Business Briefs: J.D. Power ranks EPB highest utility

Business Briefs: J.D. Power ranks EPB highest utility

July 11th, 2018 by Staff and wire reports in Business Around the Region

Volkswagen Academy hosting open house

Volkswagen Chattanooga's on site training facility, the Volkswagen Academy, will host an open house next week, Monday through Friday, from noon to 4 p.m. each day.

The open house will offer prospective students and their families the opportunity to experience the training activities associated with the Volkswagen apprenticeship program curriculum.

"We take pride in offering a state-of-the-art facility where our Volkswagen apprentices can learn and hone their skills," said Ilker Subasi, the plant's manager of apprenticeship programs. "We have found that combining classroom teaching with on-the-job training offers a valuable comprehensive learning experience."

The apprenticeship program is based on a dual education system that combines vocational classroom education and paid on-the-job training. Upon completion, graduates are extended a conditional job offer to step directly into a position at the plant.

For more information about the open house, contact

J.D. Power ranks EPB highest utility

Customer surveys by J.D. Power rank EPB of Chattanooga the highest for overall customer satisfaction among all mid-size utilities in the South, a distinction that Chattanooga's public power provider has received for three consecutive years.

EPB's overall Customer Satisfaction Index of 794 exceeded the mid-size South region's utility segment average of 724.

EPB's Customer Satisfaction Index continues to climb since first earning the region's top score of 737 in 2016.

EPB said its fiber optic smart grid has reduced customer outages by 65 percent and reduced customer outage minutes by 52 percent.

J.D. Power, a leading global consumer and marketing research organization, conducts an annual study of electric utilities that measures customer satisfaction with power quality and reliability, price, billing and payment, corporate citizenship and communications, and customer service.

River City adds five new directors

The River City Company has added five new board members for its 2018-2019 fiscal year. The new directors include Valoria Armstrong, president of Tennessee-American Water; Dr. Rebecca Ashford, president of Chattanooga State Community College; Ken DeFoor, a local real estate developer and entrepreneur with over 47 years of business experience; Marcus Shaw, chief executive of The Company Lab, Co.Lab., and Barry White, president of the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

In addition to the five community members and business leaders, Chattanooga City Council Chairman Ken Smith and Hamilton County Commissioner Randy Fairbanks are now serving on the board as the representatives of the Chattanooga City Council and Hamilton County Commission as directed by River City Company bylaws that also include automatic board positions for the current sitting City of Chattanooga Mayor and Hamilton County Mayor.

"The varied and thorough experience of these five new board members in addition to the public officials who serve on our board will be an incredible asset and will help us continue to make Downtown Chattanooga a vibrant, engaged and prospering urban center," said Kim White, president and CEO of River City Company.

BMW says expansion set in South Carolina

BMW says it is sticking with plans to add 1,000 workers in South Carolina, even though the company will start production of a new vehicle in China.

BMW and Chinese partner Brilliance Automotive Group Holdings said Monday a joint venture called BMW Brilliance Automotive will increase the number of vehicles made annually at two plants in China to 520,000 next year.

Spokesman Ken Sparks told the Herald-Journal of Spartanburg that BMW's new electric iX3 SUV will be produced only in China, and that effort won't affect production of the new X7 model in South Carolina.

"It is not true in any way, shape or form that BMW is moving production from Spartanburg to China," Sparks said.

But BMW's U.S. manufacturing remains vulnerable to a trade war. China already imposed an additional 25 percent charge on vehicles from the U.S., prompting BMW this week to announce higher Chinese sticker prices. The South Carolina plant exports more than two thirds of the 400,000 vehicles it has produced annually, mostly to China, followed by Germany, home of the automaker.

BMW recently wrote U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross saying the tariffs could jeopardize 45,000 jobs in South Carolina, 10,000 currently at the Spartanburg plant and 35,000 at BMW suppliers.

Puerto Rico utility CEO resigns job

The CEO of Puerto Rico's bankrupt power company resigned on Wednesday just months after he was chosen to oversee its privatization as the U.S. territory struggles to restore electricity to the last of those who remain in the dark nearly 10 months after Hurricane Maria.

The resignation of Walter Higgins adds to challenges for a company that is $9 billion in debt and has seen a turnover of leaders since the Category 4 storm hit Puerto Rico.

Higgins was named CEO of Puerto Rico's Electric Power Authority in late March and was expected to help strengthen the power grid and supervise deals to privatize the generation of energy and award concessions for transmission and distribution.

Higgins said in his resignation letter that the compensation details outlined in his contract could not be fulfilled. His announcement comes a month after Puerto Rico's justice secretary said it would be illegal for him to receive bonuses.

He also released a brief statement saying his wife's family is facing a serious health issue and that was an important factor in his decision to resign.