A $napshot is a graphic revealing an interesting environmental finance finding accompanied by a short post. This $napshot was created by Shadi Eskaf.
Changes to Rates and Revenues among 566 Utilities
While revenues usually rise as water and wastewater rates increase, revenues generally rise slower than rates. The graphs show how 566 utilities in three states changed rates over a three or four year period, and the subsequent change to annual revenues in the same time period. Four observations can be made. Continue reading $napshot: Utility Rate Increases versus Revenue Increases
Glenn Barnes is a Senior Project Director with the Environmental Finance Center at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
For the past several years, the Environmental Finance Center has worked to set up energy efficiency and renewable energy finance programs around the country as a technical assistance provider to the US Department of Energy. These programs range from energy improvements for the sponsoring entity’s own operations to programs that encourage clean energy in the community at large.
For communities interested in establishing these types of programs, the process is less about selecting from one of a handful of “off the shelf” program designs and is rather about making a series of choices that shape the final program design. Continue reading Structuring Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Finance Programs
Stacey Isaac Berahzer is a Senior Project Director for the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina, and works from a satellite office in Georgia.
In each of the 12 months of the year, at least one local government in Georgia is ending its fiscal year. The chart below reflects the distribution of fiscal year ends (FYEs) for the 530 municipalities in the state. Some states stamp out this variety by handing down a fiscal calendar to local governments. But, the flexibility in Georgia perhaps speaks to the home rule nature of the state. The relevant Georgia statute says that when a local government is created, “The governing authority shall establish by ordinance, local law, or appropriate resolution a fiscal year for the operations of the local government.”
Since the local governments have control over the FYE, it can be assumed that each one has selected a date that has some advantage to the staff or the community involved. The eight (8) governments that end their fiscal year in August may have a busy summer, but they perhaps they want to be “ahead” of the start of the federal fiscal year in October. Apart from local preference, this staggered approach among the local governments may also have an advantage to some external entities such as third-party auditors. It seems that audit firms that serve local governments may have a more muted “busy season” since all of their clients aren’t reporting on the same schedule. But, might there be other entities for which this approach is less convenient?
Continue reading Keeping up with Fiscal Year Ends in Georgia
Lexi Kay is the Marketing and Outreach Coordinator at the Environmental Finance Center at UNC Chapel Hill.
Trash. Most of us don’t really think about it – you throw it in the bin, a truck comes by to pick it up, and it’s gone. Though your garbage may not take up much of your brain space, it sure does take up a lot of physical space (and not surprisingly, it also happens to take a lot of money to manage).
Solid waste management is one of the biggest environmental concerns with which local governments have to contend – and the challenges are only growing. Local governments not only have to deal with a huge volume of trash, but they also have to balance management costs, efficiency, customer service, protection of public health, environmental regulations, politics, and growing pressure to reduce waste and increase recycling.
Continue reading Solid Waste Finance: Controlling Costs Through Innovative Waste Management and Reduction Programs
David R. Tucker is a Project Director at the Environmental Finance Center at UNC Chapel Hill
Source: Citizens Utility Board of Oregon
It’s the season of Halloween, and for some, this time of ghosts and goblins, zombies and vampires can be scary. For others, trick or treating and costumes and parties are great fun. For still others, the scary news of late is higher electric bills. Here in our home state, the North Carolina Utility Commission (NCUC) has approved a 7.2% residential electric rate increase for Duke Energy Carolinas customers, and a similar 7.5% increase for Duke Energy Progress customers. However, the NCUC’s orders came with several other changes for Duke Energy, including the piloting of residential electric Time of Use (TOU) rates – the analysis of which is the sort of thing we at the EFC think is fun!
Continue reading For the times (of residential electricity use in N.C.), they are a-changin’
Shadi Eskaf is a Senior Project Director for the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Our research shows that water rates have been rising faster than CPI inflation in the past few years for hundreds of utilities, particularly after the financial crisis. In some states, however, there were also many utilities whose rates failed to keep pace with inflation.
From a rate-setting perspective, utilities that raised rates more frequently had a double advantage over utilities that raised rates only occasionally or rarely. First: the average annual rate increase was lower than the one-time rate increases of utilities that occasionally raised rates, reducing the rate shock that customers experienced when rates rose. Second: despite the lower average rate increases, utilities that raised rates more frequently accumulated, on average, a larger total increase in rates in a five-year period than utilities that raised rates only occasionally.
Continue reading Water Rate Increases Among 1,961 Utilities in Six States in the Last Decade
We live in a fast paced world. We are driven to implement projects quickly – on time and under budget. On a daily basis, we are faced with decisions regarding which projects to implement and we carefully analyze the project’s cost, the estimated return (or cost savings), the payback period and the overall return on investment. But one of the most important elements of a project is not its cost or its estimated return. At the end of the day, one of the most important aspects of a project is the measurement of the project’s actual performance.
Continue reading Why Measurement Matters
Mary Tiger is the Chief Operating Officer of the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina.
Water is the talk of the town these days – or at least that is what a series of marketing campaigns are hoping. Lately, it seems that almost every water industry association around has a marketing campaign for water.
Water Marketing Deluge
Continue reading Marketing a Monopoly
Glenn Barnes is a senior project director with the Environmental Finance Center and is the co-director of the Smart Management for Small Water Systems project.
All drinking water systems should be concerned about water loss—water that is treated but does not reach an end user because it leaks out through the system’s network of pipes. Water loss wastes both a precious resource (the drinking water) and potentially a lot of money as well (energy use, chemicals, wear and tear on equipment, etc.). Continue reading Water Efficiency at Drinking Water Systems without Volumetric Charges