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APRIL 2013

More director voting options, reminder of annual meeting change Overwhelmingly positive response by members the past few years to vote by mail and Internet in director elections has led Blue Ridge Electric to continue offering these options to members in the upcoming director election this May. Members have also been very positive in changing the Annual Meeting format to help control costs and therefore, the new business format will continue this year. Members will receive the Annual Meeting notice and director election kit in May. Members are strongly encouraged to visit the website provided in the kit to vote by Internet to help further control costs. However, members can choose to make their director selections on the proxy form provided and vote by mail if preferred. Finally, members also have the option to vote during the Annual Meeting. The success of offering more convenient, modern ways for members to participate in director elections helped Blue Ridge Electric staff realize an opportunity to meet another very important goal: saving members money with a new business style Annual Meeting format. This year’s Annual Meeting will continue with a strictly business meeting format. The cooperative is holding the meeting in its corporate office meeting room in Lenoir on Thursday, June 13, beginning at 7 p.m. Key board and staff members will report on business results and director elections will be announced. By changing the meeting format, savings to date have exceeded $150,000 through eliminating costs for food, facility rentals including chairs, tables, sound, and other items, registration prizes, entertainment and employee labor. Historically, the primary reason for the Annual Meeting was to give members the opportunity to elect their board of directors and learn about important cooperative matters. Since the cooperative added options to vote by mail and Internet, thousands more members now vote in director elections than when the only option was to attend the Annual Meeting. Thank you for participating in your director elections. Carolina Country April 2013 29

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As this year’s election approaches in May, we’re pleased to continue offering new and convenient ways for you to vote for your directors by mail or Internet. You’ve sent a clear signal the past few years that it’s now easier than ever to participate in this important responsibility: up to 9,000 members are now voting annually using these methods. Previously, only members who could attend the Annual Meeting had the opportunity to vote ― typically around 800 members ― so we’re very pleased more members are now able to participate in director elections. While members may still vote during the Annual Meeting, overwhelming member response to vote by mail and Internet has also presented the opportunity for your cooperative to further benefit members by reducing the scale and costs associated with this event. Providing members with the opportunity to vote in director elections as well as hear updates were the primary reasons to hold annual meetings in the past. However, time, distance and cost of driving across our seven-county service area deterred most members from attending past meetings. Only a small percentage regularly attended the Annual Meeting, but the country fair style of past meetings came with a cost that needed to be reevaluated.

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One of the most important benefits you have as a cooperative member is your right to elect other members to represent you on Blue Ridge Electric’s Board of Directors.

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n fficer Funds required to conduct large anDoug Johnso nual meetings were worth the investment when there weren’t as many ways to inform members or attract enough voting members to officially elect directors to office. But as times have changed and technology has evolved, there are now more ways than ever to engage members in voting and keeping you informed.

Voting by Internet saves more!

We’re still committed to keeping a personal touch with members through avenues such as Member Advisory Committees and our local offices. We will also keep in touch with you through this newsletter and tools such as our website, social media and email. While we’ve modernized our voting system and Annual Meeting, you can still attend and vote during the Annual Meeting. However, the Annual Meeting is now strictly a business meeting format where financial reports and announcement of director elections are provided. This information will also be available within our website, member newsletter, and annual report.

When your director election kit arrives in May, a website will be listed where you can view director bios and quickly cast your vote. Please consider this convenient voting alternative to help reduce return postage costs and save your cooperative even more. After all, these savings benefit you our members!

As we strive to hold down costs for members, we hope you support our efforts to reduce costs without sacrificing member service, reliability or our involvement in local communities. Most of all, we hope when you receive your director election kit in May that you take a few minutes to vote for your directors by mail or Internet. It’s one of the most important ― and easiest ― ways to participate in your cooperative!

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More News New copper theft law Copper theft across the nation has cost utilities and consumers thousands of dollars and poses safety hazards for thieves as well as innocent bystanders, but a new law is designed to help address the problem. North Carolina’s new copper theft law that took effect late last year prohibits metal recyclers from paying cash for copper brought to them by a seller. This can help reduce copper theft because thieves typically have a goal of quickly selling copper to get cash they use for purchasing methamphetamines and other illegal drugs.

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The new law also requires recyclers to take photographs of sellers with the metals they are selling and record information about the make, model, year, color and license plate number of the vehicle used to deliver the metals. This gives law enforcement officials a way to identify and prosecute copper thieves.

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A recent survey conducted by the North Carolina Association of Electric Cooperatives showed that electric cooperatives in our state suffered more than $1 million in damage as a result of copper. While this problem is expensive for cooperatives and their members, the most serious threat is to safety. Our substations are marked with warning signs alerting the public to keep out due to danger. If a thief leaves access into a substation, a child or other community member could wander in and be seriously injured or even killed. Since the new law took effect, Blue Ridge Electric has experienced a reduction in copper theft in its substations. As an additional step, your cooperative has installed surveillance monitoring systems in substations to further deter thieves. Blue Ridge also asks community members who notice any suspicious activity around substations, power poles, storage sites and other electric utility property to call the cooperative or 911.

Service inspections To ensure you receive the most reliable electricity possible, we perform regular or periodic service inspections that sometime include the need to be on member’s property. However, we do not require entry to your home. Our service technicians will have identification and vehicles that are clearly marked to include the Blue Ridge Electric name and logo. Our check includes inspecting the meter, service wiring, potential tree issues, and other things that could affect the quality of your electric service from the transformer to the meter. These inspections are in accordance with the reliability requirements of the National Electrical Safety Code to help ensure you receive reliable electricity.

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Members Only NEWS

~For Members of Blue Ridge Electric

Self-help telephone service is growing! 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) 846-7138 Alleghany (336) 372-4646 Wilkes (800) 451-5474 (800) 448-2383 PowerLine® (PowerLine® is an automated account information and outage reporting system.) Toll Free 1 (800) 451-5474 (for members outside the service area)

Our member “self-help” telephone services are so friendly, fast and easy to use, members are choosing this option at record high levels! While Blue Ridge Electric is committed to always having a person available to serve you when you call, if you prefer we also work to make your life easier by offering fast, efficient automated telephone service options. Approximately 30 percent of members are taking advantage of telephone self-help options each month. What are your self-help options? At any hour of the day or night, every day of the year, you can do the following by telephone: • Pay your bill by check, debit or credit card (Press 7). Even FlexPay members can pay on their account with this option! Just have your account or phone number handy. • Extend your payment due date (Press 8) • Account information (Press 8) • General Blue Ridge Electric information such as office locations and website address (Press 9) • Report an outage (Press 6) And never fear! If needed, you can always reach a member services representative if you prefer by staying on the line! Finally, to ensure you receive the best member service by phone, please let us know if your telephone number or address changes so that our automated system can identify and assist you quickly.

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: www.BlueRidgeEMC.com

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Be sure to place the faucet lever on your kitchen sink in the cold water position when using small amounts of water. Placing the lever in the hot position uses energy to heat the water even though it may never reach the faucet. Also, use a covered kettle or pan to boil water; it’s faster and uses less energy. - Energy Savers, U.S. Department of Energy

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