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No rate hike for BWL customers

Posted at 10:10 AM, Mar 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-11 10:10:34-05

For the 2nd year in a row, BWL customers have no need to worry about a rate hike.

"I think that's wonderful, you know. We've been very impressed with Dick Peffley. His professionalism and his looking at ways to make the Board more efficient without it being on the backs of the rate payers," explained City Council Member Carol Wood.

At a meeting with Wood and the rest of Lansing's City Council Thursday morning, GM Dick Peffley explained it's the utility's workers that are making it possible to not increase rates.

He explained, "They told us that in the past they might have been micromanaged, that every decision has to run through the top of the company. So we told them fine here's the guidelines, here's what your job is. You do it, you know what you're doing, you're more efficient at it and it's paid big dividends for us."

He said that's why BWL customers are paying 10% less than they would under another utility, at least until there's a plan to replace the Eckert Coal Plant.

Chair of the Board of Commissioners, David Price, explained, "There'll be recommendations later this Spring brought to the Board as to how to replace the power that's being generated at Eckert. And you know, if we have to build something down the road, obviously that will require some rate increases, but we don't know what that'll be yet."

But, GM Peffley promises if that happens, the increases will be brought on slowly. For now, his focus is on continuing to efficiently manage expenses.

"We haven't sacrificed anything - our reliability, our availability of our plants are still right where they need to be, we haven't cut back on projects, you know sort of save now and pay me later, we're doing everything that we set out to do," Peffley said.

And, the City Council, along with various internal and external audits are helping the utility meet those standards.

"It's been transformational since the ice storm. This is a different organization," Price said.

One prepared for anything headed it's way.

Price said since the ice story, the utility has added an emergency manager, created additional contracts to bring in extra crews, formed a solid communication plan and improved response times.