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BrightRidge posts 31st clean audit; strong growth in Electric & Broadband divisions
BrightRidge auditors Blackburn, Childers & Steagall offered a clean opinion on the 2021 fiscal year, marking the company’s 31st year without financial reporting deficiencies, as the electric division posted a higher customer count and lower operating expenses, while BrightRidge Broadband posted strong growth in both customers and revenue.
“We are pleased that during difficult times, BrightRidge has helped our customers by holding electric retail rates flat for three years running, assisted by growth in customer counts and a great wholesale power provider, the Tennessee Valley Authority,” BrightRidge CEO Jeff Dykes said. “At the same time, we are seeing huge demand for BrightRidge Broadband services, a key effort which will help flatten electric rates over time by providing diversified revenue outside of electric rates.”
Electric sales ended the fiscal year 2021 posted at $191.6 million, down .7 percent from the prior year. Broadband sales were up 302.7 percent at $3.6 million. Total operating expenses for both divisions were up only .2 percent to $187 million including power purchased for resale.
For at least a decade, power sales have been flat to slightly declining across the TVA service area as energy efficient products proliferated in businesses and homes. While BrightRidge lost two major industrial customers in FY 2021, overall, BrightRidge added 1,059 customers, including 917 residential customers and 139 small commercial customers.
“The trend in flat to declining electric sales continues,” Dykes said. “And this was the major reason for the pivot to an energy authority, as we innovate in solar production, electric vehicle charging and broadband/telecommunications to diversify revenue.”
BrightRidge continues to support community recovery through a $1.3 million pandemic recovery credit to be posted on February 2022 power bills as well as joining TVA to contribute $150,000 to the Heisse Johnson Hand Up fund to help those struggling with their power bills. This is the second year in a row BrightRidge and TVA have made major contributions to the Hand Up fund.
BrightRidge also helps fund other community services as the company is by far the largest taxpayer in Johnson City and Washington County, paying out more than $5.9 million in FY 2021 to local governments, with most of that sum going to Johnson City and Washington County.
Looking ahead, construction is nearly complete on a new 9 MW Martin Solar Farm in rural Washington County, which should begin full operation in the first quarter of 2022. The project will be capable of powering up to 1,250 homes.
And BrightRidge electric division is underway with major system reinvestments to create a self-healing grid through installation of 73 automated Intellirupter switches that will reduce outages, as well as investing in major improvements to three substations.
Meanwhile, BrightRidge Broadband is in process of opening additional service areas in Gray and Johnson City as customer accounts continue to grow.
“I’m pleased to report to our Board of Directors and the community that BrightRidge did not slow down through the pandemic and continues to be positioned for continued positive growth in the year ahead,” Dykes said.
BrightRidge is a publicly owned electric utility serving 81,000 customers in Washington, Sullivan, Carter and Greene counties. It is the 10th largest retail electric company in the Tennessee Valley Authority service area. It’s BrightRidge Broadband division offers nation-leading 10GB symmetrical fiber to the premise services as part of an ongoing buildout in its service area.