What began three years ago as a campaign to stop the spraying of weedkiller under power lines near homes in the Appalachian mountains of northeast Tennessee, has become an example of a more democratic process at electric cooperatives across the country.
Member-owners of the Powell Valley Rural Electric Cooperative earned the right to opt-out of spraying, and persuaded their co-op board to let them attend board meetings in ways that were previously prohibited.
Some members of Powell Valley have also begun to ask for a program to help members finance energy efficiency measures to save money.
These were small steps toward a more transparent and responsive electricity provider, but small steps can lead to bigger ones, said Bill Kornrich, a retired arts administrator who, with friends and neighbors, is part of Powell Valley Electric Co-op Member Voices, a group that’s been behind the reforms.
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