Bristol Tennessee Essential Services

Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award 2017 Recipient, Small Business


Highest-Ranking Official (HRO):

                Mike Browder, CEO

Public Affairs Contact:

                Leslie Blevins, Public Relations and Communications Manager


Contact: 423-968-1526

Press Release

HRO Biography

HRO Photograph

Baldrige Fact Sheet

Press Packet

BTES Photographs


Bristol Tennessee Essential Services (BTES) is a municipally-owned electric utility that also provides an advanced fiber optic network that supports its electric system and offers Internet, telephone and cable television services. With a mission to provide services that exceed expectations – BTES’ employees focus on the key success factors of Reliability, Safety and Financial as a means to work toward their vision of being the best electric, Internet, telephone and cable television provider. BTES provides service to over 33,000 electric customers and over 17,000 fiber customers in a 280-square-mile service area in the City of Bristol and Sullivan County, Tennessee. With only 68 employees, BTES is among the best in class in providing reliable, safe, cost-effective services to its community. BTES has received the Excellence award twice from the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence, the state recognition based on the Baldrige Award.


  • BTES holds the highest national level of recognition for a Public Power Utility from the American Public Power Association which recognizes utilities that demonstrate high proficiency in reliability, safety, workforce development, and system improvement.
  • Reliability is a key performance measure and a key success factor for BTES. With new technologies and innovations, BTES continues to decrease outage minutes with a strenuous goal of less than 60 minutes of outage time per customer per year, which it has exceeded for the past three years. With the use of its innovative Automated Switching System, BTES saved its customers an additional 46 minutes per customer of outage time in 2016.
  • To be financially sustainable, BTES continually plans for the future. Compared to other electric utilities’ rates, over the past 40 years, BTES has left more than $70 million in its customers’ pockets, and for the past 20 years, has received the highest honor for exceptional accounting principles and financial reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association.
  • BTES’ fiber optic system not only supports its electric system, it also provides its community with Internet, telephone and cable television services. BTES provides the fastest Internet available in the United States with speeds of 10 Gigabits per second available to every home and business in its service area.

Exceeding Expectations through Listening

BTES listens to its customers through numerous methods, including telephone calls, walk-in customers, emails, faxes, one-on-one communications and others. Each communication is tracked and classified as either an opportunity for improvement or a positive communication. These are tracked weekly by department, categorized as appropriate and then an improvement initiative is created based on the data gathered. The data gathered through this process are used to define customer needs, technological requirements, employee training goals, process improvement initiatives and future strategies.

Engaging Workforce for Success

Having an engaged workforce is a key to being a successful organization. Key performance indicators relative to workforce engagement at BTES are developed using the employee performance appraisal process, strategic planning process and annual review of its key success factors. BTES employees are engaged through opportunities to volunteer in the community, participation in team activities, empowerment to make decisions, rewards for perfect attendance and no lost-time accidents, appropriate training, and encouragement to participate in quality and leadership training programs.

Sustainability through Strategic Planning

BTES’ organizational sustainability is reflected through its commitment to maintaining a highly educated workforce, leaving money in customers’ pockets, providing safe and reliable service and participation in green initiatives. BTES’ strategic planning process is an ongoing initiative that involves reviewing the above-mentioned items; setting goals, objectives, strategies and action plans for the coming years; and focusing on its key success factors of reliability, safety and financial.

Building Organizational Culture through Storytelling

BTES builds and maintains its culture through its storytelling technique that is used across the entire organization. The stories that are told relate to its culture and support the mission and vision. BTES employees use this approach not only to build the culture but to also train others, promote ethical behaviors and understand BTES’ practices. Stories are told based on the CAP Do (Check, Act, Plan, Do) decision-making process and are systematically told throughout the organization during weekly meetings and by individual employees.