City gets $500K credit from Dominion

Published 10:23 am Wednesday, October 25, 2017

For the first time in about five years, the city of Franklin’s electric fund balance is within the guidelines  of its minimum cash reserve policy following the city’s receipt of a $544,657.07 true-up credit from Dominion Virginia Power.

Mark Bly, director of the city’s municipal electric corporation, Franklin Power & Light, announced the credit during the City Council’s meeting on Monday evening. Bly explained that the credit is the result of the Virginia Municipal Electric Association’s successful renegotiation of wholesale power transmission rates with Dominion, which began in 2015. The VMEA is a collective bargaining organization of multiple Virginia municipalities, of which Franklin is a member, formed to act as a go-between with Dominion for the purpose of negotiating transmission rates.

“They [Dominion] reviewed some of the ways the calculations are done and came to an agreement on how to calculate the true-up credits that the jurisdictions, including Franklin, that are VMEA members get from Dominion,” City Manager R. Randy Martin explained. “In doing that calculation, they determined that the jurisdictions are due a credit.”

Martin added that the cumulative amount the city received is the result of what it would have been credited on a monthly basis beginning in January 2016 when Dominion’s new calculation method went into effect. The credits are related to the city’s generation of electricity using large diesel-powered generators when there is high demand and feeding the excess back into Dominion’s grid.

In addition to the credit for past electricity usage, FP&L also anticipates the city’s monthly transmission cost from this time forward to be reduced by approximately $15,000 per month, also as a result of the change to Dominion’s formula, though the exact reduction in cost will depend on the city’s actual electric usage in the months to come.

Other matters discussed at the council meeting included a public hearing on a proposal to lease part of the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center to Southampton Memorial Hospital for the purpose of holding a weekly clinic, and three amendments to the city’s budget.

Two people spoke during the public hearing, both in favor of the clinic: Kim Marks, CEO of Southampton Memorial Hospital and John Skirven, CEO of Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia.

After the hearing, the council voted unanimously to authorize City Attorney H. Taylor Williams IV to complete negotiations with SMH’s parent company, Community Health Systems and bring the final contract before council for final approval.

The three budget amendments were 2018-05, which allocates an additional $6,000 to the city’s police department for overtime expenditures relating to their presence at Franklin High School football games at Armory Park, and 2018-06 and -07, both of which re-appropriate unspent funds received via federal community development block grants to the city’s Madison Street rehabilitation project for the remainder of 2017 and for 2018. The amendments appropriated $198,889 for 2017 and $521,065 for 2018.

Additional actions council took during the meeting included passing an Arbor Day proclamation and passing a resolution in support of the formation and implementation of a regional broadband strategy to connect all of the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission’s 17 member jurisdictions, one of which is Franklin. They also passed a resolution in support of the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization’s endorsement of a Hampton Roads Unmanned Systems Testing and Demonstration Center proposal for York County.

The council concluded with a presentation by Dan Howe, executive director of the Downtown Franklin Association, on current and upcoming plans to improve the appearance of Franklin’s downtown. Some of these plans included helping to repaint the old Parker Drug building, now Franklin Seafood and Steakhouse, painting a mural on the side of the Second Avenue Park-n-Shop facing the Blackwater River and planning for a riverwalk park.