VanParis shares electric co-op role with RFD-TV audience

NASHVILLE – Indiana Electric Cooperatives CEO Tom VanParis appeared Monday on RFD-TV to discuss the important role electric cooperatives play in rural communities. He joined the CEOs from the Kentucky, Ohio and Georgia electric cooperative statewide associations, and a Tennessee distribution cooperative for four live appearances on the national network.

During interviews on the network’s Market Day Report, VanParis and Mike Partin, CEO of Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative in South Pittsburg, Tenn., discussed the role electric cooperatives are playing in rural broadband expansion.

“We think electric cooperatives are ideally positioned to help solve this problem,” said VanParis. “We’re already involved in the local communities, we’re a part of what rural America is all about, and we are the infrastructure folks as it relates to bringing electricity to rural America. Our co-op business model allows our not-for-profit status to help explore this opportunity.”

VanParis also partnered with Chris Perry, Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives president and CEO, in a second live segment to discuss why electric cooperatives are concerned about declining rural populations across the nation and how the co-ops are addressing the trend.

“We know 54 of our 92 counties have seen population declines,” said VanParis. “If you overlay the co-op territory over that map, that’s the areas we serve. It’s a huge concern for us in Indiana not only from the standpoint of sustaining those communities we serve, but also as a way to bring in talent to replenish our workforce with so many folks entering their retirement years.”

RFD-TV is a national network available in more than 47 million homes and features programming devoted to rural issues, concerns and interests. The network can be found on DirecTV, Dish Network and most cable providers. Monday’s segments were filmed at the network’s Nashville studio while electric cooperative leaders from across the country were in the city for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s annual meeting.