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Massena Electric Department says department is budgeting for ‘more of a normal winter’ than 2013-14

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MASSENA — Massena Electric Department’s treasurer says the utility is anticipating “more of a normal winter” this year than it saw at the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014, when customers saw hefty increases in their bills.

MED’s 2015 draft budget shows a projected revenue of $13,526,670, a 7.7 percent drop from this year.

“This is down from what is projected for 2014. The kilowatt hours sold are projected to be less than 2014 and more in line with what we saw in 2013. Power costs are also projected to be lower,” Jeffrey M. Dobbins said. “Looking historically and talking with both internal with the staff here and also some of our consultants that we work with, what happened last winter is a bit of an anomaly. We don’t expect it to happen again. We’re budgeting for what we see as more of a normal winter.”

Massena Electric Department officials are projecting a 15 percent increase in total revenue from their initial 2014 budget, but early indications show that number will drop nearly 8 percent in 2015.

The revenue taken in by the utility group in 2013 totaled $13,384,077 and board members passed this year’s budget with a $12,694,200 final figure.

That number is projected to spike to $14,657,360 by the end of the year, though.

“Looking at the projection for 2014, we originally estimated that the deficit would be $132,450. Now we project that to probably be under $45,000,” Mr. Dobbins said. “A big reason for the smaller deficit is higher than expected revenues that we’ve talked about all year, especially what we experienced during the first four or five months of 2014.”

Mr. Dobbins attributed the increase in revenue to a 6.5 percent increase in kilowatt hours sold, among other factors.

For total expenditures, officials are projecting a final amount of $14,701,650 for 2014, which is 14.6 percent more than initially expected.

“This is $1,875,000 more than originally budgeted,” Mr. Dobbins said. “As we started looking down through each of the line items ... power costs, line 17, is projected to be $9.4 million. This is where the big change is on the expenditures side. This is $1.8 million more than 2013 and over $2 million more than budgeted.

“The big reason for that is higher than expected NYMPA (New York Municipal Power Agency) costs. These account for 80 percent of the increase, both the amount that we had to purchase from NYMPA and the raise that NYMPA charged during the winter months.”

Another significant change from the original 2014 budget was consulting services costs.

MED officials passed this year’s spending plan with $64,200 in that column, but are now projecting $112,700 there.

“That’s from the work for the East Hatfield transformer,” Mr. Dobbins said.

He also discussed a proposed 2015 draft budget for the group and said it is still to early to tell if customers’ rates will change next year.

“As I noted, we’re still working through the cost of service studies, so the proposed budget does not include any changes to our existing rate structure,” Mr. Dobbins said, “We expect the 2015 budget to have a $325,000 deficit and the plan is that the reserves would cover that deficit.”

Mr. Dobbins added that as of right now, there are few large projects on the horizon for MED.

“As you can see, after this year there aren’t any large projects planned other than the possible purchase and replacement of two more of our bucket trucks,” he said. “This one we’re replacing is 15 years old and we have two other ones that were purchased in and around that same time. So they’re at that 15, 16, 17 years that we’ve had them in service. That’s about how long we keep them in service for.”

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