BY SARAH R. GREGORY
Projected expenses for tree-trimming operations and other right-of-way maintenance along Greeneville Light & Power System (GL&PS) power lines were approved Monday by the utility's board of directors.
The board also heard an update concerning a recent telephone survey of GL&PS customers that gave high marks to the utility's customer service.
TWO BIDS AWARDED
Directors voted unanimously in favor of bid awards to two contractors -- Wolf Tree Inc. and Asplundh Tree Expert Company.
GL&PS General Manager Bill Carroll explained that the contractors review assigned areas of power lines in search of overgrown vegetation that could harm the wires.
In 2014, Carroll said, Asplundh will "scout" along 281 miles of area, and Wolf will work along 166 miles.
Those contractors will then submit their proposals for work that must be done, which must be justified and approved by GL&PS management before it can be carried out, Carroll said.
The total cost for 2014 as approved by directors was $1,488,921. Of that amount, $974,418 was a bid approved from Asplundh, while $514,503 was bid by Wolf.
Carroll noted that the expense was "a lot of money," but noted that tree-trimming operations over the years have greatly reduced the number of outages GL&PS customers experience due to downed lines.
That "preventative maintenance," he said, has "worked very, very well" for the system because it has resulted in less overtime work for crews that must restore such outages.
"It is a lot of money, but our outages are down," he said. "The lights are on more. We have less overtime expense."
CUSTOMER SURVEY RESPONSE
After directors took action on the right-of-way maintenance costs, they heard an update from Carroll about results of a recent telephone survey of GL&PS customers.
Carroll said that the utility may start conducting such surveys on a quarterly basis.
There were 100 respondants to the survey, conducted in December and earlier this month.
"I was very pleased with the results of this," Carroll said, noting that all six questions received averages of 4.3 or higher on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being a dissatisfied response and 5 being a highly satisfied response.
All six questions pertained to customer service-related issues, and questions related to professionalism of the utility's customer service representatives received particularly high marks, Carroll said.
"Folks seem to appreciate what our folks do out in the field," he said.