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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Small is Beautiful

One thing is certain, the Glasgow EPB is a small operation. We consist of fifty folks with no interest in any customer outside the good old 42141 zip code. We serve homes and businesses that cover a total population of only about 16,000 folks. In the great big world of electric and cable utilities, we are laughably small. But that does not mean we don’t have a mighty big impact on the economy of Glasgow and the lives of those 16,000 folks. We have. We do, and, in the coming years, we will.

This year marks our twentieth anniversary in the cable television business. During those twenty years we have always made sure that the people of Glasgow pay the lowest rates for cable television service in the United States. Even though we just announced a modest rate increase of $1.50 per month which will become effective on July 1, we still blow away the competition. The Census Bureau just released this study relating to cable television popularity and the rates people pay for cable in our country. As you can see if you click on the link, the average cost of cable in 2006 was $41.17 per month. Since this is now 2008 it is very likely that figure is now about $45 per month. In Glasgow, even after our rate increase, you will be paying only $25.75 ($29.75 outside the City limits)per month for the expanded basic package. That differential between our rates and those we would otherwise be paying if we didn’t have our own little locally owned system has existed throughout the twenty year history of our cable efforts. As a result, we have saved the folks around here over $40 million since we got started in 1988! It is certainly worth pondering what Glasgow would look like today if an additional $40 million had left the local economy over the last twenty years. It is not an image I want to dwell on very long.

But saving the community money is not the be-all and end-all reason of our existence. We can do a lot more to make Glasgow a better place to live and we are doing a lot of that right now. You see, the EPB team today, just like the folks who worked so hard fifty years ago to bring the EPB into existence, believes strongly that small is beautiful and that a few determined folks at the helm of some pretty powerful technology can constantly improve the life of local folks. To a large extent our team is guided by the principles so eloquently espoused by the great Kentucky writer, Wendell Berry (who writes and farms in the community of Port Royal, just a couple of hours up the road from us). Just a few days ago he was on KET making an observation about our present fuel crisis and how it might finally bring about a change in the way we live our lives in that we might all be traveling a whole lot less. He said, “It is clear that we are going to have to enjoy the places where we are, and, since that is the case, we need to do a lot more work making the places where we are, enjoyable.” The EPB is executing plans to make Glasgow more enjoyable.

With respect to electric power, we are well on our way to building a second delivery point so that electricity will continue to be reliable and available for Glasgow’s future. Our planned solution is elegant in that it will provide twice as much capacity as we have today should Glasgow continue to rampantly grow, yet it will also offer a much more efficient solution if our growth is stagnant or if we actually shrink. So, whatever direction our energy usage takes, we are planning an enjoyable and efficient solution.

We think that another way to make Glasgow more enjoyable in a world of $4 and $5 gasoline will be an enhanced internet and LAN system capable of affording more folks a way to work from home and leave the car or SUV parked in the garage. As this is written we are anxiously awaiting new fiber connections being installed along the TVA transmission line to Bowling Green and new cable modem management hardware and software to drastically improve the data throughput of our broadband network right here in Glasgow.

Finally, it is obvious from the Census Bureau report that increased access to cable television programming is another thing that folks find enjoyable, and we have some great things coming in that department as well. The $1.50 per month increase is going to allow us to bring some new and exciting products for your enjoyment! Very soon PBS Kids Sprout will come to our digital tier of programming and along with it will come 24 hour a day access to great preschooler programming like “Sesame Street” and “Bob the Builder” and some new characters being developed for the channel by the Muppet folks at Jim Henson Company. “The Pajanimals” will be part of the network’s “Good Night Show” block, and, as a relatively new grandparent, I can testify that Glasgow will be more enjoyable at my house when there is new programming to convince certain grand-daughters to go to sleep before I do! In addition to Sprout we will also be adding Golf Channel HD, VS HD, and it is quite likely that we will also be adding (drum roll please). . . The Disney Channel sometime in June. That’s right. After refusing to pay the exorbitant rates employed by the Disney folks for many, many years, we are finally about to cave in to the power of Hannah Montana. She got us in a headlock and we finally are about to say uncle. So, for those of you who spell additional enjoyment M-I-C-K-E-Y, Glasgow is about to get more enjoyable for you too.

There are other great things coming to your cable service as well. For example, our digital channel 103 (Discovery Home) is about to become Planet Green. This will be a channel which is calling itself the first 24-hour channel dedicated to eco-friendly living. The folks at Discovery are making a big bet here that “eco-tainment” will appeal to viewers. I think it will. Then later this year we hope to roll out our newest cable television service, VOD (Video On Demand) which will give all of our digital customers a nearly unlimited menu of movies and other programming that they can watch whenever they feel like it.

All told, the EPB is working hard to make your life in Glasgow more enjoyable and to ease your pain from beginning the process of withdrawing from a life spent traveling to another location in search of enjoyment. We think Glasgow can be plenty enjoyable! Stick with us and let us show you how.

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