Dalton Utilities has played a major role in this community’s past and will continue to be major asset to the area in the future. We are a genuine “local” service provider. The money paid to us by our customers is reinvested into the community.
Over the last 10 years, Dalton Utilities has provided $120 million in the form of sales tax, transfer payments or franchise fees to support local government functions. This money has been utilized by local government to fund programs and projects…without raising your property taxes. Throughout its history, Dalton Utilities has never received any tax monies. Our operations are funded entirely by our rate payers.
Additionally, as part of our mission to support and create a foundation for economic growth and quality of life in our community, we have invested over $500 million in infrastructure that provides new and additional service. In fact, Whitfield County is the only county in Georgia with drinking water and firefighting service on every public road in the county.
Although Dalton Utilities provides essential utility services, we do it in a way to best improve the quality of life. Our award-winning operations, affordable rates, environmental policies and forward-leaning initiatives have also helped make Dalton Utilities and OptiLink one of our most our greatest sales tools for economic development.
Keeping our utility services reliable, safe and affordable is very important to us. When you divide the revenue produced by the Utility by the number of employees, you will see that we produced $334,000 per employee in 1997 to $560,000 in 2009.
Our efficient operations can only impact our rates to a certain extent, though. The portion of your electrical service cost that is directly controlled by Dalton Utilities – distribution, operations, meter reading and billing – only accounts for approximately ONE HALF of ONE CENT per kilowatt hour! (This means that out of the 7.5¢ per kilowatt hour residential customers are currently paying, one half cent is charged by Dalton Utilities and outside costs account for the remaining 7¢!)
Outside forces in all our business sectors apply frequent, unexpected and unbudgeted pressures on the services we offer. In our electrical area, the Georgia Multipollutant Rule has already increased the cost of coal-based electrical energy 12% this year alone. How does this affect Dalton Utilities’ customers? Approximately 34% of our owned electrical generation is coal-based, and up to 73% of the power we purchase is coal-based. And this doesn’t even take into account what pending carbon legislation currently being discussed in Washington would have on energy prices.
Up to 16% of Dalton Utilities’ power is hydro-electric power purchased from the Southeastern Power Administration (SEPA). This energy jumped up 8% during the recent drought – another outside pressure that we cannot control.
Each of the Utility’s operating sectors is greatly influenced by issues and events happening outside of Dalton. A great percentage of the cost for utility service is embedded and is passed along to Dalton Utilities. The percentage of those costs that we can control, we handle as efficiently as possible. But many things are outside our control.
It’s like buying coffee at the grocery store. Sometimes the price of coffee jumps because of issues with coffee growers or distribution channels. The coffee is then much more expensive for the store to purchase, so that increase is passed along to the customers. The utility business is impacted in the very same way.
Other examples of issues that impact our utility services but that are out of the Utility’s control include:
- Hurricane activity and other natural disasters, as well as the always unpredictable stock market, affect the price of natural gas on a month to month basis.
- The rising cost of chemicals, increasing regulations, drought, stormwater runoff, etc., impact the cost to treat drinking water and wastewater.
- Accidents, weather events and age impact infrastructure above and below ground throughout the utility service area.
As you can see, providing our customers with electricity, natural gas, water, wastewater, cable tv, telephone and internet is a more long and involved process that you may have originally thought. Although most of these things are not visible or obvious to customers, we think it is important for our customers to know the business climate in which we operate. In upcoming articles, we will go into more detail to discuss major issues impacting Dalton Utilities’ business sectors…and you, our customers.