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Power Board unveils campaign to educate customers on peak-time usage, billing policy

Madison Mathews • Feb 19, 2013 at 10:08 PM

Officials with the Johnson City Power Board unveiled the public relations campaign Tuesday for educating customers about the utility’s upcoming peak-time use billing policy, which will be initiated in the fall.

The program, which has been adopted by the Tennessee Valley Authority, will charge a higher rate for electricity used during peak periods of high demand. Peak-use periods change according to the season but typically range from 6-10 a.m. in the winter months to 1-7 p.m. in the summer.

Officials have said by avoiding those peak periods for activities that require more power, customers will be able to reduce their bills.

“We understand that people are going to learn time-of-use in different ways. There are people who are visual learners who want to see it displayed and explained that way, and there are some who basically just want to read a newsletter article, so we’ve rolled it out in several different ways,” Chief Public Relations Officer Robert White said during Tuesday’s meeting of the utility’s board of directors.

The campaign will be rolled out over the next several months and includes education on bill presentment, bill inserts, town hall meetings, paid advertisements, web-based education, videos, social media, podcasts, blogs, a mobile app, newsletters and press releases.

Board Chairwoman Jenny Brock suggested the staff add focus groups to the mix, especially when it comes to explaining how the bills will look, which is something White said they are still working on.

“I think one of the biggest hurdles we’re going to have is trying to explain what the bills are going to look like,” he said.

Board member Phil Carriger asked if TVA had indicated what the difference would be for a retail customer when it comes to peak and non-peak times.

White said TVA officials have yet to decide what the rates will be, but it’s something they are discussing as they prepare the campaign.

Board members will be joining utility employees in the pilot program in order to gain a better understanding of how the change will impact customers. Employees will be encouraged but not required to participate.

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