The Johnson City Power Board’s board of directors voted Tuesday to be the “guinea pigs” in a pilot rollout of the utility’s peak-time use billing policy coming this fall.
Jeff Dykes, who took over as the Power Board’s president and CEO on Jan. 1, said time-of-use billing has already been adopted by the Tennessee Valley Authority and TVA’s distributors have to adapt.
The program, which charges a higher rate for electricity used during peak periods of demand, will require a huge public relations effort to educate Power Board customers on how the program will impact their bills, Dykes said.
Peak-use periods change according to the season but typically range from 6-10 a.m. in winter months to 1-7 p.m. in summer. By avoiding those periods for activities that require more power, such as laundry, Dykes said residential power users will be able to reduce their bills.
Board Chairwoman Jenny Brock noted industries and many large organizations, such as schools, have little option in the timing of their power usage. Because such organizations include projected energy costs in their annual budgets, Brock said they will need some estimation of how those costs will change, particularly if the change occurs in the middle of their budget year.
The Power Board had previously planned an in-house pilot program of the new system to be conducted among its employees beginning in April but has rescheduled the test run to start in October.
Board member Kelly Wolfe made the motion for the board members to join the utilities’ employees in the pilot program in order to gain a better understanding of how the change will impact customers. Power Board employees will be encouraged but not required to take part in the program.
In other business, the board introduced two new members, Scott Bowman and Robert Thomas, who have been appointed to replace departing members William Coleman and Joe Grandy.
Bowman took his seat on the board Tuesday, replacing Coleman as a representative of the city of Johnson City.
Thomas attended Tuesday’s meeting as an observer but will delay joining the board for two months to allow an ongoing construction contract between the Power Board and his company, Thomas Construction, to be completed.
Grandy will continue serving until Thomas can take his seat on the board.
With his first meeting with the board coming only a few days after last week’s snowstorm, Dykes took the opportunity to praise the utility’s employees for their response.
“I really want to commend our folks. Through the storm the other night, our guys were out there really going after it. There were ladies in here answering the phones. And there were no complaints. I was impressed. Very pleased,” Dykes said.
Brock noted she was aware Dykes was also out working with Power Board crews during the storm.
During a recognition of Tree Trimming Supervisor Bill Hunt held earlier in the meeting, board member Phil Carriger said he was very pleased by a regional news report that 150 Washington County homes were without power Saturday night, compared to thousands in a neighboring electricity district.
Hunt said the Power Board’s tree-trimming program has been progressing for 15 years and is bearing fruit.