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Oxford Electric presents its $23.8M budget for FY2019

The Oxford Electric Department presented its budget for the 2019 fiscal year to the Oxford Board of Aldermen Friday, which is up about $500,000 from this past year’s budget.

For most other city departments, the fiscal year runs from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1, however, the fiscal year for OED runs July 1 to June 30.

In the proposed budget, presented by Superintendent Rob Neely, OED estimated total spending of $23,867,526, offset by expected revenues of $23,868,675.

The FY2019 budget is based on a conservative outlook of expenses and revenues. OED’s 2019 operating expenses are projected to rise by approximately 5.6 percent when compared to the projected FY2018 budget figures. Revenues are projected to also rise, with an increase of approximately 3 percent.

OED’s largest expense is purchased power from the Tennessee Valley Authority.

More than 76 percent — or about $18 million — of OED’s revenues go toward paying TVA for energy. About 8 percent of the budget will go toward capital projects and 6.2 percent covers operational costs.

Neely reported that the department’s change over to using Automated Metering Infrastructure, or AMI, has provided several benefits.

These include reduced truck rolls for disco and reconnecting electric service, meter reading accuracy, reduced time and money spent manually reading electric meters and customer service, reduced utility theft and meter tampering and shorter outage times.

“This winter, high bill complaints were at an all-time high,” Neely said, “but were efficiently handled with hourly meter read data.”

OED is currently in the midst of a multi-year LED Streetlight project in which it is replacing every street light with an equivalent LED fixture.

“We’ve replaced over 340 lights to date,” Neely said. “The savings so far to the city is over $1,300 a month in energy usage. Streetlight maintenance is a constant issue that should be much improved due to the new LED fixtures, which should last 15-20 years and will operate at a much lower wattage.”

As of March 31, OED provides electric service to approximately 9,605 electric customers — 7,566 residences, 1,743 small commercial businesses, 234 medium commercial businesses, two large commercial businesses, 17 street and athletic areas and 48 lighting installations.

The number of customers increased 1.2 percent over the calendar year.

Several projects to move above-ground power lines underground in the coming year are planned for the Stone Subdivision, Joel Lane, College Hill Road, News Hill Cove, Beacon Point, Highland Place and Mimosa.

OED also provides meter reading, billing and customer service to about 13,129 water, 10,873 sewer and 11,090 sanitation customers.

Other department heads will begin presenting their budgets for review by the Board of Aldermen in June. The final FY2018 budget must be approved by Sept. 15.