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April 2011

Mailing to Members Early May

Director Elections Will Now Include Vote-by-Mail Option Members now have the convenience of voting by mail to elect their board of directors starting with this year’s election. Coming to members’ mailboxes in early May will be director election materials, including information on candidates and a ballot proxy form for members to make their selections. To vote by mail, the form must be signed by the member and returned in the enclosed postage-paid envelope by the date specified in the packet. The ballot proxy must be mailed; it cannot be given to an employee or accepted at any Blue Ridge office. While members may still attend and vote for directors at the Annual Membership Meeting Saturday, June 11, 2011, at the Watauga County High School, the new vote-by-mail option is designed to provide a more convenient opportunity for members to be involved in their cooperative. With a service area stretching from the foothills into the mountains and across seven counties combined with busy family schedules, the new option enables members who can’t attend the annual meeting to vote for their board of directors. To ensure the integrity of the new vote-by-mail process, a third-party election management firm was selected by the Credentials and Election Committee. Made up of members from across the cooperative’s service area, this committee is responsible for ensuring elections are properly conducted and certifying director election results. Look for more information about the new vote-by-mail option in the director election materials mailing to each member in early May. Included in the materials will also be your cooperative’s annual report and information about the Annual Membership Meeting. One advantage of being served by a cooperative is the right to elect peers — other members — to serve on the board of directors to lead and guide their cooperative. The new option to vote by mail is designed to provide a better opportunity for more members to take part in this democratic process. Carolina Country APRIL 2011 29

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While this law includes cost caps to protect consumers, achieving REPS goals will include a cost for utilities and consumers alike, especially since electricity generated from renewable resources is much more expensive than purchasing electricity generated from traditional resources. Currently, the monthly cost for Blue Ridge members in 2011 is 27 cents for residential; $1.32 for commercial; and $13.26 for industrial accounts. Additionally, for members investing in their own home renewable energy projects, we offer interconnection services and rates to help facilitate these projects. We’re working to achieve REPS goals in the most cost effective manner. In last month’s column, I discussed how our wholesale power supply agreement with Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC (Duke) is helping us deliver reliable electricity at the lowest possible cost to our members. Another way this agreement is helping us contain members’ costs is through a provision for Duke to handle the cooperative’s REPS reporting and compliance services that is required for the North Carolina Utilities Commission. As a large utility with many customers among which to spread costs, Duke helps Blue Ridge benefit primarily in the purchase of RECs (renewable energy credits). In fact, we were able to reduce the monthly REPS charge to our members as a result of the move this past year for Duke to handle our compliance and reporting services. A major focus area for us has also been on the energy efficiency component of REPS. We’ve believed all along that helping members be energy efficient is the right thing to do



As you may know, North Carolina passed the first renewable portfolio standard in the southeast in 2007. North Carolina’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) requires that up to 10 percent of electric cooperative’s power supply come from renewable energy sources or from energy efficiency savings by the year 2018. The goal for investor-owned utilities is 12.5 percent by 2021.

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Balancing Costs with Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency Goals

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n fficer because it not only Doug Johnso helps the environment — it saves you money! We’ll be working to help you manage your electric bill in the following ways: Energy efficiency advice and services: Information is available in our offices including sales of compact fluorescent lamps and water heater blankets. You’ll find a library of information on our website, including a customized home energy audit with suggestions for improving energy efficiency and costs specific to your home. Smart grid technology through our automated metering systems: • Electricity monitoring tools have been proven to save energy and money because those who use them become more aware of their energy usage and automatically take steps to reduce their usage. Members can access and use their choice of two different electricity monitoring tools on our website: and Google PowerMeter. • Prepaid metering programs like Blue Ridge Electric’s FlexPay works the same way: because you pay as you use the electricity, you’re more aware of your usage. Research has shown when consumers are more aware of their energy usage, they automatically take steps to reduce usage and therefore, they benefit from lower costs. • In the future, Blue Ridge Electric will be able to offer programs that help you actively manage electric devices in your home to further reduce power costs. You can be assured your cooperative is working to provide the lowest cost electricity and to help you manage your electric bill. We’re sometimes asked “why would you want to help members reduce electricity usage?” The answer is simple: what’s good for our members is good for Blue Ridge Electric. Being a member-owned cooperative means we’re looking out for you.

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More News District Leadership Changes Two district office leaders have recently retired and employees from those districts have been promoted into new roles. In Watauga, long-time Blue Ridge employee Harold Huffman has retired as operations manager and Steve Woodring, formerly construction layout technician, has been promoted to operations manager. Huffman retired from Blue Ridge Electric after almost 50 years of distinguished service. He began his career as a warehouse assistant in Caldwell district just one week after graduating from high school in June 1961. He then moved to working with line crews, served as a truck driver of heavy equipment and eventually worked as a construction layout technician. Due to his leadership skills, technical expertise, and extensive knowledge of the system, he was promoted to operations supervisor in 1974 and four years later was named as Watauga operations manager.


Woodring joined Blue Ridge Electric in April 1987, first working as an energy services representative and later as a marketing program technician. In 1996, he was promoted to construction layout technician where he has spent the last 14 years overseeing the planning and building of the technical system to help ensure reliable electricity for members.


Woodring will work in partnership with Susan Jones, Watauga district manager, to ensure excellent service to Watauga County members.

In Ashe district, Gwynita Steele retired from her position as district manager and Kay Sexton, formerly senior member services representative, has been promoted as the new district manager. A native of Ashe County, Steele worked for Blue Ridge Electric for 20 years. In addition to her most recent role of leading the employee team that provides member services to Ashe County members, her positions at Blue Ridge over the years included system-wide responsibility for customer satisfaction and community relations activities. Sexton has worked for Blue Ridge Electric for 23 years, first joining the cooperaSteele tive as a clerk/cashier. She has spent the majority of her career in various member services roles, including managing the call center and being a key leader in customer service and sales for the cooperative’s heating fuels subsidiary, Blue Ridge Energies, which is also located in the Ashe district office. Sexton will work in partnership with Mike Kincaid, Ashe operations manager, to provide the highest level of service to Ashe County members. Sexton

MobilePay Coming Soon! Blue Ridge will soon be offering MobilePay, a mobilee payment option that securely lets you pay your bill anywhere, anytime from your mobile device. Check next month’s Membership Matters for more details!

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Members Only NEWS

~For Members of Blue Ridge Electric

CORPORATE OFFICE PO Box 112 • Lenoir, NC 28645

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Doug Johnson EDITOR Renée R. Whitener PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR Susan Simmons DISTRICT OFFICES Caldwell (828) 754-9071 Watauga (828) 264-8894 Ashe (336) 246-7138 Alleghany (336) 372-4646 Toll Free (800) 451-5474 (800) 448-2383 PowerLine® (PowerLine® is an automated account information and outage reporting system.) 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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Think Safety: Call 811 Before Digging For your convenience, Blue Ridge Electric is now a part of the “811” NC One-Call system. This allows members to call a single number — 811 — to get all of your underground lines marked, including those of Blue Ridge Electric, before you start any project that involves digging. When you call 811, you’ll be speaking with a NC One Call Center operator who will ask for the location of your digging job. Operators will then route your information to affected utility companies including Blue Ridge Electric. Blue Ridge will send an employee to locate your underground electric lines within a few days. Once ALL of your underground lines have been marked, you can dig safely, protecting you and your family from injury and expense. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s FREE! Remember, safe digging is no accident. Know what’s below before you dig — always call 811!

And the Winner Is... Which gaming system is the most energy efficient? According to their test of the top three game systems, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) found that Nintendo Wii uses six times less energy than Sony Playstation 3 or Microsoft Xbox 360 in active mode. The EPRI tests also found that all three systems consume less power than their earlier versions. The 2006 Nintendo Wii consumed an average of 16.4 watts while the 2007 Sony PlayStation 3 consumed 150.1 watts and the 2007 Microsoft Xbox consumed 118.8 watts. Source:

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Look for more information about the new vote-by-mail option in the director election materials mailing to each member in early May. Included...