Thursday, June 30, 2011

Customer Photo!

Chris Price sent in this photo of cooking on a vintage gas stove. "Gas makes for the best, most consistent results!" says Chris.

New Utility Rates Announced for City of Richmond Residents

Effective July 1, 2011, customers of the City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities (DPU) will see changes in their utility rates. Rate increases in natural gas, water, wastewater as well as adjustments in water and wastewater connection fees were adopted by Richmond City Council on May 23, 2011. There were no rate changes in Stormwater Utility fees.

These rate changes will address increases in unfunded mandates from the state and federal government for infrastructure improvements especially for the Chesapeake Bay clean up, and increased costs for power and chemicals used in water treatment.

“DPU works hard to provide superior utility service and create exceptional value while keeping rates as affordable as possible," said DPU Director Bob Steidel. "Utility fee increases are proposed when necessary as a way to continue to improve the reliability of Richmond’s underground infrastructure, provide service maintenance levels for all five utilities and continue compliance with existing and new state and federal regulations for safe, clean water, as well as gas and street light products and services.”

The average monthly residential increases that customers will see beginning July 1, 2011, are approximately $1.30 for natural gas distribution, $0.65 for water, and $1.84 for wastewater. Water and wastewater connection fees for new development and redevelopment will increase by 20 percent. These fees have not changed since 2008 and are being collected to recover DPU’s costs for safe and compliant construction. This comes as a result of DPU experiencing higher costs in pavement repair, materials, and equipment in the four years since these costs were last compiled.

Rate information can be found on the Utility Rates web page.

DPU offers a number of programs and initiatives to help customers control or assist with their utility bills:

•Equal Monthly Payment Program - Stabilize your utility bill by spreading your monthly payments evenly over 12 months. For more information, call 646-7000 or 311.

•MetroCare Program - Beginning Dec. 15, residents in DPU's service territory may apply for funds through the City's MetroCare Program, which provides funds to families and individuals who are having trouble paying their primary heating bills due to a financial difficulty or other special hardship. For more information, call 646-7000 or 311.

•Stormwater Utility residential and commercial credits. For more information visit the Stormwater Utility page.

•Wastewater charges during non-winter months (March – November) are billed using the lower of actual water usage or average winter usage.

EPA Water Sense Program.

•Earth Aid helps households track their actual energy and water consumption on the internet and learn how to be more energy efficient. Households earn rewards points each month for saving energy and water and then they can redeem these points for discounts and offers at a variety of local Richmond businesses. Residents can find more information on the Sustainability page.

•The City's Social Services Department offers heating and cooling assistance. For more information or to discuss eligibility requirements, call 646-7046.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

City's Green Roof

Green Roof on the Effluent Filtration Building

The green roof on the top of the Effluent Filtration Building at the Wastewater Treatment Plant was installed in the fall of 2010. It cost $80,000 to install the plants on the 6,000 square foot roof.

The plants are sedum, alliums, and euphorbia, selected for their ability to withstand drought, wind and sun. They have shallow root structure, making them ideal for roof landscaping where a deep soil is not possible. The plants also provide many months of flowering blooms.

Green roofs reduce urban heat from roof top reflections, reduce stormwater run-off, absorb air pollution, protect the roof from UV ray degradation, provide a natural habitat for birds and small animals, reduce the heat load to the building in the summer and provide additional insulation in the winter.

The next goal is to install a green roof on the new Ultraviolet Disinfection Facility, a 2,000 square foot surface, for an estimated cost of $35,000. This project is scheduled for fall 2012. The project construction manager is Arcadis and engineers are Greeley and Hansen.