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March 2011

Energy Budget Tools Blue Ridge Electric offers the following to help you manage your electricity usage and costs: Be Energy Efficient An energy efficient home will help you reduce energy usage and contain costs. Take simple steps to target major household energy users: set thermostats to the lowest comfortable level in winter (68 degrees is suggested) and the highest comfortable setting in summer (78 is suggested); reduce hot water use by installing low-flow shower heads, and replace traditional light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). Find more ways to save by clicking on our Online Energy Audit at the bottom of or call our office for an Energy Savers booklet. Use Budget Billing Combined with bank draft, this payment plan makes budgeting and paying your electric bill easier. Based on your previous usage, we schedule equal payments for 11 months and then even up your account on the twelfth month. FlexPay This “pay as you go” plan allows you to purchase your electricity in the amounts you choose, when you want: daily, weekly or monthly. Additionally, you have a variety of ways to pay and can receive alerts by phone, text or email to keep you informed about your account. There are also no late fees or deposits with Flexpay. Helping Members The cooperative offers the following tips to members needing assistance paying their bill: • • • •

Call us to discuss an individual installment plan as soon as you get your bill. Payment arrangements can extend the payment due date. At $10 each, it’s far less than a $40 delinquent fee. Call us before your account becomes subject to disconnection. By that time, no payment has been made for two months. Qualifying members subject to disconnect should contact their local social service agency to find out if special assistance is available to them. The cooperative’s Operation Round Up® program and other state and federal assistance programs may provide temporary one-time assistance.

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f hie yC An Editorial b ec


Providing the Lowest Cost Electricity Possible

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Whenever we discuss strategic priorities at Blue Ridge, there are three primary areas in which we want to meet members’ expectations: reliable electric service, member service, and electric rates. Every Blue Ridge employee understands these three areas, along with safety, represent our key performance areas.

During the past year our employee team achieved outstanding results in reliability, member satisfaction, and safety. We also worked diligently throughout the year to secure an extension of our wholesale power agreement with Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC (Duke). This was an important objective for us because wholesale power accounts for about 60 percent of our total cost structure. Through our negotiations with Duke we wanted to extend the term of our present agreement from 2021 to 2031, to secure Duke’s assistance in meeting the North Carolina Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (REPS) and to include service to New River Light and Power in the revised agreement. I’m pleased to share that all three objectives were met, and our board of directors approved the new agreement late last year. We also recently received notice the agreement has been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Rural Utilities Service. I believe this is good news for our members because it provides the most economic and reliable source of wholesale power available in the marketplace. With our current year wholesale power cost from Duke being lower than expected and through initiatives to reduce our other operating expenses, we have been able to eliminate any need for a rate increase in 2011. Plus the board recently approved a temporary rate reduction for January and February bills. On an annualized basis, these temporary reductions will reduce rates by about 2 percent, saving members more than $2.5 million. Next month I’ll share more about the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard compliance service and how, by joining with Duke’s economic scale, we can provide more cost effective renewable energy. I’ll also discuss plans we have to better help you manage your electric bill through energy efficiency — a key component to helping you save energy and save money!

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New Wholesale Power Agreement With their existing contract due to expire and no longer available, New River Light and Power investigated a number of alternatives in the wholesale power market. They recently reached an agreement with Blue Ridge Electric to include them in the cooperative’s wholesale power supply agreement with Duke Energy. While the change resulted in a cost increase to New River, they concluded that the agreement provides the best combination of pricing and reliability available in the current wholesale power market. New River has been a member of Blue Ridge Electric since 1944.

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More News Director Proxy Committee to be Appointed As part of the new governance process giving members an option to vote for the directors of their cooperative by mail ballot or proxy, a Director Proxy Committee will be appointed by the Board of Directors at their regular March board meeting. This committee will be made up of three directors and one alternate director whose terms are not expired and who are not running for re-election this year to the Board of Directors. The Proxy Committee serves two roles for the membership. First, the Committee will cast votes for all members designating their preferences selected on the mail ballot proxy forms. Secondly, the Committee will serve as a proxy for any member wishing to assign his vote for director elections to the Committee. As indicated in earlier newsletter articles, the new mail ballot proxy kits will be mailed to all members, with information about this year’s board candidates, in May. With this new option, members are no longer required to attend the annual meeting in order to vote for directors; members now have the option to vote by mail (including assigning a proxy by mail) or attend the annual meeting to cast their vote. Additionally, members who vote by mail but wish to change their vote may attend the Annual Membership Meeting to re-cast their vote. The names of the Director Proxy Committee will appear on the mail ballot proxy kits mailed to members.

Making Membership Matter for 75 years I Remember‌ moving to Happy Valley in the big old house in the curve. I was 10 years old when we moved from Lenoir, where we had electricity, in 1937. We had no electricity in Happy Valley. My mom had a wringer washing machine and an electric iron, we also had a refrigerator that we could not use. We had to wash our clothes on a scrubb board and iron them with a black iron heated on the wood stove. Our milk was kept cold by lowering it into the well, where we had to draw our water in a bucket. The Messicks (Mr. Finn and Sue) were our closest neighbors and I remember so well Mrs. Messick telling about staying up at night to wash and iron Mr. Messicks clothes dry so he could wear them the next day. It was the only clothes he had.

Petitioning door-to-door to bring power to northwest North Carolina.

I remember seeing Mr. Messick walking everywhere, he did not have a vehicle, when he was working to get the power in our county and other rural counties in North Carolina. I wonder if Mr. and Mrs. Finn Messick got the recognition they really deserved. They worked very hard to get electricity to us. Lois G. Conley | Lenoir, NC 28645 Share your story! Send us your favorite Blue Ridge Electric memory to the attention of Renee Whitener, PO Box 116, Lenoir, NC, 28645, or Carolina Country MARCH 2011 23

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Members Only NEWS

~For Members of Blue Ridge Electric

Nominating Committee Named CORPORATE OFFICE PO Box 112 • Lenoir, NC 28645


The Board of Directors appointed members for the cooperative’s Nominating Committee at their January board meeting. After the committee meets on March 24, the names of nominated candidates to fill four available board seats will be posted at all Blue Ridge Electric offices. Additional director election information about all nominated candidates will be provided in the ballot/proxy kits to be mailed to all members in early May. Information will also be provided in Carolina Country. Committee members are:



Kelly Melton and Monteen German

Alternates: Shirley Orrell and Scott King

DISTRICT OFFICES Caldwell (828) 754-9071 Watauga (828) 264-8894 Ashe (336) 246-7138 Alleghany (336) 372-4646 Wilkes (800) 451-5474 (800) 448-2383 PowerLine® (PowerLine® is an automated account information and outage reporting system.)


*Rick Coffey and Brenda Farthing

Alternates: Colleen Murray and Al Wheeler


Jody Brown and Brent Graybeal

Alternates: Ken Morris and Sam Shumate


Dan Abernathy, Greg Bare, and Peggy Choate

Alternates: John Brady and Karen Leys

Toll Free 1 (800) 451-5474 (for members outside the service area)

*After the official appointment at the January Board meeting, it was determined Rick Coffey will be unable to serve so Colleen Murray will now serve in his place.

To report an outage at any time, call one of the numbers listed above. OFFICE HOURS 8:30 am - 5:00 pm, Monday - Friday Night deposit available. Visit us on the Web:

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New Contractors Hired Sumter Utilities has been selected to provide 2011 overhead distribution construction and Utilipath, LLC was chosen to provide underground services for Blue Ridge Electric. Pike Electric will continue to assist with some needs. Contractors providing plant maintenance and construction services not only provide operating efficiencies, they help Blue Ridge provide reliable power and serve as additional resources to call on in the event of storms or other power restoration emergencies. Members should be aware that all contractors have Blue Ridge Electric identification.

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Helping Members The cooperative offers the following tips to members needing assistance paying their bill: Use Budget Billing Combined with...