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CPW approves water, electricity rate increases

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Thursday, December 22, 2011

Commissioners of Greer Commission of Public Works, on a split vote, approved 2012 rate increases of 5 percent for water and 4 percent for electricity today. A 2 percent bonus for all employees was also approved.

The 2012 rate increases take effect Jan. 1.  Sewer and gas rates are not affected.
The one-time bonus for 130 employees is about $166,000 and will be distributed by March 31.

CPW customers’ bills will increase an average of $4.67 per 1,000-kilowatt hours of usage and 82 cents per 7,500 gallons of water used. Based on the approved rates and usage noted, CPW customers can expect to pay $116.17 on average ($99.88 electric and $16.29 water) per month. 

The 2012 budget reflects $74 million in revenues for the combined utility versus expenditures of $72 million. The net gain is projected at $1.7 million, available for future capital projects.

Commissioners Eugene Gibson and Jeff Howell approved the increase and Commissioner Perry Williams, remained true to his election mantra, voted against the hike.

Gibson bemoaned that “regulations get promulgated without any funding”, thus increasing costs and operating utilities without additional revenue, except through rate hikes.

“The last two months we have turned this budget upside down,” Howell said. “I commend the staff for what they did and appreciate the employees for taking up the slack in past years.”

Gibson asked to calculate a 4 percent electricity increase during today’s meeting. That convinced Gibson and Howell to ask for the rate hike package while Williams disapproved.
 “There’s no more fat to trim,” CPW General Manager Nick Stegall said. “We’re cutting into the muscle.”

“When I ran for office I said I would hold the line on rate increases,” Williams said. “I disagree (with rate increases) but I’m not disagreeable. We are close to being the lowest utility provider in the upstate.”

Williams said he believed CPW could afford to maintain current rates and remain profitable. “We’ve got an A+ bond, nearly 120 days of cash availability and we’re finishing the year in the black.”

Williams went over several line item requests for capital expenditures. None were trimmed or eliminated. “Capital expenditures is a very short list this year and very lean. I appreciate that,” Williams told CPW representatives.

Gibson said he approved the rate increase, “To keep this utility strong.  To operate in the red will weaken our utility. Anything above and beyond (what’s budgeted) must be recouped from customers. When the customers’ bills go up so do mine. We have a fiduciary responsibility to our customers.”

Piedmont Municipal Power Agency PMPA), the supplier of power to Greer, raised its rates to near 7 percent this year. 

Greer CPW last raised rates in 2009 when it implemented a 4 percent increase for power. 
Project updates:

Hwy. 101 Substation: Mostly completed. Equipment at substation is being tested.

Hwy. 357 gas line: First two customers on line. Mostly complete.

Truck shed: Crushed stones used to fill. The floor is ready to be filled with concrete. The shed is on site.

Drought status: Greer has been designated as a severe drought area by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources although lakes Robinson and Cunningham are full.

Businesses mentioned in this article.

Greer CPW

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