Winchester Utility System and TVA were founded on a mission to serve — through reliable and affordable energy, a safe and protected environment and thriving economic development.
Winchester Utility System provides electric services to more than 5,700 residential and business customers within the city of Winchester as well as a rural area to the northwest, all in Franklin County, located in Middle Tennessee.
High Schoolers Find Possibilities in Franklin County
Youth Leadership Franklin County program, sponsored by the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, gives high school juniors a closer look at local life. Participants discover the many ways they can increase engagement with the community—and learn about opportunities that help them envision a future right where they live today.
“As a program partner, our hope is to compel and inspire young folks to stay home, stay local and invest in the community,” said George Powell, general manager of Winchester Utility System.
The program objective is “to recruit and prepare existing and emerging high school leaders for responsible public decision-making and volunteer service.” The strategy includes pairing up each student with a mentor who demonstrates and inspires leadership skills as well as a community service project.
Powell said, “A lot of folks don’t realize that there are jobs for them right here in Franklin County. We show them how a utility operates. When they visit power superintendent Chris Zimmerman, he teaches them how his department works and the science behind it all. We’re really proud to show kids what’s behind all these fences and wires, and let them know about the potential positions they could hold at Winchester Utility System.”
The Utility-Community Connection: Giving Customers a Chance to Help Each Other
One way that the utility supports the community is through Project Help, which allows customers to contribute monthly to a fund that is distributed to those who need utility bill payment assistance. “This is an opt-in program that allows customers to donate money to those on our system who are having a difficult time paying their bill,” Powell said.
“From an impact point of view, our customers are important but Winchester Utility System is proud to be a part of the community as a whole. No doubt it’s true that you don’t have a choice of provider, but we hope customers see the other benefits of community energy and the programs we participate in. We hope customers find value in our relationship,” Powell said.
Taking Care of Natural Resources
“We couldn’t have the quality of water at the intake without TVA’s protection of the watershed, and making sure the streams, rivers, and lakes are clean. Their work is really important,” Powell said.
“This gets lost on a lot of people who think this value is only held by tree hugging environmental enthusiasts, but really it’s all of us at Winchester Utility System. We drink the water. We use the lights. We take care of our own natural resources.
Operators at our water and wastewater treatment plants, for example, show their commitment through continual training and education,” Powell said, adding, “I’m extremely proud of all of our employees. We all live here. We all are customers.”
Economic Development Beneficiary
Although their customer base only covers a small portion of the region, Winchester Utility System recognizes that all the power companies are interconnected and benefit from TVA Economic Development. Powell said, “Nissan came here through TVA Economic Development. That has been a landmark and genesis moment for our community. Their presence has grown other manufacturing industries that support the automaker, which grows jobs for residents. We even have a new Tennessee Center of Applied Technology that supports those industries.”
Sharing the TVA Mission
“TVA embodies the servant leadership ideal that they espouse. It means doing things for people and not to people. This philosophy is valuable for us at the utility company. As an example, TVA sent their president and CEO to come have lunch with us. It made me realize that we, too, can be flexible and take the time to reach out to those we serve. We are part of the TVA mission. We do believe in the three columns of the mission–environment, economic development, and energy. And we’re really proud of that story,” Powell said.
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