BRISTOL, Va. — BVU Authority will contract with a third-party vendor to offer customers warranty service on water, sewer and electric lines.

On Friday, the authority board voted 4-0, with one member absent, to contract with HomeServe, a Great Britain-based firm with offices in Tennessee and Connecticut. Once implanted, BVU customers can pay monthly fees — similar to insurance — and be covered for emergency repair service on water lines, indoor plumbing, sewer lines and electric lines between their homes and BVU’s connection points.

“We’ve had instances with our customers who had a need for this type of service, so we started doing some research on what other utility providers had done,” said Chris Hall, BVU’s key accounts, rates and contracts manager, said after the meeting.

BVU will partner with HomeServe and is to receive 10% of revenues generated by the monthly rates the company charges.

“We feel like this organization services our area, and they provide the best value for our customers,” Hall said, adding it isn’t expected to generate much revenue for BVU.

They will enter into a five-year agreement and allow HomeServe to market to BVU’s customer base. All claims will be handled by HomeServe through local contractors, Hall said.

Water line service coverage will cost $5.99 per month, sewer and septic line service is $10.49, internal plumbing and drainage coverage is $14.99, and exterior electric line coverage is $5.99 per month.

Board member Saul Hernandez, chairman of the Washington County Board of Supervisors, cautioned the board that Washington County Service Authority entered into a similar arrangement with this firm, and there was some confusion.

“Washington County [authority] had some pushback from some citizens,” Hernandez said. “In the mailing, it looks like it’s coming from the service authority. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do it, but I think it all comes down to the messaging. … They were confused who they’re doing business with.”

Hernandez called it a “good program” and ultimately voted to approve it.

It is expected to launch in September.

In other matters, the board gave final approval to increasing water and sewer rates.

The board approved increasing the monthly residential rates $1 for water service while commercial rates go up $2 on July 1. The new rates will be $13.11 per month inside the city limits and $19.67 outside the city for residential and $25.61 for commercial clients in the city and $39.77 outside the city.

The board also approved similar increase $1 and $2 hikes for sewer customers. The new rates will be $14.14 per month for city residents and $21.21 for those living outside the city limits. Commercial customers in the city can expect to pay $31.61 while those in the county will be billed $47.42 per month.

The board also selected Danny Griffin as its next chairman, succeeding Dickie Kiser.

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