A MONTHLY NEWSLETTER FROM BLUE RIDGE ENERGY
Capital credits refunds coming in May! Money is coming back to members this May, thanks to a capital credits retirement of more than $5 million approved by your Board of Directors! Checks begin mailing on May 4, so be sure to check your mailbox! Members qualifying for a $35 or more refund will be mailed a check
the cooperative. After being used for a period of years as capital to help finance major reliability projects, these funds are returned to members.
This helps reduce the need for loans, which helps keep your electricity rates lower. It Checks begin mailing May 4 for members also helps maintain a healthy balance between debt and equity to ensure qualifying for a refund of $35 or more. your cooperative’s financial health Those qualifying for less will see it as a credit and stability.
applied to their electric account in May. separate from their electric bill. Those qualifying for less will see it as a credit to their electric account in May. Members new to the cooperative as of 2018 will be eligible for capital credits refunds beginning next year. As a cooperative, Blue Ridge Energy doesn’t earn profits. Instead, revenues remaining after all expenses are paid each year are considered “margins.” Margins are allocated annually to members and reflect your equity (ownership) in
The percentage of equity to be retired and refunded to members is determined annually by your Board of Directors based on your cooperative’s financial condition. This year, the percentage is three percent. Over the history of Blue Ridge Energy, more than $62 million has been returned to members.
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perspective From Blue Ridge CEO Doug Johnson
It pays to be a member Money back to our members through the capital credits system is an important cooperative value provided to the members of Blue Ridge Energy! Members will receive over $5 million in capital credits refunds this year as approved by your Board of Directors. These funds go to current members, estates and former members. You can find details about the checks and bill credits we’re issuing in May on the first page of this newsletter. The name “capital credits” may sound complex, but it’s a simple concept. Until they’re returned to members, capital credits are funds used as operating capital to invest in power lines, substations, and other electric system assets that provide you with reliable electricity. Capital credits are the annual margins — revenues minus expenses of the cooperative — which are allocated to each member based on your individual usage and purchase of electricity. After using the money for a period of years to finance investment in electric facilities, it is returned to members over time.
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To assure your return of capital credits and the fiscal health of your cooperative, your Board of Directors has approved an equity management plan. The plan uses an industry best standard goal of 40 percent of assets for member equity. It includes a schedule for the regular return of member equity in the form of capital credits. Our members have just over 41 percent equity invested in the cooperative, which is $168 million out of over $410 million in total assets. This year’s return of capital is three percent of member equity. The equity plan also determines how much of the cooperative’s investment in electric system assets will be covered through member capital and how much will be covered by long-term debt. Our goal is to balance member capital (equity) and debt in order to give members the lowest possible rates. Your cooperative has returned over $62 million in capital credits to our members. It pays to be a member of a cooperative and we’re pleased to provide good value to our members!
Thank you for giving! Members are generously donating to Operation Round Up®, including donating all or a portion of their capital credits refund. Some 1,500 members are donating over $36,000 in capital credits refunds annually to this “member helping member” program. Even more are donating by rounding up their bill each month by the amount they choose to give. Since Operation Round Up began, over $2.7 million has been raised to help our members and our communities. That’s what the cooperative spirit is all about!
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Director election kits mail late May One advantage of being served by a cooperative is the right to elect your fellow co-op members to serve on the Board of Directors that guide your cooperative. Voting online or by mail has enabled a record number of members to be involved in their cooperative in recent years, although members may still attend and vote for directors during the Annual Meeting. Director election kits will be sent to members on May 30. Included will be: • • •
biographical information for all candidates a proxy for members to vote in every district instructions to vote online or by mail
If voting by mail, in order to be valid the form must be signed by the member with choices clearly marked and returned in the enclosed postage-paid envelope no later than 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 20, 2018. Please note that to comply with proper election management procedures, the form cannot be given to an employee or accepted at any Blue Ridge office. To ensure the integrity of director elections, Survey and Ballot Systems, an independent election administrator, was approved by the Credentials and Election Committee in December 2017 (committee members’ names are available at BlueRidgeEnergy.com). This committee is comprised of members from across the cooperative’s service area and is responsible for ensuring elections are properly conducted and for certifying election results. Look for more information on the cover wrap of this issue of Carolina Country, in your director election kit mailing late May and on our website at BlueRidgeEnergy.com.
Beat rising power costs
Up on p r
Be a champion! Join others in Beat The Peak, a voluntary program to help hold down power costs for all Blue Ridge Energy members. Participants shift or reduce their use of electricity a few hours during peak periods, when the most electricity is being used. Beat The Peak participants can help keep rates affordable and bills low and even delay the need for new power plants!
Voting online saves postage, which helps us control costs for members. We encourage you to try the online voting option for director elections!
SIGN UP today for alerts at BlueRidgeEnergy.com/BTP.
The more Blue Ridge Energy members who help Beat The Peak, the more benefits!
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BRE’s vegetation management benefits wildlife
Discounted wildlife seed available to members To encourage wildlife habitat and enhance the scenic beauty of cooperative rights of way on members’ property, Blue Ridge Energy partners with the Whitetail Institute to offer members a 20 percent discount on purchases of wildlife seed such as clover, chicory, chufa, winter peas and more. These types of low-growing vegetation are ideal for open corridors and can provide a food source for many species including rabbits, deer, wild turkey and birds. It’s also the perfect option to enhance appearance of rights of way where large trees and shrubs are a threat to power lines and poles.
Renée R. Whitener
Members with heavily wooded property near cooperative rights of way have an additional incentive and option: Blue Ridge Energy will pay one-half of the cost, up to $500 per acre, to any member who converts woodland to crop land or permanent pasture.
Members qualify for this monetary
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Doug Johnson
reimbursement only if they contact Blue Ridge Energy in advance and receive approval prior to the start of clearing the woodland area. While Blue Ridge Energy members own the rights of way on their property, it’s the responsibility of the cooperative to maintain the poles and lines as well as to manage vegetation in these areas in order to keep electricity flowing for all of the membership. Blue Ridge trims and removes trees as well as applies environmentally safe herbicides to hinder tall vegetation in rights of way. However, for rights of way in pastureland areas where no large trees and shrubs exist, planting wildlife seed offers an alternative vegetation management option. To order wildlife seed, go to BlueRidgeEnergy.com/Seed and type coupon code “Blue Ridge Energy” when prompted to receive the discounted price.
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
(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 numbers listed above. OFFICE HOURS: 8:30 am - 5:00 pm, Monday-Friday Kiosk available 24/7 + Night deposit Visit us on the web: BlueRidgeEnergy.com +
May is Electrical Safety Month Here are several basic tips to keep in mind when using electricity: • • • •
Unplug it. Appliances, tools and other devices are still connected to electricity when they are plugged in. Turn off AND unplug all portable electric devices when you’re finished using them. Toss it. Inspect electrical cords often for broken connectors or fraying, and throw away any worn cords to eliminate the possibility of shock, short circuit or fire. Cover it. Use plug covers in outlets if you have young children. Teach them never to put their fingers in electrical outlets or appliances, and keep cords and electrical devices away from them. Avoid it. Never go near a power line. If you encounter a downed line, leave the area immediately and notify your cooperative or call 911. Never place ladders, poles or other items near power lines, and don’t drive over downed lines. This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
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