EES board of directors to study vehicle fleet for cost savings

By Bob Robinson
Star Staff
brobinson@starhq.com

   While revenues continue to decline from those a year ago due to a mild winter, the Elizabethton Electric System (EES) board of directors desire to offset the income drop by reducing operating expenses to prevent the need for a rate increase later this year.
   Could EES operating expenses be reduced if personnel from several departments share the same company vehicle? Are 38 vehicles in the EES fleet an excessive number for 57 employees?
   The EES board of directors, at their regular meeting last night, decided to hold a workshop on March 5 to obtain answers to the above questions.
   Phil Isaacs, EES general manager, sparked the discussion after asking the board to approve bids to replace three vehicles in the fleet. Isaacs said he planned to sell six vehicles, via sealed bids at public sale, after the new vehicles had been delivered.
   The board postponed action on the vehicle purchase request until the workshop could be held.
   In other action, Tom Whitehead, director of finance and accounting, reported that for the month of January:
   * Electric sales declined 14 percent over January of last year and 6 percent year-to-date;
   * There were 96 new residential customers over the previous year;
   * Total capital expenditures were 36 percent of budget;
   * Operating revenue was $3.7 million, compared to $4.3 million last year;
   * Operating expense was $266,586, compared to $230,960 last year;
   * Maintenance expense was $100,709 compared to $108,664 last year;
   * Total operating expenses and purchased power was $3.4 million, compared to $3.9 million last year, a reduction caused by mild winter weather.
   The board voted to place $102,000 into a sinking fund when a certificate of deposit reaches maturity today. The board is exploring the possibility of refinancing EES bonds while interest rates are low.
   The board postponed action on approving the marketing of TVA's Green Power Switch support program, where customers pay $4 per month, in addition to their electricity usage, to support TVA wind turbines, solar power and landfill gas resources.
   Gary Nave, board chairman, said he wanted EES customers to understand that if they signed up for TVA's Green Power Switch support program, they would see an increase in their electric bill.
   The board asked John Banks, board attorney, to review the TVA Green Power Switch contract to determine if it had a cancellation clause.
   At a public meeting in Mountain City, recently, objections were made to the installation of TVA wind turbines on Stone Mountain.
   Meanwhile, TVA began installation along Highway 91 in Elizabethton of a new high voltage transmission line from Wilbur Dam to Mountain City to serve Mountain Electric Cooperative.
   In addition to Nave, members of the EES board are Shirley Hughes, Howard Matherly, and council members Richard Sammons and Janie McKinney. Ms. McKinney was unable to attend last night's meeting.