GM says electric rates won’t go up in 2016, but waste water could see slight increase.
JAMESTOWN – The General Manager for the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities says it’s unlikely electric customers will see a rate increase in 2016.
BPU GM David Leathers was the guest on this week’s Community Matters program (5 p.m. Thursdays on WRFA) discussed several issues involving the BPU, including the BPU’s request to the state to increase its electric rates by 2.5 percent. He also talked about preparing the budgets for all five of the BPU’s utility divisions.
Leathers said that the state Public Service Commission is currently reviewing the BPU’s request for a minor rate increase and they could make a decision by November. Leathers said that the purpose for the request to increase electric rates was due primarily to the rising cost of equipment and maintenance.
“We work hard to balance out the cost increases by coming up with new ideas, new technology, efficiencies – so where we have certain items that are increasing cost-wise, we try to offset that in other areas,” Leathers said. “In the utility business, because we [deal with power] generation, there’s some really high cost items that we deal with and its surprising how quickly you can go from a positive net income situation to a financial difficulty.”
Leathers added that the rate increase, if approved by the PSC, would be the first since 2010 and would equate to about $24 more per year, or about $2 more per month, for the average residential rate payer. However, he added it’s unlikely that increase would be reflected in the 2016 electric division’s budget. Leathers also said that customers of the city’s district heating division will actually see a decrease in rates for 2016.
“The good news is that district heat is going to see a 4.8 percent rate decrease. we’ve communicated that to the customer base. so we’re really excited about that,” Leathers said. “For electric, I don’t see us recommending a 2016 rate increase, so you can set that one aside.”
But leathers did say it’s too early to say whether or not the rates for the other three divisions – solid waste, water, and waste water – will see any increase. Of those three, he said waste water is the one that stands the highest likelihood of seeing a bump.
“Waste water has not had a rate increase since January 1, 2009. So I estimated maybe a rate increase for 2015 and then we push that out, so that’s a possibility there will be a slight increase there [for 2016]. With water and solid waste, I don’t know yet.”
Leathers said he will present his tentative Solid Waste, District Heat and Waste Water budgets to the BPU’s finance committee on Monday, Sept. 14, with the entire BPU reviewing the budgets on Monday, Sept. 21. He said the plan is to finalize those budgets in October. He said both the water and electric division budgets will be presented in October, with a plan to finalize those two the end of November.
Our complete interview with Leathers will be rebroadcast on WRFA this Sunday, Sept. 13 at noon and will be made available at our website Monday morning.