GreenvilleWater proposes capacity billing to Pelzer

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By Stan Welch

Pelzer Town Council met Friday afternoon and left the meeting with plenty to think about. Representatives from Greenville Water pitched a major change in the way the two entities would do business in the future; a change that could save the town tens of thousands of dollars each year.

David Bereskin and Phil Robey presented their case for a new business relationship that they said would make the Town more of a partner than a customer. At the heart of the proposal are changes that are currently underway in the way in which water providers are being regulated.

Greenville Water (GW) currently has three sources of potable water. They are Lake Keowee, the Table Rock Reservoir, and the North Saluda reservoir. DHEC is in the process of imposing regulations that require water providers to be licensed to withdraw surface water.

In order to accurately petition for the amount they need to withdraw, GW is seeking commitments from its customers in advance, rather than finding out their needs month by month. So Pelzer is being offered the chance to purchase capacity at a lower rate.

The proposed arrangement would also bind GW contractually to provide that amount of water to Pelzer each month, or to compensate them financially if they chose to end the relationship. Currently, there is no actual contractual requirement on GW to continue to provide water to the town.

The town, however, could sell or lease all or part of its allocated capacity to a third party, although GW would have first right of refusal. Bereskin and Robey presented various scenarios to the Council; but the salient points were that Pelzer would have a dependable, viable source of water for the next century (the proposal is for an original forty year term, with two thirty year renewals in the absence of any cessation of the contract), and that the fixed ROI charge – the built in profit for GW in the current arrangement – would no longer apply to Pelzer.

That change would result in a savings to the town of approximately $67,000 a year. The price per thousand gallons would drop from $2.82 to $1.72. The Council agreed to consider the proposal and to present it to the town attorney for review.

The council also agreed to pursue the possibility of selling the property around the old lagoons, with the designation that the money received would be earmarked for renovation of the old hospital building for use as a town hall, and possibly a museum as well.

Final approval was given and documents signed finalizing a lease agreement with TriStar Investments to assume control of the town’s existing cell tower, when American Tower’s lease runs out in several years.