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NEWBERRY — The City of Newberry’s utility services were recently featured in “Relay” magazine’s special winter 2019 issue, which recognized the best utility service providers in the state. Relay is a Florida electric industry trade journal published by the Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA). The full-page article is titled, “Newberry: Where Value and Service Meet.”

Newberry is one of five cities featured in the special section titled “Small Utility: Big Community Commitment.”

Ft. Pierce, the Keys, New Smyrna Beach and Homestead were the other four utilities also featured. However, Newberry is the smallest of those utilities with a customer base of 2,100 and a team of only 10 employees.

One of the ways Newberry has kept their utility prices low is by not owning their own electricity plant. Instead, the City purchases power through a joint ownership in the FMEA, as well as through an interest in the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant.

In addition, City Commissioners have authorized the installation of an automatic metering infrastructure (AMI) system to improve reading accuracy and streamline the meter reading process. In the “Relay” article, City of Newberry Electric Utility Customer Service Supervisor Tammy Snyder said, “The City recently signed a contract to purchase more than 10 percent of their load from solar power, so that all city facilities will be powered by renewable energy.”

Another way in which Newberry keeps costs low is by cross-training employees from different departments to step in when emergencies arise. A water leak may bring in employees from three different departments to rectify the issue in the most efficient manner.

Another feature that helps build strong brand loyalty is that all decisions are made with oversight by the public. Although staff members review an issue thoroughly before it is brought before the City Commission for decisions, public hearings and open discussions give citizens the ability to weigh in prior to a vote by commissioners.

According to Snyder, the fact that most employees live in the city in which they work helps to keep them in touch with the public and to look out for the best interests of the citizens.

“I am excited to share with you that Newberry was recently featured in “Relay” magazine for our outstanding value and customer service,” said City Manager Mike New. “We were recognized in this special issue along with electric industry giants like Tallahassee (voted number one utility in the nation a few years ago), Lakeland Electric and Orlando Utilities Commission. Newberry is the sole utility identified in the publication that serves less than 20,000 customers, we serve 2,000ish,” he said.

Interested person may access the web version of Relay magazine for further information.

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