TVA, which generates and provides the majority of power used by EPB, has a diverse portfolio that will help stabilize electric rates for EPB customers, said EPB President and CEO David Wade.
One source of energy TVA uses is from natural gas and fuel oil fired generators. Natural gas prices have increased significantly this year compared to last. But an advantage, is that TVA has on-site storage of gas. There have also been improvements made to its nuclear plants recently which has increased output. The result is that the rise in gas prices will be less impactful for EPB customers, said Mr. Wade, because TVA’s rates will have fewer volatile swings, and their rates will go up less which will help stabilize what EPB customers pay for electricity.
There is an increase of electric vehicles being sold. EPB is in the process of adding 14 charging stations in its parking garage on 10th Street. Mr. Wade said there is a need for more locations to charge cars which will contribute to an increase in use of electric vehicles. But he said that he believes most will be charged at home during the night because it is more convenient.
The next most convenient location for charging would be at the work place. Either in a home garage or at work would make it easier than finding a station and waiting there while it charges. One charge typically will power a car for around 300 miles. Mr. Wade said that the more that vehicles are charged at home at night, it will put more pressure on EPB to have uninterrupted power because an outage could prevent people from driving to work.
He said that a solution is needed for people who live in apartments or have no garage. EPB is currently working with apartment owners to find a solution. When EPB finds out about a new apartment development, there is an attempt to include the underground conduits before paving the parking lots. Charging stations may not be built there immediately, but the wiring will be in place when the stations are needed.
EPB is seeing employment challenges, Mr. Wade told the board, with fewer applicants for jobs than in the past. He said that currently, work locations are mixed. All call center employees are working from home, and others are working full time from the office. There are also some people who are onsite several days a week and working from their home office a couple of days. He said that applications for jobs are coming from out of state, from people who want to work remotely. He said he feels that since EPB is a local company, he wants employees to be local too. Board members all agreed.
Since school has started, EPB has been adding people to the Hamilton County Schools EdConnect program, which provides free internet service to economically challenged students.
COVID has had a financial impact this month as well as in June, July and August. Greg Eaves, executive vice president and CFO, said that one COVID related health insurance claim has had a negative effect. That employee had not been vaccinated.
EPB does not provide an incentive for employees to be vaccinated, however it is encouraged. There have been opportunities provided for employees to get vaccinations on-site and a town-hall meeting will be held next week to encourage being vaccinated.
Mr. Wade estimated that around 60 percent of employees are vaccinated, and that number is “inching up.” There was also discussion about some companies with incentives such as charging extra for health insurance for those without COVID vaccinations.
A resolution was passed at the meeting to appoint David DiBiase to fill the position of general counsel with the departure of long-time General Counsel Carlos Smith. Mr. DiBiase was the in-house senior legal counsel before being elevated to the new job.