Greenville Water / Renewable Water Resources
Cost of Service and Rate Methodology Analysis
RFC was engaged by both Greenville Water (GW) and Renewable Water Resources (ReWa) to examine the cost of service and rate methodology used to determine the billing and collection charges that GW assesses to ReWa and eight other utility entities for the billing services it provides. GW provides billing services to ReWa, the Berea Sewer District, six Sewer sub-districts, and the City of Greenville solid waste, and recovers the costs of these services through four different categories of billing and collection charges. The billing and collection charges assessed to ReWa and the other entities receiving billing and customer services were updated as part of GW’s 2009 cost of service and rate study performed by Black & Veatch. ReWa expressed concerns over the methodology used to calculate its updated billing and collection charge per quarterly bill. To address ReWa’s concerns and identify an acceptable solution to move ahead, GW and ReWa, RFC examined the updated billing and collection charge calculation and facilitated several joint workshops related to the current methodology and process used to implement the updated charges. As another result of the analysis, RFC developed several alternative approaches to determining the billing and collection charges that the utilities are currently considering. The primary objective is for GW and ReWa to agree upon and implement the most acceptable and equitable approach in recovering the various levels of service that each of the utility entities receives from GW.
Renewable Water Resources (ReWa), formerly known as Western Carolina Sewer Authority, is a progressive regional wastewater service provider that has planned or implemented many new initiatives over the past several years, including:
- A long-range planning process to meet community needs called the Upstate Roundtable
- A strong environmental initiative demonstrated by a new LEED certified administrative building (shown above)
- Developing new marketable products using wastewater bi-products
- A balanced scorecard approach to measurement and planning
- A strong management and employee training program
Senior leadership was aware of the Effective Utility Management (EUM) industry initiative and was interested in assuring that its planning process and on-going operations were consistent with EUM principles. Understanding that much of the day-to-day implementation of its efforts is directed and guided by its management team, ReWa asked RFC to develop and deliver an EUM training program for senior management, directors, and managers (a total of 23 people).
The objective of the EUM training project for ReWa was to provide EUM training to the ReWa management group that would enhance their understanding of EUM and provide them with management tools that will be helpful in:
- Achieving the Upstate Roundtable Plan
- Improving overall utility performance
- Enhancing the use of teams
- Strengthening ReWa’s ability to establish priorities
- Enhancing the overall utility and EUM Attribute measurement
RFC designed the EUM training using ReWa as its own case study. As a result, not only did the ReWa management team learn about the EUM framework, they developed measures for ReWa, and actions that they will pursue relating to the 10 Attributes and 5 Keys to Management Success. The training included:
- Session 1: Consultants presented EUM and the group discussed the EUM framework.
- Director/Manager Homework that involved teams working on Attribute measures and evaluating ReWa on the Keys.
- Session 2: Attribute Workshop that included detailed discussion of existing and potential measures relating to the 10 Attributes.
- Consultant Homework: Consultants reviewed the Upstate Roundtable plan and the ReWa balanced scorecard approach in comparison to the EUM framework and also documented the findings and suggestions resulting from Session 2.
- Session 3: The ReWa team discussed their current activities relating to the Keys and possible improvements. The consultants presented, and the management team discussed, findings and suggestions that were designed to move ReWa closer to an ideal EUM state, and the group considered the extent to which current planning documents need to be revised to assure consistency with EUM.
The results and benefits of the project included:
- Management team understanding and knowledge about the principles and practices of EUM, the emerging water sector industry management initiative, and a commitment to embrace EUM to improve utility performance
- Specific suggestions developed by management and the consultants to move ReWa closer to an ideal EUM state
- More effective use of teams to address existing processes and prospective projects
- Increased communication across and within departments
- Enhanced capability to seek national awards for excellence in utility management
- Enhanced recognition as a leader in the industry