Alexandria, La. (April 13, 2020) — The City of Alexandria today announced it has chosen PA Consulting Services of Denver, Colo., to perform a two-phase assessment of the city’s utility systems, which will include recommendations for potential improvements. The selection will go to the Alexandria City Council for final approval.
PA Consulting was chosen by the city in a competitive process that involved more than a dozen firms from across the United States. PA Consulting was selected based on their significant experience in the energy and utilities sectors, as well as specific experience working with publicly owned utilities in such cities as Austin, Los Angeles, and Orlando to evaluate and improve services.
“This is an important first step in beginning a comprehensive assessment of our Utility System to determine if the current structure is the best long-term approach for the City in terms of quality of service, reliability and cost,” said Mayor Jeffrey W. Hall.
Hall said the independent assessment of the utility system will help city government and Alexandria residents understand the current and projected costs and benefits of the existing system, and whether there might be ways to provide an adequate, reliable supply of electricity more efficiently and at a lower cost.
“This assessment is being done with the interests of the citizens of Alexandria at the forefront,” Hall said. “We don’t know yet if the system can be improved, and there are no preconceived notions or outcomes here, but if it can be made more efficient, sustainable, and affordable, we think the citizens of Alexandria should know that. After all, they are the ones paying for it.”
Hall also noted the city is able to proceed on this project while still observing coronavirus precautions and adhering to all proper city and City Council protocols and requirements, and that the city will issue news releases and periodic updates on all project developments or milestones.
“The limitations the coronavirus has placed on public gathering and meetings is not going to affect our transparency about this project,” Hall said. “We had planned and budgeted for this assessment prior to the coronavirus, we believe this is a wise investment for the city, and we are committed to keeping the public informed about the process, the recommendations that are made and any actions that are considered.”
Phase 1 of the assessment will examine the city’s electric and gas utility systems and provide the city with a range of strategic options and commercial improvement recommendations for those utilities, based on the analyses performed. The Phase 1 analysis and recommendation are tentatively scheduled to be complete within six to eight weeks from the inception of the evaluation.
Phase 2 will examine the city’s water and wastewater utility systems and will be conducted after completion of the Phase 1 analysis within an approximate two- to four-week timeline.
Assessment of the city’s electric and gas utility systems will involve the operations and financial aspects of the systems, including strategic alternatives, and will produce a 10-year financial forecast of for each, including operations, electric and gas supply, delivery and distribution, general and administrative costs, and rates.
The consultants will also provide strategic options and improvements recommendations, which may include actions to improve commercial operation of the electric and gas utilities, as well as strategic options the city may want to pursue to maximize the value of the electric and gas systems for the city and its residents.
“The bottom line is that we have a utility system that is a mix of old and new components and technologies, some of which are 120 or more years old,” Hall said. “We need to be looking to the future and recognizing that reliable and affordable utility services is a key to growth for our city – key to our ability to compete for new businesses, for new facilities, for new jobs, and for new residents. We have an obligation to be not just planning for growth, but to help drive that growth by ensuring the availability of reliable and affordable utility services.”