3/15/21: I have addressed the water rate hike issue on the City News page. The Council is in the process of adjusting the rates. The public hearing on this is scheduled for April 20, 2021, 4:00 pm @ City Hall. The efficiency of the Solar Fields is still being evaluated.——Jim
- Water Rate Hike
- While the recent water rate hike was necessary to help with aging infrastructure and debt reduction, it should have been done incrementally instead of waiting 10 years. This makes it easier on the consumer and keeps Boonville’s cash flow at a more reasonable rate to continue to reduce debt and maintain infrastructure (See report from the IURC https://www.in.gov/oucc/2601.htm).
- This rate increase was just the first stage of 3 increases that the consumer will see.
2. Solar Fields
- With the help of the Clerk-Treasurer’s office, I was able to research information on cost savings brought about by the current solar field off of Millersburg Rd. and the new solar field to be constructed at the New Hope Rd. facility. Electric bills for the Millersburg Rd. wastewater treatment plant run an average of $15,000/month and the New Hope Road facility electric bills run an average of about $5,000 per month. If the solar fields generate enough electricity to power those plants (I have a call in to Casey Electric to determine that) then the savings for both fields will be significant.
- Keep in mind that the cost to build and maintain both fields is approaching $2.5 million. The panels lose from 0.5% to 1.5% efficiency each year so keeping them maintained needs to be a priority.
- The loan that the city got for the New Hope Road facility is a 40 year note. This means that we will be paying off the note long after the useful life of the solar fields is past. We will also be nearing the end of the lifespan for any water treatment plant upgrades so it is critical that the city manage the electric savings in order to pay down the loan sooner and keep enough in reserves to maintain the panels and keep them at peak efficiency.
- See my section on water tank maintenance to see problems the city has had in establishing mandated restricted maintenance accounts. Water Tank Maintenance