Divisions Of BPU Mixed Financially

Through the first half of the year, a couple of the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities divisions are performing better than budgeted while a few are performing below estimates.

On Monday, Kelly Hawkins, BPU finance and customer accounts manager, presented the 2018 mid-year financial results to the board, which indicated two of the five BPU divisions — district heating, electric, solid waste, waste water and water — have performed better than projected.

Of the five BPU divisions, she said only electric and water are performing better than budgeted while solid waste, waste water and district heat are performing near projections.

Hawkins said electric division revenues are 4 percent better through the first-half of the year than in 2017 and are 2 percent above budget. She added that the net income for the electric division is $1.7 million above budget because expenses are $1 million below projections.

Hawkins said the conversion of more than 1,100 street lights from high-pressure sodium bulbs to LED lights has led to a significant decrease in billed kilowatt hours. She said city officials are saving more than $6,000 a month because of the LED light conversion.

The light conversion started in November 2017 and concluded in February 2018. Of the 1,142 lights changed, 765 were 150-watt and 377 were 400-watt lights. Originally, it was estimated that only about 900 lights would be changed. However, because BPU crews were more efficient than predicted, they were able to change around 250 more lights. The city has around 3,600 street lights.

In 2016, city officials received a state grant for $555,000 from the Department of State Division of Local Government Services for the street light conversion. Along with the street light change, city officials also changed to LED lights at the Main Street and Cherry Street parking ramps. This conversion of 175-watt and 55-watt lights is expected to save city officials around $10,000 annually.

Hawkins said the electric division has around $14 million in unrestricted cash. However, she said once the BPU purchase of the Emkey natural gas pipeline for $5.4 million is approved, which is expected in 2019, the electric division will have less than $9 million in unrestricted cash.

In September 2017, the state Public Services Commission ruled against the sale of the gas pipeline. According to a news release from the BPU in October 2017, the PSC’s decision is based upon a determination that the purchase price of $5.4 million to be paid by the BPU is not in the best interest of ratepayers because the amount exceeds the net book value of these assets.

The BPU solid waste division is 38 percent below net income projects for the year. Hawkins said the decrease in the recycling market is one of the reasons the division is performing under budget. She said recycling costs have increased by $30,000 through the first-half of the year.

The water division has already surpassed the number of water main breaks in 2018 than it did last year, Hawkins said. She also said the severity of the water main breaks have increased compared to last year. She added even though majority of the work in the water division is capital, the division has seen a small increase in cash.