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BrightRidge reports high marks on independent audit

Contributed • Updated Dec 18, 2019 at 5:28 PM

 BrightRidge said this week independent auditors have issued a clean audit with no findings or deficiencies in its financial record keeping for fiscal year 2019.

The report comes in the same year as the utility launched its new broadband division.

“Consistent, transparent financial reporting is one way we demonstrate our commitment to customers as good stewards of the critical connectivity infrastructure that powers regional commerce and our daily lives,” BrightRidge CEO Jeff Dykes said in a news release. “Our accounting and finance department approaches their daily tasks with great dedication, while our managers and supervisors throughout the organization work to properly account for every dollar used to maintain and operate the system.”

BrightRidge launched its new broadband services in 2019, adding additional complexity to financial record keeping, according to auditors Blackburn, Childers & Stegall. Despite the expenditures necessary to build a fiber optic and wireless broadband system, BrightRidge finished the fiscal year with a 5.6% increase in net position.

Operating revenues grew 1.3 percent to $204 million, while operating expenses grew by 2.4 percent over the previous year to $191.94 million. Operating expenses include $5.57 million in lieu of tax payments to local governments whose areas the system operates in, including Johnson City, Jonesborough, Washington County, Sullivan County and Kingsport.

BrightRidge is the largest single taxpayer in Johnson City and Washington County.

Typically, BrightRidge power sales follow the weather, with kilowatt hour sales for the year down by 1.6 percent as the fiscal year featured more moderate weather conditions throughout the year. In addition, the utility continues to realize flat electric sales due to the impact of increasingly energy efficient devices in homes and businesses, despite an increase in total customers served.

This trend is evident throughout the TVA service area, and in most of the country as well, Dykes said. These conditions led to the creation of BrightRidge as an independent energy authority that can respond more rapidly to new business opportunities and challenges, as well as the creation of BrightRidge broadband, which will broaden revenue generated by the company over time.

BrightRidge serves 67,920 residential electric customers as well as 10,277 commercial electric customers while the broadband division provided services to nearly 600 customers in the region.

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