Third session of “TVC Virtual Summit Series” casts spotlight on importance of public power

It was “hump day,” so to speak, for the “Tennessee Valley Corridor’s Virtual Summit Series” yesterday with a focus on the important role that public power plays in the economic vitality of the multi-state region.

Slightly more than 160 people tuned-in for the third of five weekly sessions designed to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the organization that is focused on leveraging science and technology assets across 12 Congressional Districts. The final two sessions are August 6 and 13 with themes on national security and workforce respectively.

The traditional keynote role was split between two Jeffs – Jeff Lyash, TVA’s still relatively new President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and Jeff Dykes, President and CEO for BrightRidge, formerly known as the Johnson City Power Board, which is also one of TVA’s 153 distributors.

Both struck a common theme, underscoring the focus of public power on the customers in the region that is being served. “Public power is about customer services,” Dykes said. “It is there everyday working for your neighbors.”

To illustrate that point, he noted the addition of a broadband network to BlueRidge’s suite of services. “Every community is waiting on technology to do things they have not been able to do before,” Dykes said.

During his presentation that occurred before the one from Dykes, Lyash reminded attendees of TVA’s history – providing affordable power, ensuring environmental stewardship, and fostering economic development. “That’s still our mission, and it’s possibly even more relevant today,” he said. “This public power model that we are all part of is something special.”

Lyash cited a number of important points about TVA, starting with its reliability – 99.999 percent, and including areas like carbon reduction – a goal of 70 percent by the end of 2030, greater utilization of renewable energy, continuing community support, and economic development.

On the latter issue, Lyash said TVA had worked with others to bring $44 billion in capital investment and 340,000 jobs to the seven-state service area in the last five years. He was particularly proud of the job creation in the first six months of the year, noting it was 50,000 jobs in spite of the impact of COVID-19.

After their brief presentations, there was a panel discussion that was moderated by Greg Williams, Executive Vice President of Appalachian Electric Cooperative. Panelists included: (1) Ozlem Kilic, Associate Dean for Academic and Community Affairs for the Tickle College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; (2) Pete Owens, Public Relations Director at Dollywood; (3) Cindy Herron, TVA’s Vice President for EnergyRight Solutions; and (4) Mike Bolin, a Vice President with the Knoxville Utilities Board.

For information on the final two sessions including registration, click here.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We have chronicled the history of the TVC in a multi-part series. You can find links to those articles below.

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