CPW customers will pay more for utilities in 2013

Published on Tuesday, November 27, 2012

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Greer CPW commissioners unanimously approved rate hikes in 3 of 4 utilities to fund a $71.589 million budget in 2013.

Greer CPW commissioners unanimously approved rate hikes in 3 of 4 utilities to fund a $71.589 million budget in 2013.

Greer Commission of Public Works approved a rate increase this afternoon, it figures, will add approximately $5.51 or more a month to the 27,000 customers the utility serves. The new rates take effect Jan. 1, 2013.

The commissioners approved a $71.589 million 2013 budget with a projected net surplus of $1.8 million.

The increases and their average projected costs per monthly billing, according to CPW commissioners:

• Electricity, 7 percent = $3.78.

• Sewer, 5 percent = $1.34

• Water, 5 percent = $0.49.

• Natural gas, decrease the base rate from $1.04 to $0.937 cents per therm, plus applicable PGA (purchased gas adjustment).

• Total = $5.51 (including lower natural gas costs).

Commissioners held a workshop on Nov. 7 suggesting the same rates and directing CPW General Manager Nick Stegall to revisit the 2013 proposed budget with their recommended changes to trim expenses.

“We looked closely at the October numbers and we’re not proposing any additional recommendations,” Stegall said.  Commissioners Eugene Gibson, Jeff Howell and Perry Williams unanimously approved the budget in its entirety.

Although it was a public meeting and announced on CPW and GreerToday.com website calendars, nobody attended the meeting to speak in favor or against the rate increases.

“We have operated trying to keep rate increases down as long as we can,” said Gibson, Board Commissioner. “Our reluctance to increase rates also gives us the responsibility to maintain income so that we don’t lose money.”

CPW is projecting a $281,000 net loss at the end of its fiscal year, Dec. 31.

Chuck Reynolds, Finance Manager, said his staff perused approximately 12,000 items for operations and equipment depreciation and found about 3 percent for an additional $157,000 in savings.

The budget deficit, commissioners said, is due to a milder than projected winter and lower natural gas consumption. CPW also absorbed an extra four percent electricity charge it incurred from the Piedmont Municipal Power Agency (PMPA). CPW increased electricity (7 percent) and water (5 percent) last January. The PMPA levied its 11 percent rate hike in May and CPW did not pass that cost to its consumers.

Williams, running for re-election to the commission, staunchly opposed rate increases for 2012. “These are changing times and we need to change with the budget,” Williams said.

The commission is also focused on reducing debt service that is projected at 1.55 this year. The Bond Ordinance requires a minimum of 1.20 times its cash flow to meet annual (interest and principal) payments. CPW had a 2.55 debt service ratio in 2008.

“As much as I hate to raise rates, we need to operate with a surplus,” Howell said. “Due to SCE&G and Duke (Energy) adjusting their rates, we have received increases in our rates and need to pass them along.”

CPW also:

• Approved a $469,426 bid for King Acres subdivision sewer rehabilitation. “Rehabilitating that basin is a maiden voyage for us,” said Randy Olson, operations manager. “We’ve not done 100 percent reconstruction like that. We will need to line everything and rehabilitate manholes.”

• Recommended to agree to the S.C. Department of Transportation’s request to purchase a 2,200 square foot parcel for $2,300 for an easement at Hwy. 101/Fairview Avenue. The parcel was appraised at $2,098. CPW will recommend removal of poles or construction is at SCDOT’s expense.

• Met in executive session for contractual agreements and reported no decisions would be made.




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