Chris Kenrick is a Research Assistant at the Environmental Finance Center and is pursuing dual master’s degrees in information science and public administration.
If any of you are like me, then you probably spent a good portion of last Monday waiting to hear what President Obama would make the centerpiece of his second inaugural address. After a few incredible performances, and a couple glimpses of funny looking hats, we heard, among other priorities:
“The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.”
Mary Tiger is the Chief Operating Officer of the Environmental Finance Center. Christine Boyle was a Post-Doctorate Fellow of the Environmental Finance Center. Thanks also to the direction and analysis provided by Jeff Hughes and Dayne Batten.
Rising costs, declining demand, and variable sales predicate our research into water utility financial resiliency for the Water Research Foundation. As part of our investigation into revenue, rate, and financial policy trends, we are researching the processes and methods used by rating agencies and their resulting impact on utility operations. Given the amount of capital needed to bring U.S. utilities’ aging infrastructure up to modern standards, the long-term availability of reasonable-priced credit remains a pressing issue, especially as federal and state subsidies decrease. Our research will focus on credit rating agency research and perspectives as a key source of insight regarding access to debt financing. This blog post highlights the importance rating agencies place on rate setting.
S&P Credit Rating Considerations for 18 Drinking Water Utilities
Dayne Batten is a Research Assistant for the EFC and second year MPA student at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Government.
NC Local governments surveyed indicated a diversity in policies, ranging from financial incentives for green building projects to regulations affecting alternative energy installations.
Alternative energy facilities, green site design features, and green building techniques (such as those required for LEED certification) are a promising way for citizens, businesses, and governments to minimize the environmental impacts of construction projects. Seizing on these opportunities for environmental responsibility, many local governments have provided incentive programs for green construction in their zoning ordinances. Other governments, seeking to walk a fine line between environmental friendliness and aesthetics, have regulated various features of alternative energy installations. But how many local governments are doing this? And what, specifically, are they doing?
Guest author Catherine Noyes is an Associate Consultant at Raftelis Financial Consultants.
Since October, 2010, the Houston-Galveston area has suffered from one of the worst droughts on record. According to the Area Council’s Clean Rivers Program, by the end of 2011, the City of Houston had repaired 17,756 water line breaks, up from 10,821 in 2010. Given that July, 2012 was the hottest month in 117 years of records, it’s not surprising that water service utilities around the country are struggling to keep up with the drought damage impacting buried infrastructure. This damage includes anything from soil shifting as it dries out, to tree roots working their way into pipes in search of moisture.
Depending on where these breaks occur, homeowners may be responsible for shouldering the financial burden of repair or replacement – often at a cost of thousands of dollars. Many homeowners may not know that they are responsible for both the water line that runs from their home to the city’s water meter, and for the sewer line that runs from their home to the city’s sewer main. Through line protection programs, homeowners have a chance to mitigate the significant financial cost that can accompany standard emergency line replacement or repair, which homeowner’s insurance may not cover.
Glenn Barnes is a senior project director at the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina. Glenn is the project manager of the Sustainable Finance for Wetland Programs project funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
When working in the field of environmental finance, a few things have become clear to me. First, I get overly excited when I find out that a movie is coming out entitled Arbitrage (this may explain why I am not popular at parties). And, second, whenever I see a service being offered, I always find myself asking two important questions: Who pays? And who benefits? Continue reading