Kids in the Hall

By Andy Balaskovitz

A good year for BWL means no rate increases in the near future for its utilities, general manager says

Thursday, Nov. 15 — The Lansing Board of Water and Light had a good year, which means the publicly owned utility won’t be raising electric, steam and water rates in the near future, General Manager Peter Lark told the Lansing City Council today.

BWL’s operating income for the fiscal year that ended June 30 was up by over $10 million since last year, from $23.5 million to $33.5 million, according to internal and external audits. Net income for the year was $22.6 million, up from $7.6 million the year before.

“I consider that a very, very fine year,” Lark told the Council during a Committee of the Whole meeting today, adding that this fiscal year’s first quarter also looks “very, very solid.” These numbers are based on a $279 million operating budget approved by BWL commissioners for fiscal year 2012.

An external audit prepared by Plante Moran says operating revenues “increased slightly over the prior year due to utility rate increases.”

Based on these numbers, a rate increase for water, electric, steam and chilled water services isn’t needed in the near future, according to Lark.

“There will be no need — of course this is up to my board — for a rate increase” come March 1, Lark said.

Lark, who is in his sixth year as general manager, said that this is the first year since he started that BWL hasn’t increased rates on March 1, when it typically has in the past.

Rate increases did take effect on Oct. 1 and will again on Oct. 1, 2013. However, those revenues are directed toward the building of a new $182 million cogeneration, natural-gas powered plant in REO Town. Those increases are 2 percent for steam customers and 3.75 percent for electric customers. The plant is expected to be operational in July.