 50-something feet in the air, a roaring fire on either side of the parkway, and 90 mile an hour winds.” He said people had abandoned their cars and were running to escape the flames. SCES linemen helped as many folks as would fit into the trucks and drove them to safety in Pigeon Forge. Then they returned on the already challenging mountainous terrain through the fire, in the dark—to pick up more evacuees.

When Robbins later realized the vast number of lives the SCES linemen saved, he decided it was important to share this perspective of what happened that night, and wrote “Trial by Fire: A True Story of Courage and Bravery, a Story Not Often Told.” The book has since paid for itself and is in its second run. All net proceeds go to local organizations whose funding was depleted by their fire recovery efforts, including the Gatlinburg Fire Department. Thus far, sales have generated $30,000 for the community.

Project Round Up
Customers can support their fellow community members with Project Round Up, which lets them round up their electric bill payment to the next dollar to provide assistance to others. The maximum annual cost per household is only $11.88, but the micro donations go a long way. SCES is proud to serve customers who share in the spirit of giving.

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.

Economic Development

SCES works with TVA Economic Development to attract new companies and bring more jobs to the area and to help existing businesses and industries grow in a sustainable way.

Through partnerships, SCES helps to actively prepare younger generations to develop the tools needed to fill positions with the local power company that will soon be vacant when employees retire. They have built curriculum with Sevier County Economic Development Council, Walter State Community College and trade school institutions. Those interested in becoming a lineman can enroll in a 6-to-10 month program with Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) to earn apprentice-level skills. Robbins said, “We have hired several TCAT graduates.”

TVA Economic Development serves the seven states that make up the TVA service area—almost all of Tennessee and parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky. TVA partnerships with other economic development organizations help to foster capital investment and job growth in the region.

Discover all the resources designed to help you manage your energy use and boost your bottom line.

Electric Vehicles (EVs)

In comparison to gas-fueled vehicles, EVs make for a smoother and more efficient ride, are easier to maintain and are better for the environment. SCES is a TVA FastCharge Network program partner, committed to increasing the number of DC charging stations to the area and making it more attractive to purchase an EV. They have already installed five electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in Pigeon Forge, and one DC fast charger in historic downtown Sevierville. The latter supports the increase in visitors due to revitalization efforts that have brought in new restaurants and retailers.

SCES partners with TVA EnergyRight to make it easier for drivers to decide if making the switch to an EV makes sense for them. From a comparison tool to help select the right EV, to a digital map that helps easily locate charging stations along a route, all the information about EVs is here.

Plugging in an electric vehicle

Recreation

“Although we are a municipality, we are blessed that we get to serve the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the main thoroughfare into it. The park is a beautiful place for hiking,” Allen Robbins, general manager of SCES said.

TVA manages Sevier County waterways, including Douglas Lake, which residents and visitors enjoy throughout the year for recreational boating, kayaking, and fishing. Its immense largemouth bass population has earned a spot on Bassmaster’s 100 Best Bass Lakes and attracts major league fishing tournaments, which boost tourism and the local economy. Pro angler and area resident Ott DeFoe has also been instrumental in bringing these events to the lake, as it is his home base. Since competitive fishing is integral to Tennessee Valley life, it has become a popular sport in high schools and colleges, too. And in the summer, when there is a reduced risk of floods, TVA keeps lake levels high to support recreation, which benefits the local economy.

Recreation

Residential

SCES partners with TVA to help customers make smart energy decisions and save money through TVA EnergyRight®.

Together, they provide resources that help customers make smart home energy decisions. From DIY energy-saving advice to reputable local contractor recommendations, TVA EnergyRight® offers ways to help improve home energy efficiency and save money on the power bill.

Some of SCES’ customers also benefit from the Home Uplift program, which offers home energy upgrades that not only save money on bills but improve health by keeping houses warm.

Community Energy - Residential