GEPB board gets initial info on Home Uplift Program
- Dec 23, 2019 9:44 am GMT
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Dec. 21--GLASGOW -- Aside from two major points of contention at the Glasgow Electric Plant Board meeting on Tuesday that were reported by the Glasgow Daily Times in Wednesday's edition, several other items of business of note were addressed at the board's final meeting of 2019.
GEPB Superintendent Billy Ray advised the board of a new project the Tennessee Valley Authority is launching called the Home Uplift Program.
The goals are to help customers reduce utility bills, improve indoor air quality, lower home maintenance costs and create safer and more comfortable homes, with a focus on weatherization improvements for owner-occupied homes who need help with that.
The home "envelope" projects like replacement windows, insulation, appropriate ventilation, etc.
Ray said TVA hasn't completely finished working out the details of the program, but he thought the final draft might be ready by the January meeting.
It's part of TVA's Energy Right program, and it allows local power companies to combine some of the rebate funds they will be getting as part of their new 20-year contract with TVA to provide wholesale power to them with TVA matching funding and potentially money from others into a Home Uplift Fund that would be used as one possible mechanism. One route would be to allow the local power company, like GEPB, to manage it locally, find the contractors to do the work, etc., or the LPC can choose to let TVA manage it, which is what Ray said his recommendation would be.
He showed a sample calculation for how the budget would be configured for Glasgow.
Some of the board members had asked earlier about whether some of the rebate money could be used for charitable purposes, so he said this is one way that could be done, and the TVA match would help with the total figure that could be spent.
Taylor said he supposed they needed to decide whether they wanted to participate and if, so, at what monetary level. Ray said they didn't have to make a decision Tuesday, but he had wanted the board members to know this was one possible option for how to spend some of the rebate funds before they moved into that discussion, which became one of the passionately debated issues already reported.
In other business:
--Another boost in Internet service speeds -- 500 percent this time -- has been implemented after a year of staff work on it, Ray said, at no additional cost to customers at this point. The three new speed levels are 25 megabits per second for downloads and 5 mbps for uploads'; 50 mbps downloads/10 mbps uploads; and 100 mbps downloads/20 mbps uploads.
--Ray explained how he arrives at his proposed amount for pay increases for staff members, and the board approved the suggested approach, which would be merit based, and the median increase would be 2.9 percent. The board also had a discussion, with Ray out of the room, regarding evaluation of his performance, and at the conclusion of that decided 4-1, with D.T. Froedge dissenting, to authorize a 2.9 percent increase in his salary. Board member Jeff Harned proposed, with others on board, that Ray take a very active role with economic development over the coming year. Ray said he accepted that challenge.
--The board approved $39,448 in "write-offs" for accounts that became delinquent December 2018 through May 2019. Ray said the typical amount is about $50,000 per six-month period, and this does not mean the utility is giving up on trying to collect the money. The total includes equipment that has not been returned in some cases, not just unpaid bills.
"Just as an accounting function, it is helpful to move them from the active accounts to written off," he said.
Based on board-generated rules, Ray said, "when it's too cold, where that it would endanger somebody if they spent the night without power in their house, we don't do cutoffs."
That means that often in January, for example, customers who had that difficulty paying, will have a bill for November's power that wasn't paid in December, so then in January, they are blocked due to weather from discontinuing service, so a lot wind up with two months' worth of indebtedness before they are cut off or just leave town without paying, he said.
--GEPB's contracts with Fox News and a few other Fox stations for cable channel content will expire at the end of this year, and at that point, the cooperative with which GEPB has contracted to handle contract negotiations for GEPB and other cable providers had not been able to reach a new agreement. If no agreement is reached, those channels will cease to be "aired" via GEPB's cable service as of Jan. 1, "which would be quite unpalatable to a lot of people in the community," he said. As of late Friday afternoon, when the Daily Times checked with Ray, still no agreement had been reached.
--Terms will be expiring at the end of January for two members of the GEPB Programming Committee who have each served two terms, so he told the board members that if they want to appoint someone new, they should come to the next meeting with some names. Historically, the board has preferred to limit the committee members to two terms.
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