December 5, 2019, Omaha, Neb.— The Metropolitan Utilities District (M.U.D.) board today approved a 2020 budget with no natural gas or water rate increases. The water bill for the average residential customer will increase due to a previously approved water rate increase to be effective January 2, 2020. Additionally, the gas bill will increase due to higher “pass-through” costs associated with increased gas costs and increased transportation charges.
The District estimates 2020 revenues of $200.7 million for the Gas Department and $138.4 million for the Water Department. The revenues, combined with the spend-down of cash reserves, will be used to fund the District’s operating expenses, gas purchases, debt service costs, capital improvements and cast iron pipe replacement.
“We strive to find a balance between rate design and operational efficiencies while ensuring that we provide safe, reliable and cost-effective service to our customers,” said M.U.D. President Mark Doyle. “It also is critical that the District continues to responsibly invest in infrastructure replacement to ensure the reliability of our gas and water distribution systems.”
The average residential gas customer is projected to use 781 therms in 2020 at an annual cost of $576, compared to $560 in the previous year. The additional $16 is the result of increased “pass-through” costs for the cost of gas, pipeline transportation charges and statutory fees.
The average residential water customer is projected to use 105 CCF in 2020 at an annual cost of $379, an increase of about $20 compared to the previous year. Impacting water costs is a 12% water rate increase approved in 2019 to be effectuated January 2, 2020.
As compared to 41 other U.S. utilities that participated in the 2019 Memphis Light, Gas and Water Survey, the District ranked fifth lowest in cost for residential gas bills and 14th lowest for residential water bills.
“The District’s affordability ranking in 2020 should be minimally impacted, in light of the fact that infrastructure replacement funding needs are being addressed by other utilities throughout the nation,” said Chief Financial Officer Joseph Schaffart.
Last month, S&P Global Ratings upgraded the District’s gas system credit rating to “AA+”, citing “strong financial metrics and low debt.” The issuer credit rating was assigned by S&P Global Ratings as part of the District’s obligations under certain of its gas purchase contracts. At the “AA+” rating level, the District’s gas system is now the highest rated municipal gas system of those to which S&P assigns credit ratings.
M.U.D. is one of the few water utilities to operate a system with three water plants, which significantly enhances reliability and the ability for the communities served by the District to grow.
Gas and water bill summary:
- Gas usage for the average residential customer is budgeted at 781 therms in 2020, the same as in 2019.
- An average residential gas customer will see a projected increase of $1.28 a month or about $16 a year.
- Water use for the 2020 average residential customer is budgeted at 105 CCF (78,540 gallons), compared to 106 CCF (79,288 gallons) in 2019.
- A customer with a 5/8-inch water meter will see a projected water bill increase of $1.69 a month or about $20 a year.
- An average residential gas and water customer will see a projected increase of about $36 annually ($3 a month) for a combined gas and water bill.
About Metropolitan Utilities District of Omaha
The mission of the Metropolitan Utilities District, headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, is to provide safe, reliable and cost-effective natural gas and water services to our community. The District is the fifth largest public natural gas utility in the United States, serving more than 231,000 customer-owners in Omaha, Bennington, Fort Calhoun, Springfield, Yutan and Bellevue. The District also provides safe, high quality drinking water to more than 216,000 customer-owners in Omaha, Bellevue, Bennington, Carter Lake, La Vista, Ralston, Waterloo and the Papio-Missouri Natural Resources District (which supplies water to Fort Calhoun). For more information, visit www.mudomaha.com.