TVA Pandemic Relief Credit Fund

Fayetteville Public Utilities (FPU) would like to clarify some of the misinformation that has been discussed in the community regarding the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Pandemic Relief Credit and Community Care Fund. I would like to take a moment to address some of these concerns and provide additional information.
TVA announced several decisions made by their Board in a press release on August 27, 2020. TVA’s Board approved an additional $2 million contribution to the Community Care Fund. Similar to the initial contribution in April, these funds will benefit local organizations that are assisting families and businesses most in need during COVID-19. Monies provided from the fund must be matched by FPU and other community groups. Eligibility requirements set by TVA’s Community Engagement office determine whether an organization or initiative receives funds. Non-profit organizations designated as 501(c)(3) tax exempt will be eligible to receive money from the fund, as well as other organizations or initiatives approved by TVA. FPU could receive up to $10,000 from the TVA Community Care Fund if matching funds are available from FPU and community partners. FPU recently received the guidelines and is reviewing how these funds might best serve the community.
TVA also released information regarding the $200 million Pandemic Relief Credit. The $200 million credit will be distributed among 153 local power companies and directly served customers of TVA. FPU is not receiving the full $200 million. FPU is eligible for a portion of the usage-based credit to help support the community during these trying times. The portion of funds FPU will receive is based on purchased kilowatt hours from TVA. FPU’s portion of the credit is an estimated $615,000 to $640,000. Despite what has been widely reported, the Pandemic Relief Credit from TVA is not a grant or a rebate.
TVA is providing this relief as a credit and will allow FPU to apply the savings in the best way possible within the qualifying guidelines set by TVA. Per TVA regulations, FPU cannot use the Pandemic Relief Credit to fund its commercial broadband entity since that is a non-electric system purpose.
Per TVA, any distribution of the Pandemic Relief Credit funds must be fair and equitable to all electric customers. During the August work session, FPU’s Board extensively discussed possible uses of any funds that might be received. FPU made no official decision at that time, as TVA’s Board of Directors had not met to act on the credit. In FPU’s September 23, 2020 Board meeting, the Board of Directors approved an across the board electric rate decrease as the most fair and transparent way to benefit all electric customers. The rate decrease will result in an average savings of 1.5 percent of the average household usage of 1285 kilowatt hours (continued on page 20).
(Continued from page 4) This credit is only in effect from October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021, unless TVA’s Board of Directors extends the credit.
FPU is dedicated to making the lives of the people of Fayetteville and Lincoln County better. We are proud that we are able to utilize grants to expand broadband service into some of the most needed areas in Lincoln County. While the expansion of broadband is needed and helpful, FPU must be good stewards of the ratepayer’s money. One mile of broadband expansion costs an average of $18,000. Expanding broadband to the unserved and underserved areas in Lincoln County would cost FPU an estimated $40 million.
In April 2020, FPU was awarded a $1.75 million Broadband Accessibility Grant through the State of Tennessee. These funds are being used to build broadband to the southwest portion of Lincoln County. We are currently beginning work on the project.
On August 24, 2020, FPU received an additional grant of $1.75 million as part of the Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund. These funds are specifically for building broadband internet service to portions of Lincoln County that are unserved or underserved. Due to the expedient nature of this grant, FPU has begun working on this project and has contacted customers in the service territory. FPU is contributing a total of over $2.7 million for the matching funds for these broadband projects.
FPU is actively seeking other avenues to obtain funding for broadband expansion. Our mission is to serve the community with safe, reliable and affordable services. We will continue to work to help our community grow stronger, but we must do so within the guidelines set out by TVA and the State of Tennessee.
I hope this information will help clarify some of the confusion around TVA’s Pandemic Relief Credit and Community Care Fund. FPU welcomes all calls and questions from our customers concerning any news or information released by FPU or about FPU. For more information, you can call us at 433-1522 or visit our website at fpu-tn.com.

FPU CEO/General Manager, Britt Dye