BrightRidge holds electric rates flat for a second year; continues coronavirus aid


JOHNSON CITY – BrightRidge Directors approved a Fiscal Year 2021 budget for the utility that does not raise electric rates for a second year in a row, while the Tennessee Valley Authority is also expected to keep wholesale power rates flat for the next 12 months.

Further, BrightRidge customers are realizing lower power bills due to lower than budgeted TVA fuel cost adjustment surcharges. TVA’s fuel cost adjustment accounts for the relative market cost of electricity depending on generation sources.

And, BrightRidge continues to realize $3.6 million in annual power cost savings thanks to a new TVA Partners program that provides reduced wholesale power costs as well as latitude to generate power locally outside of TVA in exchange for a 20-year power supply contract with TVA.

“Our Board of Directors keenly understand our regional economy has a long way to go before we achieve a full recovery,” BrightRidge CEO Jeff Dykes said. “We will continue ongoing efforts to assist customers as best we can while remaining positioned to power the region as recovery continues.”

In all, a healthy financial position has allowed BrightRidge to temporarily suspend non-payment disconnections of customers since March amid several coronavirus related measures adopted to assist customers in response to the global pandemic.

BrightRidge and TVA partnered to double the level of assistance available to residential customers who may be struggling with their power bills due to economic uncertainty, providing up to $200,000 in funding for the Heisse Johnson Hand Up Fund. BrightRidge assisted 874 customers in 2019 through the Fund. BrightRidge also made 13,390 payment arrangements in 2019 to help customers pay overdue power bills.

BrightRidge, which recently invested $100,000 to assist local small businesses through the RegionAHEAD program, will also partner with TVA this fall for a $400,000 Home Uplift program that will help low- and moderate-income homeowners make energy efficiency improvements to their homes.

FY2020 electric sales revenue is projected to miss budget by $6.97 million due to mild weather and pandemic impacts, a 2.4 percent drop. BrightRidge is projecting FY2021 total operating revenue of $204.7 million, a 2.36 percent drop from FY2020. Average retail kilowatt hour charges are projected at $.10787 compared to $.10995 in FY2020.

Nonetheless, BrightRidge remains on target to fully fund ongoing capital reinvestment and maintenance of the electric system, scheduled at $8.9 million in FY2021, while payments in lieu of taxes to local governments are slated at $5.8 million. BrightRidge is by far the largest single taxpayer in Johnson City and Washington County.

“BrightRidge remains well positioned to continue powering the regional economy through expansion of essential electric and broadband networks,” Dykes said. “Obviously, given economic uncertainty, we expect staff to redouble efforts to manage costs while we continue to support our customers as much as possible.”

About BrightRidge

BrightRidge is a publicly owned electric utility serving 83,671 customers in Washington, Sullivan, Carter and Greene counties. It is the 10th largest local power company in the Tennessee Valley Authority service area. BrightRidge Broadband, a division of BrightRidge, offers nation-leading 10GB symmetrical fiber-to-the-premise services to more than 30,000 locations in its service area.