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matters MEMBERSHIP

JULY 2014

A MONTHLY NEWSLETTER FROM BLUE RIDGE ELECTRIC MEMBERSHIP CORPORATION

Did you know?

The U.S. has nearly 20 million miles of underground facilities including electric, gas, water, sewer, cable TV, high-speed Internet and landline telephone!

ALWAYS

Think safety: Call 811 before digging please call 811 at least two business days before any digging project. In fact, it’s required by law to notify local utilities regarding digging projects. This one call will get all participating utility underground lines marked for free and help prevent problems or injuries. Simply call 811 and answer a few questions about your location and the type of work to be done. The work from each ...it's required by law to notify local utility will be completed utilities regarding digging projects. in a timely manner. Then you’ll be ready to safely can disrupt service to an entire neighbegin your project! borhood, cause harm to you and othBe sure to keep the ticket number 811 ers, and potentially result in fines and repair costs. gives you in case it’s needed for future references. You can also use it to track your request online at: www.ncocc.org. For your convenience and safety,

CALL BEFORE YOU

DIG

Homeowners can make risky assumptions about whether or not they should get their utility lines marked, but every digging job requires a call ― even small projects like planting trees and shrubs. The depth of utility lines varies and there may be multiple utility lines in a common area. Digging without calling to mark all underground facilities

Remember, safe digging is no accident. Know what’s below before you dig ― always call 811! One free, easy call gets your utility lines marked

To AND findhelps out protect more you information from injury about and expense. Call 811 or the one-call utility Know what’scenter below. Always callarea, 811 before notification in your visityou dig. Visit call811.com for more information. www.call811.com.

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the

perspective From Blue Ridge CEO Doug Johnson

No rate increase expected this year! Will help offset state tax law changes After many months of diligent efforts by our Blue Ridge team, I’m confident and excited to share there is no need for a rate increase this year. We’ll be confirming this projection as we review costs for 2015 and finalize the budget, but I wanted to share this news with you as quickly as possible!

As we work with government leaders to balance environmental needs with affordability and reliability of electricity for our members, we’re also working on a local level to contain the impact of rising costs on our members in three key strategic ways.

While it was necessary to implement a 2.5 percent rate increase last fall, I’m very pleased to report that the 3-month temporary rate reduction your Board of Directors approved for members earlier this year helped minimize the impact. The rate reduction came at a time when members needed it most: on January, February and March bills when heating usage causes bills to be at their highest. When annualized, the amount members saved during the 3-month rate reduction equals a nearly 2 percent rate reduction, essentially offsetting last fall’s rate adjustment.

First, members are benefitting from a change made several years ago to manage our own wholesale power supply negotiations. This has reduced wholesale power costs and we now have the best pricing available in the marketplace. Secondly, our employee WorkSmart program has reduced operating expenses worth $3.5 million annually through efforts such as not replacing several positions of retiring employees and changes to employee insurance. Finally, our subsidiaries, Blue Ridge Energies and RidgeLink, were formed to produce profits to hold down member rates. These two subsidiaries produced more than $2 million last year that was used for operational costs and helped keep the rate adjustment as low as possible.

Helping you save money on your bill is an important goal for all of us at Blue Ridge Electric! The challenge is growing due to increasing federal environmental laws and regulations. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy reports that electricity prices will continue rising due to growing environmental regulations causing the replacement of coal-fired generation plants — which have provided cheap electricity for decades — in favor of building new plants that use more expensive, environmentally compliant generation fuels.

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As a cooperative, we exist to benefit our members and helping keep your bill as low as possible is a key way we’re working for you. That’s why I’m very excited to share the news about our efforts and most importantly about their success in helping benefit you, our member-owners, with no rate increase this year!

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Tax reform to slightly increase electric bills beginning in July While Blue Ridge Electric is reducing costs, changes to the North Carolina tax code approved by Gov. Pat McCrory and the General Assembly will cause a slight increase in the price consumers pay for electricity. Starting in July, the state’s 3.22 percent franchise tax will be eliminated while

sales tax on electricity is increasing from 3 percent to 7 percent. The net impact to consumers will be a 0.64 percent increase on their bills. These tax dollars go directly to the state of North Carolina; Blue Ridge Electric and other utilities receive none of these funds.

Explanation of capital credits allocation on your bill Each member’s fiscal year 2013 capital credits allocation of the cooperative’s total margins is listed on their July bill. Members are not receiving a refund at this time; the allocation is simply one of the first steps in the annual capital credits process. A refund back to members would follow next May should a capital credits retirement be approved by the cooperative’s board of directors next year.

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Each member’s allocation is based on the amount of electricity they purchased the previous year. This amount is added to the total, ongoing capital credits account balance each member has

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with the cooperative. However, capital credits are not held as funds. They are first used for expenses such as building and maintaining power lines, poles, and substations: everything needed to keep electricity flowing and reliable to cooperative members. In later years, these funds are given back to members in the form of a capital credits refund. Capital credits is a benefit of belonging to a cooperative. It’s a business model used by thousands of cooperatives to balance debt and equity to help keep rates lowered while ensuring money comes back to the local consumers using the cooperative’s services.

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Stealing electricity costs us all Electricity theft is not a victimless crime. When someone tampers with a meter and steals electricity, it costs you, the members of Blue Ridge Electric. Tracking and confirming theft is also a time-intensive, expensive job for employees of the cooperative. Billions of dollars worth of electricity is stolen every year, at the . . . Blue Ridge expense of legitimate consumers. To help deter theft and help recover some of the associated costs, Blue Ridge Electric charges a $300 meter tampering fee to any account where power theft has been confirmed.

Electric charges a $300 meter tampering fee to any account where power theft has been confirmed.

If you see or suspect meter tampering to steal electricity — or for any reason — please report it to your local Blue Ridge Electric office. Not only does it cost other members, it can also be a safety issue that puts innocent bystanders and our linemen at risk of injury or worse.

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

Members save $1.4 million on their prescriptions! Blue Ridge Electric members recently surpassed $1.4 million in savings on their prescriptions. Through the Co-op Connections® Card program, members save an average of 39 percent on prescription drugs at a wide variety of local and national pharmacies. Ask your favorite pharmacist if he or she offers a Co-op Connections Card discount. It’s one more benefit to being a member of Blue Ridge Electric.

(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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