At a special Clarksdale Public Utilities meeting on Dec. 18, 2018, general manager Curtis Boschert presented a potential power contract with the company NextEra that could save CPU $1 million in the next seven years and keep customers’ rates from increasing.
The CPU commissioners unanimously approved the proposal. However, for it to go into effect, CPU and the Yazoo City power company both had to agree to the rates. The power companies are under the Mississippi Delta Energy Agency.
Boschert did recently meet with Yazoo City and MDEA representatives and everything was approved.
“Everybody from Clarksdale and Yazoo City were of full agreement, as were members of MDEA, to approve the blend and extend the agreement with NextEra,” Boschert said.
From January through the end of May, the cost will be $30.80 for every 10 megawatts of power for a savings of $1.02 per megawatt.
The cost will be $32.14 for every 10 megawatts from June until the end of May 2020 for the same savings.
The cost will be $33.68 for every 10 megawatts from June 2020 until the end of May 2021 for the same savings.
The cost will be $31.30 for every 10 megawatts from June 2021 until the end of May 2022 for a savings of $2.30 for every 10 megawatts.
The cost will be $31.78 for every 10 megawatts from June 2022 until the end of May 2023 for a savings of $2.80 for every 10 megawatts.
For the remainder of 2023, the cost will be $32.78 for every 20 megawatts for a savings of $2.81.
The cost will be $33.27 for every 20 megawatts in 2024 and $33.77 in 2025 for a savings of $3.93.
The cost is $34.28 for every 20 megawatts in January through May 2026 for a savings of $3.42.
While the cost directly impacts CPU, Boschert did say at the Dec. 18 meeting, if the propsal passed, it would make it easier not to raise the rates of customers.
Boschert has been on the job a little more than three months and is continuing to make reduced costs a priority.
“We’ll just have to see,” he said. “We’re going to be continuing to look at ways to improve services and reduced cost.
“I can’t say when, but I’m always looking at ways we can cut costs and improve services.”
Many of the changes have been in response to meetings held by a concerned citizens group.
“I’m trying to listen what their concerns are,” Boschert said. “We’ve acted on some of them and one of those was to separating out the fuel rate charge from the main bill and then add that rate in.”
However, Boschert is not automatically implementing a policy just because a citizen makes a suggestion.
He did recently propose getting rid of a $10 fee for customers to pick a due date on their utility bill.
That change resulted from a citizen expressing a concern and making a different suggestion.
“Another request that was made was to have a single date for billing, which is really not practical,” Boschert said. “But what we’re trying to do is accommodate or at least effect the same purpose for Pic-A-Due date. Then, people can pick a date that best conforms with when their money comes in.
“So that way, the money’s there when the bill comes out and they should be able to pay — hopefully won’t have to have late fees and all those types of charges incurred.”
Boschert explained the reason it was not practical for all customers to have their bills due on the exact same day.
“If all the payments were due on the same day, then we would have a rush of customers in to pay on the same date, which would result in long lines and really be a disservice to the customer,” he said.
Boschert acknowledged having one due date would be difficult on the CPU employees, but his main concern was the customer.
“It would be difficult on the employees, but that not withstanding, they’re there to work,” he said. “However, it would be a disservice to the customer to have to want to come in and stand in line to pay their bill because everybody else is paying their bill on the same day.
“We want to give good customer service and we think we can give better customer service if it’s spread out over time.”
Another change Boschert has made to help the customers with their bills is hiring one more employee for the billing department.
There were previously two employees in the department, but there are now three with an additional person.
“The purpose is we have an additional person in there to help us get the bills out in a timely manner,” Boschert said.
Although Boschert does not expect to add any other employees to the billing department, he does have plans in place to make things more efficient for the customer.
“I think that that’s (three employees in billing department) a good number,” he said. “We haven’t fully implemented the AMI, in terms of having that integrated into the billing system, so I think three is going to be a sufficent number. But we’re still looking at getting the AMI readings into our billing system, so that’s a computer issue. We’re solving issues. We’re still working on it.”
Boschert said the goal is to have all of the issues solved by the end of the month.
“We don’t want to have bills get out that go much beyond 31, 32 or 33 days. You’ll see a significant rise in the bills,” Boschert said, adding it was not good for the budget of the customers.