Consumption Reported Down In 2017 For Most BPU Utilities

The Jamestown Board of Public Utilities reported that consumption decreased for four of the utility divisions last year. Year-end financials were discussed this week by the BPU. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

Consumption decreased for four out of the five utility divisions of the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities in 2017.

On Monday, Kelly Hawkins, BPU finance and customer account manager, presented last year’s year-end financial numbers for the five utility divisions — electric, district heating, solid waste, wastewater and water. Consumption was down for all divisions except district heating.

David Leathers, BPU general manager, said each division except district heating is challenged by a decrease in usage, which is one reason staff is looking to create more ideas to generate additional revenues. The solid waste division is a prevalent example of BPU officials being more creative to generate additional revenues. In recent years, the BPU has introduced revenue generating policies like the recycling credit, trash in excess of eight bags being collected and billed at an additional rate and increasing the charge for customers who reside outside of the city.

Leathers said they implemented these charges to charge those who abuse the solid waste system more to keep rates lower for city customers who follow the guidelines.

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Leathers said the $10.50 rate for city customers, if they receive the recycling credit, is the same rate they were paying 10 years ago.

Hawkins said since 2014, consumption for the solid waste division is down 7 percent. She said net income last year was $98,000 more than budgeted. She added the additional revenue was in part due to the rule change in 2017 of charging customers $3 a bag for disposing of more than eight bags.

In the electric division, billed kilowatt hours decreased by 1 percent, Hawkins said. She said residential sales were down 1.5 percent and commercial sales decreased by 3 percent. However, industrial sales increased by 9 percent.

Hawkins said the division received more net income than budgeted last year. She said the net income was $3 million while they had budgeted just $1.8 million. Of the net income, $1.37 million came from local customers while $1.225 came from off-system sales.

She added that $1.05 million of off-system sales went toward restricted funds while $48,000 will be distributed back to customers in 2018.

In February 2016 following the BPU mini-rate case, the state Public Service Commission ordered that any off-system sales in excess of $1,225,000 go toward an overhaul reserve fund up to $1,000,000 annually. Any off-system sales in excess of $1,000,000 will be deferred and credited to customers through the monthly fuel adjustment charge.

In 2017, there was a decrease in water consumption, going from 1.55 million units in 2016 to 1.5 million. The net income for the division was about a third of what was budgeted. In 2017, the net income was $217,000, which was $415,000 less than the $632,000 that was budgeted.

There was some good news for the water division. Hawkins said in 2017 fewer water mains broke than in 2016. Last year, there were 87 water mains broke while in 2016 there were 133.

For the wastewater division, consumption went from 1.108 million units in 2016 to 1.069 million units. Sales were also $50,000 below what was budgeted.

The district heating division consumption increased from 2016 due to a colder winter and warmer summer, Hawkins said.