GLASGOW – Per the vote taken at its January board of directors meeting, the Glasgow Electric Plant Board formally announced Tuesday that it will begin making contributions of $4,500 per month to the Community Relief Fund of Glasgow and Barren County for at least a year.
CRF offers local residents assistance with utility bills and deposits, past-due rent, rental security deposits, first month’s rent, and food.
This would be in addition to what customers choose to contribute by rounding up the amounts of their bills to the next even dollar amount, with the difference between that and the actual bill amount going to CRF. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019, that program produced $3,800 for the nonprofit organization, said Terryn Varney, communications manager for GEPB.
These new monthly funds are a portion of a 3.1 percent credit toward kilowatt-hour and kilowatt demand charges the Glasgow Electric Plant Board is billed by its wholesale electricity provider, the Tennessee Valley Authority. The credit was offered as an incentive for local power companies to sign a new 20-year agreement with TVA, and TVA allows a certain portion to be used for such endeavors,and GEPB Superintendent Billy Ray reported to his board in January that the maximum amount in their case would be $4,500 per month.
In the 4-1 vote approving the use of the credit funds, which are estimated will be more than $40,000 per month, on average, it was specified that the money would be designated for use only for GEPB electric bills only – not internet or cable, with which CRF does not provide assistance anyway.
Stacy Janes, administrative coordinator for CRF, is “excited about this partnership and the impact it will have on the community,” the GEPB press release stated.
Larry D. Glass, president of the board of directors for CRF, via telephone, told the Glasgow Daily Times that there was some talk of the possibility at the nonprofit’s last board meeting, in December, but they didn’t want to get very excited about it until it was a definite decision from the GEPB.
“We are very, very, very thankful,” he said. “That’s a difference maker.”
CRF’s total annual budget runs about $180,000 to $190,000, and a year’s worth of these payments from the GEPB would increase that by about 28 percent to 30 percent.
“The majority of what we give away goes toward housing and utilities,” Glass said, with the ratio between those two categories staying relatively consistent, though sometimes there’s an uptick in one or the other.
CRF currently limits its contributions to clients to $250 per six months per family, and it places a cap on total monthly contributions that is sometimes adjusted for a few months at a time depending on the needs being seen and available funds, he said.
“It would be a full-board decision on what exactly we can do [with the new GEPB contributions],” Glass said. “We’ll have to meet as a board to decide what is the best way to utilize those resources in our community.”
Possibilities could include raising the total monthly cap to be able to help more families, raising the amount each family could get in a six-month span, some combination of those or something entirely different.
Board member D.T. Froedge, who has vowed to do whatever he can to discontinue the new TVA contract, cast the sole vote against contributing the money to CRF. He had advocated in December for putting it in escrow so the utility would have it on hand to pay it back to TVA if it defaults on the contract term. In January, he said he still would prefer they do that, but the next best thing would be to pass that credit directly along to customers. The rates were already set for this year by then, so the board also decided to revisit the use of the funds on an annual basis.
The composition of the board is about to change by one member, as Jeff Harned’s term expired in January and the Glasgow Common Council has approved Glenn Pritchard to fill that seat. He was nominated by Mayor Harold Armstrong, who also opposed the 20-year contract but has no authority over the board’s actions.
Acknowledging those circumstances, Glass said that if the contributions were to go away, “we’ll just adjust, because we manage to the budget.”
Varney told the Daily Times the first payment will be mailed Friday and would be for December and January, and subsequent payments would go out by around midmonth for the previous month.