What will change, and what won’t, at BIPCo
A conversation with BIPCo President Jeffery Wright:
Q: A new Board of Commissioners has been elected. How will this change BIPCo’s way of doing business?
A: BIPCo will continue to operate as we have since November when the town bought its two-third interest. We will have a Board that will continue to govern BIPCo. Our employees, myself included, will continue to operate BIPCo until which time the Utility District negotiates a settlement with the current owners — the town and Sara McGinnes. The Directors that were elected to serve as Commissioners of the B.I. Utility District will resign from the BIPCo Board to engage in their new duties. The Town Council will backfill at least one of those positions so there is at least a minimum of three Directors on the BOD during this period of time when BIPCo is still operating.
Q: What are the major priorities of the new Board of Commissioners?
A: Their first order of business will be to organize themselves as required by the Statute, draft by-laws, obtain financing for the new company and to negotiate a fair purchase price with the current owners. Other steps include necessary tasks to prepare for the transition of employees and assets from BIPCO to the new Utility District. We have a very dedicated and skilled workforce that has kept the lights on for decades and we all want to be sure we answer all their concerns and treat them as our greatest asset through this process.
Q: Will there be any changes with how ratepayers interact with the company?
A: BIPCo customers will still interact with us the same way they always have. Monthly bills will still come from BIPCo and payments returned just as they always have. BIPCo's mission to serve its customers will go unchanged — except for the continued improvements we are striving for.
Q: Will this have any impact on rates?
A: BIPCo rates will not change due to the Utility District being formed. Any impact on rates will be analyzed as the Utility District obtains financing and settles on a price with the current owners.
Q: What entity will ratepayers pay their bills to?
A: Look for bills from BIPCo until further notice.
Q: Anything else the public should know?
A: I can't stress enough how important this is to Block Island. Creating a new public power utility is something everyone should be proud of. I'll stress again that the best form of governance is by democratically electing a Board to create the mission and vision for the Company and then overseeing the execution. I am very proud to be a part of this.
Lastly, we need to thank everyone that has been involved in this. Operating an electric utility in today's markets is a tough job and comes with a big responsibility. Electric rates have a direct impact on the Island's economy and stepping up to manage that is a huge responsibility.
Interview conducted and edited by Lars Trodson.