Norwich Public Utilities is economic engine for Norwich, region

Norwich Public Utilities (NPU) has always done well when evaluated by typical metrics for a utility company. Our rates are often lower and always competitive with investor-owned utilities; exceptional storm response is a point of pride within the organization, and our customer service is available to Norwich residents every minute of every day of the year.

But a recent study by the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis (CCEA) measuring the economic impact of NPU in Norwich and New London County provides a new way of appreciating the value of NPU. The CCEA is a University Research Center in the School of Business at the University of Connecticut.

NPU’s direct contributions to Norwich are nearly $13 million a year, not taking into consideration the significant capital investments that are being made – and that will continue. Over the past 10 years, NPU has returned more than $80 million to the City’s General Fund, reducing the overall tax burden for Norwich residents.

With a workforce of 150 and an annual budget of more than $97 million, NPU is supporting expanded community economic activity in Norwich that includes:

• The creation of 130 – 189 jobs each year between 2016 and 2036;

• Putting an additional $11.3 to $24.1 million in disposable personal income into the hands of individuals and families in Norwich each year;

• Generating $1.1 million to $4.7 million in state and local taxes annually.

The CCEA study reveals an even bigger impact on New London County when combining community activities and investments from 2017 to 2022, such as:

• 199 - 777 jobs created annually;

• Adding $167 million in disposable income into the local economy over the six year period;

• Generating $26 million in new state and local taxes over and above the $8.5 million a year NPU returns to the city budget.

These projections come from the dynamic model of Connecticut’s economy developed by the Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI), of Amherst, Mass. State agencies and CCEA have used increasingly sophisticated versions of the REMI model to provide economic analysis of a host of activities and policy proposals in Connecticut since 1992.

NPU will invest tens of millions of dollars in its natural gas, water, electric and wastewater infrastructure in the years to come. These dollars, while not fully captured in this study, will only add to the significant impact NPU has on Norwich and New London County in the future.

And this study does not capture the economic benefits of NPU commercial customers paying lower electric rates, a critical component for a business of any size. Again, these benefits, while difficult to quantify, expand the economic benefits for Norwich and the region; recognition of those unmeasured benefits underline the conservative nature of the analysis.

The CCEA analysis helps us fully appreciate the overall economic impact of NPU. For a mid-sized Connecticut city, a well-run utility with an eye on the future and commitment to progress is a valuable asset.

John Bilda is the general manager of NPU and Fred Carstensen is the director of the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis/UConn School of Business.

 

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