COVID-19 Update:

06.25.20

Since the temporary suspension of residential disconnections will end on June 30, we wanted to give everyone a quick update.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the BTES team has looked for ways to respond in the most helpful ways for our customers. We modified several of our processes and added additional resources to help during this time. In addition to modifying our arrangement process, we also worked closely with the Salvation Army to streamline the Help Your Neighbor Program and to offer additional assistance terms through that program. 

We also developed the COVID-19 Customer Action Plan that offers several solutions for each customer that has fallen behind in paying their bill. We realize that what may work for one customer will not work for another. Currently, only one percent of our customers are behind in paying their BTES bill. Thank you to those who have continued to pay their bill on time and to those customers who have contacted us to make a plan for their account.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have regularly communicated with our customers that have fallen behind in paying their bill. Communication methods have included individualized and specialized COVID-19 notices on a monthly basis to keep customers aware of their current account balance. We’ve also sent letters and email messages, made phone calls, and posted on Facebook and our website. All of this is in addition to our normal monthly communication through mailed and emailed bills and notices. Additionally, we sent letters to individuals that serve as guarantors on any account that has a past due balance to ensure that we have communicated with all vested parties. We have exhausted every communication method we have on file.

If COVID-19 has impacted your ability to pay your BTES bill, we urge you to contact us as soon as possible. We can be reached at customerservice@btes.net or 423-968-1526.

For a list of ways to pay a BTES bill, please visit btes.net/paymentoptions. For information about local agencies that provide assistance, please visit btes.net/assistance.

As a reminder, to prevent disconnection, please pay by 5pm on June 30 or contact us prior to June 30 to make a plan for your account.

Thank you for allowing us to serve you.

COVID-19 Update:

06.05.20

From the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, we have looked for ways to respond in the most helpful ways for our customers. Our senior leadership team met on March 15 and immediately reviewed the available data and impact to our customers. It was decided to temporarily suspend residential service disconnections. While at the time we weren’t sure what to expect, we knew we had to move quickly to provide support for our customers.

As we navigated that first week, several employees began working from home and social distancing measures were put into place for those employees that remained in the building. For our outside crews, we began staggering start time schedules so that interaction between employee groups were limited. On March 19, we closed our building to the public to adhere to CDC guidelines and more employees began working from home. Our drive thru remained open for payments and other Customer Service processes.

To offer additional support for our customers, we modified our payment arrangement process and expanded the BTES Help Your Neighbor Program. We applied for and received $15,000 from the TVA COVID-19 Community Care Fund to go into the BTES Help Your Neighbor Program and worked closely with the Salvation Army to streamline the assistance application process so more customers could receive help quickly. BTES also pledged $15,000 for the Help Your Neighbor Program and began a community campaign in hopes of raising an additional $15,000. Together, this would provide an additional $45,000 to help those customers who have been impacted by COVID-19. Thank you to those who have donated to our Help Your Neighbor Program and for supporting our community in other ways during this time.

While most of our Customer Service processes can be completed online or over the phone, there are a few things that require in-person visits to BTES. So, to be able to provide the excellent service our customers expect while adhering to social distancing guidelines, we implemented a mobile trailer to house a couple of our Customer Service Representatives to help during high customer volume days. This trailer is in the BTES parking lot to provide an open-air environment for our customers and additional room to social distance while conducting business.

In the midst of changing several of our internal processes, we quickly realized that we needed to offer support to our local students. We worked closely with the school systems and developed the BTES COVID-19 Educational Support Program to provide 100Mb of Internet service for free to current BTES electric customers that have a student in the home and currently do not have access to the Internet. As part of this program, we also opened our WIFI hot spots at BTES and in downtown Bristol for free access to anyone that needed it.

We also developed our COVID-19 Customer Action Plan that offers customized solutions for each customer that has fallen behind in paying their bill. We realize that what may work for one customer will not work for another and we will work with each customer to see what options are available.

Our senior leadership team and other BTES employees continue to participate in weekly calls and webinars with other local power companies and local, state and national organizations to stay abreast of what is happening in our world. As we continue to navigate this situation, we know that other processes and procedures will need to be modified and we stand ready to support our community as much as we can.

BTES is committed to doing what we can to help our customers, our employees, and the community we serve. Thank you for allowing us to serve you.

 

COVID-19 Update:

05.16.20

Let us first say that we are so appreciative of our customers. Thank you to those who have donated to our Help Your Neighbor Program and for supporting our community in other ways during this time!

The temporary suspension of residential disconnections will end on June 30. We have communicated with customers who have missed their due dates with individualized and specialized COVID-19 notices on a monthly basis to keep those customers aware of their current account balance. We will also be sending letters to these customers, as well as leaving an additional COVID-19 notice over the next six weeks. Additionally, we have sent letters to individuals that serve as guarantors on any account that has a past due balance to ensure that we have communicated with all vested parties.

We are trying to give our customers as much notice as possible to prepare for this upcoming date and communicate this early so our customers can make appropriate plans for their account. For a list of ways to pay a BTES bill, please visit www.btes.net/paymentoptions. For information about local agencies that provide assistance, please visit www.btes.net/assistance

We have modified several of our processes and added additional resources to help those who have been impacted by COVID-19. If COVID-19 has impacted your ability to pay your BTES bill, please reach out to our Customer Service Department at customerservice@btes.net or 423-968-1526 as soon as possible to determine what option works best for you and your account. We realize that what may work for one customer will not work for another and we will work with each customer to see what options are available.

Based on the guidelines for reopening and to continue protecting our customers and employees, the BTES lobby will remain closed for the time being. We encourage our customers to conduct necessary business with BTES over the phone, online or via email. As always, our drive thru is open for payments Monday-Friday from 8:30am-5:00pm.

Thank you for allowing us to serve you.

 

BTES Partners with TVA to Support Community

4.24.20

Bristol Tennessee Essential Services (BTES) is proud to announce that it has partnered with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to match donations up to $15,000 each to the Help Your Neighbor Program to help the local community during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. 

“For the past 30 years, the BTES Help Your Neighbor Program has been helping customers in need pay their electric bills,” said BTES CEO Mike Browder. “To further assist during COVID-19, TVA and BTES are temporarily matching donations up to $15,000 each. So, if someone gives $10, it becomes $30! Together, we have the potential to contribute an additional $45,000 to this wonderful program.” 

BTES collects the donations, the Salvation Army certifies the eligibility of the recipient, and the United Way of Bristol administers the funds. 

TVA will match donations through its newly developed COVID-19 Community Care Fund, which helps local power companies meet immediate needs in their communities by providing matching funds for local initiatives addressing hardships created by this pandemic. 

“In the spirit of public power, we are honored to partner with local power companies to address the unprecedented challenges facing those we serve,” said Jeannette Mills, TVA executive vice president and chief external relations officer. “TVA has a mission of service to make life better for the people of the Valley, and providing these funds to address immediate needs is one way we can help ease the burdens on families and communities.” 

For additional information, visit www.btes.net/hyn. For additional information about TVA, see tva.gov

 

COVID-19 Update:

3.27.20

We want to say a quick thank you to our customers for being patient with us as we go through this ever-changing time and deal with the Coronavirus outbreak. We appreciate our customers paying their bill as they can and making payments on their bills throughout this time. We are continuing to evaluate the situation on a daily basis and working to support our customers as best we can.

At this time, we are continuing to temporarily suspend residential disconnections. We will continue to evaluate the policy and timeframe as the situation develops. While residential services will not be disconnected, bills will continue to accrue. We encourage customers to make payments if able.

Following the guidelines set by Tennessee State Governor Bill Lee, the BTES lobby is temporarily closed and will tentatively reopen on Monday, April 27. We encourage our customers to use our payment drop box locations. If you must make your payment via cash, our drive thru is open Monday-Friday from 8:30am-5:00pm.

While our lobby may be closed, we are still here to serve you. We encourage our customers to conduct necessary business with BTES over the phone, online or via email.

Please call us at 423-968-1526 to learn more about payment options or to inquire about other programs that could be beneficial.

Again, we are so appreciative of our customers being patient with us as we navigate these very uncertain times. We will continue to communicate with you through Facebook and our website for updates. Thank you for allowing us to serve you.

 

COVID-19 Update:

3.26.20

TVA Offers Flexibility During COVID-19 Outbreak 

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) announced an initiative to support increased flexibility for local power companies who are responding to urgent customer needs during the ongoing response to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

 TVA provided regulatory flexibility to allow BTES and other local power companies to halt disconnection of electric service and respond quickly to customers’ immediate needs early in the situation. 

“We appreciate TVA’s flexibility and support in what we are doing to help our customers through this difficult time,” said BTES CEO Mike Browder. 

TVA is now also offering credit support as an option to BTES and other local power companies through the deferral of wholesale power payments based on the needs of individual local power companies. 

“As long as our customers continue to pay their bills in a timely manner, as most of our customers are currently doing, we won’t need to participate in the deferral agreement – which would be ideal,” said Browder. “However, if more of our customers aren’t able to pay their BTES bill, this means that we won’t have the incoming money needed to pay TVA for the electricity we have purchased for our customers. If this happens, TVA’s initiative allows short term deferment of our costs to them while we work with our customers to receive the total balance owed on their accounts. While BTES is currently not disconnecting services, bills are continuing to accrue and will have to be paid.” 

Detailed plans will be customized for each participating local power company based on individual needs and financial impacts, as needed. A portion of the BTES’ monthly TVA wholesale power payments could be deferred for a short period during the ongoing COVID-19 response and an appropriate repayment plan will be put in place, if necessary. 

Browder continued, “We are working closely with TVA to determine how we can best support our customers.”

 

COVID-19 Update:

3.26.20

Following the guidelines set by Tennessee State Governor Bill Lee, the BTES lobby is temporarily closed and will tentatively reopen on Monday, April 27. Please use the BTES drive thru for cash payments and conduct other necessary business with BTES over the phone at 423-968-1526 or online at www.btes.net. 

We appreciate our customers' patience as we continue to navigate this ever-changing situation. Thanks for being our customer!

 

COVID-19 Update:

03.20.20

We are continuing to evaluate the suspension of residential disconnections on a week-by-week basis. We have temporarily suspended residential service disconnections for an additional week until March 29, and will continue to evaluate the policy and timeframe as the situation develops. While services will not be disconnected, bills will continue to accrue. We encourage customers to make payments if able.

As a reminder, the BTES lobby is currently closed to the public. We encourage our customers to use our payment drop box locations. If you must make your payment via cash, our drive thru is open Monday-Friday from 8:30am-5:00pm.

While our lobby may be closed, we are still here to serve you. We encourage our customers to conduct necessary business with BTES over the phone, online or via email.

Please call us at 423-968-1526 to learn more about payment options or to inquire about other programs that could be beneficial.

We are evaluating this ever-changing situation every day with other local power companies and national health organizations. We are working to ensure the health and safety of our employees and customers while focusing on providing reliable services to our community.

Please be patient with us as we navigate these very uncertain times. Just as you are, our employees are facing situations that are new and different than anything we have ever experienced before.

We will continue to communicate with you through Facebook and our website for updates. Thank you for allowing us to serve you.

 

COVID-19 Update:

03.17.20

Due to the ever-evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we have decided to take the precautionary measure to close the BTES lobby to the public beginning Wednesday, March 18 at 5:00pm and tentatively reopen on Wednesday, April 1.

Our employees’ and customers’ safety and health is our top priority. We want to take all available precautions to ensure our employees stay healthy so that we can continue providing reliable service to our customers.

We encourage our customers to conduct necessary business with BTES over the phone (423-968-1526), online at www.btes.net or via email at customerservice@btes.net. BTES has several free payment options available to our customers including automatic bank draft, numerous drop boxes, and by mail. Other payment options via credit or debit card online or over the phone (2.45% vendor fee) and e-check online or over the phone ($1 vendor fee) are also available. Details regarding each payment option are available at www.btes.net/paymentoptions. We contacted the credit card and e-check processing vendor and asked if they can remove these fees during this time and we are awaiting their response.

If you must make your payment via cash, check, or money order at the BTES office, our drive thru will be open for those circumstances.

Our crews will remain on-call 24/7 to respond to any power outages or emergencies and make necessary system repairs. You can report an outage as normal by calling 423-968-BTES (2837).

Again, this is a rapidly evolving situation, and we will address the challenges as they occur in consultation with federal, state and local authorities. Please email us at customerservice@btes.net for any questions regarding our closure and response. We thank you for your patience and understanding during this time.

 

COVID-19 Statement:

03.15.20

BTES is committed to maintaining reliable service, while also doing our part to limit the spread of the Coronavirus.

We recognize this could be a time of hardship or financial difficulty for some of our customers. Therefore, we have temporarily suspended residential service disconnections until March 22, and will continue to evaluate the policy and timeframe as the situation develops. While residential services will not be disconnected, bills will continue to accrue. We encourage customers to make payments if able. As always, please call us at 423-968-1526 to learn more about payment options or to inquire about other programs that could be beneficial.

We encourage our customers to limit their visits to BTES and use our other payment options and conduct other necessary business with BTES over the phone or online.

At the same time, proactive actions are being taken by BTES to both prevent the spread of the illness and protect the safety and health of our employees. BTES operations will continue as normal during this time. As a customer, you can be assured that our comprehensive plans and procedures will ensure a continuation of operations and service.

BTES is committed to doing what we can to help our customers, our employees, and the community we serve navigate this uncertain time. Thank you for allowing us to serve you.