Last updated: September 19. 2013 11:21PM - 1325 Views
By Keith Strange Staff Reporter

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DOBSON — The Dobson Board of Commissioners punted action on a proposed franchise agreement with the Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) Wednesday night following a protest by a representative of Duke Energy. Both utility companies have customers within the town limits.

While Duke’s Director of Government and Community Relations Jimmy Flythe said he has no objection to the agreement, he wanted time for the two power providers to come together and work on the proposed language of the agreement.

“We don’t have any problem to what Surry-Yadkin is trying to do,” Flythe told the board. “What we want to look at is the wording of the agreement, particularly the word ‘franchise’.”

The agreement would allow the EMC to work on equipment on town property without having to get town approval every time, said Town Manager Josh Smith, who noted that it would do little to change the way business is already done.

“It’s simply a formalization of Surry-Yadkin’s ability to lay lines or conduct utility work within town rights of way or easements,” he said. “The agreement would allow them to work without receiving specific permission every time.”

Smith pointed out that the agreement is non-exclusive, and would allow other entities — like Duke Energy which also provides electricity in the town — to use the right of way once permission is granted.

“We aren’t saying that only Surry-Yadkin can do it,” he said. “As a matter of fact, Duke Energy already has a similar agreement in the town, but as Surry-Yadkin’s customer base is growing within the town limits, they want to get it in place so they don’t have to approach the town to get permission to do work every time.”

The agreement doesn’t affect any private property within the town, Smith noted.

During consideration of the agreement, Robert Maxwell, representing the EMC, told the board that the language is fairly standard.

“Other electric companies have had these types of agreements in place for years and years,” he said. “We took a look at it and thought it would be good for us to have one with Dobson. It really doesn’t change anything about the way we do business, it just makes things more efficient.”

The agreement contains clauses that mandate that utility work not interfere with town operations, and any damage caused in the right of way by the company would have to be repaired within 15 days.

The board tabled action until its next meeting in order to allow the two energy companies to hammer out language acceptable to both parties.

Reach Keith Strange at kstrange@civitasmedia.com or 719-1929.

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