Power FAQs

How do I read my power meter?

Click here to learn how to read your power meter.


Where does AUB get its power?

AUB purchases all of its power from the Tennessee Valley Authority.


What is the “availability” charge?

AUB has a cost associated with building and maintaining the infrastructure of our utility systems. Regardless of the amount of electricity, natural gas or water sold, there are fixed operating costs incurred by AUB each month. The availability charge helps recover a portion of these fixed costs. For instance, your mortgage, rent, insurance, etc., is a cost that remains fixed month to month even if your income changes. For a more thorough explanation click here.  Some of AUB’s fixed costs include:

  • Maintenance of lines and poles, pipes and facilities
  • Interstate natural gas pipeline “demand” charges
  • Natural gas storage facility “reservation” charges
  • Safety and Inspection Programs for Customers


Why put a pole on my property?

When AUB is installing or moving power lines, we must determine pole placement based on things such as the allowable span length of line between poles, the route that the line must take to get from point A to point B, and the available surrounding land that will allow proper maintenance of the equipment. Sometimes it is necessary to run a line across a private property. In these instances, AUB meets with the owner to work out the details of that use. But typically, we try to site lines along roadways so that any problems can be found, diagnosed and fixed quickly. (You can imagine the ordeal of trying to find a tree limb on a line in the middle of a stormy night when the line is located 300 yards out in a pasture or wooded lot.) When poles are placed alongside roadways, they are normally within the highway right-of-way held by the city, county, state, or federal entity. Often rights-of-way are at the edge of an individual’s property at the roadside; this is usually what leads to questions of AUB poles being placed on "my" property. This is understandable, especially since the property owner is the one who mows, plants and otherwise maintains the property. But as a part of providing utilities to the community, as longs as electrical lines are above ground, poles are necessary and must often be sited on highway rights-of-way.


What are the major causes of outages?

Animals and trees are the leading causes of power interruptions. Squirrel and birds often touch lines and related equipment, which can cause a brief interruption, sometimes called a "blip," or in some instances can cause the power to go out for an extended period of time. Tree limbs that brush against power lines cause outages every year for customers. That’s why AUB is getting increasingly serious about the need for tree trimming. A single tree, if not properly trimmed away from primary lines, can cause repeated outages for hundreds of customers. Other causes for outages are lightning strikes, high winds, and mechanical failure.


Why is my power bill so high?

Weather is the biggest factor on the size of your energy bill.  Heating and cooling your home use the most energy and contribute most to your bill.  AUB is a not-for-profit organization, with all proceeds being used to run the operations. AUB purchases commodities—power, natural gas, or water—from wholesale suppliers and then re-sales those commodities to our customers. The difference between what we pay the supplier and what we charge the customer simply funds what it costs us to do business plus some reserves for improvement projects and emergencies. When you pay for power, gas, or water, you are paying for what you used in the past billing cycle. The more you use, the higher the bill will be. That's one reason that conservation is important for homeowners and businesses alike. But there are some other reasons your bill can go up relative to the past, such as wholesale cost increases for AUB. When AUB's rates rise it is usually a direct relation to AUB’s cost for the commodity from our supplier, not because AUB is "raking in profits."


What’s the relationship between AUB and TVA?

AUB is a power distributor. TVA is a power producer, generating electric power throughout the Tennessee Valley using fossil fuel power plants, such as the Kingston Steam Plant, hydroelectric plants, such as Norris Dam, and nuclear power plants, such as Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant. The power generated is then sent via high-voltage lines to local power distributors such as AUB. We then distribute power to customers in our service area via transmission lines.


How many electric service lines does AUB operate?

AUB energizes approximately 475 miles of power lines that serve some 13,200 customer accounts.


What does a substation, such as the North Athens facility, do?

A substation allows AUB to control the flow of power in respective sections of the power grid. A substation generally contains equipment to lower or raise the voltage of electric power (regulators), interrupt electric service in the event of an emergency or for repairs (circuit breakers), control power quality (capacitors), and monitor the electrical distribution grid. Fences function as safety controls for substations so that people and animals cannot simple wander into danger zones. The equipment within a substation manipulates power at extremely high voltages, often above 100,000 volts. Never enter a substation for any reason unless a qualified AUB field service representative accompanies you.