Southwest Virginia Population decline 2010-2018.

Local Electric Utilities Cut 2009 power rates by 18% and 20%

by Lewis Loflin

The 16,417 electric customers of Bristol Virginia Utilities in December will see lower electric bills reduced 18 percent below this time last year. The average BVU customer will pay $119 for electricity use next month, significantly less than last December's $145 bill. The company was able to reduce its December rate because the Tennessee Valley Authority That supplies BVU's power adjusted its figures lower to reflect lower wholesale energy costs. Among other factors, TVA has been able to produce more much cheaper hydroelectric generation because of heavy rainfall this year. This time last year due to low rainfall TVA was forced to use more coal and buy power from other providers. The choice of going with TVA has proven wise and the BVU Board and Wes Rosenbalm deserve a lot of credit.

The 33,000 area customers of Bristol Tennessee Essential Services will also get a rate cut of 20 percent in December electric bills. Like Bristol Virginia Utilities the cut has come from TVA due to higher rainfall in 2009 and more hydro power generation. BTES consumers will be charged $40.12 for every 500 kilowatt-hours while last year it was $50.31 to use the same amount of electricity. Officials called the cuts "significant." This is a plus in a community staggering under massive job losses and double-digit unemployment. Ref. BHC 11-19-2009

I attended the board hearing for BVU November 16, 2009. Brown Edwards & Co. of Roanoke has certified that BVU passed their annual audit and praised their superb efforts that made accounting easy. Virginia requires local governments to undergo annual audits. They audited their electric, water, wastewater and OptiNet telecommunications divisions from fiscal 2008-2009. The audit was completed in late October. The board was very pleased with their presentation. They said this was a net increase of $6.83 million.

Assets for all four BVU divisions totalled $124.9 million plus cash assets of $25.4 million. Their total liabilities were $62.4 million. The total net worth is $87.9 million versus $77.5 million reported in fiscal 2007-08. BVU has $50.8 million in long-term revenue bond debt on bonds borrowed in 2003 and 2007 for a total payout of $73.7 million by 2030. The discussed refinancing part of the debt which will save over $500,000. My figures seem to vary from local press reports. Mr. Rosenbalm also discussed Opti-Net during the Board meeting. They had a 60-65% penetration of services in their service area, but was restricted by law from going into other areas asking for the service. They also discussed they have reached "maturity" in many service areas. They stated they serviced 55,000 accounts.

Also discussed was about $4 million in grants to install another 49 miles of fiber optic lines in rural sections of Smyth and Washington Counties. With the grants they can only install "backbone" but not "last mile" to private homes. They also approved a $1.9 payout over ten years to Alpha Natural Resources to get them to move to Bristol Virginia from Abingdon. This deal is a property tax kickback through economic development. In Virginia local government can't give outright tax giveaways.

Posted February 2010

Return History, Causes of Poverty in Southwest Virginia

Congressman Rick Boucher and President Obama

To quote Lenowisco Broadband Study Warned against Call Centers (PDF file):

"The region has been replacing traditional (better paying) manufacturing jobs with (low paying subsidized) call center jobs, which provide limited advancement and work opportunities. Call centers represent the factory floor of the Knowledge Economy; they are an important part of a diversified economic development strategy, but the region must be careful not to rely too heavily on them, as the work is easily moved to other regions and/or other countries."
No US Job Creation 1999-2009

Lenowisco Broadband Study Warned against Call Centers (PDF file)

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