Gardner lowers electric utility, raiseswastewater

Residents will see a decrease on their 2023 utility bills.

City council approved the changes at the Tuesday, Jan. 17 city council meeting.

The rate changes effect wastewater and electric utility billing amounts beginning March 1.

Amy Nasta, deputy city administrator, said it is an interplay between both utility rates.

She said they had reviewed the rates and they were off-setting the decrease in electric rates with an increase of wastewater rates.

“Remaining cognizant of sustainability is important,” Nasta said. “It is a multi-faceted approach to rate reductions that results in reduction.”

The wastewater rate will increase 4.2 percent to build financial capacity in the Wastewater Fund in “anticipation of the expansion of the Kill Creek Resource Recovery Facility.”

The electric rates are being reduced while maintaining a 25 percent Electric Fund balance. Residents will see a two percent rate reduction for kWh used and a $4 per month reduction to their electric service charge. There will also be a temporary removal of the power cost adjustment charge for all customers.

Nasta said the calculations were conservative but residents should see a $2.52 savings.

Steve Shute, council vice president, said he wanted to know if the power cost adjustment was being eliminated.

Nasta said it was being temporarily suspended and council would have to vote to bring it back.

“I think it is a good thing you are doing this, and it helps residents significantly,” he said.

Tory Roberts, council member, said it would be nice if it were more but liked the city was working to reduce electric costs for residents.

Mark Baldwin, council president, said the city had been working on the rate reduction for a decade.

“I want everyone to understand it is not made up (numbers),” he said. “The staff did a phenomenal job with this. It is an intuitive way to approach it.”

Baldwin said he thought a five yar plan would be a great goal and to perhaps put a date down for reinstating the PCA.

Kacy Deaton, council member, said she would be hesitant to put down a date “in case we have a freak winter storm.”

Baldwin said that had been discussed.

“The only reason we were able to use the PCA is because we had reserve,” he said. “We were able to spread it out over a year. I would dare anyone to find another utility that did that through the State.”

Baldwin said they just need to be cognizant and on top of it.

“It is a really good rate,” he said. “It (the PCA) is suspended from billing but staff is still tracking it. This is awesome. This is great. I hope all consumers see this, appreciate this, but most importantly it is their money and we need to give it back to them.”

Nasta said the city has a 25 percent fund balance that could pay for three months of operatorchestra, ing expenses of $.5 to $5 million.

“So even in the worst case scenario we will still be covered,” Shute said referring to the past winter storm.

Baldwin said he didn’t see them setting up for a risk scenario and staff had put in a tremendous amount of work. He said it was the first rate study done in house in 12 years.

“Now there is much more understanding,” he said.