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matters MEMBERSHIP

AUGUST 2013

A MONTHLY NEWSLETTER FROM BLUE RIDGE ELECTRIC MEMBERSHIP CORPORATION

Did you know...

Blue Ridge Electric is among the top-performing utilities in the country for reliable electricity, thanks in great part, to our vegetation maintenance program?

Balancing beauty with reliable, safe electricity Blue Ridge Electric takes great pride in providing our members with the most reliable electricity possible. Tree contact with power lines is the single leading cause of outages and that’s why we have a carefully planned vegetation management program.

distribution lines and 280 miles of transmission lines delivering electricity to our members.

Keeping trees away from power lines is a safety measure. Trees and other objects that come into contact with power lines can become energized, leading to shock or electrocution. So, keep. . . keeping trees away from ing trees away from power lines power lines is a safety measure. creates a safer environment for children climbing trees or homeowners trimming trees near power lines. Even fallen power lines can still be enWe’re also committed to protecting the natural beauty of our landscapes and ergized, which is why no one but a Blue being good environmental stewards. Ridge Electric line technician should ever go near a downed power line. A Blue Ridge Electric helps ensure clear path for power lines also ensures reliability by controlling large tree and a safer working environment for line brush growth for the 7,760 miles of technicians performing routine main-

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tenance or working during outages. Members can help ensure safe, reliable electricity by avoiding tree planting near power lines. Blue Ridge has two certified arborists to assist members with choosing the right tree for the right place or removing trees that could be hazardous. A planting guide can also be found under the “GreenSmart | Environment” tabs on BlueRidgeEMC.com. Finally, Blue Ridge offers a tree voucher program to assist members in tree replacement and/ or stump removal. While trees contribute to the beauty of our region, we encourage members to work with the cooperative to ensure we balance beauty with reliable, safe electricity.

7/11/13 10:53 AM


the

B F C

perspective From Blue Ridge CEO Doug Johnson

Record high member involvement Since adding modern, convenient ways of voting by mail or Internet to elect directors, thousands of you have made your voice heard in director elections. Previously, members had to drive to the Annual Meeting to cast their vote and fewer than 1,000 members chose to participate each year. In each of the past three years since more convenient voting options have been offered, around 7,000 members have voted each year by mail or Internet. Those are impressive results. It tells us that members like easier ways to be involved in the most important business of their cooperative. Members are informed of the director nomination and election process — and how you can participate — all throughout the year in this newsletter and at BlueRidgeEMC. com. So, we also believe it’s an indication members are satisfied with the leadership of their cooperative when so many participate to re-elect four well qualified, experienced directors. Our open voting and nomination process, combined with member participation, Page 26

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ensures the directors of your cooperative best reflect the values and goals of the membership as a whole. One of the great things about the board of directors of a cooperative is that they are members just like you. They live in our communities and care about the same things you do. One of the things you may not know is how much time and effort they devote in helping guide Blue Ridge Electric. Your board sets policies, rates and strategic direction so that the best interests of the entire membership are met. Their most important job is helping ensure your cooperative is positioned to meet your needs for reliable and affordable electricity, now and in future years. Every member of your board takes this responsibility very seriously. Your cooperative’s board is also made up of members who represent a good cross-section of backgrounds, skills, and knowledge to represent the membership. They are on a continuous path of training and learning because the utility industry is very

complex and is changing rapidly. Each director has achieved, or is earning, their director credentials and Board Leadership Certificate from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). These curriculums, as well as additional training by national and state associations, provide greater depth on industry issues that affect cooperatives and our members, governance, risk management, rate making and policy development — all areas that help ensure strong leadership for Blue Ridge Electric to benefit our members. As a cooperative, we exist to serve your energy needs at the lowest possible cost and your cooperative is achieving these goals for the membership. Thank you for being involved in one of the most important member responsibilities: election of representatives to serve on your board of directors. Through convenient ways to be involved with your cooperative, you can be assured you’re receiving one of the many benefits of being a member of an electric cooperative!

Board Update Nearly 7,000 members voted in this year’s director elections thanks to convenient options of voting by mail or Internet. Members also have the option to vote during the Annual Meeting, which has changed to a business format to help save costs for members. It was held Thursday evening, June 13, at the cooperative’s corporate office meeting room in Lenoir. Directors elected to serve three-year terms were: Jeff Joines, Caldwell district; James Burl “JB” Lawrence, Watauga district; Bradley McNeill; Ashe district; and Bryan Edwards, Alleghany district. At the board’s regularly scheduled meeting in June, the following board members were elected to serve as officers: Kenneth Greene, president; Jeff Joines, vice president; Joy Coffey, secretary-treasurer; and Charity Gambill-Gwyn, assistant secretary-treasurer.

MEMBERSHIP matters

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Blue Ridge Electric Members Foundation accepting Impact and Community Grant applications The Blue Ridge Electric Members Foundation is once again accepting grant applications from local nonprofit organizations that serve the members of Blue Ridge Electric. Funding for these grants comes from members who voluntarily round up their electric bills on the Operation Round Up® programs as well as a $25,000 annual donation from the profits of Blue Ridge Energies. Almost $100,000 will be available for grants this year. Local nonprofit organizations can apply for either the Impact Grant or the smaller Community Grant. Impact

Grants are designed to make a large and long-term impact on the community and typically represent project needs in excess of $10,000. Community Grants are generally smaller projects under $10,000. The deadline for all grant applications is August 31. All applications will be reviewed by the Foundation Advisory Committee (FAC) which then recommends approvals to the cooperative’s board of directors. The FAC is made up of volunteer members from each of the cooperative’s four primary districts.

The Blue Ridge Electric Members Foundation, started in 2007, has provided over $1 million in assistance to members for electric bill assistance and community grants according to Grey Scheer, director of community relations. “The members’ generosity through these programs makes it possible to help individual families as well as communities.” More information about the grant process and the grant application can be found at BlueRidgeEMC.com under the “Community” tab.

In 2012, Caldwell County schools received an Impact Grant of $21,000 to fund the construction of a ropes course designed to encourage students to learn and embrace science, technology, engineering and math.

Scam alert!

Blue Ridge Electric is warning members about a national rise in fraud scams targeting utility consumers.

Swindlers are reportedly using energy-related ploys to get into the bank accounts of utility consumers. Fake home energy audits and scams particularly related to Green Dot MoneyPak prepaid credit cards are becoming more common, according to officials at utilities across the nation.

Variations on the scam include calls claiming expiration of automatic bank drafts. Scammers seek personal financial information, which presumably could enable a thief to raid bank accounts. Other frauds include “Home Walk-Through” scam calls. A member is told he or she can save money on their utility bills if they schedule a walk-through energy audit of the home. Police say thieves often use this technique to get a layout of a home for a future burglary.

Other scammers tell members they have won a cash prize but need to pay processing fees to receive their prize. Or, they tell con sumers they’re months behind on their utility bills and must pay at once.

If you receive a similar call you’re unsure about, hang up immediately and call your local Blue Ridge Electric office to check the information. Excerpted from material published by ECT.Coop

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7/12/13 9:34 AM


Deadline is September 30

Bright Ideas grants help teachers teach and students to learn This year, Blue Ridge Electric will celebrate 20 years of helping teachers teach and students learn with the help of classroom grants called Bright Ideas. Bright Ideas grants are designed to help provide teachers with specific opportunities to enhance their classroom educational experiences. Each year, Blue Ridge Electric provides up to $17,000 to fund several grants in each of our four primary districts as well as some Wilkes and Avery county schools. Grant awards range from a few hundred dollars up to the maximum of $1,500 and are awarded each November for innovative classroom projects that benefit students and are not able to be funded by regular school budgets.

Bright Ideas grants totaling approximately $17,000 will be awarded by Blue Ridge Electric in 2013-2014.

Teachers and administrators are encouraged to access the Bright Ideas application through the Blue Ridge web site at BlueRidgeEmc.com or directly at ncbrightideas.com. The deadline for all applications is September 30. CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Doug Johnson

EDITOR

Renée R. Whitener

PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR Susan Simmons

DISTRICT OFFICES Caldwell Watauga Ashe Alleghany Wilkes PowerLine®

(828) 754-9071 (828) 264-8894 (336) 846-7138 (336) 372-4646 (800) 451-5474 (800) 448-2383

Toll Free

(800) 451-5474

Check out MyVIPSavings.com cash back rewards mall Touchstone Energy Cooperatives (Touchstone Energy) has added MyVIPSavings. com Cash Back Rewards Mall to its Co-op Connections® Card program. This option fits perfectly into Blue Ridge Electric’s commitment of creating more value for you, our members. Through access to over 1,000 stores, members can earn cash back and save significant money on just about everything purchased through the site. Go to connections.coop and discover all the ways you can save!

(PowerLine® is an automated account information and outage reporting system.) (for members outside of the service area.)

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

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