IURC OKs Westfield, Citizens DealPosted: Updated:
A $91 million deal to transfer the city of Westfield's water and wastewater utilities to Citizens Energy Group has been approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. The transaction is expected to be finalized during the next six weeks. The resulting operation will include the Citizen's-owned city gas utility and be called Citizens Westfield. November 25, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Westfield Mayor Andy Cook and Carey Lykins, President & CEO of Citizens Energy Group, praised today's approval by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) of the transfer of Westfield's water and wastewater utilities to Citizens.
The acquisition, expected to close by mid-January, will create Citizens Westfield, an integrated water, wastewater and gas utility providing excellent service for the fast growing Hamilton County community. Citizens acquired Westfield Gas in 2004. In addition, the transfer will:
-Provide Westfield about $40 million for much needed infrastructure including new streets, sidewalks and walking trail expansions.
-Eliminate Westfield's $45 million in utility debt.
-Retain the current five-year schedule of modest utility rate increases previously approved by the Westfield City Council.
-Retain the experience and knowledge of existing Westfield utility employees.
"The approval of the utility transfer by the IURC is an unprecedented step forward in our Westfield Where You Want to Be initiative to build much-needed infrastructure without raising taxes. At the same time, we are securing our vital water and wastewater utilities with a trusted company committed to predictable rates, outstanding customer service and future community growth," said Mayor Cook.
On Sept. 24, 2012, Mayor Cook and Citizens announced the plan to transfer the community's water and wastewater utilities to Citizens for a purchase price of $91 million. After a public input process that included four town hall meetings, the Westfield City Council approved the utility transfer by a 6-1 vote on Nov. 5, 2012.
Over the next six weeks, Westfield and Citizens will finalize the financial transaction to complete the transfer. Meanwhile, plans will be completed for an efficient transition for Westfield Utilities' 10,000 customers.
"We appreciate the IURC’s affirmation that the transfer of Westfield Utilities to Citizens will provide significant value to the people of Westfield. Our focus now is on ensuring Citizens Westfield customers continue receiving the outstanding service they have come to expect. Retaining Westfield Utilities employees will be key to a smooth transition," said Lykins.
When the transfer is complete, customers will notice few changes to their utility service. The only significant changes are Citizens will not bill customers for trash and stormwater service, and a new utility phone number will be established. Starting in February, Westfield residents will receive a quarterly trash and stormwater bill from the City.
In about a year, Citizens will reformat the current water and wastewater bill to include comparative usage data to help customers track their usage. At the same time, Citizens will also offer new payment options including automatic bank transfer, new payment locations and budget billing, which allows customers to pay the same amount each month based on annual usage.
"While Citizens is focused on a smooth transition for customer service, it is also committed to investments that will facilitate community growth. Citizens' regional approach to water supply planning and our diverse water resources will ensure Westfield has the water it needs to grow. We also will make the investments necessary to ensure safety, reliability and environmental protection as we expand both the water and wastewater systems," said Lykins.
About Citizens Energy Group
Citizens Energy Group is a Public Charitable Trust providing safe and reliable utility services to about 400,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in the Indianapolis area. The Public Charitable Trust means its utilities are managed only for the benefit of customers and the community. Additional information is available online at www.CitizensEnergyGroup.com
Sources: The City of Westfield and Citizens Energy Group