Annual Meeting – Saturday, September 19

As the time grows near for this year’s annual meeting, this September has a different feel to it from years past.  We are in the midst of a pandemic, and almost everyone has been affected in some way by the COVID-19 virus.  For some, it has been suffering through the illness with friends, family or self.  For others, it has been the financial impact of economic shutdowns.  Still for others, it is the closing of one school year and the start of another under different circumstances than previous experience.  Lives have changed is an understatement.

Our annual meetings are almost always held at the area high school, but due to restrictions and the need for social distancing, this year’s Annual Meeting will be held on Saturday, September 19th, at the Powell Valley Electric Cooperative’s main office in New Tazewell, TN.  Registration will open at 9:00 a.m. and the business session will start at 11:00 a.m.  Unlike previous years, the COVID-19 virus will impact this Annual Meeting a number of ways.  Out of concern for the health and well-being of our members and employees, and to still provide a full program for the Annual Meeting, the following changes have been made for this year’s meeting:

  • Director Elections will be conducted via Early Voting for 5 days preceding the Annual Meeting at the New Tazewell Office between 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Voting will not take place the day of the Annual Meeting.
  • Attendance will be limited to one person representing each membership.
  • Those attending will be required to wear a mask, and social distancing is strongly advised during the event.
  • Unfortunately, this year there will be no health fair, activities, lunch, door prizes or gift bags.

We have put much thought and consideration into putting together a meeting as close to normal as possible, given the current situation. On behalf of the directors, management and employees of Powell Valley Electric Cooperative, we appreciate your understanding and patience as we navigate these new circumstances.  We look forward to returning next year to our more traditional annual meetings when we could freely fellowship and enjoy a celebration of this Cooperative’s service to our community.

 -Randell W. Meyers

 

sept2020_pvec_CL 2

POWELL VALLEY SUPPORTS BROADBAND EXPANSION

Powell Valley Electric Cooperative (PVEC) supports the expansion of broadband services to all of its membership.  In early 2018 the PVEC Board of Directors unanimously approved the deployment of fiber to every member in the service territory.  This fiber deployment will enable every member to have a gateway to access the internet, phone, and broadcast services.

Access to fiber services has become necessary for nearly all people in our community.  Some members require it to be able to telework.  Our children and grandchildren need it for school.  PVEC is committed to the rapid deployment of fiber.  Since January, PVEC has installed 178 miles of fiber and is connecting services in its service area.

PVEC is dedicated to expanding broadband availability in a safe environment.  PVEC’s intent is to remain vigilant concerning the safety of its members and the communities we serve.  The integrity of the electric distribution system is an important part of what we do daily.  This is accomplished by focusing on continuously inspecting poles and other equipment in the distribution of the electric power our members receive.

Regulatory requirements set forth by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), TVA, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the National Electrical Code must be adhered to every day.  Engineering considerations must be considered for any attachments on our poles.  As such, requests for engineering review must be submitted before anyone can attach to any of the systems poles.  The integrity of the pole is of foremost concern in this process.  No one wants to see a power outage from a compromised pole that has fallen or someone injured by a falling pole or downed power lines. Additionally, we do not want to put our linemen in dangerous conditions by climbing compromised poles.

We will continue to press forward every day to not only provide highly reliable electric power to our members, but also to work diligently to bring broadband services to every PVEC member.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

If you or someone you know is having trouble paying their energy bills, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) may be able to help. This federally-funded program helps eligible households pay for home energy bills. Learn more and find out where to apply at energyright.com/residential/energy-assistance.

A message from General Manager/CEO Randell Meyers:

PVEC understands the hardships that some of our members are facing during the Coronavirus pandemic.  Out of concern for our members who have been affected by the pandemic, PVEC will postpone disconnection of service for nonpayment of electric bills and will waive late pay fees at this time.   Electric bill balances that are owed will continue to accrue during this grace period.  PVEC will work with members and will offer to make payment arrangements to those who are behind on their electric bills as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.  Please contact your local PVEC office.  If possible, members are encouraged to continue making payments to avoid a large electric bill balance.

 Our lobbies remain closed; however, our temporary drive-through windows, phone lines, and website remain open and we will assist in any way possible. We extend our heartfelt good wishes to all of you as we work through this challenging time.

IMPORTANT NOTICE

In light of developments with the COVID-19 virus, and out of concern for the health and safety of everyone, the monthly Board of Directors meeting scheduled for March 30th, 2020, has been postponed until further notice.

In addition, all construction services are being suspended until further notice, unless it is an emergency. We will work emergency construction as needed.

We will continue to assess this very serious situation and keep you informed. Thank you for your support and understanding during this very difficult time for everyone.

PVEC’s Pandemic Response Plan

Powell Valley Electric Cooperative has implemented Tier 1 of its Pandemic Response Plan.  As this situation develops, it may become necessary to increase PVEC’s level of response. Updates will be provided on PVEC’s website (pve.coop) and Facebook.  PVEC is committed to serve its membership and we appreciate your understanding and patience during this uncertain time.

Tier 1 of the Pandemic Response Plan

  1. A very effective method of combating the spread of COVID-19 is “Social Distancing”; i.e., reducing close contact of the population. PVEC expects each employee to adhere to all policies or instructions regarding social distancing despite how inconvenient or awkward they may seem.

 

  1. Employees shall not shake hands or make physical contact with one another or with customers and should generally maintain at least 6 feet of separation from one another. Exceptions are made for members of crews working or riding in trucks together.

 

  1. The General Manager/CEO will establish office-wide sanitation policies (i.e. surface cleaning protocols, etc.).

 

  1. Employees who are concerned about contracting COVID-19 from their place of work, and can perform their duties remotely, will be offered options to work from home. At the discretion of the General Manager/CEO, certain positions may be required to work remotely.

 

  1. Measures will be implemented to protect employees whose duties cannot be performed remotely.

 

  1. The General Manager/CEO may at any time decide to secure the main office and allow customers to conduct transactions only through “Drive-Through” windows.

 

  1. PVEC will promote and encourage customers to perform business over the phone or on our website.

 

  1. In the event local schools and/or childcare facilities close, the General Manager/CEO will identify all employees impacted by the need for childcare services. If essential employees cannot perform their duties from home and are impacted by a need for childcare, PVEC Management will seek a reasonable accommodation.

 

  1. If departmental meetings need to occur, meetings shall be held via one of the following methods but should not include groups larger than ten (10) employees unless required for continued operations:
    1. Teleconference via office phones, cell phones, or radios.
    2. Outdoor meeting with all employees separated by at least 6 feet.

 

  1. Employees shall refrain from congregating (“hanging out”) in groups and shall try and keep a healthy distance from others at all times (at least 6 feet). Exceptions are allowed for members of the same crew or for the completion of work that ensures continuity of service.

 

  1. Personal Travel: PVEC employees who have traveled for personal reasons internationally or to areas in the U.S. that have declared states of emergency are to contact their manager in advance of returning to work to discuss areas that were visited and any potential guidance and/or restrictions for returning to work. In some cases, the employee may be subject to a 14-day isolation at home using paid time off (PTO).

 

  1. Employees working on outside crews (i.e. line crew, right-of-way, etc.) will be assigned small groups (crews) which will comprise of the men they are normally working on a “crew” with. These assigned groups shall keep segregated from one another until further notice.

 

  1. Electric/ROW Department
    1. Line and ROW workers will stick to their own crews and avoid congregating with members of other crews.
    2. If one member of a crew is suspected of having the coronavirus, it will be assumed the other members are sick as well. In the case of a confirmed COVID-19 case, the entire crew would remain at home and unable to work for at least 14 days or until cleared by a medical professional.
    3. Crews will stick with their assigned truck and shall disinfect their truck and workspace at the end of every day.
    4. The Area Supervisors will remain separate from crews, stay in their assigned office, assigned truck, and direct work remotely as much as possible.
    5. Area Supervisors will ensure helpers are assigned to make up crews and prevent intermingling of crews.
    6. Line and ROW crews will not intermingle, except as required to ensure continuity of service.

 

  1. Customer Service
    1. As long as the Board of Directors or the public health authorities permit us being open to the public, all inside Customer Service (CS) employees shall work on site while also taking precautions to ensure they are limiting their possible exposure to COVID-19. Precautions shall include at minimum: sanitizing workspaces often, washing/sanitizing hands often, wearing gloves while supplies are available, and keeping 6 or more feet from others whenever possible.
    2. At the discretion of the General Manager/CEO, a decision may be made to close counter transactions to our customers and use other available PVEC methods, such as a “drive-through” service, to process customer transactions.

 

  1. Accounting/Billing/HR/General
    1. As a general rule, any administrative employee whose duties can be performed from home should do so. And any work that must be performed on site shall be completed while taking the same precautions as our inside CS personnel (listed in previous section).
    2. The Senior Engineer will coordinate with Department Managers and Supervisors to ensure remotely working employees have the means to do so.
    3. Administrative employees whose duties cannot be performed remotely will be assigned shifts whenever possible and practical, to reduce contact. If these duties can be performed only on specific days (i.e. payroll), or during any fraction of a full work day, those employees will work from home when not actively performing said duties.
    4. Building Maintenance employees who must be present both to conduct their usual duties, and ensure additional sanitation protocols, will exercise extreme caution in limiting their exposure.
    5. Department Managers who have a need to be present at the office will remain separate from employees, remain in their offices, and provide direction remotely.

 

  1. Warehouseman/Purchasing Agent & Senior Mechanic
    1. As much as possible, these employees shall remain isolated and keep safe distances from co-workers (at least 6 feet).
    2. Employees shall disinfect their workspace at the end of every shift.

 

  1. Unless otherwise decided by the Board of Directors, all Full Time Employees will continue to receive regular pay, unless they are using voluntary PTO (including sickness since they would be unable to work). This time will be treated like regular days for payroll purposes (all standard rules apply per current policy manual, i.e., overtime, stand-by, call-ins, etc.).

Important Notice

With the impact of the COVID-19 virus disrupting much of our daily lives, Powell Valley Electric Cooperative wants to assure our members of our commitment to continue providing safe and reliable service throughout the duration of this public health crisis.  Due to the COVID-19 threat to the health and safety of our members and employees, PVEC will be closing the lobbies to walk-in traffic in our three PVEC offices effective Monday, March 23, until further notice.  A temporary drive-through operation will be available at each of PVEC offices.  Members are encouraged to use online, phone or drop-box payment options to manage their account.  We appreciate your understanding and patience during these challenging times.

Bill payment and other Cooperative business may be conducted safely and securely by utilizing other PVEC options:

  • Temporary Drive-Through Window – You may pay your bill from the comfort of your vehicle at a drive-thru operation during regular business hours.
  • New Service – Applications and instructions for applying for new service are available at the Drive-Through Operation until further notice.  New electric service application may also be found on our website.
  • Mail – Send your payment to your local PVEC Office.
    • Jonesville:  P.O. Box 308, Jonesville, VA. 24263
    • Sneedville:  P.O. Box 193, Sneedville, TN 37869
    • New Tazewell:  P.O. Box 1528, New Tazewell, TN 37824
  • Local Office Night Depository:  At each local office payments can be placed in the depository.
  • Online at pve.coop– Click on Your Account, then PAY YOUR BILL to get to the Customer Service Portal. Enter your account number that’s on the bill and your password. New to online bill pay? Click on NEW USER to set up your online bill payment option.
  • PVEC Mobile App – Look for Powell Valley Electric Cooperative (PVEC) in the App Store or the Google Play Store.
  • Pay by Phone: You may pay by phone by calling your local district PVEC office:
    • Jonesville:  276.346.6003
    • Sneedville:  423.733.2207
    • New Tazewell:  423.626.5204

COVID-19

Due to concerns about the COVID-19 virus, for everyone’s safety, we ask customers who pay bills in person to choose one of the other options we provide, including online bill payment; automatic bank draft; payment by mail; local office night depository or drive-through deposit box; and payment by phone using a credit card, debit card or electronic check. We encourage you to use our online website or mobile app, for self-service and 24/7 account access, as call wait times may be longer than usual.

This is a temporary situation, and we recognize that many businesses, individuals and families may be impacted by these unprecedented events. As this situation evolves, we are committed to being responsive to the needs of our members, employees and communities.

As circumstances surrounding the pandemic change, we are evaluating the measures we have put in place and carefully weighing further steps. We are coordinating our response with federal, state, and local officials and following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and other agencies.

Woodlake Recognized Powell Valley Electric Cooperative Employees

In appreciation of Powell Valley Electric Cooperative and the hard work of the employees, Rodney and James England of Woodlake Lodge, Golf and Country Club, recently provided breakfast for PVEC employees.

“We are very proud of the hard work that our employees do on a daily basis,” says Randell Meyers, General Manager/CEO of Powell Valley Electric.  “We truly appreciate this act of kindness shown to our employees.”

Mr. Rodney England expressed his sincere gratitude and appreciation for the dedication of PVEC employees who work hard every day to keep our community in power.  He presented a plaque during the breakfast and read the inscription on the plaque: “We acknowledge the unwavering endurance of wind, rain, sleet, cold and darkness exhibited by the members of the PVEC in order to provide comfort to those they serve.  We therefore express our sincerely offered admiration and appreciation for your dedication and perseverance in this endeavor.”

Powell Valley Electric Cooperative is a consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric utility that provides safe, reliable and affordable energy to more than 32,000 meters in Scott, Lee and Wise counties in Virginia and Claiborne, Hancock, Hawkins, Grainger and Union counties in Tennessee. To learn more about Powell Valley Electric Cooperative visit our website at pve.coop or like us on Facebook.