BrightRidge celebrates 75 years of public power

Members of the BrightRidge Board of Directors helped cut the ribbon to formally open BrightRidge’s renovated headquarters on Boones Creek Road. The event coincided with the company’s 75th anniversary. PHOTO BY DAVE ONGIE

BrightRidge celebrated 75 years as the region’s largest public power provider with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday afternoon to formally inaugurate the company’s new customer-friendly facade at its Boones Creek Road headquarters.

BrightRidge has come a long way since 2017, when the Johnson City Commission agreed a rapidly changing retail electric marketplace required a more flexible business model to succeed in the 21st Century.

“Our community really saw the need to evolve, remaining a publicly-owned power company, but better positioned to fulfill the community’s vision and respond to an evolving marketplace as an energy authority,” BrightRidge CEO Jeff Dykes said. “Three years later, we are celebrating our 75th anniversary with a ribbon cutting inaugurating our new, more customer friendly entrance, while BrightRidge continues to expand in renewable energy and ultra-high-speed Internet services.”

In the previous century, a robust and affordable electric, water and sewer supply were the basic infrastructure ingredients essential for a successful regional economy. Today, those basic infrastructure needs have expanded.

“Two things almost any new business prospect will ask about, after the regular demographic review, are the availability of broadband services and renewable energy,” Dykes said. “These items are now critical infrastructure for a successful community.”

Changing times are evident in the facade redesign of the now 20-year-old electric system building. Two electric vehicle charging stations now grace the front of the facility, with a relocated public transit shelter and lower sidewalks easing access to the building. 
And the building now features a new centerpiece, a solar tree, clearly designating the main entrance while highlighting the company’s ongoing commitment to developing alternative energy sources. 

“I can’t remember a more challenging year in business,” Dykes said. “But despite the uncertainty of the pandemic, our company stepped up repeatedly through investments in small business relief, greatly expanded low income energy assistance, a new Home Uplift weatherization/improvement program, announcement of a new 9 MW solar production facility and continued rollout of nation-leading 10 GB broadband services, particularly in rural and underserved areas in partnership with the State of Tennessee. 

“All of this was accomplished while continuing to provide affordable, reliable electricity. Thanks to our dedicated team and a strong long-term partnership with the Tennessee Valley Authority, we look forward to another successful 75 years for our community.”
A brief history of BrightRidge

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) acquired the privately held East Tennessee Light and Power Company early in 1945, and then sold it to City of Johnson City as a municipal electric distribution system serving Washington County as well as portions of Sullivan, Greene, and Carter counties.

Allen Harris was the first Chairman of the Board of Directors of the newly formed Johnson City Power Board. 

In March 2017, Johnson City leaders advocated for state legislation to adopt a new, more flexible business format for the Johnson City Power Board, which resulted in a modern energy authority charter.  

In August 2017, the Johnson City Power Board became the Johnson City Energy Authority, adopting the new name of BrightRidge on Oct. 3, 2017.

Further, BrightRidge Broadband, a division of BrightRidge, was formed in 2018 and began rolling out nation-leading 10 GB broadband service in 2019.
In October 2019, BrightRidge entered a 20-year contract to continue purchasing electricity from the Tennessee Valley Authority, continuing a 75-year business relationship.

BrightRidge remains a not-for-profit, local power company with directors appointed by the Johnson City Commission, Town of Jonesborough and Washington County. The company serves about 78,000 customers.


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