Another TN utility rounds off customers’ bills, giving away difference

By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog

NASHVILLE — Officials at another Tennessee public utility are rounding customers’ monthly bills off to the nearest whole dollar and giving that difference to charity.

Volunteer Energy Cooperative spokesman Robert McCarty told Tennessee Watchdog Friday that participation is voluntary and about 23 percent of the Tennessee Valley area utility’s customers decline the offer.

The remaining 77 percent of customers will have to read a line item on their monthly bill or monthly literature that VEC puts out to know they are participating, McCarty said.

“There are no politically oriented charities, and a board of volunteers, who are all unaffiliated with the utility in any way, determine who receives the grant money.”

Volunteer Energy Cooperative

Among those charities, according to VEC’s March newsletter, are ministerial associations, health councils, Christian counseling centers, youth baseball organizations and quilt guilds.

None of them may receive more than $10,000 per year. The utility has given out almost $5 million since the program started in 2001.

Utility officials, furthermore, conduct audits on these charitable organizations, McCarty said.

As Tennessee Watchdog reported last week, the public Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation enrolls its customers in a similar program.

Volunteer Electric serves about 112,000 customers throughout 17 counties.

Contact Christopher Butler at chris@tennesseewatchdog.org. or follow him and submit story ideas on his official Facebook page.

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