Corporate History

BVU provides electricity, water, wastewater and fiber- optic telecommunication and information services to the City of Bristol, Virginia; Washington County, Virginia; Abingdon, Virginia; and Scott County, Virginia. These combined systems employ approximately 175 full-time and part-time employees. BVU is governed by a seven member Board representing Bristol, Abingdon, Washington County, and Scott County. The BVU Board meets the third Friday of each month at the BVU office located at 15022 Lee Highway in Bristol, Virginia.

The City of Bristol Virginia, on June 30, 1945, purchased the electric distribution facilities of the former East Tennessee Light and Power Company from the Tennessee Valley Authority. The Bristol Virginia Power Board was created to manage the electric system. On November 13, 1951, the Power Board was succeeded by the Utilities Board, created by Article V of The City Code (Sections 2-25 through 2-28), as provided for in the Code of Virginia, Section 15.1-292, to manage the Electric Power and Light System, the Water System, and Sewerage System of the City. Electric power was purchased from the Tennessee Valley Authority from June 1945 until December 31, 1997. At which time BVU changed power suppliers and began purchasing power from Cinergy Corporation, Cincinnati, Ohio. The Cinergy wholesale electric contract lasted seven years, ending December 31, 2004. American Electric Power (AEP) was selected for a three year contract to provide wholesale electricity from January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2008. The Tennessee Valley Authority is the current wholesale electricity provider with a 20 year contract beginning January 1, 2008. On July 1, 2010, the Utilities Board was succeeded by the BVU Authority Board – making BVU an authority of the State of Virginia. BVU´s Electric System provides electric power to over 16,300 consumers in a 125 square mile service area, comprised of the City of Bristol, Virginia; Washington County, Virginia; Scott County, Virginia and Sullivan County, Tennessee. BVU has ten substations and approximately 577 miles of distribution lines and 29 miles of transmission lines.

BVU´s water treatment plant was constructed in 1954 with 5 million gallons per day capacity and was expanded to a capacity of 10 million gallons per day in 1978. Raw water is pumped approximately two miles from South Holston Lake to the filtration plant, where it is treated by the “rapid sand” filtration process. The treatment plant is located on Route 75, about 3 miles south of Abingdon, Virginia. The Water System serves approximately 7,900 consumers in the City of Bristol, Virginia and also sells bulk water to other water authorities.

BVU administers a sewer collector system in Bristol, Virginia and portions of Washington County, Virginia, which flows to a 15 million gallons per day wastewater treatment plant in Sullivan County, Tennessee. The wastewater treatment plant is jointly owned by Bristol, Virginia and Bristol, Tennessee. A unique feature of the plant is a state-of-the-art in-vessel composting facility, which combines sludge from the treatment plant with wood waste collected throughout the two Cities to produce a high quality composted material very useful in landscaping and soil amendments. The Wastewater System serves approximately 7,700 consumers in the City of Bristol, Virginia, as well as the industries located in the Bristol-Washington County Industrial Park. The wastewater treatment plant is located in Sullivan County, Tennessee and is jointly owned and operated with the City of Bristol, Tennessee.

OptiNet is a nonprofit division of BVU, launched in 2001, that provides telecommunication services to approximately 12,500 customers in areas around Southwest Virginia. OptiNet is known for its pioneering work in the area of municipal broadband throughout the area. BVU is acknowledged as the first municipal utility in the United States to deploy an all-fiber network offering the triple play of video, voice and data services. Offering digital cable, telephone service and high-speed internet from a remote-area utility provider makes BVU exceptional, even on a global level.

BVU has expanded and innovated greatly since its beginning in 1945, but one thing remains true – we are here for this community and you!