COVID-19 and North Carolina Utilities: Impact Assessment of the Coronavirus Pandemic on North Carolina Water and Wastewater Utilities

Post by: Elsemarie Mullins, Project Director, Environmental Finance Center at UNC August has been a key transition month for local government utilities in North Carolina as EO 124/142 (which prohibited disconnections due to non-payment for residential utility accounts) has expired, payment plans are required to be in place, and Governor Cooper just announced $175 million in relief money, including $122 …

Financial Resilience: Tools to test a utility’s ability to “weather the storm”

These are unprecedented times. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, social norms have changed and unemployment has risen sharply across the nation. As states have pushed residents to stay home, water usage patterns have altered for both commercial and residential customers. In many cases, commercial customers have decreased use while residential customers have increased. Schools have been closed for months, some …

Visualizing the Value (of a State Revolving Loan Fund)

Written by: Austin Thompson, Project Director, UNC EFC Imagine a town called “Smallville.” Smallville, as you might guess, is small. The town’s water utility needs a new water tank, and they need it now. Like most systems across the US, Smallville’s system is aging and has significant infrastructure needs. Smallville generally knows the assets that are most critical and has …

Does How Often You Pay for it Matter? The Impacts of Billing Frequency

Written by Stephen Lapp, Project Manager, UNC EFC At the Environmental Finance Center at UNC-Chapel Hill, we are always communicating that how you pay for it matters, but could how often you pay for it matter as well? It may seem counter-intuitive to think that receiving bills more regularly would be positive, but there are many reasons why utilities have …

Municipal Finance in a Pandemic: How is the Market Responding?

Written by Austin Thompson, Project Director, EFC at UNC Municipal Bonds & COVID-19: What is going on? Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the US, the municipal (“muni”) bond market was strong. Investors looking for a non-taxable rate of return were hungry for municipal bonds, driving interest rates down for borrowers (state and local governments) and pushing more debt …

Financial Implications of COVID-19 for Water and Wastewater Utilities

Written by: Shadi Eskaf, Research Director, EFC at UNC Water and wastewater utilities are adapting to the rapidly changing conditions imposed across the country and the world by the COVID-19 pandemic. With stay-at-home orders, closures of schools, restaurants, and other businesses, and major disruptions to the workforce and operations, utilities are changing practices and procedures every day to continue to …

Can Households Afford Water and Wastewater Bills When Faced with Unexpected Expenses?

At the Environmental Finance Center, we think a lot about the affordability of environmental services such as drinking water and wastewater.  Historically, many systems have measured affordability by looking at the cost of service compared to a community’s median household income (MHI), though this measure is limited.  A better way to measure affordability is to look at the cost of service over a range of income …

Are Your Rates Special?

Written by: Annalee Harkins Annalee Harkins is a Data Specialist and Project Manager at the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  In the course of conducting our statewide utility rates surveys, we here at the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill examine thousands of rate structures each year. …

Podcast Round-Up: 12 Episodes on Drinking Water Finance and Management

Written by: Glenn Barnes Glenn Barnes is the Associate Director at the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill My colleague Stacey Isaac Berahzer, a senior project director here at the Environmental Finance Center, made her podcast debut this week on The Water Values Podcast, a series specifically focused on drinking water finance and management.  The Water Values is …

Solutions for Problems Facing Small Drinking Water Systems

Written by: Rosemary Astra-Blossom Rosemary Astra-Blossom is the Funding Intern at the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Financial management is at the core of challenges small drinking water systems face. A comprehensive understanding of the financial health of a water system can help ensure that rates are set optimally, giving small systems the …