After a year of discussions, meetings, pending approvals and waiting a decision has been made – and depending on your opinion it’s a great or terrible day in the history of Westfield.
On Nov. 25, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission approved the transfer of Westfield’s water and wastewater utilities to Citizens Energy Group. The acquisition, which is expected to close by mid-January, will create Citizens Westfield, integrating water, wastewater and gas.
The transfer provides the city, employees and residents with the following certainties:
1) Westfield receives approximately $40 million for much needed infrastructure including new streets, sidewalks and walking trail expansions.
2) The sale eliminates Westfield’s $45 million in utility debt.
3) Existing Westfield utility employees will be retained for their experience and knowledge.
4) The current five-year schedule of modest utility rate increases previously approved by the Westfield City Council will be retained.
So now that the decision has been made, what’s next?
Over the next six weeks, Westfield and Citizens will finalize the financial transaction to complete the transfer. Meanwhile, plans will be completed for an efficient transition for Westfield Utilities’ 10,000 customers.
When the transfer is complete, officials said customers will notice few changes to their utility service. The only significant changes are Citizens will not bill customers for trash and stormwater service, and a new utility phone number will be established. Starting in February, Westfield residents will receive a quarterly trash and stormwater bill from the city.
In about a year, Citizens will reformat the current water and wastewater bill to include comparative usage data to help customers track their usage. At the same time, Citizens also will offer new payment options including automatic bank transfer, new payment locations and budget billing, which allows customers to pay the same amount each month based on annual usage.