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CPW reports $594,000 deficit due to low natural gas demand

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Monday, June 25, 2012

The warm winter has cost Greer Commission of Public Works its biggest months (January-February-March) for selling natural gas and has put the utility in the red nearly halfway through the 2012 budget.

The utility, at its monthly meeting in GreerToday, reported a $594,000 loss at the end of May.

Despite the overall deficit, CPW commissioners said they expect its other utilities – electric, water and sewer – to make up the difference to help balance the budget by the end of the year. CPW charges separate rates for each utility.

“It’s easy to see one of our biggest problems is gas burning,” Commission Chairman Eugene Gibson said. “We are considerably behind.” CPW commissioners don’t expect the utility to recoup its losses from gas by the end of fiscal 2012.

Chuck Reynolds, CPW Finance Manager, reported the commission has approximately $1.8 million or five months (126 days) of cash on hand. That, according to commissioner Perry Williams, is good. “We should be more equal to our budget by the end of the year and maybe make a little money.”

Greer’s operating budget is $73 million this year. Total cash on hand, accumulated over the years, is over $19 million.

Greer had a mild winter with no measurable freezing precipitation or bitter cold temperatures. Weather forecasters at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport in Greer have predicted a hotter and drier summer than usual. That will result in higher electric consumption. Unfortunately, for consumers, it also means higher monthly bills from utilities. The weekend temperatures are expected to rise near triple digits.

The CPW’s electric utility will likely make up some of the deficit but it was hit with a higher rate increase (11 percent) than anticipated from Piedmont Municipal Power Agency (PMPA). Greer CPW rates for water (5 percent) and electricity (4 percent) increased this year.

Randy Olson reported Greer is in an abnormally dry drought.

Commissioners, at their monthly meeting, awarded Air Component $337,469 for a compressed natural gas (CNG) fast fill station equipment purchase.  Freight and startup charges are expected to add $22,000 - $32,000 to the final cost.

The fill station is designed to attract trucks traveling through the upstate. AT&T and Frito Lay will be using the fill station. The tentative start date is mid-November.

CPW purchased a CNG truck and car using its slow fill station three years ago. Greer City Council will vote Tuesday night whether it wants to purchase a vehicle using CNG and/or an electric vehicle.

CPW also approved the following bids:

• Electric truck 75 replacement: $58,643 bid to D & D Motors for the replacement of a 2005 truck with 140,000 miles.  The bid is all-inclusive of the equipment including the cab, body, chassis and Tommy lift.

• Tremont & Canteen water line replacement: $70,000 bid to Howard Construction for a water line replacement.

• King Acres sewer system rehabilitation: $85,000 to Rogers and Callcott for engineering study. The sewer system is the oldest sewer in the Princess Creek basis, commissioners said.

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