Awards and Achievements

In 1994, BTES received the American Public Power Association's prestigious E. F. Scattergood System Achievement Award for outstanding achievement by a utility.

Also in 1994, BTES was one of three organizations to receive the Tennessee Quality Governor's Award, now called the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence (TNCPE) Award of Excellence, presented by Governor Ned McWherter. The other two recipients were Nissan and FedEx. Other organizations that have received this prestigious award include: Eastman Chemical Company, Philips Consumer Electronics Company, Bridgestone/Firestone Company, Eaton Corporation, Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge, Baptist Health Systems of Knoxville, Fleetguard, Caterpillar Financial Services, Memphis Light, Gas and Water, Eaton Aeroquip, Pal's Sudden Service, Tennessee Valley Authority Nuclear, John Deere Power Products, Mountain States Health Alliance, Wellmont Health System and Caris Healthcare.

In June 1996, BTES received the American Public Power Association's Golden Tree Award in recognition of BTES planting more than one tree per customer.

In June 1997, BTES received the American Public Power Association's Community Service Award for outstanding civic and community involvement by our employees.

In October 1997, CEO R. Michael Browder received the 1997 Jim Spradley Award for individual accomplishments in the field of industrial and economic development in Tennessee that go above and beyond the requirements of the vocation for which they are compensated. The award was presented by Governor Don Sundquist at the Governor's Economic Summit in Nashville.

In May 2000, CEO R. Michael Browder received the Tennessee Valley Public Power Association's Distinguished Service Award for his exceptional performance and contributions toward the accomplishment of the organization's goals.

In 2008, BTES received the American Public Power Association Energy Innovator Award for providing better service to electric customers through our fiber optic system.

In June 2009, BTES again received the American Public Power Association's prestigious E. F. Scattergood System Achievement Award for outstanding achievement by a utility.

In February 2010, CEO R. Michael Browder received the Ned R. McWherter Leadership Award from the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence for exemplifying outstanding leadership.

In May 2010, BTES again received the American Public Power Association's Community Service Award for outstanding civic and community involvement by our employees.

In July 2010, BTES received the Tennessee Municipal Electric Power Association's (TMEPA) Community Service Award for participating in activities in the community that address community need, provide opportunities for employee involvement and providing improved service to customers.

In February 2013, BTES again received the TNCPE Excellence Award, making us one of only three organizations to receive the award twice.

In March 2013, BTES received the American Public Power Association's Platinum Level Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) Award for the third time in recognition for providing consumers with the highest degree of reliable and safe electric service. This award requires a rating of 90-97.9%.

In October 2013, BTES led Sullivan County in becoming the first Connected Community in the State of Tennessee. To achieve this designation, the community demonstrated that they meet or exceed benchmarks for broadband access, broadband adoption, and broadband use, signifying that the necessary broadband infrastructure and digitally proficient workforce required to be truly competitive on today's connected global economy is available. BTES’ high speed data system played a major role in receiving this designation.

In January 2014, CEO R. Michael Browder received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bristol Chamber of Commerce.

In 2015, BTES received the Pinnacle Award from SDS Research which conducted a Customer Satisfaction Assessment in 2014 by surveying BTES’ customers. The award is the highest level given by SDS Research and BTES was one of just eight clients in the entire country to receive this award. The requirements to qualify for the Pinnacle Award include a Net Positive Index of 170 or higher and Excellent ratings of 75% or higher.

In May 2015, CEO R. Michael Browder received the Award of Honor from East Tennessee State University (ETSU). To achieve this award, one must have earned a degree from ETSU, demonstrated significant accomplishments in chosen field of work and demonstrated moral and/or financial support to the university since graduation.

In May 2015, BTES received the American Public Power Association's Diamond Level Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) Award. The RP3 designation recognizes public power utilities that demonstrate proficiency in four key disciplines: reliability, safety, workforce development and system improvement. Criteria within each category are based on sound business practices and represent a utility-wide commitment to safe and reliable delivery of electricity. BTES received the diamond designation which is the highest level of the award.

For fiscal year 2016, BTES received the Government Finance Officers Association Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for the twentieth year in a row.

In June 2017, BTES again received the American Public Power Association's Community Service Award for outstanding civic and community involvement by our employees.

In April 2018, BTES received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. The Baldrige Award is a Presidential-level honor, recognizing exemplary practices among American organizations and businesses including an unceasing drive for radical innovation, thoughtful leadership, and administrative improvement. BTES is the first utility to receive this award.

In April 2019, BTES received the National Arbor Day Foundation Tree Line USA Award for the eighteenth year in recognition of quality tree care, annual worker training, tree planting and public education.

In May 2019, BTES again received the American Public Power Association's Diamond Level Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) Award.

In July 2019, BTES again received the TMEPA’s Community Service Award for participating in activities in the community that address community need, provide opportunities for employee involvement and providing improved service to customers.

In October 2019, BTES received international recognition from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) for its work in Business Retention and Expansion Initiatives. BTES received the top award – the Gold Award – for its Teacher Industry Day Program. (Business Retention and Expansion Initiatives category; segmented by population size)

BTES was voted the Best Cable and Internet provider by the readers of the Bristol Herald Courier (BHC) from 2015-2019. BHC holds the Best of Bristol Contest each year and community members vote on their favorite business in numerous categories.

In April 2020, BTES earned the APPA Safety Award of Excellence for safe operating practices in 2019. The utility earned the first-place award in the category for utilities with 110,000 to 249,999 worker hours of annual worker exposure.

In June 2020, BTES was awarded $500,000 from Tennessee Governor Bill Lee as part of the Site Development Grant Program that helps communities prepare industrial sites for businesses.

In October 2020, Bristol Tennessee was recognized by AdvisorSmith as having the fastest Internet speeds available to residents in the small city category.

In March 2021, BTES earned the APPA Safety Award of Excellence for safe operating practices in 2020. The utility earned the first-place award in the category for utilities with 110,000 to 249,999 worker-hours of annual worker exposure.

In April 2021, BTES received the National Arbor Day Foundation Tree Line USA Award for the twenty-first year in recognition of quality tree care, annual worker training, tree planting and public education


Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award 2017 Recipient, Small Business

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.

Highlights

  • 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.

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


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