In the coming months, Frankfort Plant Board customers can rest easy that calls to report outages will be answered locally. At its regular January meeting, FPB’s Board of Directors approved a plan for a local Network Operations Center (NOC) and after-hours dispatch. This move continues a process that aims to improve after-hours service for customers and safety conditions for employees.
The board approved staff’s recommendation in July 2018 to hire a director to develop and manage a NOC. This department would be responsible for regular and after-hours dispatch, customer outage management, after-hours customer contacts, facility locates and emergency responses.
Recognizing the need to enhance these services, $535,000 in funding was included in the 2018-19 budget and approved by the board in June 2018 to develop the NOC.
Deron Rambo, FPB’s newly-hired NOC Manager, presented the plan which included information about staffing, training, duties and supports, quality assurance, outage and trouble reporting model, utility locates, and the Land Mobile Radio Network.
In addition to the NOC manager, the department will employ a staff of eight who will rotate work in 12-hour shifts, monitoring the radio 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“A local NOC could help appease customers as they call in and talk with someone who knows Frankfort and its streets and roads,” said FPB Public Information Coordinator Cathy Lindsey. “It is also safer for on-call crews who may respond to a call at night that someone locally knows where they are.”
Rambo indicated that if all goes according to plan, the NOC should be up and running this spring.
In other business, the board agreed to hold a public hearing at a special meeting of the Frankfort Plant Board on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019, at 5 p.m. to discuss increasing the rate for Classic Cable service, Bulk cable I and Bulk cable II.
The public notice proposes to increase the Classic Cable tier (channels 2-98) rate from $63.50 per month to $67.00 per month effective March 1, 2019. The increase is required to keep pace with annual increases in wholesale license fees FPB must pay to programmers. In fact, 83 percent of the cable bill does not stay with FPB. This increase represents a complete pass-thru to the programmers.
FPB has worked to keep increases to a minimum by decreasing operating expenses. This is the first proposed rate increase in Classic Cable in two years.
In other news, the board approved renewing FPB’s insurance policies and pollution liability, and renewing a 3-year contract with NBCUniversal to continue carrying the following networks: USA, NBC Sports Network, Syfy, Oxygen, Bravo, E!, CNBC, MSNBC, and Golf Channel on Classic Cable; Universal Kids and Olympic Channel on Preferred Cable; and Olympics programming. This agreement, which also covers streaming and Video On Demand rights, represents programming license fee increases of 8.5 percent in the first year and 5.5 percent in years two and three.
Finally, the board reviewed a promotional spot for its new Round Up for Change program. Round Up for Change offers FPB customers the opportunity to round up their monthly bill to the next highest dollar. The difference will go to Bluegrass Community Action Partnership’s (BGACP) Winter Care program.