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05/27/20

BrightRidge invests another $50,000 in RegionAHEAD fund; challenges other utilities to match

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JOHNSON CITY – BrightRidge Board of Directors voted unanimously Tuesday evening to invest another $50,000 with the RegionAHEAD fund to assist small businesses as the region begins to fully reopen the economy, while issuing a challenge to other regional electric utilities – public and private – to match the investment.

“Our Board strongly endorses the efforts of RegionAhead, which has already distributed $98,650 to small business in Tennessee and Virginia,” BrightRidge CEO Jeff Dykes said. “Working together, we are seeing businesses reopen and begin to get back on their feet. The RegionAhead effort can hopefully make the transition to recovery just a little bit easier.”

In all, BrightRidge has donated $100,000 to the RegionAHEAD effort. RegionAHEAD, organized by area business and Chamber of Commerce leaders, provides grants to small businesses engaged in the arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, food services, retail trade and manufacturing.

“Our Board was very clear in that they would like to see other regional electric utilities, both public and private, step up to the plate and match this donation from the BrightRidge economic development fund,” Dykes said. “Every dollar really matters to these companies which are doing everything they can to continue serving their customers.”

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, BrightRidge suspended non-payment disconnections through June for residential and commercial customers, partnered with RegionAHEAD and joined in a matching grant with the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Community Care Fund to provide up to $200,000 in support to the Heisse Johnson Hand Up that assists residential customers with past due power bills in the BrightRidge service area.

Heisse Johnson program participants can receive utility payment assistance up to $300 each calendar year as donations allow. In the previous 12 months, at least 874 customers and their families were assisted through the program.

BrightRidge also continues to offer a variety of payment options not offered by most utilities to help customers catch up on past due bills. In 2019, BrightRidge assisted customers with 13,390 payment arrangements.

“We know our customers have had a tough time with the economic fallout of the pandemic,” Dykes said. “BrightRidge is blessed to remain in a solid financial position and ready to continue powering our regional recovery, while closely monitoring how we might further assist in the days ahead.”

To learn more about how to donate or how to apply for small business grant consideration, please visit www.RegionAHEAD.com. To donate to the Heisse Johnson Hand Up Fund or for

more information on any BrightRidge programs, phone Customer Service at 423-952-5000 or initiate a customer support Live Chat conversation at www.BrightRidge.com.