Falling power sales worry EES board   

By Thomas Wilson
star staff
twilson@starhq.com

  While a Tennessee Valley Authority rate increase has kept revenues in the black, the Elizabethton Electric System is experiencing a drop in actual electricity sales.
  "Our revenues are up but we are actually not selling as much electricity," said Gary Nave, chairman of the EES board of directors during its monthly meeting held Tuesday.
  Nave cited a decrease in the millions of kilowatt hours sold in monthly reports presented to the board. The system had experienced a 4.5 percent decrease year-to-date in electricity sold despite sales revenues being up almost 3 percent for the year.
  The Tennessee Valley Authority's board of directors passed an electricity rate increase of 6 percent last year. The rate increase went into effect Oct. 1, 2003.
  The system saw power sales revenue exceed $2.6 million for the month of May - a 13 percent jump over May 2003 revenues and a 3 percent rise over the 2003 fiscal year.
  "We are seeing a reflection of the TVA rate increase," EES Director of Finance, Andi Talbert, told board members.
  Board members and EES administrative personnel also discussed how to classify the system's fund balance. While the finance department reported a fund balance of $1.8 million, board member Shirley Hughes questioned how restricted and unrestricted funds were categorized in the financial report.
  "You don't have that kind of money," Hughes told EES administrators of the $1.8 million figure.
  Talbert said after the meeting the system was in the process of identifying restricted and non-restricted reserve funds. The system's "sinking" reserve fund is restricted for use to pay debt service. System auditors Blackburn, Childers, and Steagall recommended the system accumulate at least $3 million in unrestricted fund balance to comply with municipal accounting guidelines.
  In other business, Isaacs gave the board results from a property survey conducted by a local surveyor of property lines near a Gap Creek Road residential area. County resident Wanda Markham railed against Isaacs and board members at the May meeting regarding trees being cut near her property by the Asplundh landscaping company contracted by EES to trim trees away from power lines. Isaacs told Markham the system would conduct a survey at its own cost to determine where property lines were located.
  The Pierce Land Surveying Company in Elizabethton found the trees in question were not located on Markham's property but on property owned by an individual residing in Georgia, Isaacs said. He said the survey found the property owners had granted Markham an egress through the property but the trees did not encroach on that easement either. The survey cost $150.
  "It is not on her property and it is not on the right of way," John Banks, legal counsel for EES, told board members..
  Isaacs also said EES had finalized a contract with a North Carolina company for the installation of new lighting at Joe O'Brien Field. Elizabethton City Council approved purchasing the lights through EES at a cost of $120,000 over 10 years . The city will pay EES principal plus interest on the $120,000 to fund the lighting project.